CLASSICAL GUITARS FOR SALE

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Rack Made Out of 2x4's to Hang Guitars On

Bernardo's guitar shop has an old world atmosphere. It is a small shop, cluttered with pieces of wood, guitars of many types and in various stages of disrepair and repair. It is a busy shop with genuinely friendly people...

Gerald J. Bakus, The Spanish Guitar, 1977


The space my studio currently resides in is a small room in the upstairs of our log home, there isn't much space.

I am very busy at the moment with four guitars.

I've been hanging two of the four guitars down stairs in the laundry room on hooks put into one of the 4x6 beams that run through the room.

Problem is it is very hard to control the relative humidity in that room, I have an easier time keeping the humidity in my current workspace at about 40-45%. When it comes time to do the French polish on the guitars I don't want the humidity going up and down making the woods do the same thing. I had no choice but to bring the guitars upstairs.

Where to hang them was the dilemma.



Yesterday I made time and built a hanging rack for the guitars.

I took some Douglas fir 2x4's and made the rack that you see in the above photo.

A few cuts on the sliding compound miter saw, a couple of screws and a few pieces of hardboard was all that was needed.



The frame is sturdy, sturdy enough to hang four guitars from. Now all of the guitars will be right at hand.

Seeing all those guitars lined up makes this small room feel like a real guitar workshop...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Three Guitars

The traditions of the past in guitar construction have been respected and altered in the interests of better instruments.

Alexander Bellow, The Illustrated History of the Guitar, 1970




This past Friday, I finished assembling the western white spruce/African rosewood.

Now, I have three guitars that need finishing - bindings installed, fret boards glued to necks and frets hammered into the fret boards and then the French polish.

There is much work for me to do over the next several months.




Left to right: Western White Spruce/African Rosewood guitar; Western Red Cedar/Indian Rosewood guitar; Western Red Cedar/Claro Walnut guitar.



The back side of the guitars. You can see the Macassar ebony fillet in the African rosewood guitar to the far left and the sapele fillet in the Indian rosewood guitar in the middle.

I look forward to finishing these guitars and offering them for sale, most of all I look forward to hearing the beautiful music that will come from them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On the Bench: Western White Spruce/African Rosewood Concert Guitar

...the art of knowing and working with Mother Nature's wood is one of the noblest occupations created for the development and enjoyment of human beings.

Manuel Rodriguez, The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitars, 2003


We've had a cold snap here in our neck of the woods, thankfully the temperature hasn't dropped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit at the house, but daytime temperatures haven't gotten about 25 degrees F. The relative humidity has dropped and my little humidifier is having a hard time keeping moisture in the air of my new little upstairs workshop, which means I have to watch the hygrometer and the wood very carefully. I doubt I will be doing much glueing until the temps get above 30 degrees.

That said, I have parts for another guitar ready for the bench, a spruce and African rosewood (bubinga).

I bought two white spruce tops from Stew-Mac several years ago, it was a limited time offering, the wood sold out quickly and Stewmac no longer offers this wonderful tone wood.

White spruce - aka, cat spruce, skunk spruce, western white spruce, picea glauca - is very similar to Sitka spruce and even smells like it when you work it. I have found one source for it on the internet, I am sure there are others, but I am not looking too hard.


This five strut bracing pattern is adapted from ones used by Marcelo Barbero, Hernandez y Aguado, and Antonio Torres. It's a experiment for me, I want a looser top with a quick response and perhaps a few more overtones.

Click here for Juan F. Fernandez's wonderful page full of computer simulations of vibration modes of different guitar bracing patterns.




I used a beautiful rosette handcrafted in Russia by a father and son team.

Notice the medullary rays present in this guitar top.




This guitar will have a three piece back - bubinga with a Macassar ebony insert.



Bubinga is harder than East Indian rosewood and has a brilliant, glassy tap tone to it.

I think the Macassar ebony really compliments the bubinga.




The headstock overlay for this guitar echoes the three piece back...


The Guitar Foundation of America 2016 convention is just six months away. I already registered for a table at the vendor expo, I have so much work to do to get ready for the show!




Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Guitar Maker's Christmas Wish List

One Christmas Eve, I was told, certain payments due did not mature, and grandfather found himself unable to pay his men's wages. At that time the daily fare of the village was home-cured bacon: and when it was suggested that, for the family Christmas dinner, a piece of fresh meat should be brought from the butcher, he forbade it, on the principle that such a luxury was inconsistent with the non-payment of wages. And on that Christmas day the family sat down to nothing more than the everyday bacon.

Walter Rose, The Village Carpenter, 1937


Dear Santa:

This December I listed every step in making a guitar and identified every tool for each step.

I inventoried all of my tools and discovered more tools are needed to increase my efficiency, efficiency increases speed, speed means I make more guitars for sale, which means more money to pay off the mortgage.

I searched and searched tool catalogs, websites and at last I found every needed tool.

The list is a long one, but Santa, today when I was walking through the beautiful forest and all the snow that has graced these Rocky Mountains these last two weeks, I realized what it is I want most for Christmas.

What I want for Christmas is...

Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.

Please exchange all those gifts for me and my wife for love, cheer and kindness and deliver those three things to everyone in the world.

Thank you, Santa!

Wilson Burnham

P.S.

Say "Hi!" to Mrs. Santa and your hard working elves.

