Wednesday, July 15, 2009

African Blackwood Guitar and Ukulele

We made it safely to our new home, a converted Methodist Chapel in the Norfolk countryside. It took 2 trucks, one for the house and the other for the workshop! One of the most stressful parts of the move has been trying to get, without much luck, a telephone line and broadband so I shall only be on-line intermittently until mid-August, thanks to the local internet cafe.
As promised a bit about the two Blackwood instruments: they were completed just before we moved. The soundboards were French polished and the rest of the instruments were finished with Tru-Oil. The combination of the two types of finish worked really well. The oil allowed the natural beauty of the African Blackwood to show through and it also gives a nice feel to the neck, lacquer can feel sticky.
Morgan had very definite ideas on how he wanted the instruments to look and the finish gives them the “aged” look that he was after.
Morgan set me quite a few challenges throughout this build, the final being the bridges. He wanted a curved shape bridge, a tie-block that blended in and was doubled drilled for tying the strings; this involved a fair bit of discussion over their design, but I think that we were both pleased with the results. Probably the best bridges that I’ve made!

Below are a variety of photos of the instruments:

African Blackwood backs, sides, fingerboards head overlays and bridges
Sinker redwood soundboards
Pink ivory (sacred wood of the Zulu) binding and rosettes
20,000 year old fossilised walrus tusk nuts and saddles.
Doesn’t get much more exotic!

How do they sound? Well, I’ve made another one of my videos which I’ll upload once I’m properly back on line; however it does not do them justice. The Matt Bellamy’s classical guitar sounds very promising; already the trebles are sounding out loud and sweet and there are also some nice rich bass tones. It will need to be played in for a few months to reach its full potential, but I think that it’s going to be rather special. Morgan’s baritone ukulele was a revelation! I was pleased that it had a good tone and volume when I played it and that it didn’t sound plinkity plonkity like some ukes do. But when he came over and played it! The volume was outstanding for such a small instrument.

Hopefully Morgan and Matt will be pleased with these instruments: I certainly am. It was a good experience working with Morgan, he pushed the envelope and I feel that I’m a better luthier for it.

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Anonymous Doug Berch said...

Beautiful work! I'm a fan of the French polish/tru-oil finish as well.

All the best,


1:59 pm  

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