Completed guitar no. 021

The guitar is finally finished! I say finally because I went over my initial timeline for this guitar by about 2 months, largely due to taking on the Hamilton guitar project and all of the travelling that I squeezed into the summer. I think it looks pretty fantastic and I am equally happy with how it sounds and plays. For a traditionally built guitar, this one has a decent amount of volume with responsive basses and singing trebles. I find that the guitar responds without a lot of effort and my fretting hand feels pretty comfortable on the 640mm scale. Unfortunately I will be delivering the guitar very soon, so I don’t get much of a chance to play her!

Since the last building update, I have spent many hours applying (and removing) shellac. I started by brushing on a few coats and working some pore filler into the rosewood. That took me longer than it should have – I am not a big fan of the pore filler that I was using. Next time I’ll be using the traditional French polishing method of filling pores rather than mucking around with another product. Once the pores were mostly filled, I switched gears a bit and started padding on shellac (“French Polishing”). I am by no means an experienced polisher, so I ended up having to sand out many more imperfections than I care to admit, but in the end, it has turned out passably well. I will save a more in depth discussion of French Polishing until I am more confident in the process.

Once I was happy with the top, I made a bridge out of rosewood and fitted and glued it in position. Of course I then had to go back and fix a couple of scratches in the polish, so I got out my shellac again and polished a bit more.

Then I hammered in the frets in and set the guitar up to play so that a couple of friends and colleagues could try out the guitar, and of course, the finish was damaged slightly during the test runs with all of the rasgueados and tapping, so I had to pull out the shellac once more and polish away the scratches. Luckily shellac, although time consuming, is quite forgiving, so after all of this, it looks pretty decent.

I have to say, I am quite fond of the birdseye maple fingerboard. At first I was skeptical, but now that I see the finished guitar with the rosette and everything working together, I think that bright fingerboard is quite stunning. It was also easier to work with than ebony or rosewood because pencil lines showed up really easily on the light wood!

I think this light fingerboard works so well because I kept the overall palette of the guitar quite simple. Rather than cramming in every exciting bit of wood that I could find, I stuck to cedar, rosewood, birdseye maple, white purfling, and a little bit of ebony. The bright fingerboard is balanced between a rosewood headstock veneer and a rosewood bridge.

And can I gloat a little bit over the success of the rosette? This was requested by the client, so I cannot take ownership of the idea, but I am pretty happy with the execution:

I did consider (after comments from some readers, actually) adding a new moon on the fingerboard to complete the lunar cycle, but after looking at it, thought that it looked a bit odd, and the client and I decided that we preferred the simple, clean look of an uninterrupted fingerboard.

I did put a little bit of Lee Valley’s varnish oil on the fingerboard and the bridge to protect the wood from dirt and give it a bit of a glow.

Not much else to say on this guitar, but here are a few more pictures:

raised fingerboard detail
Headstock detail featuring a rosewood veneer and Gotoh tuning machines

And so that is it, another one done! I’ll be starting a new guitar soon, but first I have to get through a couple more projects, so you might not see the new build under way until late October.

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Emily

I play guitar. I build guitars when I can. I enjoy all sorts of music, but Baroque, 'classical' guitar music of the 19th and 20th centuries, and jazz music hold special places in my heart. I am using this blog to document some of my adventures in guitar building, performing, and teaching, and hope to give my readers a bit of a look at the world inside a guitar.

8 thoughts on “Completed guitar no. 021”

  1. I like it alot Emily
    Its so diverse and the new ideas for rosette style, fingerboard etc its a great achievement.
    Congratulations 👍
    Robt

  2. It looks fantastic – the asymmetrical headstock makes me think of a seven string guitar. I’m greatly motivated by seeing your beautiful guitars. I’m working on my first guitar, which is a Santos Hernandez inspired flamenco with a 650mm scale. I’ve also been planning an Antonio Torres inspired requinto with a 604mm scale. Then I want to build a Narcisco Yepes 10 string inspired guitar. Then I want to build another flamenco Blanca but one with a 660 scale – I think it will be inspired by a Granada School luthier. Then I want to build a Francisco Simplicio double sound hole guitar. I was excited to see your headstock influenced by Francisco Simplicio and Enrique Garcia. Have you seen Canadian Luthier Daryl Perry’s Simplicio guitars? He is amazing. I appreciate your work- thanks for blogging about it!

    1. Thank you Larry for your comment! Sounds like you have just about as long a list of projects as I do! Hope your first build goes well – I’d love to see a picture when you have it finished. Just looked up Daryl Perry’s guitars – gorgeous indeed!

  3. A BEAUTY of an instrument! The light neck is quite stunning and refreshing. I’m always a fan of your awesome rosettes as well! Thanks for the update.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, shellac and French Polishing is definitely a huge learning curve – Hopefully I’ll get the hang of it over the next few guitars.

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