Well I’m finally back with a blog post / update… hooray!! Ive been hard at work on the winter projects, and the 3 archtops have taken shape quite nicely! This gallery shows some staining and sealer coat steps. The guitars have the ground staining applied as well as sanding sealer. Now after that is leveled out I will do some more coloring steps and then final lacquer topcoats. Ohhhh yes.
Check out that quilted mahogany one for Tyrone Lancaster. WOwwwwW. Pictures dont do justice to the intricate 3d figure on it. The burnt sienna ground color really popped the figure and nuance of the wood (lots of bearclaw and figure in the top too!). I’ll continue with various shaders and toners to get a nice warm vibe with subtle shading around the edges. I did some treatments to the binding on this and the violin brown Model 17 for Wooney Kang. The 17’s binding is INSANELY figured. Maybe the most figured stuff ive ever had?? The 14″ for Jan Sturiale has some deep flame as well, this one will be a deep wineburst. One of my fav’s!
Here are some shop shots of some preliminary work on the winter guitars! Lots going on- a 17″ archtop for my client Wooney in Seoul South Korea, a 14″ archtop for Jan Stauriale in Italy, another 14″ special edition archtop for Tyrone Lancaster in Las Vegas, a 14″ ultra-thinline chambered semi for Patrice Falco in France, and lastly 2 more 14″ ultra thinlines for inventory which is a rare occurrence. Lots of great stuff, my head is going to explode. Buckle up here goes!!!
Some cool things so far- everything looks great but check out the insane redwood top for Patrice’s guitar. Also i carved up a killer bearclaw spruce top for Tyrone’s special edition. I sliced it up from a super old billet i was saving. Sick!
The vast majority of my instruments are commissioned privately, but occasionally I have an extra instrument made for inventory. Here are guitars that are available for immediate purchase:
Two Model 14 carved top Ultra-thinline semi hollow guitars- taking reservations on these two in progress!!!
LATE DECEMBER UPDATE- THESE GUITARS ARE NOW SOLD… but please read on!
I have had a lot of people mention Mike Moreno’s custom made axe with requests for something similar. Mike is an amazing player and definitely has a great sound. I decided to go for a similar sound by going ultra thin on my existing semi 14 design. Cant wait to hear them! My client Patrice in France asked for one (here is his so far), and since they are simpler to build than a full blown archtop with less steps I decided to do a little mini batch to have a couple in inventory. Its very rare that I have something in stock but I definitely want to make an effort to improve on that.
Here’s some pics of the guitars in progress. The bodies are together and beingi colored in the spray booth. These are featherweights- about 2 lbs on the bodies so far (!!!). I havent made the mahogany necks yet but will start them soon. There is still plenty of customization available on these, so let me know!
Number one will be a stealth black smoke solidbody version. Heavy figure and action in the grain of the spruce top so far. The bearclaw figure near the controls looks like a lightning strike! The black streaks appeared during the stain process. Wood is so organic when stained this way its cool to watch! I’ll probably go a couple shades darker maybe in a burst fashion- still undecided. The back of this is hard-to-get single piece solid pine. The last guitar i made with a pine body was off the hook as far as tone. Ultralight axe, so light that it kind of acted like an archtop as far as tone through the amp. Lots of air and bounce. Perfect for a modern jazz tone that has acoustic vibe but is electric. AWESOME! I want one haha! Heres pics:
Number two will be a tiger eye chambered body version. RIDICULOUS amounts of vibe on the top even with just the ground stain so far. This will get a transparent sunburst edge and various other shading to bring out all the crazy goings-on in the wood. I’m going to do some masking on the body edge to achieve a sort of faux binding contrast. This one has a mahogany back (Reaaaally old wood- original old school honduras) and is all chambered out as well. Super lightweight- will have the same type of tone as the other one but maybe with a slight more focus. Its hard to precisely predict wood with any certainty- mother nature will decide on a guitars exact voice and usually pleasingly surprises. These have everything in place that they need- i have a good recipe :^)
If you are interested let me know asap- first come first serve! Again i can probably tweak some things as i go. Pickups / hardware / wiring etc etc. The sooner i know the better. Price range is around $3500 depending on final specs.
Its been suuuuuper busy at the shop this fall. Wow! I havent had much time to blog properly but I do have lots of pics in the pipeline. The fall guitars are pretty much a wrap and have started to ship out. Heres the first two of the five, one is going to Jim in Connecticut and the other to Klaus in Germany. I’ll post specs soon too!
Ive been experiencing some tech issues which have now been resolved (yes!). So back to posting TONS of new shop photos of the fall guitars. All the guitars are assembled and looking great. This is a big batch of guitars and each one is so different. I’m going to be like a kid in a candy store when they are all strung up and ready to play!!
The last (but certainly not least) of the 4 summer guitars shipped out last week. An L5 size Model 17 for Patrick Sullivan. Nice big and bouncing round tone that you only can get out of the large boxes. Super fun to play!! Great sounding Euro tonewoods with a classic violin burst. FUN!!!
