Monday, March 29, 2021

Moving Day - From a Small Shop to a Tiny Shop


I moved across the hall to a smaller studio at 40 West Art Studios today. The space I have occupied for the last year is 230 square feet in size, has an acoustic tile ceiling and is nearly impossible to humidify properly. The best the humidifier can do is 37% RH, when I run it at a higher setting the reservoir will run out of water overnight.

The space I moved into today is only 140 square feet in size with a lower ceiling that is dry walled,and I plan on installing a rubber door sweep to help keep a more consistent level of humidity.

For the last several months I have been thinking about how to reduce clutter, a good solution I found was to place things I hadn’t used in one year in a cardboard box and put the box in the FJ Cruiser. I need more boxes. 

I’m not sure there is enough room for a saw horse...

or all of my clamps!

The Dutch-style tool chest is going to be replaced with a sectional tool cabinet to organize my tools with a little more efficiency.

All this work to do organizing the shop and there are two guitars to work on. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Very Short Video - New Top for a Classical Guitar

I made this guitar in the style of a circa 1830 Rene Lacote “Legnani” model guitar. It is a small guitar, the string length is 595mm, compare that to a “modern” classical guitar string length of 650mm. 

When I first made this guitar it had a very heavy Douglas fir top with a five strut Torres-style bracing, a lot of wood to drive with a short string length, the guitar’s voice was very quiet and a little choked. It now has a very light European spruce top with three braces of light and strong redwood. The under bridge patch is a thin piece of ebony that will protect the top from the knotted strings, I will use an original style “pin” bridge. 

When I rap the top with my knuckles it has a loud, resonate drum-like tone, even with all the tape and clamps. 

Purflings and neck are next. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Today’s Work...


East Indian rosewood bridge with Mother of Pearl tie block cover for a European spruce/Canadian cypress classical guitar that is on my workbench.  

Sunday, March 21, 2021

New Classical Guitar Solera, Workboard

 My “new” guitar plantilla (outline) is slightly smaller than my regular guitar, which means I need a slightly smaller work board on which to assemble the guitar. I build in the so called “Spanish method” where I attach the top to the neck and place that face down on a work board to attaché the sides and back. This method is described in Cumpiano’s Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology; and Courtnalls’ Making Master Guitars

My work board consists of two layers of MDF, the bottom layer is simple a base for support and the upper layer will have a scooped out area in the lower bout for the dome of the guitar top.  It will be attached to the lower layer with screws.

I rough out the shapes with a jigsaw, the lower layer is refined a bit with the help of a belt sander, then I tack the upper layer on with two screws, put a flush trim rout bit in my router and trim the upper to match the lower.

The sound hole position needs to be located before I start to scoop out the lower bout area. There are a few other things that need to be done before I can use this work board, perhaps that is another blog post. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

20th Fret On a Classical Guitar


The six string classical guitar has a limited range of notes, traditionally there are only 19 frets which allow a player to play B5, that is the second B above middle C. For some guitarists that note isn’t high enough and since the late 18th century they have begged guitar makers for more frets, a good example is the 19th century guitarist/composer Luigi Legnani, who had a guitar made with 22 frets! There exists a guitar with 20 frets that was made in the mid to late 1800’s by the great Antonio deTorres guitar and today, the classical guitar virtuoso Eliot Fisk, plays a guitar with 24 frets! 

I have made several guitars with a 20th fret and I was never fully satisfied with the shape of the fret board where that fret resides, this shape is more pleasing to me than the others I have made. 

This guitar will be available for sale when it is completed..

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Re-Working the Outline of a Classical Guitar


A while back, I ordered a new guitar template and templates to make a new work board with matching mold and side bending forms. The new outline varies a bit from my original outline, the two guitars I made with it are shapely and pleasing to the eye. There was a partially completed top cut to my original outline that I have wanted to make a guitar from for a while, so I thought it would be a good idea to re-cut it to the new outline. Well, it turned out that the current sound hole location didn't match the sound hole location on the new outline. In order to use this top, I would need to create a whole new outline. 

To start a new outline I marked the location of the 19th fret on the top and marked that on a cut out of my original outline. The 12th fret will land somewhere near the top end of the outline.

The lower bout is a little too small compared to the original, I can't add any wood to that,

and it became part of the new outline,

and the waist wasn't deep enough to match the original.

 I was able to add a little bulk to the upper bout and a little adjustment with the help of French curves I am quite satisfied with the final shape!

The final length of the body is about 18 7/8 inches, the is about the length that the great Antonio de Torres Jurado used for his famous guitars.

With a little time designing at the bench, this is the next guitar that I will build and it will be paired with East Indian rosewood back and sides.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Yesterday’s Work - Stippling a Classical Guitar Headstock

I believe many people would find the task of stippling tedious, but the result is worth the time and tapping on a nail over and over again. 

My headstock design is based very heavily on the one used by the team of Spanish master luthiers, Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado. From what I have read about these two makers, they hired a local woodcarver to carve their headstocks, I have no idea what technique was used to texture head stock, the technique I use yields results that I like. 

The mallet I use weighs about 10oz, it is made from California valley live oak that I turned on a spring pole lathe years ago. Holding a bare nail is hard on my fingers, a wine bottle cork was a great solution!

It takes me a little over an hour to finish stippling, this time also includes routing out, or grounding, the area with a Dremel with a base attachment.

The best article I have found on stippling small areas with 16d nails can be found here

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Ebony Classical Guitar Bindings

Happiness is making (and scraping) your own guitar bindings!

Earlier this week, I ripped some Macassar ebony down to 15 strips 1/8” thick, about 3/8” high, by around 33” long to use for binding on the European spruce/Canadian cypress guitar. Today I thinned all the pieces down to 1.93mm thick, I was going for 2mm but I forgot to pay attention to the thickness and ended up with that number. I will double up the bindings when I glue them in the binding ledges, 4mm of ebony bindings is really going to make this guitar visually stunning.

Next week I will rout the binding ledges...

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ebony Classical Guitar Bindings, New Neck for a Lacote Style Guitar


There is still one guitar in the shop for repair, with the other repairs out the door I have some extra time to catch up on other work, like glueing a stacked heel onto the shaft of a neck for a copy of an 1830’s Rene Lacote guitar... start work on ebony bindings for the latest guitar, one with a European spruce top and Canadian cypress back and sides...

...then to play with ideas on how to brace the new top for the Lacote style guitar. It is a tiny guitar, the top is sitting on a template for one of my full size guitars. The ebony with be the reinforcement patch under the bridge, which will be an original style pin bridge. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Classical Guitar Bridge - Eight String “Brahms” Guitar with Fanned Frets

A Brahms classical guitar has eight strings, an additional bass string tuned lower than the sixth string and an additional treble string tuned higher than the first (or in this case, the second string). This extends the musical range of the guitar, it was originally designed to play transcriptions of piano works of Johannes Brahms. 

In order for all this to work, the guitar must be a “multi-scale” guitar. The bass string spans, from nut to saddle, 650mm and the high treble string spans 615mm (it can be shorter), the shorter distance allows the treble string to be brought up to concert pitch without breaking. 

This makes the bridge angle across the soundboard, by pushing the slot for the saddle back from the edge of the bridge, this allows the bridge to be less angled across the soundboard. This makes the transference of sound energy more efficient. 

1912 Ex-Segovia Cedar/East Indian Rosewood Classical Guitar

Inspired by Andrés Segovia’s famous 1912 Manuel Ramirez guitar, I chose Western red cedar top and East Indian rosewood back and sides from m...