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.
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”.
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
Looking back at 2013, it has been a very productive year in the guitar workshop and other areas of my luthier business.
Most recently I completed the closing of a new guitar body. This one is constructed of East Indian Rosewood. The soundboard is from a 40 year old Alaskan Sitka Float Log felled in the 70’s that I purchased from Alaska Specialty Woods in 2010. It has been on my shelf seasoning. The Braces are Sitka from the same supplier. This instrument will be less ornate than my previous builds without to much pearl or embellishments keeping my focus on the sound of this instrument.
The bridge-plate is Rosewood that matches the sides. The center strip is also cut from the remains of the back. The x brace has an ebony inlay into the joint for added stiffness at the center.
This newer body style is smaller and a little more rounded than my large body instruments. It sits comfortably in the lap and has enough body depth to provide a good bass response.
In progress right now is another parlor guitar. This instrument is about 2/3 through the process.
This instrument is constructed of 50 year old American Walnut back and sides. I received an 8 foot by 12″ x 5/4 board as a gift from a friend. There were long checking about a foot into each end of the board. After resawing the boards I was able to salvage 4 sets of backs and sides.
The wood was not quarter sawn but being such an old age is very stable and went together beautifully. The top of this guitar is Red Spruce that I acquired from Carl Barney. The rosette is a classical style, handmade rosette, of wood fiber and very beautiful from LMI. Currently the body is complete, the neck is done a temporarily installed. It needs the nut, bridge, saddle tuner and strings and an initial set up.
Another instrument almost near completion is this quilted maple large bodied guitar.
This one has a Lutz spruce top, ebony geometric rosette, ebony bindings, ebony fingerboard with maple strip inlay, hand cut mother-of-pearl maple leaf position markers, Chippendale headstock design and an ebony bridge.
These photos show it in a test assembly for preliminary setup and is now being spray finished by my good friend and luthier, Tony DiDomenico. This should be completed early 2014.
Earlier this year I finished this beautiful Quilted Maple parlor guitar.
This has a Lutz spruce top, AAAA Quilted Maple back and sides, hand carved mahogany neck with slotted headstock and Schertler tuners, hand made geometric rosette, hand toned back and sides with a golden amber stain. Ebony fingerboard, bridge and headstock, domino dot position markers, Ebony end-graft and ebony bindings .
I have other guitars and projects in the works. This year was also a good year for my repair business. There have been many repairs I have made to keep guitars playable for other musicians. Add to that the addition of the LR Baggs line of pickups and installations and having the Phil Jones line of amps available for sale and I think 2014 will continue to show growth in guitar building and repairs as well.
I want to thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy these posts.
Wishing you all a Happy New year, a great year for playing, music and song.
All my best to you for peace, health and prosperity.