P.P.S

The heater in the horses' water tank is on and I opened up several bales of alfalfa hay for your reindeer!


MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Snow, Snowshoeing and Hide Glue

Once again we are in the grip of that grim old gentleman familiarly known as Jack Frost.

D.C. Beard, The Field and Forest Handy Book, 1906



The first day of winter is only four days away and we got two good snows this past week.

It's been wonderful for me to trail after the dogs on my snowshoes for their morning and afternoon up the gulch to Forest Service property.




There are great views such as this to enjoy...



and the gulch is cozy with snow.



A dead standing Douglas fir makes for a good photo opportunity.




Josey and Rufus treed another chickaree (tree squirrel), Pete was off chasing a different chickaree.



Today, I am trying to finish up the interior of a Conservatory model guitar so I can glue on the back.

Chores and other obligations have slowed down my progress some, but now that I glued a dutchman on the neck foot I am one step closer to closing up this guitar.




Hide glue and Lee Valley fish glue on my standard glues these days.

I appreciate how easy it is to reverse hide glue, just get out the heat gun, heat the spot for a few seconds and whatever I glued on pops off. To re-glue, I heat up the piece I took off, brush on some more hide glue and glue it back in place. Pretty simple. It's a forgiving glue and it dries harder than most polyvinyl glues.

John Tuttle extols the virtues of hide glue in his website on player piano repair, click here to read his hide glue question and answer page.

It's back to work for me!





Friday, December 4, 2015

How Many Guitar Making Hours in a Day?

Life is for doing things slow, like trees.

Makoto Imai, Japanese shrine builder



I recently read an interview with a well known classical guitar maker, and in the interview he stated that he worked twelve hours a day to make his guitars.

The first thing that came to my mind as I read that was - does he works three days a week or five days a week? 36 hours or 60 hours? Another question was, does he make time to live a life?

I can barely get in an eight hour day at the work bench.

There are chores around the house and property that need attention; the dogs demand two walks a day; and I need to get in my daily run of two and one-half miles. Oh, and I cook dinner for my wife since she commutes four days a week.





Yesterday, I did bend two sets of guitar sides. One set of Claro walnut...


and the other was bubinga.

This set of Claro walnut bent like a dream, but I have noticed that walnut tends to have more spring back than any other wood that I have bent.

Bubinga is hard to bend, meaning you have to take your time when you work it against the bending iron. I found that the iron needed to be at least 415 degrees Fahrenheit to really bend the bubinga, the wood didn't want to cooperate at temperatures below that.

It may be hard to bend, but bubinga had much less spring back than the walnut.




Today, I need to attach this top to the cherry neck I made for this guitar.

I also need to take the trash to the transfer station (no trash pick up in this part of the Rocky Mountains), check for mail at the post office, drive into Estes Park to pick up a few things for dinner, go for a run, take the dogs for another walk...

I haven't mentioned the fact that I need to build a new shop, re-insulate the ceiling in our house and build a whole bunch of bookcases.

One thing at a time.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Building an Antonio Torres SE 117 Guitar: Full Size Drawings to Start

What I can never doubt, or help admitting, is that the guitars constructed by Antonio Torres are the achievement of the highest degree of guitar lutherie.

Manual Rodriguez, The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitars, 2003


I have a soft spot for small guitars, the first two guitars I made were based upon an 1816 Jose Martinez guitar which isn't much bigger than a baritone ukulele. Though small, these guitars have a loud, lyrical voice and are quite fun to play.

Two guitars made by Antonio Torres, his SE117 and SE151a have always intrigued me - they were both made with the same plantilla, or shape, both have bodies that are 17 inches long. SE117 has a 604mm, (23.750") string length and SE151a has a 610mm (24") string length. Compare that to the 1816 Martinez guitar which has a 616mm (24.25") string length and its body is just over 16 inches long!

The Martinez is a great sounding little guitar, I figure that with a larger body the Torres style guitars should be even louder. I will find out if that is true.

The reason to make a guitar based upon the Torres SE117 guitar, plans for which are available here and here, is that I purchased a piece of gorgeous curly Oregon walnut from Lewis Judy at Northwest Timbers.

I had originally bought the piece to cut up into bindings, but the wood was so pretty I had to make something else out of it.



One thing that I have learned about guitar making is to make a full size drawing of the instrument before I start. I already had the template for this guitar made, I got it from Jose Romanillos's book, Antonio Torres: Guitar Maker - His Life & Work, I used that to make these drawings.

By drawing out this little guitar I discovered that in order to get the proper string height above the fret board I will have to dome the top as much as a full size guitar, nearly three millimeters, or one-eighth of an inch.

This is good to know.




The curly walnut board was only five and one-half inches wide, too narrow for a standard two piece back, the drawing also helped me to figure out how wide of a filler piece I needed to make the back the required width.

I made the filler piece tapered on a 1 degree slant, copying what Torres did on his guitars where he used a third piece for the back.




Here are the three pieces of walnut with the two strips of curly maple for contrast. You can see the nice curl in the wood.




The three pieces being glued together.

I set a deadline for myself, I have until tomorrow afternoon to finish preparing all the parts for this guitar - sides, back, neck, top and bracing - if I am not finished then all parts go onto the shelf.

On Monday, I need to start assembling one of my Conservatory guitar models so I can have a less expensive guitar on hand to sell.