My current concentration is on the OM (“Orchestra Model”) body style. And while I can of course build in the traditional style with the round sound hole and a 25.4” scale, as of early 2022 I have completed the development and prototyping of my Gestalt Model, wherein the sound hole and the cutaway are one and the same. This design leaves valuable top area (where the round hole would normally be) intact for:
A. More structural stability, and
B. More area for working into the vibrating and sound-making system that is the finely-tuned guitar top.
I have loved the sound of the traditional Spanish guitar all of my life, going back to that first time I heard Segovia over the sound system of a record shop in Asheville, NC when I was a kid. I went on to study and play classical guitar as a teenager and college student, and so I have also prototyped and developed my Gestalt design for the Torres-style classical guitar (built in the traditional way via the use of a solera, which I have developed for myself for making my classical guitars). The latest of this model was completed in April of 2022, and is currently in the Available Now section. If you enjoy the attributes of this type of instrument, this one will give you all of those and then some in terms of volume, color, texture, timbre, and playability.
As for tops, I have Adirondack, German, Italian, Carpathian, Ukranian, European, Engelmann, Sitka, and Lutz spruces. I also have western red cedar, redwood, and sinker redwood. Some of the spruce that I have was cut over thirty-five years ago, and so it has been stabilizing all this time, and is ready to make a great guitar.
I spend considerable time at the beginning of each build looking through my extensive collection of tops in search of just the right one to match the concepts and meet the goals that I have in mind for that next guitar. Everything is dependent upon this. And in addition to things you've likely read about here on the internet such as number of growth rings, growth ring spacing, and tap tone, etc., there are additional and deeper things to consider before finally selecting a top for a great guitar. Most of the time, it will require joining and beginning to work the wood with hand tools for a bit to really get at what a specific set is going to bring to the table in terms of tone, sustain, color and quality of sound, as well as final aesthetic considerations.
Given the increasing shortage of and difficulties with finding and importing finer-quality rosewoods (of the dalbergia species), I have committed myself to exploring the use of wonderful back-and-side alternatives such as movingui, higuerilla, chechen, myrtle, and many others. And while I do have sets of higher-quality Indian and Brazilian rosewood, I have also been collecting and storing other species, including black walnut, American and Peruvian cherry, red mulberry, machiche, pink gum eucalyptus, sassafras, Tasmanian blackwood, imbuia, bilwara, bloodwood, Turkish cypress, tigerwood, palo escrito, pumaquiro, and ishpingo. The sets that I have chosen are beautiful, and the build training that I have been through has convinced me that these hardwoods can be tuned to help make excellent, musical-sounding guitars.
I prefer finishing with either a French polish of shellac, or hand-applied Tru-Oil. I can advise you about aspects of each of these as we discuss your interest, although with the right care and attention, either of these will make a beautiful and long-lasting finish that will also serve to optimize the guitar’s potential as a music-making instrument.
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