Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fretting

"Though you may fret me, yet you
cannot play upon me."

William Shakespeare, Hamlet 1601

Fretting, what an appropriate verb to use to describe working on the fingerboard for a guitar, and out of all the parts of a guitar, the neck and the fret board are literally the heart of a guitar. One can always pluck the strings of a guitar over the sound board, but you really "play" the guitar at the neck and fingerboard, that's where as a player you do the real work. Yes, one must look at the guitar overall as an instrument, it must play well and sound well, two things which to me are one in the same. If the guitar doesn't play wonderfully, it won't sound that way. I had a long phone conversation with Marc Culbertson of Gilmer Woods last summer about guitar necks and neck woods and got quite the education on fret work from him. What a great guy!

I cut slots in a fret board with a fret saw that I bought from LMI back in the '90's that has a walnut handle that I made and an engineer's square to guide the saw for the initial cuts. This work is as nerve wracking as routing out the binding channels (rebates) on a guitar body, one slip and you have scarred the fingerboard. I enjoy taking my time while doing this, I have a chance to contemplate on my recent misdeeds (thank you, Roy Underhill!). This is the fret board for the Lacote guitar, it is African (Gaboon) ebony. I have photos coming of a full sized classic guitar that has a new fret board, also African ebony, along with new photos of the almost completed new shop. I just started my summer/fall job as a maintenance mechanic with the National Park Service, but I will try to update the blog more often. Thank you to all the people who have been checking back for updates!

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