Completed guitar no. 022

It has been a while since I had a moment to write a new post – quite simply, I took on too much stuff this year! A few of my projects are wrapping up this week, so my schedule should return to something more normal soon (she writes with hopeful desperation), and I am hoping to get back to writing again – I have another interview in the works and a few planned posts on recent tool acquisitions.

Today’s post is about my most recently completed guitar, number 022, “Alissa”. I have been working on this guitar since mid-fall last year. This guitar has been delayed a few times due to all of the other projects that have been going on – recording days for my CD, renovating the workshop, a few concerts here and there, various repair jobs… but it is finally done! And I am mostly very happy with it. The guitar sounds incredible, and generally looks pretty darn good (if I do say so myself). There are a few imperfections in the French polishing, but I am still working on acquiring that skill. I feel like the next guitar will come out with a really nice polish, having learned a lot with this one.

guitar posed ever so elegantly with rhubarb

Because I did not record many parts of this guitar build, here is a quick summary of the guitar. The back and sides are made out of Ziricote, a very hard and beautiful wood from Central America/Mexico (more information here).

The soundboard is a beautiful piece of Italian Alps spruce sourced from a german spruce supplier here.

I used a rosette from Luthier’s mercantile for this guitar rather than fabricating my own.

I used a traditional fan bracing pattern borrowed/adapted from Robert Bouchet. I also used this pattern (or a similar one, I should say) on the Hamilton guitar that I built last year. The scale length on this guitar is slightly shorter than standard at 640mm, and the body size and depth are similar to the guitars of Robert Bouchet. I also took inspiration from Bouchet for the shape of the headstock.

headstock with Ziricote veneer and Gotoh tuners

I laminated the sides of this guitar, and I could not be happier with the results. The guitar is definitely heavier than my previous builds, but so far anyone who has picked it up has still commented that it is very light, so I guess that is all relative! The sides are much more stable because of the lamination, and I think that this contributed to the pleasing projection of this relatively small guitar’s sound.

Another new addition to this build was a 12-hole bridge, and I can tell you right now that I will not be going back to a 6-hole any time soon. The 12-hole is easier to tie and looks so much cleaner. Next time I’ll make the tie block a little bit more decorative as well.

The client for whom this guitar was built requested that a lotus yoga pose with fire element symbol be included somewhere on the guitar. We went back and forth as to where to put the carving, and eventually settled on the back of the headstock, which I think is a rather nice touch. It is very subtle but quite beautiful – I might do something similar for my future builds.

back of headstock lotus yoga pose

Sound-wise, this guitar is definitely my best so far. I am really happy with the projection, as mentioned before, but it also has a really sweet, round voice with plenty of sustain, beautiful trebles, and decent basses. I was having a lot of fun playing it over the past month or so as I had strings on and off for various stages of finishing. I actually spent a day recording this guitar for my upcoming CD as well, and that was a lot of fun. Of course, that CD is not finished yet (expect it in mid-late June), so here is a quick home recording as a bit of an appetizer.

Overall, I am really pleased with “Alissa.” Now I had better get started on the next one!!

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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.

6 thoughts on “Completed guitar no. 022”

  1. At the risk of repeating a biased theme, “Alissa looks and sounds fantastic”, I wonder if you can characterize the sound of a Bouchet-inspired guitar, now that this is your second build? I understand it may not be feasible to describe one as such thing can be more of a mystery 😉 !

    My reason for saying that? In Julian Bream’s book, he stated that his best Bouchet was stolen, and the replacements were never exactly the same, such that he had to have the harmonic/transverse bar removed!

    I also read up report from a respectable luthier building a Bouchet-inspired guitar that after some years, his client requested to gradually thinning out the bridge bar, that he eventually removed up to 90% of its mass to achieve the client’s “ideal sound”.

    Food for thoughts 🙂 !

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