In January, 2016 I bagan a project to build Two Kasha Classical “sister” Guitars. They are being built built with my friend Frank Sole, musician and student Luthier. This project was inspired by Frank. This instrument differs greatly in the bracing design of typical classical guitars and was developed by Dr. Michael Kasha in cooperation with luthier Richard Schneider. The instrument features a bracing design by Dr.Richard Kasha which is star patterned rather than ladder braced and the back braces are arched allowing the back to float independently and act more like a from that moves with the vibrations and air movement in the guitar ,rather that being fixed by rigid cross bracing. The soundboard is designed to increase the energy of the strings as they affect the soundboard and provide an increased bass response.
It began with a paper plan from Luthiers Mercantile, the construction of a Solera ( the building form) is based on a design by John Bogdonavitch, luthier. (see his book “Building the Concert Classical Guitar”) The set up on the solera allowed a 2 mm forward tilt in the neck and a ramp of 3 mm built up from the bridge location to the end of the guitar to create the proper string geometry. (now that one guitar is fully complete, that set-up worked perfectly. The strings are at the proper height and has excellent playability.
Both guitars are rosewood with rosewood sides, western red cedar tops, Spanish Cedar necks with Mahogany neck blocks. One instrument was constructed with cedar bracing and the other spruce. (these are the only two principal differences between theses instruments. The end port is constructed to allow access to the inside of the instrument for stringing as this guitar uses a through the soundboard string design which differs from traditional classical guitars where the strings on the bridge on the top of the soundboard.
The saddle design here is a three part configuration of American Walnut, Figured maple and bone. It has a bone nut and medium fret wire. The back “floating brace design” is constructed of maple and mahogany laminations.
Both instruments were hand finished with French polish. These instruments will be on display and for sale at the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational October 21, 22, & 23, 2016. Inquiries about pre-purchase can be discussed.
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/
Recently completed; I recently received one of my guitars from my finisher. This instrument came out beautifully. This large bodied guitar, 17 inched across the lower bout, features ;
AAAA Lutz spruce top with Black and white geometric rosette, Back and side are of AAAA Quilted maple. The neck is a 5 piece laminate of 40 year old mahogany with a double maple center strips, an ebony fingerboard with hand cut white gold MOP maple leafs motif, the head plate of ebony with a gold white MOP, JR logo, fingerboard is bound with ebony and a strip of maple, bridge of ebony, the body bound with ebony and b/w purfling and trim. Assembly of major body components are constructed with hide glue.
I recently completed the build of a Walnut parlor guitar. This is currently at the finishing shop getting a nitrocellulose finish.
This steel string acoustic features 50 year old american walnut back and sides, red spruce top, 12 fret to the body 24.9 inch scale length ebony fingerboard on a mahogany neck with slotted headstock, classical tuners with butter bean knobs. Traditional Russian handmade classical rosette, rosewood head plate with abalone JR logo, rosewood bridge, bone nut and saddle. This instrument will be ready for sale by June 2014
August kept me busy in my shop. Although there were a few days I should have enjoyed a little sun I found my self inside on various tasks.
I decided to add a falling maple leaf motif to a fingerboard for a quilted maple guitar under construction. It began with lamination a .20 white maple fiber and an ebony binding to the fingerboard. In this shot you can see the fibre and ebony being clamped up and the finished result below.
When that was complete I cut a series of gold/white Mother of Pearl maple leafs in progressively smaller sizes.
Those were inlaid into the fingerboard in a random falling leaf pattern as per suggestion by my friend Tony DiDomenico Luthier, builder of fine instruments and finisher, http://didomenicoguitars.com. The stems pieces were then cut, no small task for such small pieces, and the fill was added.
The body of the maple guitar will get some herringbone binding. The overall look of this instrument will be black and white.
I have also continued work on a Walnut parlor. The woods in this are from and 50 year old piece of american walnut that someone gave me and I re-sawed. The Red spruce top is 3A, very clean, and Im using a hand made Russian traditional rosette.
Maplewoodstock 2013 was this past weekend. I want to thank all of my friends and musicians who entertained us and all the folks that came out Saturday and Sunday to visit my booth. Both days were filled with great music and people. Everyone was having a great time.
My tent was slightly rained out on for an hour Saturday, but Sunday, although hot, was dry. The tent looked great and because I was under a tree in the shade many people hung around. It didn’t hurt to be under the tree on Saturday either when it rained as it kept people around helping sales too. I received many inquiries about repairs and requests to commission me to build acoustic guitars.
On the day of the event I was displaying a Joe Mendel 5 string banjo. I will have it in my shop for about two more weeks before I send it back to Joe. This one has a Padauk tone ring, maple neck and brushed brass hardware. It’s a beautiful instrument with a deep, rich tone. If you are interested in this banjo please get in touch with Joe or myself. Joe can be found at http://www.jmendelfrets.com
Keep in mind I have and install LR Baggs pick-ups and pre-amps . Drop me a line to find out more about pricing and such.
On May 8th., 2013, I held a presentation on how I build my JR Acoustic Guitar at the Central Jersey Woodworkers Associations monthly meeting. http://www.cjwa.org. I was assisted by my friend and right hand man John Grunberg, and Frank Sole’, musician, who helped me set up and video taped the presentation.
My exhibit included six completed guitars, one of which Frank built, guitar bodies under construction, forms, woods, templates, materials, and about 250 images in my powerpoint presentation. I spoke for almost two hours. I am pleased to report the the interest and admiration of the audience was outstanding. I was told by many that it was the most informative and interesting presentation they have have had at their meeting in a long time.
To wrap up the show Frank Sole played finger-style on my recently completed Redwood and Cocobolo guitar to a huge applause. He was great! It was great!
I was very pleased to represent some of the companies who generously provided woods or from whom I purchase parts and materials that I use in my building process.