Saturday, March 30, 2013

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.

6 comments:

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

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  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.

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

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  4. Thanks, Tico!

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

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  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!

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  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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