Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where I Get To Work, the Magnolia Mining District

How's this for a workshop! The Rocky Mountain Mammoth Mine on the western edge of the Magnolia Mining District.



The Rocky Mountain Mammoth Mine Shaft House, built circa 1900




Stove pipe on the cabin and aspens



Looking north towards Sugarloaf

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Julia's Guitar-Making a Copy of a 1933 Santos Hernandez Guitar-The Video, Part 1

I handed over "Paquita" to Julia this afternoon. I met her on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder at the Imig Music Building were we able to find a room for Julia to try out her new guitar. That's Julia's daughter in the background in the chair.

Here the first video:



More videos and recordings of Julia and her guitar to come!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Julia's Guitar-Making a Copy of a 1933 Santos Hernandez Guitar-Some Photos

As promised, here are some color photos of Julia's new guitar




A front view.




The back.




A close up of the top.




A photo of her guitar compared to a guitar that is made on a Robert Bouchet plantilla. I suppose I should call this Julia's 1929 Santos Hernandez in that it is very similar in size to a guitar that Santos made in 1929. Her guitar is practically the same, the difference is only a few millimeters. Click here to go to Kent Guitar Classics to learn about a 1929 Santos Hernandez.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Julia's Guitar: Making a Copy of a 1933 Santos Hernandez Guitar-It's Finished!!!

For me the guitar has always been a beautiful instrument as a medium of expression, and my attachment to it continues to increase with the years.

Alexander Bellow, The Illustrated History of the Guitar, 1970



I got up at 5am like I usually do, fed the dogs and the cats, took the dogs for a 40 minute walk up the gulch and then I went to the studio and started working on Julia's guitar. I leveled, re-crowned and polished the frets; made and installed a label; made a nut and saddle from some pre-ban elephant ivory; installed the premium and, to me, luxurious Gotoh tuning machines; strung the guitar and then adjusted the action. All that work took me eight hours.

The rewards for that time are truly outstanding, this is the loudest, most robust Spanish sounding guitar that I have made to date! Loud, with a sweet voice; a wonderful separation of strings, very uniform across the fret board. I have played a few truly responsive guitars as a player, in about six months of hard playing, this guitar is going to be one of them! For a brand new guitar, it has clarity and punch.

Now I want to make copy of a 1929 Santos Hernandez, the original guitar has the same box measurements as Julia's guitar (Julia's guitar is 15mm narrower) but it has a 644mm string length. I want to see how outspoken and sweet voiced that guitar would be.

Why do I think this Julia's guitar sounds so well? Eugene Clark gave a lecture in 2004 on "Building with a Spanish Solera" and I followed the procedure he outlines in the lecture. It works. I also think this guitar sounds so wonderful is because there is an 1/8 of inch dome to the top. Get a back issue of American Lutherie #92 and read it for yourself!




My wife, Amanda, was kind enough to take these photos of me playing Julia's guitar.



My Ottmar Liebert moment, performing without shoes!



It's a wonderful guitar, which I will hand over on June 23rd. I am thankful that it is going to a good player!

Color photos are coming and I hope to post a YouTube of Julia playing her guitar. Stay tuned!

My Latest Project: Restoring an 1898 Mining Cabin

Gold is where you find it, silver comes in ledges.

An old Western mining saying.


My latest project is to preserve and restore the cabin on the Rocky Mountain Mammoth mine.



The original cabin, built in 1898 is to the right of the photo, the porch is attached to it. The "L" in the background was added on in the early 1930's.

The Rocky Mountain Mammoth Mine was worked in the late 1890's during a mining boom in Colorado, it was never a large producer and the ore that came out was of a low grade. Around 1905 the mining boom petered out and the mine was silent until the 1930's when gold prices were standardized in the Great Depression. The mine was worked for a couple of years during the Depression and then no more work was done. The cabin became a summer residence for the owners of the mine. The shaft house is still standing, it will get some preservation work done on it next year.



The building is very simply constructed: sill plate was placed on dry laid stone foundation. 2x4's were used as floor joists and plank floor was put over that. The walls are simply a board on board construction, there are only eight studs in the entire building. The rafters are mostly 2x6's covered with skip sheathing and tin roofing. At some later point in it's life, the owners decided to put concrete skirting around the base of the base with the idea that the building needed a real fake foundation. While this was well intentioned, the keep moisture against the bottom of the exterior boards and sill plates, on one corner of the building all of the sill plate has rotted away.



The view from the job site.



In order to assess the damage, I had to pull off the first layer of boards, this photo shows one way to mark boards so you know how to put them back in the proper place!




I and my colleague are going to have to lift the wall of the building with screw jacks and then dug out the original foundation so we can drop and remove the original sill plates and install new ones. This is going to be a fun job.

A Basic Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar - Another Look

I was looking at a blog post of mine from eight years ago, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised and saw that I have m...