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Showing posts from 2022

Classical Guitars, Sustainability of Tonewoods

The industry has done too good of a job convincing the vast majority of guitar players that high end acoustic guitars must be made from rosewood, mahogany, ebony and spruce. And yeah, they work-but other woods work also. Chris Martin IV, Martin Guitars The traditional wood choices for classical guitar making were largely dictated by what was available in 19th century Spain, which is not a particularly useful criteria for choosing wood in 21st century England. Martin Woodhouse, luthier Sustainability of tone woods is topic that no classical guitarist wants to talk to me about, they change the subject or simply walk away. Many woodworkers I have met tell me that subject is taboo. No one wants to admit that there will be a day when all the wonderful old growth lumber that we have come to love will no longer be available.  I grew up with the lumber industry, it put me through college and employed many members of my extended family, but I watched feller-butchers and loggers clear the 50,000

Making Spokeshaves

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There are times when I wonder if making my own hand tools is worth the time and effort, making a tool means time away from guitar making, but if the tool can increase my efficiency in building a guitar, then that time is not wasted. That is a very unromantic view towards making my own hand tools, it is very rewarding when the tool I made works right when I finish. I admit that over the last thirty years I have made several hand tools that didn’t work, those got tossed into the wood stove, a factory made tool was bought so I could get back to the work at hand. I decided to make a pair of very small spokeshaves using blades purchased from Hock Tools, the bottom shave has a California laurel body, the middle shave is cherry and I used East Indian rosewood for the wear plates. The big shave is one I made about twenty years ago using Eastern dogwood and a Lee Valley blade. After making these little shaves I am tempted to make a pair from rosewood for more heft and mass. The two little shave

Classical Guitar Festival Experiences, Part 4

“So, Wilson, what got you into guitar making?”  “I grew up with the guitar. A guitar was always around or someone who could play it. How about you?” “I love trees. Every guitar I make is an homage to trees!” “Wow! If you love trees so much then you must really love a forest!” “The forest?! What the hell does a forest have to do with trees?!”

Something to Think About

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  “Forests are of great value from their effect upon the climate, making it more equable. They tend to cause abundant and needed rainfall and to preserve the moisture when fallen, releasing it to the rivers gradually, and thus preventing abnormal freshets and extreme droughts. By absorbing and parting with heat slowly they cause the changes of temperature to be less sudden than in the open country. They temper the heat, and they serve as a protection, or "wind-break," to adjacent land. Trees, with other vegetation, are essential to the purification of the air. All this is in addition to the obvious uses of supplying fuel and wood for an almost endless variety of purposes, not to speak of the value of trees for shade and as features of the landscape. The reckless rate at which the forests of the United States are being destroyed is becoming a serious matter, not merely because of depriving wood-workers of the materials with which to work, but because of the influence of the fo

Double Top Classical Guitar for Sale

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Double top guitars are awesome! Overheard at a classical guitar competition, 2019 The Engelmann spruce top has an inlay of honeycomb Nomex withSitka spruce veneer, the back and sides are curly maple with an Indian rosewood fillet in the back. Please email me for more information.. Engelmann spruce top Curly maple back and sides with rosewood fillet in back  650mm string length 52mm wide fretboard at nut 62mm at 12th fret 59mm string spacing at bridge 482mm body length 278mm upper bout  237mm waist 372mm lower bout Ebony fretboard East Indian rosewood bridge Gilbert tuning machines Crossrock fiberglass case $6,995.00 This guitar is available at Savage Classical Guitar

Redwood/California Laurel Classical Guitar - My Latest Guitar

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It's been nearly six months since I made my last guitar, that was due to buying the house in New Mexico and moving into the new house. Now that we are here at the new place, I can start "playing catch up" with all the guitar parts that are in my new, very tiny workshop. This guitar has an old growth redwood top that I put together maybe four, five years that I never got around to using, and the back is some outrageous California laurel (it's only called myrtle if it is in Oregon) that I purchased about six years ago. California laurel is wonderful wood to work with and makes for a great classical guitar, I expect this guitar will have a big, lush voice with a quick response. All the bracing, both top and back, is made from some very stiff and light old growth redwood, I'm looking to make this a light weight guitar. The plan for this week is to glue on ebony binding and fretboard. Stay tuned for the next progress report!

Calf Canyon Fire, New Mexico

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  The Calf Canyon Fire is just over the hill from us, this is a photo I took of the smoke plume at 10:30 this morning, it is a whole lot taller and wider this afternoon. This morning the US Forest posted on Inciweb  that the fire is 204,000 acres in size, it grew a little over 6,000 acres last night and a couple of days ago it grew near 11.000 acres in one day. We have been experiencing unprecedented high winds, historic the papers say, and it doesn't help that the Southwest is in the midst of devastating drought, the likes that has not been seen in 1,200 years!  Tres Ritos and Angostura were placed under evacuation orders about 3 hours ago, those two communities are about 20 miles from us by road, 10 miles as the crow flies. High winds are expected again tomorrow.  We need a good rainstorm without any wind.

