Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Belated Gift

If first impressions count for anything, there are a lot of things to like about this guitar which I strung up for the first time last weekend.  I'll let it settle for a while before I make final nut, saddle and action adjustments, but even in its current incomplete state I'm able to play it and assess its tonal potential. I look forward to enjoying the full experience - however briefly - before I deliver it to its new owner.

There were more than my usual number of blunders along the way and I'm still refining my finishing technique, but overall I'm pleased with the outcome.  The minor cosmetic flaws are disappointing, but after riding out the obligatory post-build period of self-recrimination, I'm now able to look beyond them and enjoy the fact that the sound of this guitar surpasses anything I've built previously.  My hope is that where bracing and tuning of the soundboard is concerned, what I've achieved with this guitar signals a permanent leap to the next level.

The guitar is a gift to a very patient musician friend in Melbourne. Maurice is an old rocker with a soft spot for Marshall stacks and Gibson Les Pauls, however, I hold out some faint hope that he'll be impressed enough with this guitar to suppress his natural tendencies and learn some more subdued acoustic pieces. The message will be clear when I present it to him: if he's inclined to mount a humbucker in the soundhole and plug into a wall of Marshalls, I'd rather not know about it!

Soundboard: Engelmann spruce
Back and sides: East Indian rosewood
Neck: Queensland maple
Fretboard and bridge: ebony
Bindings and trim: koa
Rosette and fretboard inlay: green abalone
Tuners: Schaller mini
Fretwire: Gold "Evo"


Monday, April 4, 2011

It's All About the Music!

As a would-be luthier, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the guitar is a means to an end rather than an end in itself, and that as a builder of musical instruments, the role I play is to facilitate the making of music. Accepting that I gain immense enjoyment from my contribution to the process and that my efforts are worthwhile in their own right - at least at a personal level - ultimately it's the musician who (hopefully!) creates the real magic.

I was privileged to experience some of that magic on Friday night when Tony McManus was in town.  While I don't hold out much hope of ever having my guitars in the hands of the likes of Tony McManus, seeing a player of his calibre play in person strengthens my resolve to build the best guitars I possibly can in the hope that I can contribute in some small way to the creation of beautiful music.

Coincidentally, it was at this same venue that I watched the owner of my one and only commission so far - a 12-fret 000 - put his new guitar through its paces.  That was some years and several guitars ago, but the experience lives on in my memory as the highlight of my guitar building "career" to date.  Perhaps, one day, I'll have the opportunity to repeat it!