Sunday, February 25, 2007

Beginning and Ending

The “varnishing” of the Cedar Classical is almost complete. It’s a time consuming process, the guitar will have 21 coats of clear lacquer applied and it’s sanded flat every 3 coats. In the photo below you can see before/after the sanding.

I use a tiny cork block to wrap the abrasive paper around, to ensure a flat surface. I try not to time how long it takes, but one sanding session’s equal to 2 CDs worth of music! The dust mask that I use is made by Trend, it works really well as it’s vented at the bottom and therefore doesn’t steam up my glasses.

With last coat of lacquer applied, the guitar will sit for at least week, possibly two, to allow it to fully dry before it receives its final polishing and then the bridge is glued on. More about that in the future………

Andy came down from Oxford and chose the top that he wants me to use on his arch-top.
He also had a good look at the Cedar Classical to confirm that he is happy with the green purfling.
Andy also took my Classical “demonstrator” back with him. I don’t have an awful lot of time to play, so he will play it in for me. Andy has guitar lessons from Ray Burley, an eminent classical player, so Ray will also try the guitar and give me some feedback. You have to take on board players’ feedback, if your guitars are to improve.

I’ve made the mould for the new shape mandolin and you can get a better idea of what it will look like from the photo below. Also you can see the two neck blanks mentioned in the previous entry.

After a visit to an excellent acoustic guitar shop, I decided to build a steel string speculatively, for them to sell through the shop.

I’m going to base the guitar on my model “L” I’ve used the shape before with 12 fret necks, but this one will have 14 frets. I played around with a photo of the 12 fret version and made this 14 fret simulation.

I think it should work well, it’s about OOO size, but the curves are more exaggerated. I have some stunning English walnut that I’m going to use; it should make my guitar stand out between all those Rosewood Martins!

I had a nice email earlier in the week from a guy, Philip, who had commissioned a guitar when I was at the London Guitar Gallery. I built him classical in 1980 and it’s still going strong, he was kind enough to send me some photos, it looks in great condition, he has obviously cared for it. This kind of feedback means an awful lot.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Once the neck has been fretted, I shape the neck. In the photo, you can see some of my old wooden spoke-shaves and the hand-cut rasps that I use. I have had some of the spoke-shaves for 30 years and have had to rebuild them where they had worn away. I used to look around car-boot sales for old spoke-shaves but fortunately eBay is now a much better source!

With the neck carved, the guitar gets a final clean-up and is ready for varnishing.

That whole process takes a long time; this classical guitar should be ready in about a month, Easter at the latest.

I’ve started on the necks for Andy’s guitar and the mandolin. Both instruments will have Brazilian Mahogany necks and fancy stripes. The guitar’s made from rosewood and green veneers and piece of 3mm thick rosewood.

The mandolin’s made from black and green veneers and piece of 4mm thick maple, an off-cut from the back. They’re going to look so pretty!

Umm green again! Maybe this will be know as Nava’s green period by historians!