Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update on two guitars in progress

16" Guitar

Here is a picture of the spectacular birds-eye laminate back (which has amazing curl as well) and the seasoned German spruce top roughed out. I do all my carving by hand, no CNC or duple-carvers here! These parts are paired up with solid birds-eye sides which are ready to bend and a three piece birds-eye maple neck which has been glued up (wide centre rosewood strip). Other parts like fingerboard/tailpieces/bridges depend on whether I go with ebony or rosewood for the tailpiece, bridge and pickguard. Keeping those options open at this point.

14 1/2" Guitar

Here are pictures of the curly maple laminate back and the solid curly maple top also roughly carved out. This is the guitar which will have the channelled block (Spanish cedar and mahogany mix for weight) running between the top and back. The core section is made and runs uncut from one end of the guitar to the other. Both ends are glued directly to the top and back at either end and then there are corresponding fitted braces throughout the arches on both top and back. This part is labour intensive!

Both tops in progress

This is a glimpse into the carving process. Once the underside of the block is established then the perimeter is thicknessed to create a consistent edge to work from. Then some bulk is removed so that the top can sit in my carving jig without moving about. Then I get to work on the inside bowl to within about 5% of its finished dimensions. I'm about 40% of the way right now using my two little hand planes. I made a bunch of these planes a few years ago for Linda Manzer and myself and a few extras which are in the hands of a few builders and guitar collectors. I've included a close up of one of these planes. We each have two of them because they heat up as they are being used and you can switch back and forth.

Hand Plane
More details to follow......................


  1. Very nice - I'm very excited to see the outcome of these ply-wood guitars.
    I wonder truly if the ply-wood guitars are more versatile and still sound "good" with a good mounted pickup on.

    Some traditional archtop makers still say that it is OKAY to put on a mounted pickup on solid wood top, but I wonder if that's better or worse than the plywoood...

    Where can I play or hear your guitars? I'm in New York area

  2. I only just found your comment Nawon or I would have answered it long ago. First off I am in Toronto and at the moment I am not sure if there are any of my instruments close to you. I will be coming down that way before too long to do some 'backroom' presentations but I don't have specific dates yet. These both ended up with carved tops and the hollow one has the neck mounted Kent Armstrong - favourite pickup mounted this way. The smaller one with the inner block has the pickups mounted directly in the top and even though acoustically it quite quite, all the characteristics of the wooden bridge, tailpiece etc... translate into a great pickup sound. Contact me through the email address on the website and I'll let you know when I'm down your way. Or take a drive to Toronto!