Breve Tormenta

  A passing thunderstorm. My wife and I are in our new home which is about twenty five miles south by southeast of Taos, New Mexico and the house is at 8,000 feet elevation, PeƱascoso Mountain to the southeast is just of 11,900 feet tall. It is so good to be back in the mountains!

Classical Guitar Festival Experiences, Part 3

 “I would like to buy the DVD about Daniel Friederich  .” “Sure! May I ask if you are here to see the competition?” “I’m one of the vendors.” “So you’re the guy all the kids are talking about” “Excuse me?” “Quite a few of the kids have stopped by and said, ‘There’s an old cowboy here who makes the most awesome guitars!” “That would be me!

New Mexico, Double Top Guitars and Moving to a New Shop

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My wife and I are moving to a small adobe house that is located about 20 miles southeast of Taos, New Mexico sometime this coming April. I spent last week packing up our possessions that fill the house while my wife works at her day job,  last Friday I started packing up my workshop. There is more packing to do, the drawers of both workbenches are empty... the toolbox is slowly giving up its tools for cardboard boxes. The red tool chest is completely full of tone wood, the bottom chest has some tools with tone wood filling up the remainder of the chest and there is more tone wood to pack! I had to move some boxes so I could sit down at the computer to write this blog post. This will be our new home is New Mexico, it is an adobe house on 1.5 acres of pasture with water rights, a big deal here in the West. And yes, I know how to flood irrigate, I helped my father irrigate our hay fields in Northeastern California. From one tiny shop to another. This will be my studio until I can build a

A New Tool

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When I build a new guitar, I need to shape the fretboard after it is glued onto the neck. The fretboard needs to be a flat taper, it gradually becomes thinner on the bass side then the treble side at the twelfth fret and this taper continues to the end of the board. This taper givea the bass strings extra room to vibrate, less chance of an open or fretted string hitting a fret. To achieve this I usually start with my Lie-Nielsen No.62 low angle jack plane and finish the job with long sanding blocks. The Lie-Nielsen is a wonderfully versatile plane, but it is a tad long for leveling the fretboard after it is glue to the guitar neck and the Lie-Nielsen low angle block plane is a little too short for the task. I decided to look at the low angle bevel up planes offered by Lee Valley. I bought a Veritas Small Bevel Up Smooth plane this early this month and I am very glad that I did. With just a little honing of the blade, it stepped up and did the tasks I asked of it, such as smoothing a p

New Chisel Handles

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Chisels and their handles need to be balanced and comfortable, something the original handles of these chisels lacked. I purchased them from Luthiers Mercantile International about ten years ago, I have no complaint about the quality of the steel, the chisels take an edge that lasts a long time. The other day, I got around to replacing the original handles, which are made from “tintul”, aka tamarind, with English walnut and European beech handles. The handles are a cigar shape, a shape I first used on a pair of skew chisels twenty years ago, I find this shape very comfortable and balanced. The beech has a nice solid feel to it… and the walnut is quite handsome, I turned those handles from a blank I had for almost ten years and it needed to be used! Don’t be afraid to change out the handles on any of your hand tools if you find them uncomfortable and unbalanced, the tools are an extension of you and your creativity!

The Best Workshop in the World!

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The best workshop in the world is the one that you are working in! I know that there are people who complain about their work space - it is too small, the machinery isn't set up for proper work flow, there isn't enough storage space, the lighting is poor, not enough heat, etc., etc., etc., but in those spaces these same people produce wonderful work.  Ten different work shops, or so, I have lost count, have served me well. My first workshop was a barn that my grandfather had built, I couldn't control the heat or humidity in the space but I didn't let that stop me from making mountain dulcimers. My smallest shop was six feet wide by twelve long, it held a workbench and a bungee powered lathe that help me make dulcimers, wooden top banjos and buckets of spoons.  I have built two "dream shops" only to move away for different work and jobs once the construction and finish was completed. Yes, I have bitched a little about losing those dream spaces, but I moved on a

Double Top Classical Guitar - Redwood/Nomex/Sitka Spruce/Curly Black Walnut, Part 2

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The double top classical guitar assembly process. I sanded and cleaned the interior of the body and covered over my label, it is much easier to glue the label in before the top is put on! The new top ready to be glued in place... and I am very glad that I made all these spools clamps! They make this process so much easier! The top is aligned with the neck center line.     This guitar original had East Indian rosewood bindings and end graft, the rosewood didn't have enough red in it to go well with the walnut, I opted to try out some Ceylon satinwood bindings. The color of the satin wood goes well with hues of the walnut. The bindings are doubled up, meaning that there are two pieces of satin wood instead of the usual one piece of binding, this makes for a wider binding. I can round it over to make the guitar more comfortable to hold. The guitar also got a new fret board. The wood is torrefied purple heart ( Peltogyne paniculata, Peltogyne spp.) and is being sold as Royal Blackwood.