With new orders and some new machinery I have grown out of my current workshop and moved to a larger premises. This has made a huge difference to how I work. I didnt really have the space to work on more than one guitar at a time or have multiple guitar processes going on at once. I can now stream line some of my processes which should get rid of some of the back log and lets me spend more time setting up the guitar and most importantly working on producing great tone.
In my travels I have been very fortunate to play a number of great guitars made by excellent luthiers. Although I do play mainly classical I do like to have a bit of a strum on the steel strings and I have found an excellent steel string Luthier Lach Wilson who builds fantastic guitars that I now use in my live duo work. Lach’s guitars are incredibly well set up and play beautifully. The time and effort he spends in getting the right feel in the hands of the guitarist is worth it as the guitars play so easily. Will add a sound file of this Wilson guitar shortly. This guitar is an excellent expressive guitar with some very fine detail and tonally outshines many guitars in the $5-10K range.
I was very fortunate to be able to hand deliver two of my guitars to Europe in the first two weeks in April this year. The first guitar, a lattice guitar with superb brazilian rosewood back and sides to Oxford in the UK to Fine Guitars. Niranjan and his family run a lovely guitar shop that specialises in hand made guitars. Please see www.fineguitars.co.uk
I receive a number of enquiries about my guitars from the UK, and I know its nice to be able put your hands on the guitar, hear it and see how it plays before puchasing it so please visit Fine Guitars to try out one of my guitars.
The second guitar, another lattice guitar with brazilian rosewood back and sides, tiger myrtle bindings and arm rest was purchased by Andre in Paris. Andre invited me to dinner for my first night in Paris. A beautiful dinner with Andre and his lovely family. It is a real treat to be able to hand deliver a guitar. In Australia I have hand delivered a few but to Europe it was real luxury and a great experience. Thank goodness Andre and his family spoke English as the two years of French I studied in high school have long been forgotten. I can talk guitars for hours and the people that buy my guitars also seem to enjoy a good chat about guitars too.
I have been a little quiet on the website with some of the updates which has been due to the fact that I have been extremely busy building guitars. Orders are coming in regularly for my lattice guitars and traditional guitars.
As the business is going well a trip to the US may be on the cards later this year as well to hand deliver a couple of guitars and visit some dealers.
Some pics of the latest guitar that’s come off the bench which has been shipped to its new owner today:
Head to the Lattice Guitars part of this website (see the right hand menu) for more pics and youtube video for sound files. Or you can click on the pics above for higher resolution images.
It’s been a flat out last three months. Pictures below are of a guitar made to order that was completed yesterday and shipped today:
Brazilian Rosewood Back and Sides
Western Red Cedar Top
Spanish cedar neck
Schaller premium tuners
Tiger Myrtle binding
Click on the images to view larger pics
Update 1/9/2010, this guitar has been sold
I have added one of my demo guitars to the Instruments for sale section of this website. It has an arm rest, sound port, 20 fret and sounds great. Will be adding a sound/video file shortly.
Sold another demo guitar last week on ebay and it has gone to a lucky guitarist who picked up a bargain and a great guitar.
Another busy week working through an order. Today I will be reducing the thickness of a western red cedar set and brazilian rosewood back set. I do this to clean up the top and back and look at the grain lines which helps when you go to joint them. By the end of today these will be glued together. This afternoon I will be thicknessing the brazilian rosewood sides to 2.2mm. For my traditional guitars I build them very light. My lattice braced guitars sides are over 3mm thick when finished. The sides on this traditional guitar will finish up a little under 2mm which will be great. This brazilian rosewood is a beautiful black set. Will attach some pics soon. One side of the guitar will be bent this evening.
Tomorrow will involve bending the other side of the guitar, making an end block, cutting kerfing and cutting the outline of the soundboard and back of the guitar.
Thursday morning will involve cutting the channel for the rosette with the afternoon spent building up the rosette and glueing it in.
Friday will be cleaning up the rosette and thicknessing the top and cutting up the bracing for top and the back of the guitar. The afternoon will be spent glueing up the bracing for the top which will be a standard 7 fan strut.
