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Frets, Fretboard and a Western Red Cedar/Bigleaf Maple Guitar

American child are musical. American adults are not and the chief reason lies in the wasted opportunities of childhood.

Thomas W. Surette, Music and Life, 1917

The last couple of days have been work on scales, arpeggios, Prelude No. 2 in C# minor by George Gershwin transcribed for guitar by Douglas Niedt, Sarabande by Francis Poulenc and trying not to be sloppy, keeping the fingers clear of the strings. We got 32 inches of snow with the last storm, the snow has settled and I don't have to use snowshoes to walk up the gulch with the dogs.

Several hours were spent this afternoon on flattening the fingerboard on the cedar/maple guitar, I forgot that one needs to work at lutherie all the time, it is easy to forget how you should do things like make sure that you have enough sanding blocks the proper length. And make sure that all sandpaper is adhered to the block or you will be surprised by the results of your labor, then you will have to correct your mistake.

I forgot to take a photo of the guitar with its piece of railroad cardboard that protects the top, a vital thing, I've had enough problems with this top. Ron, if you are reading this post please don't be concerned by the lack of shellac on the top, the top developed a hairline crack that I fixed with copious amounts of superglue and cleats glued to the underside. The repair actually increased the pitch of the tap tone, a good thing. I decided to go ahead and fret the fingerboard, attach the bridge and then complete the french polish.

I run a saw file along the fret slot to aid in installing the frets and reduce the chance of chips emerging if the frets need to be pulled. I used 180 grit sandpaper to flatten the fretboard and followed up with 220 grit and a light polish with 400 grit. After the frets are installed I'll burnish the surface with steel wool using a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and naptha.

It seems like I can never make enough time to complete all the work that I need to.

YouTube of the week, once again, Tatyana Ryzhkova, an incredible player who just happens to look like my daughter, Alisa. Enjoy.


  1. Can't wait to see the guitar finished. You should do an audio of the guitar so I/we can hear it as well. Play a little tune.

  2. Thanks, Terry! I agree about putting up an audio of the guitar, I need to buy a digital recorder!

  3. Beautiful work.
    If a tree could express a preference, my guess is that it would like to become one of your guitars.

  4. Hi Wilson, another great post w/video. I'm getting really addicted to watching them.

    Perhaps I've already asked this before, but how do you deal with trying to maintain fingernails as someone who works with his hands? I have the devil's own time of it. For me it makes learning classical guitar very difficult.

  5. Tico:

    It is hard to maintain my finger nails, just when they get to the right length for playing I usually break one doing carpentry work. Next month I go back to work doing historic preservation, that will make it even harder to keep my nails in playing condition. That is one reason why I made a 19th century guitar, you don't have to have nails to play music from the Classical era.

  6. Rob:

    You are too kind and very generous with your words, thank you. If you think my work is beautiful you should visit Tico's website, the same for Terry Kelly's site, they do some amazing work!


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