Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Headstock work

The first winter storms are here with strong winds and lashing rain. Before getting into the workshop today I ventured down to the beach and was exhilarated by the waves. A dry, warm workshop is the place to be today.
Here are some pictures of a headstock I completed a few weeks ago for John's guitar. The back and ribs of this guitar are made from perfectly quarter sawn Amazon rosewood which is simple but elegant to look at. As such I felt it needed a few exotic details such as the use of snakewood for the headstock facing. This really is a special timber and the mottled figuring really is unique. A snakewood tree yields very little precious timber; usable trunks are rarely more than 20 cm in diameter. It has been used for turned decorative items such as walking sticks and lace bobbins and for the ribs of lutes and early guitars. It is very hard but polishes beautifully. I have carved round string ramps on this head. It gives me the opportunity of using a small mallet that was made for me many years ago by fellow guitar making student Nick Swann. The head is made of Lignum Vitae, an incredibly hard and resilient timber.
This a view of the side of the headstock just after the holes for the tuner barrels have been drilled. I use a stepped drill for this. This ensures the end of the barrel is held accurately and securely, but the barrel at the plate end does not bind. I like the fine lines of veneer between the cedar of the neck and the snakewood head plate.
The machine heads on John's guitar are Rodgers, held by many as the finest tuners in the world. They are indeed magnificent. David Rodgers has been making these tuners for years now and the wealth of experience he has is phenomenal. His great work is being continued by his son Robert. They are of course beautifully made and classically elegant to look at, but most importantly they work supremely well.

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