Archive for July, 2009

Guitar 905 – The Auction Guitar has given me a ring

July 30, 2009

I have been contacted by the “recipient” of my auction guitar; the guitar which was auctioned off at the Phinney Neighborhood Center’s Moulin Rouge Auction event.

John and I have been emailing and phoning to determine the guitar to be built.

Decision:  A Claro Walnut OM.  Components are in transit, and work begins in earnest next week.

Three Guitars: One spray session

July 24, 2009

I’ve been distracted from getting into the spray booth because of Carl’s guitar.  I can see a pattern here.  What I really like doing is the preliminary stuff, and by the time I get to the finish and setup, I’m easily distracted.  I had planned all along to start the spraying of 3 guitars ready for the booth since last Monday.  It’s Friday, and I finally allowed myself to do a lacquer session.  I got 3 guitars prepped for spraying, finally, by end of day yesterday:  901 – the Resonator which has already been sealed and grain pore filled; 902 – Carol’s parlor ready for sanding sealer; and 904 – Beth’s OM.  Here they are waiting to be sprizted.


First the resonator, then the two koa’s.  After each received one coat, I finished with two more coats on the resonator as it’s in the layer the lacquer phase.  The sanding sealer for the two koa’s is the prep before the grain pore filler, which I will do tomorrow morning.

Carol’s parlor with the first coat……….



Now Beth’s OM……..




This is all just a precursor of how that koa is going to shimmer.  I’m very happy.

Carl’s components arrived today, and I’ll balance the waiting for lacquer to dry with actual guitar construction.

Guitar 906 – Back joined and rosette installed

July 22, 2009

Quickly received the koa from Notable Woods.  Real dramatic dark stripes and a bit of a whorl.


I’m using Engelman Spruce for the top.  Finished installing the rosette rings and paua.


Guitar 904 – Examples of new label

July 22, 2009

Tom and Susan have been working on my logo for the design and layout of business cards, guitar labels and letterhead.  I have chosen the black (vs. gray or red) for the guitar label.  The photo below shows examples.


Guitar 905 or 906

July 19, 2009

This date in history…today is St. Vincent de Paul day.  (Founder of the Lazarist Fathers and the Daughters of Charity (1576-1660)).

I was informed that this was a lazy man’s way to provide a topic for a daily post.  But it does provide a useful topic for today’s entry.  Charity.

Carl, don’t dismay, this isn’t charity, it’s desire.  Desire to make another guitar for a true friend.

I have come to an arrangement with my friend Carl to make him his own sMg guitar.  This will be guitar number 10 or 11, depending upon whether the “auction guitar” ever comes to fruition.  I have not yet been approached by the winner of the Phinney Community Center auction guitar.  I’m not sure how to follow up, whether I should let Phinney know, or to stand by until contacted.  That being said, I will retire guitar number 905 until the auction guitar is resolved.

So Carl, that means you are guitar 906.  When you peer into the sound hole and see the embossed serial number on the neck block, you can turn the guitar upside down, peer once again, and see that the serial number has not changed.

Carl and I have been working on materials and design and concluded that a parlor of koa (ooh, my most favorite) with lots of nice appointments is his future guitar.

I’m going to take my first journey of top pufling in paua.  This little guitar will shine.

In Memorium: Rob Girdis

July 15, 2009

I received a call on June 30th that Rob Girdis had taken his own life.  I was stunned and thoughts raced through my head saying it couldn’t be so.  A few weeks earlier, I was with Rob in his workshop and he was talking gleefully of his upcomming Opera Cruise with friends in Italy.  He was upbeat and seemingly carefree.  I heard later, through an acquaintance, how he returned from the cruise with pictures and stories of his grand adventure.

I had worked with Rob a handful of times in his workshop where he gladly imparted wisdom and gave me constructive instruction on how to improve my skills, ease some tricky techniques, and showed me the value of having, maintaining, and using the right tools.  He preferred the hand tool vs. power tool option, and spent lots of his energy on unique jigs and fixtures for assembling guitars.  His shop was like a candy store.

