Skip to main content

What I Forgot about Guitar Making

Though he lived for years in a Farnham alley, he failed to pick up any of the manner even of a little country town. He was all rustic.

George Sturt, The Wheelwright's Shop, 1923





Yesterday's sunrise. I had to scramble to find the camera.


A friend of mine once told me that he didn't get up early enough to watch the sunrise until his daughter was born. Then he got up to feed her and realized what he had been missing by sleeping in past the sun's greeting to the day. Now he doesn't miss one.


What I forgot about guitar making. I made a beginner's mistake yesterday. I spent about an hour sanding in the profile on the fretboard of the spruce/walnut guitar, I like to sand all the way to 2000 grit so your fingers slip on the ebony. The profile was gorgeous, but I forgot to check across the fretboard for flatness. The mistake. I cut 2 pieces of fret wire and set them, then realized if the board was going to have an arch it needed to be uniform. I pulled the frets and, as you can see the ebony chipped, now I need to fix those chips. Stew-Mac sells sheets of Teflon to make "fret dams" while you fill in the chips with sawdust and super glue, one of today's chores is to call Stew-Mac and place an order for Teflon and pipettes.


What did I forget about guitar making? It is something that I need to do all the time, like anything else, to be good at it you must practice it well. It is something that I should do each day. I got out of practice because I got a full time job as a historic preservation carpenter at Yosemite National Park, I worked 10 hour days and had a hard time trying to make time for myself, to do this thing called guitar making. I forgot what it was like to shoot the joint for the top and back of a guitar, how to smooth the surface of the tonewood with a plane, how to re-saw a board for tonewood and I forgot what it was like to sit and carve the heel on a guitar neck. Those things are too important to be forgotten. Elegant woodworking should be akin to writing a short story or going into the field for plein air painting. Wood working is not dumb or brutish, nor is it something that we should strive to make money at. Yes, I speak as a heretic in this day of pop woodworking rags, but the act of creation is not an act to make something for sale. That is down the road, but it shouldn't be the sole outcome of the act. I want a guitar I make to be played and to make music.

YouTube for the Day: Here is another wonderful young guitarist, Tatyana Ryzhkova, playing the prelude from J.S. Bach's 'cello suite #1, BWV 1007

Comments

  1. excellent post-i think a true artist/craftsman creates because he has too- or a part of him will die- if he sells it so be it, if not so be it- the result to the artist is the same- his own growth and livelihood. I don't think that's selfish, maybe it's more like a beaver chewing wood so his teeth don't grow into his skull and kill him- i don't know, but people have to be creative...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful light on the clouds there, Wilson.
    My, building a guitar is not for the faint-hearted!
    And thanks for the Bach.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rob:

    I guess I'm a little crazy, I revel in mistakes because I learn so much from them. Also, I can't remember which famous Spanish guitar maker said making guitars gets into your blood, you can do nothing else.

    Wilson

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Off the Bench and For Sale: Miguel Rodriguez Style Guitar

This guitar has a Western Red Cedar top, Claro walnut back and sides, Royal ebony fretboard, Indian rosewood bridge and a 650mm string length.

This guitar has a beautiful voice and is loud! I was amazed at how loud it is as soon as I got the strings on and tuned to concert pitch. It is easy to play and I am blown away by the musical nuances that can be created with this guitar.

Please click on Guitars Currently Available or Studio Model to read more about this wonderful guitar!



1961 Hernandez y Aguado Style Classical Guitar, Redwood/Indian Rosewood, For Sale

The partnership of Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado was one of the most successful in guitar making history.

Roy Courtnall, Making Master Guitars, 1993

Please note that this guitar is currently for sale at Savage Classical Guitar. Please click here to see this guitar!

I made this guitar several years ago, but because of custom orders, I had to set it aside. I put strings on it two weeks ago and it is a most magnificent sounding guitar! It has good, clear separation string to string, wonderful sustain with evenness and balance throughout with a very lyrical voice. I originally made this guitar for myself, but someone with a good strong technique and a good understanding of musical interpretation should own this guitar and play it on a regular basis.



This guitar is a fairly close copy of a guitar made by Hernandez y Aguado in 1961. The body length is 480mm, most of the HyA guitars had a body length of 490mm; string length is 650mm, many were 655mm and longer; other than that I trie…

Late Summer, Early Fall and a Spruce/Ziricote Classical Guitar

Thus begins what many residents feel is the Southern Rockies' most beautiful time of the year - Indian summer.

Audrey DeLella Benedict, The Southern Rockies, 1991


It is sunny today with bluebird skies highlighting the golds and oranges of the aspen trees.

Fog covered our little hollow all day yesterday, the sun came out at exactly 4:45pm and shone upon us for fifteen minutes, then the clouds came back.



The aspens and ferns in the backyard...



A few wildflowers are blooming, like this harebell...


Our little flower garden is going to seed...



I dropped six ponderosa pine on our property last week for firewood and fire mitigation, as you can see I have much work to do splitting and stacking the firewood.


This is the latest guitar on the bench, a 1961 Hernandez y Aguado style guitar, with a Colorado Engelmann spruce top...



and ziricote back and sides.

I am in the process of pore filling, later this week I will start the French polish.

It has an incredibly loud tap tone, it will be wond…