Whenever I can I like to use reclaimed or salvaged wood. Currently I am joining up a soundboard purchased years ago from Alaska Specialty Woods.
This set was reclaimed from a bridge that spanned Bear Creek River in Alaska in the 70’s. Its stringers were made from two 60” logs.
After 10 years of service the bridge was dropped to the forest floor and a new metal bridge installed. The logs were reclaimed around 2000. It was cut into sound boards that are stiff, with a beautiful loose grain and a naturally aged color that can’t be sanded out. I have used this before in a guitar called “Bridges”. This set exhibits a bit of bear claw and a warm amber rose color. Beautiful!
On October 21, 22, and 23, 2016, The “Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase” will commence again in Woodstock, New York. The dates are October 21, 22, and 23, 2016. The event is held at The Bearsville Theater and Utopia Sounstage on Tinker Street.
This will be a three day exhibition of hand-built acoustic guitars and instruments exhibited by by their makers.
This show is always an amazing opportunity to see, hear and play some of the finest instruments on this planet. The show has exhibitors from around the globe. Daily and half hourly performances by some of the finest musicians playing these hand made instruments happen on the main stage. There are lectures workshops and demonstrations. I suggest that you make this a go-to event if you love guitars and can make the trip. Find out more at The Woodstock Invitational Website Page http://www.woodstockinvitational.com.
I am excited to be exhibiting there and am pleased to be included as an exhibitor with all the other fine builders. This year I will be in the main room rubbing shoulders and hob knobbing with other masters of this craft who’s work I admire greatly.
The instruments below have been built over the past year and will be on display; A Kasha Classical, an experimental guitar design of mine I call “The Arches”, A 7-string Baroque transitional guitar built to the exact measurements of a the original created over 200 years ago, and my PF model in Quilted maple with a Moonwood soundboard and Mahogany neck.
I hope to see you in Woodstock. This will be an excellent to own a Jay Rosenblatt Original guitar if that is your fancy. Please stop in to say hello.
This week began a Weissenborn project. Based loosely on a style 3, this page I will highlight photographs of its construction. I will update it as I move along its completion. This is a special build with a delivery date of Mid April.
About the woods: This was constructed with Koa back and sides and an Alaskan sitka soundboard. The fingerboard is Macassar Ebony and came from LMI. The headstock is Mahogany which came from a 3×3 billet from Hibdon Hardwoods. The bridge of Honduran rosewood was also from Hibdon. The binding is a traditional Rope design made from scraps of maple and mahogany. The head plate is Koa. The pearl rosette was from the Duke Of Pearl. Ebony bridge pins with Abalone inlays were used and the position markers are Abalone too.
The Koa back and sides came from Notable Woods in Lopez, Washington. These are age dried pieces of Koa with a nice tone and appear to be very stable. The Sitka soundboard is of salvaged wood from Alaska Specialty Woods, Craig Alaska. The story behind the soundboard is that it came from a bridge stringer that once spanned over Back Bear Creek. It was a 63″ diameter log that was aquired by the mill in 1998, about 2 years after the bridge was pulled to be replaced replaced with steel bridge. The wooden car bridge was installed when the road there was used for logging in 1984-85. Now that road is used for recreation and to get to a hydro electric generator were water falling off the mountain from black bear lake is run through a turbine. The build is based on a template from Waldon Instruments. I have modified my braces to suit my building style.
The headlock, which is actually the neck block too was fabricated from a solid piece of mahogany
When I removed this guitar from the form I noticed something unique to the instrument. When I tapped on the center of the soundboard, sort of a thump with my thumb, I was able to hear the sound that produced come out not only from the sound hole but I also heard it way up in the headstock. The vibrations traveled straight up through the hollow neck and emitted at the top of the guitar.
I have a little music box mechanism that plays a simple tune very quietly when you crank the handle. Barely audible without something to amplify its sound, like a wooden music box. I place it where at the bridge position to test the guitars responsiveness to a very quiet sound, essentially making the guitar the music box. (try it one day) The sound is greatly amplified and comes through the sound hole. When I put the mechanism at the top of the neck the sound transversely traveled down and out the sound hole almost as loud as from the bridge position. I am certain that the energy from the nut will also travel through the guitar and add to the sound of this instrument. Perhaps thats is little secret behind the Weissenborn’s unique sound.
The initial stringing sounds awesome. I used John Pearse Weissenborn strings, 80/20 bronze, 15 to 60. A final adjustments for string height and level across the tops will be performed, but as it is this Weissenborn has a rich tone, a beautiful natural reverb, good presence and response, and a lovely character.
Thanks for looking. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed building it!
Its been about three months since the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational. I had a great time exhibiting my guitars there. I was well greeted by all the attendees and the other exhibitors and luthiers. It was a great event and I formed many new alliances. Many musicians stopped by to ask questions and play my instruments..
