Stradivarius and OM Sides


When I was young, I remember occasionally reading articles that were concerned with great philosophical matters, i.e. what made Stradivarius violins so exceptional.  Antonio Stradivari, the Cremonese luthier, who made his instruments primarily between 1660 and 1730, is still considered THE master builder of violins all these centuries later.   Scientists and craftsmen alike considered whether there was something specific to his choice of materials that accounted for his superior instruments, or was it the varnish he used?  Was it the glue?  What could account for their extraordinariness?  Though this debate still goes on to some extent, those who believed in the varnish and glue theories have pretty much fallen away.  About a dozen years ago, I recall reading yet another article on this topic, and I will paraphrase the author’s conclusion as, it’s the wood stupid. Continue reading “Stradivarius and OM Sides”

Raw Electric Bodies

Electric guitar bodies (a JB model on left and an RC model on right) still in the raw, pre-finished stages. Profiles cut; cavities for electronics routed; bindings glued and scraped. The JB model has a mottled, figured Makore top, and the RC model as a curly, figured Eucalyptus top.

Acoustic Bodies in Work


 Various stages in the building process for some acoustic jumbos. Top photo shows guitar backs braced and formed sides hanging on wall behind.  Center photo shows tops braced and with sound hole rosettes installed. Bottom photo shows body glue up.

Custom Necks

 Custom necks underway.  Single piece mahogany necks for acoustic guitars in the background, and 3-piece mahogany/maple/ mahogany necks for electric guitars in foreground.



Two finished jumbo acoustics based on Gibson’s J185 model.  Both have sitka spruce tops.  One has curly maple sides and back with an amber toned finish.  The other has Indian rosewood sides and back with a natural clear coat finish.

The Problem So Far – Tremolos

The PROBLEM SO FAR – or – why you need to think everything
through – or – how a seemingly simple change has cascading effects.

The back story:
whammy bars. In the 1950’s, Leo Fender and Co. in a fit of inspiration/madness
started adding ‘tremolo bar/tailpieces’ to their Stratocaster model electric
guitar as standard issue. There is generally some confusion about the
difference between ‘tremolo’ and ‘vibrato’, not least because the two words
have often been used interchangeably, and sometimes a tremolo tailpiece has
been referred to by the manufacturer as a vibrato tailpiece, but the effect has
been used throughout rock & roll music almost since its inception. The
effect, by hitting/depressing the tremolo (whammy) bar produces a wavering
sound much like vibrato in a singer’s voice. It is an ’emphasis’ effect (just
as a piano has ’emphasis’ pedals). Technically, though, vibrato differs from
tremolo Continue reading “The Problem So Far – Tremolos”

Old Rasps

Old Rasps

I spent the afternoon today cleaning these old files and
rasps, and a few other things, which came to me via my neighbor. Just recently, my next door neighbor, who is about a dozen years younger than me, announced he had sold his property to a developer, and consequently, new houses are going to go up shortly. He said that I should come over and take whatever tools had been left by his grandfather, the original owner of his property, who had also been a woodworker and had a small shop in his basement. Continue reading “Old Rasps”