Sunday, 18 April 2010

The guitars for CordeFactum Guitar Festival in Belgium are pretty much finished and so the frenetic activity in the workshop has abated slightly. This gives me time to start preparing for the next batch of guitars . Both guitars are being built for guitarist/composers but are very different instruments. The guitar for Richard is a 7 string guitar in spruce and rosewood. This is the third guitar that Richard has commissioned and is a development of the previous ones. The other guitar is a Hauser model for John; spruce with Amazon rosewood. Richard, living 30 minutes away has visited the workshop and played a part in the selection of timber for his guitar. John, from the other hemisphere must trust me to select the wood for his guitar.
The picture above shows the selection of the spruce top for Johns guitar. I spent hours going through my stack of soundboards, and the pleasure of handling this material is something I never tire of. You use your eyes first, checking for straightness of grain,absence of defects such as resin pockets or knots, and you also note the number of growth rings and the variation of them across the board. At this point I am also evaluating the weight of the wood. Wood from different trees,different growing altitudes or different regions will vary considerably in their characteristics so soundboards really can vary. Testing for stiffness, by gently flexing the wood gives you more information, as does tapping the timber and listening to the wood resonating. I also split one corner of the soundboard to assess 'runout' or length of grain. In the end I selected a top that is from my August 1999 pile. Amongst its other qualities it has a crisp quick tap tone which was the deciding factor for me.
So, now on to select neck wood...