Julia's Guitar, A Copy of a 1933 Santos Hernandez Guitar

I started back at my regular day job 2 weeks ago, I've spent it working on the flat lands at Walden Ponds. As I say, any time I spend away from the mountains is time wasted.

I finally got a chance to finish binding Julia's guitar, a copy of a guitar made by Santos Hernandez in 1933. I did some research on the internet looking for images of guitars that he made after 1921 and before his death in 1943 to get a better idea of how he "trimmed" out a guitar. Here is my interpretation of what I learned.

On some of his guitars Santos used a very wide maple purfling.

This makes for a very bold look. He also made a heel cap from the same wood as the bindings. I used ebony bindings on this guitar and used ebony and maple for the heel cap to make the binding theme.

A photo of gluing on the heel cap.

You would be surprised at the amount of stress a guitar receives while it is being made! It gets all covered with glue, my hand slips when the binding tape breaks and a finger nail scrapes the sound board, it can be a bit of a brawl between maker and guitar! (Sorry for the blurry image!)

The sound board cleaned up after the binding is complete.

This guitar is very special, Julia chose a redwood top that came from a board that was rescued from a barn that stood outside of Yosemite National Park. I was able to re-saw only two guitar tops from this board, one that is on this guitar and the other will be used for a copy of a 1968 Hernandez y Aguado guitar. The rest of the board has too many knots to make it useful for guitar tops, I will probably use them for ukuleles at a later date.

Wood with this kind of provenance is rare, not often can a maker claim this personal of a connection to a piece of wood.


  1. I like the 'bit of a brawl between maker and guitar' and how beautifully the guitar turns out.

  2. Thanks, Rob! Cutting the binding rebates and installing the binding is the most nerve wracking part of guitar making! It's where the most damage can be done with a simple mistake.

  3. 1709 vedIsmaHow lucky for Julia. Maybe she'll record a Youtube video that you can post.

  4. Thanks, Tico!

    I do plan on talking with her about making a short video of her playing the guitar.

  5. Having stuck a good, sharp chisel right through the top of my almost-finished sapele 12-string solidbody last year (inletting the electronics cavity) I second the bit about "a brawl between maker and guitar." Repair was 9/10 for function, 8/10 for appearance and 10/10 for reminding me of how easy it is to goof big time when hurrying, even a little.
    I hope Julia is agreeable to a short vieo--i can't wait to hear how this one turns out.
    PS: tried some nylgut strings on the little Martinez. Not a good match, though okay; they sound good on the old Richter, though!

  6. Hey, HD!

    I still believe that the best strings to put on a newly made Romantic era guitar are LaBella's 2001 light tension strings. I have yet to find other strings that sound as good on a little guitar. I am glad that the nylgut work well on the Richter!


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