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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, January 5, 2012

New Guitar!

Starting a new guitar is so exciting to me. Choosing the wood is like a puzzle but there are so many options as to which pieces will fit you really are never positive you got the right combination until you just know. I always want to make the right choices, worried that matching this back that I dug out from under seven other dusty planks will match the sides I found buried within another pile of wood stacked in my dad's shop. And will those look good with the back strip I choose? And what is the story behind this wood as opposed to that one over there? Where has this wood been in its life? In its death? Who cut it down, and why is it here in in a tiny shop in Rugby, VA right now? It is exciting mixing and matching until I get a feeling about everything. I feel anxious until I find the best match for the project. In this latest case, I have decided on a walnut back and body, less curly and wild than another set I was considering, paired with a spruce top that is kin to the set I used for my number 4 Koa cutaway.

Looking over my dad's collection of backstrips, small pieces of wood glued together in a pattern that when cut into thin strips make a beautiful constellation of colored wood, I felt inspired to showcase a herringbone pattern on this guitar. I have bent a strip of the "braided" brown and white wood into an O shape and inlaid it around the soundhole as well as glued it down the middle of the two walnut pieces that will constitute the guitar's back.

Today I shaped back braces and fitted the back onto the sides of the guitar. Tomorrow I hope to finish up the bracing on the top of the guitar and finish up the body. I will then work on strapping herringbone strips around the outside of the top and back to complete the body. Once a plan is in motion, it feels really nice to see the puzzle complete itself with each passing day.

I haven't yet sold this guitar, and that is a new experience for me, working without specific needs in mind. I am having some difficulty making something for someone I don't know because every other guitar I have worked on has included thoughts like, "I hope they like this," or "This neck size feels good to me, so I bet they will like it."

This guitar is going to be special in that I hope it will help someone. Several weeks ago, a distant cousin of mine was defending his state wrestling title, and after hitting a wall, broke his neck and is now a quadriplegic. My cousin Luke's life changed so drastically in a few seconds, and I hope to be able to use a portion of the proceeds of this guitar to put toward his medical expenses. I don't have the person I am making the guitar for in mind while I am working, but I am thinking of Luke. I want to help in the way that I know how and make sure that the work that I am doing is helping others.  If you know anyone who might be interested in this guitar, pass this along and let me know!


  1. Hello,
    I'm interested in your guitar. I live in New Mexico, but my parents are buried in Rural Retreat. My Uncle Harvey lives in Galax.

    I would be interested in an OM or a OOOO with a 1 & 3/4" fingerboard, wood binding around the top(and maybe fingerboard too) and pearl trim around the top.

    How much would you expect or want? Right now, my budget is in the $3000.00 range(a lot of money for me at the moment).

    Please let me know if I'm even close.
    Pat Neff
    Gallup, New Mexico

  2. Pat Neff
    My Father grew up in sw Virginia. We used to go back there fairly often. About 20 years ago, My Dad wanted to go to a reunion of the Konnarok School that he had gone to as a boy. I had the summer off, so I drove him to Virginia. On one of our days off, I told him about a guy named Wayne Henderson who was building guitars near a Fire Station in Rugby, Virginia. My Dad yelled out that he Knew Right Where that Was!!!! We spent the afternoon driving through the Virginia countryside with the windows down and smelling the country air. My Dad was like a Dog hanging it's head out the window, happy to be back home. We made it Henderson's Guitar shop, but missed him. We met a fellow named Gerald Anderson who invited us up to pick at Doc Watson's house that night. It was a wonderful day spent with my Father. The girl in the blog is Henderson's daughter--seemingly comes full circle to get one of her guitars.