I was fortunate to have Kinloch Nelson stop by and play one of my guitars. Kinloch is an amazing and talented musician who has a unique open tuning style that is all his own. Kinloch Nelson is a true master of the acoustic guitar. www.kinlochnelson.com. Kinloch, it was a pleasure to listen to you and have you play my guitar.
Mr. John Monteleone stopped to chat for a moment. A thrill to pose in the photo with him. Monteleone’s work represents the finest in arch top guitar design and construction in the 20th century. His work embodies the marriage of traditional and contemporary arch top guitar design and stands as a benchmark for his craft. His work has been exhibited in the metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Guitar Heroes” exhibition in 2012 and his instruments are highly prized and desired by jazz musicians worldwide. http://www.monteleone.net. Thank you for the time John.
J.R. Rogers, creator and founder of the Acoustic Guitar Forum stopped by to talk and play for a while. JR’s online web site and forum is a premier site devoted to helping guitar enthusiasts, players and luthiers to join together share ideas and information. Currently there are 25,000 subscribing members to his forum. Thanks for stopping by JR. http://www.acousticguitarforum.com
The show itself was packed with attendees and exhibitors. It was probably the busiest to date.
A project I started in late 2014 is in its final stages.
This Cutaway model made of Honduran Mahogany with an Alaskan Sitka Top is ready to go to the finisher. Many steps along the way to makes this baby come to life.
Here are a few photos of the work. I am very pleased with how this turned out as it represents many fine details of my woodworking and guitar building ability. Each instrument I make is a lesson in patience and each one progressively teaches me more about this craft.
This guitar features; Honduran back and sides, Alaskan sitka soundboard, Quilted maple binding with rope purfling, a Macassar ebony fingerboard, ebony bridge, cocobolo head plate with maple binding, a maple burl backplate, arrowhead fingerboard markers with MOP side dots, bone nut and saddle and will have a lacquer finish applied.
More photos to come soon.
Thanks for reading and keep playing your guitar. For information on how to contact me go to the “about page”.
Busy, Busy Busy, Thats all I can say. The past three months have been work in preparation for my exhibit table at the Woodstock Luthiers Showcase in Woodstock, New York. October 24th, 25th and 26th,. I will have several guitars on display there. All are ready for sale with custom fit Ameritage cases. One just back from finish in the final stages of set-up. (second from left in photo) Hope to have that ready at showtime. The guitars that will be for sale at Woodstock will include a quilted maple parlor, a OOO sized curly maple and lutz spruce guitar, a alaskan sitka topped jumbo with Rosewood back and sides, an all Mahogany Tenor Ukulele and a Bearclaw and curly maple 00. (still under construction). Other items for sale will include LR Baggs pickups and pre-amps and Phil Jones Acoustic amplifiers.
About the guitars in the photo above, here are their ingredients.Maple Parlor Guitar. (far left in top photo)
AAAA Quilted Maple back and sides
AAA Lutz Spruce soundboard
Lutz spruce carved bracing
Rosewood bridge plate
Spanish Cedar Neck with ebony head plate
Ebony fingerboard, 12 fret to body, 24.9 scale length
1-3/4 nut width, 2-1/4 width at 12th fret
Cocobolo and Ebony geometric rosette
Ebony wave design bridge
18% nickel fret wire
MOP position markers
Abalone JR logo
2 way truss rod
Ebony bridge pins with Abalone dots
Bone nut and compensated bone saddle
Hand toned amber glow with Nitro Cellulose lacquer exterior
Shellac finished interior
Schertler tuning machines
Ameritage custom case
Bearclaw Sitka with Maple back and sides OO. (Second From left in top photo)
AAAA Curly Maple back and sides
AAA Bearclaw Sitka Spruce soundboard
Lutz spruce carved bracing
Maple and mahogany 9 piece laminated neck
2 way truss rod
Geometric design ebony and maple rosette
Ebony arc design bridge
Curly maple back plate on headstock, steam bent to match curve
Ebony binding with coral design purfling
Rosewood bridge plate, Cedar kerfing
Ebony fingerboard, 14 fret to the body, 25.4 scale
Abalone JR logo, Ebony bridge pins with Abalone dots
Fully compensated saddle
Gotoh 510 Tuning Machines
Ameritage custom case
The guitars above when purchased will all come with custom fit Ameritage Cases. These are beautiful and Durable!
Currently on the workbench; In the works. I am currently working on a Mahogany and Sitka venetian cutaway acoustic model. This guitar features Honduran Mahogany back and sides matched to a light curly sitka soundboard. A maple and mahogany geometric rosette adorns the sound hole , curly maple binding with Rope purling and B/W fibre pull it all together. The back bracing is of mahogany with a hybrid X/ladder pattern. The soundboard bracing is forward-X pattern, scalloped and hand tuned sitka. Neck block and tail block of aged mahogany. The neck will be a 9 layer lamination with 40 year old Mahogany and maple strips.
