Monday, October 31, 2011

Parlour guitar for sale on eBay

Regular followers will recognise this parlour guitar which I made last year. It is up for sale on eBay at the moment. It has been played by a number of guitarists, all of whom have commissioned from me. As it’s picked a few marks I’m selling it as a used instrument.

I haven’t sold one of my instruments on eBay for years; the previous two, an ex-demo steel-string and an early mandolin not only sold but brought in 3 commissions! Although no one likes paying eBay fees, it does open your work up to a new audience and as PayPal is linked to a buyer’s credit card it offers credit facilities that I can’t.

And of course Phil Hare playing it-

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Friday, October 21, 2011

What else is on the bench?

Chris’s Hare

Now of course, Brendan’s mandolin isn’t the only project on the go, so I thought that I would update you on what else is on the bench.

Chris’s Hare is going through the polishing process.

Also I’ve made the bridge and it has been fitted to the curve of the soundboard. It’s always best to do as much as possible on the guitar before the Finish is finished!

Standard mandolin III

Standard mandolin III is on the back-burner at the moment, as I’m trying to concentrate on catching-up with my commissions. As I said in a previous blog, I’ve not been firing on all cylinders lately and next week I’ll miss a chunk of time as my Mum is going into hospital for a knee replacement. Being a one-man operation puts a fair bit of pressure on you to get things done and not disappoint. You often see stories about guys like Wayne Henderson who are years behind with their work and their clients seem to grin and bear it- all part of the experience! Personally speaking, the client has made a commitment to me and me to them; I don’t want to let anyone down.

Anyway, I know that there are a few players interested in Standard III, so here’s the progress so far.

1996 Vintage "Navacaster"

One guitar that I had to sort out was this electric that I built for my son in 1996. It had developed one of those annoying sitar whining buzzes on the first string; the nut and frets were all ok and I tracked the problem down to the string wearing into the chrome plating on the saddle!

Joe Hicks

I’ve added a link to Joe Hicks’ website on the side bar. He is a great young professional guitarist who teaches and does session work. He bought one of my classical guitars a few years ago and I just stumbled across his site. Joe is an RGT registered tutor and currently teaches guitar lessons in Newbury, Reading, and the surrounding areas. So if you are after a teacher, he could be your man.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Brendan’s Mandolin Part II: Rosette

Above, you can see the two book-matched halves of Brendan’s Red Spruce soundboard being glued together. There are many fancy systems for this task but I prefer good old sash clamps- you can adjust the pressure to exactly where you want it to be.

Once the ‘board is glued, it’s flattened and taken down to around 4mm prior to inserting the rosette.

This is the first time that I‘ve used Red Spruce and I’m very impressed by its stiffness and glass-like tap-tone. The stiffness is especially important on this mandolin, as Brendan uses quite heavy strings and according to my calculations the extra down force exerted on the soundboard would be the equivalent to another 2.5kg pushing down on the bridge, compared to the load applied by the gauge of strings that I normally use.

Anyway- with the soundboard cleaned-up, it goes into my jig which allows me to route oval sound holes and channels for rosettes.

Once the channel is routed (and after a wee bit of fettling) rings of fine purfling go in. The outer ring is easy- you cut the purfling exactly to length and it’s squeezed into the channel and it forces itself against the edge, requiring no additional pressure. The inner ring is a bit trickier, so I use small pieces of spring bronze to hold the purfling in place whilst the glue dries.

After the purfling is taken down level with the soundboard, comes the fun part; cutting tiny diamond shapes out of turquoise! I had a few attempts at cutting the turquoise but it became clear that it was too thick, so I reduced the thickness from 3 to 1.5mm. A real waste, as the turquoise is sold by weight!

The turquoise is glued onto plywood, to support it and cut into 3.5mm strips. The diamond shapes are then cut off (easier said than done). Once the diamonds are cut they are then soaked in water, to dissolve the hide glue attaching the turquoise to the ply. As you can see I cut far too many; this allows me to select the best ones and also I suspect that Brendan may want a few of these in the fingerboard.

The dots and diamonds are positioned in the rosette’s slot (now that took awhile!) and glued in place with CA.

The next step is to fill in the gaps with “mastic”. Mastic used to be a mixture of ebony dust and hide glue which was commonly used to fill gaps around inlays. My mastic is a mixture of epoxy resin and cocobolo dust. This means that the rosette will match the back and sides and the burnt sienna colour will work much better with the turquoise than black. Of course, all of this is to Brendan’s specification and is the result of many emails and test-pieces; stuff like this doesn’t just happen!

The epoxy takes 24 hours to set and after some very careful cleaning-up,.....

Now is that pretty or what?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Alan’s Model 1

Well, I’ve finally completed Alan’s Model 1 and very nice it is too! I had trouble photographing it, as it is so shiny!
You’ll remember how I wanted to make the wooden rosette with the grain running in a radial direction? Well here it is with matching purfling, I’ll definitely do this again.

And the whole guitar

I haven’t had time to make a video as Alan was very eager to pick his new guitar up! It’s great when someone actually picks up their instrument, in person, and you can hear them play it. As those who have seen my videos know, I’m no musician, but Alan is, and to hear him make the guitar come to life was quite something!

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