Monday, June 15, 2009

An OM for Maurice

As a music lover as well as a guitar builder, I can imagine no greater reward for my efforts than getting my instruments into the hands of great players. With that goal in mind, here's one of the instruments I'm working on which I look forward to sending to friend and musician Maurice McGovern in Melbourne.

Soundports like the one pictured are becoming commonplace on custom instruments and, having added one to an old guitar of my own, I can vouch for their effectiveness. US builder Matt Mustapick has this to say about soundports:

This concept came originally from the great classical maker Robert Ruck, who puts two small holes on each side of the guitar, very close to where the neck joins the body, rather than one larger hole. The main advantage of the soundport is that it gives the player a "front row seat" to enjoy a strong direct signal from the soundbox. This feature takes nothing away from the forward projection of the instrument. From 20 feet away the guitar is just as loud. For anyone closer to the guitar, it adds a great deal of richness to the sound, owing to the dual sound source which creates a stereo field.

The combination of rosewood with koa trim is one of my favourites and I can't wait to see the effect when a finish is applied; the rosewood will darken considerably and the curly koa will really come alive. The small clamps I use when gluing kerfed linings came in handy for pre-gluing the purfling lines to the koa bindings prior to bending them in my Fox bender. I used Titebond 3 for this job and there was no sign of delamination which can happen with regular Titebond.

The purflings around the perimeter of the top and back are comprised of black-dyed maple and natural maple veneers with a 1mm mahogany centre piece. The five veneers were glued up as a sandwich using Titebond 3. I then cut the sandwich into strips on the bandsaw (a table saw with thin-kerf blade would be better) and ran them through my thickness sander prior to bending. On future guitars I'll substitute black fibre for the black maple; the maple gave way on the outside of some of the tighter bends. Luckily, I took the precaution of bending a few spares at the same time.

The overlay on the rear of the headstock strengthens the splice - not that it really needs it - and also obscures any glue line where the headstock joins the neck shaft. It's a much cleaner look as well as another excuse to use more of that beautiful koa!