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Showing posts from November, 2018

The Best Ingredients for a Fine Wood Finish

When I first started down the road of lutherie back in 1992, I had several spectacular finish failures. Some where I had read that you could use tung oil on a mountain dulcimer, and I found out that you can, but it killed the sound of that very first dulcimer. I hung it up on the wall.

All the wood working books and catalogs of the era seemed to state that wipe-on finishes were the best, or that it was better to buy some fancy brush-on finish that self-leveled was best to use on guitars and dulcimers. I bought brush-on varnish from a big name wood finish supplier and smeared it all over a "custom" dulcimer I made for a friend. I level sanded with wet/dry sandpaper and mineral spirits, but no matter what I did, the white dust from sanding adhered itself to every little nook and corner of the dulcimer. No matter how hard I tried I could not get rid of the white dust specks. My friend like the instrument anyway and was very happy with it.

After making several dulcimers I took t…

Building an Eight String "Brahms" Classical Guitar, Part One

Among God's creatures two, the dog and the guitar, have taken all the sizes and all the shapes, in order not to be separated from the man.
Andres Segovia, classical guitarist



Early this year, a young composer/guitarist asked me if I would make him an eight string guitar, the so-called "Brahms", or cello, guitar. It has an extra treble string and bass string, this extends the musical range of the classical guitar in a tremendous way. This guitar was developed in 1994 by the luthier David Rubio for the guitarist Paul Galbraith, and if you wish to read more about how this guitar came into existence, please go to Wikipedia or Paul Galbraith's website to learn more.
There are no plans, that I know of, for this guitar, I knew that the first Brahms guitar had a bass string length of 660mm and the treble string length of 630mm, and today most makers use 650/615mm string lengths. I chose a 650/620mm string combination and pulled out a roll of brown paper to start my layout.



M…

The Beauty of a Simple Butt Joint

The strength of a butt joint is merely that of the glue employed...
Bernard Jones, The Complete Woodworker, 1980 edition


I made this guitar neck about five years ago, and for some reason, I never got around to building a guitar on it. It is made from a nice piece of Spanish cedar with a slice of East Indian rosewood on the headstock. Earlier this month, I decided to pair this neck with a redwood top and flamed black walnut back and sides, but there was one repair that needed to be done before putting the neck to use.




I accidentally left the rosewood veneer a little short, it was about an eighth of an inch shy of the where the headstock slope meets to horizontal surface of the neck. Usually, I run this veneer a little wild and trim it back after the fret board is glued on and I am ready to install the bone nut.




I was afraid that I wouldn't have any rosewood on hand to match the original, but I got lucky and found a scrap pieces that was a fairly close match.





The repair was pretty s…