Saturday, 11 June 2011

John's guitar - not the end, but the beginning

I have been featuring a guitar on this blog that I was making for John Mills, the Australian composer. It is now time for the end of my part of the story as the guitar is finally finished, and a few weeks ago John picked the guitar up from the workshop in person. I have really enjoyed building this guitar and the internet has provide a fantastic way of involving John with that building process.
Commissioning a guitar is an act of faith, but then so is building it. As a maker you do your best to build the finest instrument you can and the best you have ever made; there is no point in doing anything else. What you can't always anticipate is the players expectations; the sound they have in their head. Detailed email exchanges with John helped to pin down the sort of instrument that he was after, and there were practical things to be considered such as fingerboard width and neck profiles. John already had his much loved David Rubio guitar, a maker I very much admire, so that provided a good reference point for us both.
Stringing up a new guitar is a moment that still excites me as much as it did when I strung my first guitar many years ago. With this guitar I was immediately pleased and I enjoyed playing it in the weeks before Johns visit. However the first opportunity I had to stand back and hear it was when John played it for the first time. The picture above captures those moments.
John is an accomplished musician and the first thing that struck me when he began to play was the quality of tone he produced; something I always like. To my relief John quickly pronounced that the instrument was to his liking, and we were both relived! Just before John and Pam were due at the workshop, I realised I didn't have any pictures of the finished guitar and although the light was poor, I took a few quick shots for my own records.
A few days ago John called to say that they were all back in Australia and that he was really enjoying the guitar. I hope that continues for many years; thats the beginning of another story.

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