The last little while has seems to have been filled with finishing projects and generally coming to the end of things. There has been a lot going on—just this last week I sent 4 guitars out of my shop: 3 repair/set up jobs and the completed guitar No. 023! I will be receiving the shipment of my completed CDs early next week, so the Vespers CD project is also almost over. I am getting married in 2 weeks as well, and, as I am planning to change my last name, that seems like a bit of an ending as well.
Finally, this blog is coming to an end.
It is hard to believe, but after almost 6 years (the first post on this site was in August 2013), I have filled up the free memory space that comes with a wordpress blog. I won’t be deleting this blog, so all of my ramblings will still be available, but I will be starting afresh over on my website emilyshawguitar.ca. If you are a subscriber and would like to continue to receive my blog posts in your inbox, the easiest thing for you to do is to subscribe to my newsletter (click somewhere around here). I am planning to send out a newsletter about once a month with upcoming concerts, projects, and links to recent blog posts. If all goes to plan, it should be a good way to build a bit of a community and to stay in touch as I keep making a mess in my workshop. Don’t worry, I won’t spam your inbox with loads of unnecessary emails, and you will be able to unsubscribe at any time by clicking a link at the bottom of the newsletter.
When I get back to blogging (probably in September—with everything else going on this month, I can’t see myself sitting down to write very often!), I have all sorts of plans: a ukulele build-along series with plans available (something that I promised years ago), more luthier interviews, and of course all of the regular things to which you are accustomed. I have a Torres/Fleta copy to build in the fall as well as two or three other classicals. One of those will be for myself, so that should be a lot of fun!
Now, to the building update:
Completed guitar No. 023
This has been quite a successful and enjoyable build. Although not perfect, the finish on this guitar is my best French Polish work yet. I did a much better job at filling the pores on this one so the gloss is more even. You can see the reflections of my garden in the back of the guitar particularly well—this is definitely my most mirror-like polish on a guitar. I used an amber shellac rather than a clear finish to give some more warmth to the wood. I have to play around more with these different shellac tones to see how they affect different species of woods.
More importantly, the sound is also quite good: balanced, warm, clear… all of the things that I want out of a guitar. If I were setting up the guitar for myself, I would have wanted a slightly higher action than what I ended up with—this guitar is set up with about 3.5mm action at the 12th fret and I play a guitar with 4.5mm clearance (yes, that is a bit high), but the set up makes the guitar play really easily and is suitable for its purpose.
I have built 3 guitars with the same mould now, and I am happy to say that the results have been pretty consistent. Now that I have established that level of predictability, I am ready to make a couple of changes. The next two full size classical guitars that I am building will be for myself and for another player who needs a bit more resistance/higher action, so I’ll be making a couple of adjustments to my mould before I build the next guitar. I need to adjust the lower bout a little bit to allow for a different saddle set up, and I might add a bit of an angle to the neck… stay tuned for a post on this after I know what I am talking about.
This guitar, No. 023, is definitely a bit more on the fun, modern side as far as design goes. I used padauk for the back and sides which is a wonderful red wood that was very easy to work with. I’ll definitely be building with this again (I already have another piece in my stockpile).
I used a tight-grained piece of Engelmann spruce for the top, which allowed me to make the top quite thin without becoming too floppy. I braced the top with a lattice pattern that was my first foray into modern classical bracing patterns, and I have to say, I am quite pleased with the results, both in sound and structure. The top definitely held its shape more easily—a fan braced top has a tendency to end up a bit wavy, and that is not fun when it comes time to glue on a bridge. I will be building another lattice braced top later on this year.
For the inlay details, I went for a pretty cohesive design just using thin black veneer lines, spalted maple, and padauk. Spalted maple made for interesting bindings, although they were definitely not easy to work with as the density is far from consistent in a wood that is partially rotted/with fungus/worm-holes etc.
So there you have it: guitar number 23 is finished, and now I can take a month off (kind of—there is a guitar conference stuck in the middle of this month that will occupy a lot of my time both in preparation and then during the actual conference week). I’ll get back to building and everything else in September. In the meantime, one more plug for my monthly(ish) newsletter: sign up here!
And one more plug for my CD. I will have the finished product in my hands early next week, so if you would like a copy, feel free to head over to my website to pre-order your copy. I’ll be shipping them out as soon as I can (or hand delivering when I see you next). I’ll also have copies at all future concerts until I run out. At some point I will figure out how to have digital copies available… but that will likely be on September’s list rather than this month.
Thanks again for reading and for following along with my projects for the past 6 years. See you over on my other website in September for more ramblings!