Weekend will hopefully be snow skiing!
Being the sole instrument repairer in a 150km radius of the place I do quite a few repairs. Most of the repairs are for new bridges for violins and cellos (or should that be celli), reglueing seams that have come apart due to the humidity issues around this area. The usual refretting for guitars and basses , bridge repairs and refining the action on guitars.
Rehairing a bow is a standard repair for my shop, this morning I have rehaired a violin bow and a double bass bow. The double bass bow would use two and half times the hair of a violin. I do the bow rehairs generally while the glue is drying for the guitars.
I have been binding a double top guitar over the last couple of days. I have seen a video on youtube where the guy binds a guitar with rope in under 10 minutes. It takes me the better part of 2 days to do it and another full day to clean it up, scrape them flush and have the guitar ready for the next task which is preparing, shaping, slotting and glueing on the fingerboard. I am in no rush, years ago I built guitars very quickly but I now work at a steady speed and produce guitars which are far more precise and aesthetically better. It takes time to get a good sound out of a guitar and takes a really long time to finish a guitar and have it look like a concert instrument should.
I use tiger myrtle for the bindings on my guitars, I have used jarrah as well. I had a whole heap of jarrah fence palings that I sliced up for binding. Ebony as a binding material is also used and is what I am working on for this double top at the moment. This is going to be one nice looking guitar when it is finished and it should really sing.
The orders are coming in, two traditionals and a lattice all in the last week. I have 1 spot left in my build schedule for this year if you want a hand made guitar by Christmas.
It has a been a busy time in the workshop in the last two weeks. The Smallman style lattice frames are finished, balsa will be cut, sanded and routed this week for the current lattice build. The balsa lattice is a very important structure in my Smallman style instruments. The balsa I use is of medium density that is both strong and light. Carbon fibre is epoxied to the sides of the lattice which sits under the bridge area, the lattice is then glued together. Once this is done I sand the lattice to a 25 foot radius and then apply carbon fibre to it. This is not a pretty process, the epoxy stinks (thank goodness for my protective mask that saves my lungs) and sticks to everything but it is the best product for glueing the carbon fibre to the balsa as once it all dries it is incredibly light and strong. The lattice is then resanded so it is has a perfect bonding surface to the soundboard which are glued together using a 25 foot radius dish in my vacuum press which applies an even pressure over the lattice. By putting a 25 foot radius to the soundboard you are adding a little strength which helps counteract some of the forces around the bridge area. If none of this made any sense, it doesnt matter as it’s all hidden beneath the soundboard to keep that very traditional look of a classical guitar.
I build one main guitar at a time and generally while I am waiting for the glue to dry for one process I will work on constructing the next part of that guitar and french polishing the preceeding guitar. Each guitar I make takes over 140 hours and this is usually spread over a two month period. Finishing a guitar with French polish takes me about a month with daily french polishing sessions taking about 15-30 minutes each.
My contact details are email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 2 6931 6950
One of my favourite pieces to play. This was recorded on one of my handmade traditional classical guitars with western red cedar top and indian rosewood back and sides. This guitar is my research guitar, I use it to carry out experiments. Have a listen to the youtube video, please forgive the errors, the technique (was trying to keep a quiet and efficient right hand, the ‘i’ finger is just is too busy) and the bung notes. The advantage of being a player as well as a builder/luthier is that you get to hear and feel the differences in the guitar and you really understand the importance of a great set up.
After recording this I took the bridge off and replaced it with a bridge of padauk which weighed in at 12.5 grams. The ebony bridge that was on this guitar weighed in at over 30 grams. By reducing the weight of the bridge the guitar is now a little louder, trebles are not as strong but the overall sound is a little fuller. The padauk bridge is one that I use on all my lattice guitars as it works very well when you have a very lightweight soundboard.
I then took off the padauk bridge and replaced it with an Indian Rosewood bridge. Indian Rosewood as a bridge material is fine and from my research a number of the great makers would use rosewood and stain it black. It’s lighter than ebony and weighs in at around 20 grams and it still holds a lot of the trebles and gives a nice even response.
No more ebony bridges for me…