Guitar Building class and Instruction. In the next few months I will be setting up a shop where I can teach guitar building and construction. Group classes of two people per class or individual instruction will be offered. Topics covered from bending sides to carving braces, fretwork to final assembly will be taught in the classes. You can build a guitar too! More information will follow. Getting out to play a bit enjoying the fruits of my labor playing my hand built guitars with some friends at Hat City Kitchen’s All Acoustic Open Mic, Orange, NJ
Below are some links to the fine vendors who have provided parts, woods, jigs, cases or finishing.
In conclusion; I hope you can make it up to Woodstock to see these instruments first hand. If you are a player, picker, professional musician or just like to have fun and enjoy music, please come up to Woodstock, New York next week. It will be a great day of music, musicians, and guitars, built by hand and being displayed by their builders. For moder details go to http://www.woodstockinvitational.com
It has been 3 months since my last big post. Catching up here are works in progress, finished guitars and instruments.
My latest instrument in the works is this Maple OM sized guitar. This build is getting lacquered at this time. This is a steel string acoustic guitar with curly maple back and sides and a Bearclaw Sitka top.
This guitar has a black and white color scheme. The rosette is ebony and maple, the binding ebony with a herringbone purling. Ebony fingerboard with arrowhead inlays and an arc shaped ebony bridge design. The back of the head plate has a steam bent quilted maple veneer and the headstock head plate is Ebony. The JR logo (not shown) is of white pearl.
The photos below show some of the building process from this maple guitar.
This guitar is currently in the finishing process. I hope to have it ready for the Woodstock Luthiers Showcase in October.
In a previous posts I showed a small walnut parlor guitar just before it went to the finisher, well this is now complete. The finish of Nitro Cellulose has been done and the guitar is strung up.
In the images below images you can see some of the final steps building process after the finish was applies. Its at that point I permanently attach the bridge and do a final set up for playability.
This guitar who’s body is constructed from a piece of wood that came from a 50 year old American Walnut tree that was felled in the late 60’s. I cut the back and side set from it for this instrument, joined with a red spruce (Adirondak) soundboard. This guitar features a 24.9 scale length fingerboard in ebony with a rosewood bridge and head plate. A mahogany neck with slotted headstock, bone nut and saddle and a classical style rosette. This is a steel string guitar with a clear and light tone. The inlays are of mother of pearl and abalone. The neck feels nice with its slightly wider fingerboard and shorter scale length making it a really nice finger style guitar.
Another instrument I completed is a tenor Ukulele. This small instrument is constructed of ribbon striped mahogany for the soundboard and back. The sides are quilted mahogany. The fingerboard is ebony with MOP position markers as is the bridge. The headstock features my wave design and is of book matched Koa. The binding is maple with a black white fibre and the rosette is a chevron design. The neck on this is laminated with 40 year old mahogany which was repurposed from old Martin guitar neck blanks and has a maple center strip. The interior braces are lutz spruce with cedar kerning and a rosewood bridge plate. The tuners are Waverly with ebony knobs. The instrument is finished with a traditional hand rubbed shellac (french polish) which brings out the shimmer in the mahogany. This is a delightful instrument.
About my work shop. My workshop is in a single small room. Here is a panorama. Although this photo makes it look grand it is only about 20 feet x 20 feet wide but offers me enough room to work and display my instruments.
Recently I received another instrument back from my finisher. The guitar is a new design for me. It’s body shape is smaller than my standard large bodied guitar. (see my large body guitar “Big Maple” in a previous post). Closer in size to an OM model instrument. The specs.
Back and Sides: East Indian Rosewood
Soundboard: 40 year old Alaskan Sitka
Fingerboard, bridge and head plate: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.4
Neck Wood: 25 year old African Mahogany
Rosette: White fible with Abalone ring
Headstock Design: The Big Wave
Tuners: Sterling Silver
Fingerboard Inlay: White Gold Mother of Pearl geometrid pattern
Binding: White Ivoroid with Coral Purfling.
Endpiece and heel-cap: Ebony
Nut and saddle: Bone
This guitar is constructed of East Indian Rosewood back and sides and a 40 year old Alaskan Sitka Spruce soundboard.
It is my understanding that soundboard came from log that was salvaged from a bridge stringer that crossed an Alaskan river before it became soundboards. I purchased one soundboard in 2010 and I wish I had bought more. It is a beautiful loosely grained top with an amazing natural color and wonderful tone. Next time I come across these special woods I will have to get a few extras as now I see and hear how wonderful this guitar looks and sounds. This is truly special.
This guitar which I have named “Prima Fino” is named for my mentor and guru, Luthier, Frank Finocchio. I built a guitar with Frank 5 years ago that was his design, The “Prima”. Frank has helped me greatly and so I named this build “Prima Fino. Frank builds and repairs guitars for over 30 years now in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. He also teaches instrument building in week and two week long courses. Find out more about frank here; http://www.finocchioguitar.com/2014/