Our conversations at the shop were both technical and personal.  He wasn’t shy to talk about things going on in his life other than building, and I got the sense that this was a person comfortable with the transitions he was experiencing, not a troubled soul who would choose ending his life.  On his website,, friends and colleagues have been leaving tribute messages, and it’s clear that no one around him knew he was prone to take the action he did.

“Genius is pain”, loosely attributed to John Lennon, but says to me that our troubled souls aren’t soothed by our outstanding qualities, but that they have a life and momentum independently.  “You are what you eat” also doesn’t stand.  I know some people are pissed, as his actions hurt those remaining, and it seems incredibly selfish.  But, perhaps Rob felt he could be a more content being devoid of life.

I will miss him, miss the opportunity to learn from him, and miss seeing more of his spectacular guitars get made.  I started building guitars because I looked at what I had accomplished in life and felt that I was missing tangible legacy; leaving something behind, a footprint of some sort.  Rob, even though he is no longer with us, left behind a beautiful and plentiful legacy.

Guitar 904 – fretboard attached

July 13, 2009

The Koa OM for Beth is one of the three prepping for the spray booth (the others are the Koa Parlor and the Zebrawood Resonator).  I’ve been working frantically on the neck shaping and have finally installed (glued) the fretboard.  As you may recall, I goofed up the fretboard by installing the fret markers in the wrong location (an act I have performed before, and continue to perform).  I received a replacement fretboard, installed fret markers in the correct location (!), profiled the fretboard, trimmed/planed the edges, and glued to the neck.


It looks grand, and will be ready for lacquer as soon as I clean up the neck to fretboard joint, profile the neck a wee bit more, confirm the neck angle, and add frets.


Guitar 902 – Added frets

July 13, 2009

Slowly, three guitars are staging toward the spray booth.  I could have forged ahead and started applying lacquer earlier, but thought I’d wait for my family to leave town before I infected them with the fumes from spraying.  So I’ve been working simultaneously on getting three guitars prepped to go into the spray booth at the same time starting Monday, July 20th (Carol’s day after departure date).

Guitar 902, the mahogany topped parlor for Carol (and me!) just needed frets installed and a final sanding and cleaning.  Last night, I installed the frets.


The fret dimensions are a wee bit larger than I have worked with in the past, so we’ll see how they fare through the setup and then “action” phases.

New tops, joined and ready to be used

July 12, 2009

Got some sinker redwood from Allied and 4 Engelman spruce bookmatched sets on eBay.

Thickness planed in the drum sander and joined (rather the reverse).  My friend Carl expressed a desire for a parlor, and one of these tops should work.



I just got back from a trip up the east coast from Florida to Montreal, and stopped at a lumber yard and purchased a billet of claro walnut.  I will use this with some walnut sides I have for some future guitar.  My challenge is to find a way to slice the billet into 4 useable plates for two backs.


Romanian Mandolin

July 12, 2009

I have been working with Joel Tepp to develop and refine my repair experience.  Yesterday he delivered a gift of a mangled Romanian Mandolin which needs extensive work to resume playability.


There’s plenty wrong, and lots of opportunity to “practice”.  First the back is separating from the body, and the braces are loose.  As well, the butt block and sides are separating.



Next, the sides are cracked and poorly repaired, and the neck heel is cracked through along the line of the side cracks.



Additionally, the top plates are separated, and the finish is terrible.  The frets are down to nothing, the saddle needs to be rebuilt, and the nut has come loose.  Just a few things to do, but I think the side cracks and neck crack are going to prove to be the most challenging.

I removed the back and braces from the back using my silicon heating blanket to soften the glue.  First repair was to reglue the butt block to the sides.




I pulled out the frets and resurfaced the fretboard with CA.  It should sand down nicely, and the fret slots are deep enough and intact such that new frets should seat nicely.  I’ll try and fix the side cracks, but if it proves unsatisfactory, I may replace the sides.