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I began this blog in order to share my experiences learning instrument building from my dad, but along with those stories I look forward to sharing my memories of growing up with two busy, musically inclined parents as well as my current experiences stepping out on my own as a female luthier promoting environmental sustainability in her instruments while working to alter gender stereotypes in a male dominated field. If you'd like to use quotes from this blog for interviews or in your own work, please contact me first! (email is henderson.elizabethj@gmail.com)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Cutaway Confusion

I saw a funny thing today. My dad didn't have all the answers when it came to constructing the body of a guitar. I am making a Koa OM for my super awesome cousin, Matt, but he wants a cutaway which is a model my dad rarely makes. Removing some of the material from the body of the guitar allows for more notes to be played closer to the soundhole, providing a larger range on the fretboard, however, some might argue that the sound of the guitar could be compromised when messing with the original body style. Doc Watson requested that my dad buil him a cutaway, and so did David Holt, among several others, but they all have the larger D size body, and at the time they were constructed, my dad was bending sides by hand on a hot pipe. Now, my bracelet bending skills are pretty great, but I can't imagine they are up to par to perfectly shape damp wood around an oblong pipe with several inches of blowtorch stuck up it...

Luckily, after a while, and redrawing a few brace lines on the new OM cutaway pattern, we had things underway. A new OM cutaway form for the regular side bender was made, an insert was stuck into the OM form that holds the body in place, and patterns were correctly traced onto my Sitka Spruce top and Koa back. It was an interesting day of trial and error and not just on my part for once! It surprised me to hear my dad gripe about being outstmarted by a guitar...We (he mostly) got it in the end though.


  1. I've enjoyed the first 2. Looking forward to more...

  2. Great writing, Elle! Thanks for giving us a window into the world of Rugby and the Henderson Guitar Company.