I just dropped Danny’s guitar off at Fedex for its long trip to the Philippines. So exciting to send a guitar around the world. Good music, good life! This guitar was a real blast to build, the special edition guitars always have some great features. This one has a headstock inlay interpretation of an Alphonse Mucha painting (a very inspiring artist! his work blows my mind). Also my new deco keystone inlays in koa / brass with matching koa binding. Super flamey! The top and back are super old Euro cello woods i’ve had for a while, was really great to put them to use. This guitar also features a Peter Bernstein / Zeidler style full size but floating pickup. Very cool! It gives the guitar a more acoustic vibe but with the fat sounds and bigger coils than a thinner floating pickup. Great experiment I like the sound and would do it again. The guitar also has a floating center block to allow more control of the sound, and even with the block the pickup sounds very acoustic.
Overall a pleasure to make, this was a seriously fun project!
UPDATE! Oct 12 2013- here’s Danny playing his new axe!!!
These guitars are for my clients Donato and Patrice who are return customers (this is their 2nd VB each). I’ve been tweaking and adjusting, playing and polishing. Serious fun! Both are great guitars I will be sad to see them go haha! Here’s some quick iphone pics of them both:
Its fall here in NYC and September is my favorite month of the year. Wow! Ive been back in the shop for a few weeks doing lots of work on the summer projects. They are nearing completion, and I thought it would be a great time to fire the blog up again after taking a break. Here’s a TON of various pictures of the goings-on with these projects. Everything looks great! The guitars are setting in nicely, and next week i will be doing the setups and tweaking on them. Time for a lot of guitar playing, its a blast taking the guitars on a spin for the first time!
Work on the summer project kinda comes to a halt after the guitars are all strung up and settling in anticipation for their final fretwork and adjustments. This usually takes about 10 days or so, and in the meantime i shift gears into the new projects on the schedule.I’m taking on 5 guitars this time around, and several of them are laminate models with incredible flame maple throughout. Heres pics of the laminating process for the tops and sides as well as some fretboard machining. MUCH more to come!!!
Here’s a VERY fun inlay project that is for the headstock on the model 16 I am working on for my client Dan Ibasco. The materials are figured pearl, quilted mahogany as well as recovered genuine ivory for the face. All bordered with flame koa. SUPER COOL!
I’ve been super hard at work on my summer guitar projects, and as usual have a slew of progress shots of all the various steps. This run of 4 has a little of everything- a 14″, 15″ 16″ and a 17″. Very special woods throughout as well as some cool inlays and binding work on the 16. This will be a great batch of instruments!!!
The early summer projects are all finished and delivered! Here’s the final photos on the model 17 archtop serial no. 300. I did it!! Yesssss! This one will go to live at the Jersey shore with my longtime client Ernie (who also has No 250 and a slew of my other guitars- a lot of them special editions!).
I’m real excited about how my latest Model 14 laminate turned out, I made it purely for inventory which is a rare occurrence these days. I’ve been shedding on an odd meter tune I wrote recently (here’s the chart) and decided to make a little youtube video with the guitar. I recorded a rhythm backing track with the guitar then took a solo over it in the video. So its kind of a “solo / duo” recording which is how I usually practice. Works all muscle groups, a great way to practice!! First, heres the guitar:
Recorded using my Roland CUBE-40XL 1×10″ 40 Watt Combo Amp with a touch of reverb from my Zoom G2.1NU pedal. Mic’d with a zoom H2n into the computer. I use Labella strings 13-56. My settings on the guitar were volume full on and tone slightly rolled back (not dark). No EQ’ing or editing post.
Note i changed the pickup to a Seymour Duncan jazz model- sounded nicer!
Another huge blog post here- continuing with construction phase stuff through coloring / finishing all the way to hardware assembly and install. At this point the guitars are all strung up (YESSS!!!) and settling in. Just need to do final fretwork and setup / tweaking and they will be ready to ship. Photo finals coming soon!!!
Lots of progress on all the projects in the shop. Been working tons of hours on things and it’s shaping up and looking good. Many various stages here- bracing, rim work, neck mounting, glue ups, and wood binding installation. Next up- complete sanding and prep, then staining and painting. The archtop building process is LONG but somehow it never gets old!
So the catch 22 with hollow archtop guitars is the more the carved guitar is voiced for maximum resonance, the more it is susceptible to feedback problems at high volume. This is because the wood not only responds to its own string vibration, but also to anything around it (bass player, drummer or even a loud audience). So to allow the guitar to be better controlled in this situation players usually orient themselves in a good spot with their amp, as well as other band members. Its also normal to cover the sound holes to decrease the amount of sound pressure entering the guitar from the outside. Some guys do this by stuffing a towel or t shirt inside the guitar, or by covering the soundhole with tape.
Here’s my latest solution, a machined plug that has a bit of mass to it, that is fit to the exact opening and that can be tightened with a small thumbscrew. This thing works!! It really increases the versatility of the guitar and allows it to be used in situations where a center block is usually needed. But when in more subtle settings it is easily removed for full acoustic response. Not a new idea, but my take on how to give it a clean look and easy handling. :^)