Guitar number eleven is one of the very few dreadnaught sized guitars I think I will ever build. It is a sloped shoulder 12 fret style, and for goodness sake, did it want to jump on the floor any chance it got. My hands are not large enough to handle such a wide body and there were several times that I thought I had ruined weeks of hard work after it slipped from my fingers when I attempted to slide it into an empty slot in the shelf that holds unfinished guitar bodies. Once, I completely lost grip on the thing and it tumbled full forcedly into a basket of pointy clamps that sits on the floor next to the shelf. My dad's no-nonsense friend Don was there to witness that slip and in his typical gruff tone, said, "Well you've done it now, I guarantee you busted a whole in the side of that thing." After much scrutiny of every inch of that guitar body, I could not find so much as a ding in the surface. I suppose that is another great attribute to using oak. It sure is durable.
Even though it was too big for my little hands to deal with a lot of the time, I do love so much how this guitar turned out. I attempted my first sunburst top, which turned out to be a lot more difficult than I imagined it would be. My dad has always said I would probably be really good at spraying sunbursts because most of the art I made growing up included heavily shaded abstract images. I even used to change the gradient within the black lines of a coloring book page with a crayon or colored pencil.
Turns out, this is a kind of different skill set. The spray gun that usually houses finish is filled instead with black stain, with a couple of drops of brown just for a little bit of depth I guess. Then you have to attempt to evenly spray a gradient into the top of the guitar, which, if you think about it is kind of like spray painting a pristine, clean white wall. Maybe Banksy would excel at such things, but I was definitely not super excited to go spraying black stain all over the top of my beautiful guitar body. Needless to say, there was little room for error and if you look closely, you can tell I am not an expert at this type of work just yet. My dad said that is good though because the old Martins aren't perfect either, and that is the look we are going for anyway. So I guess I will go ahead and mark this attempt as a success.
This guitar turned out so much more beautiful than I would have imagined. The deep colors of the shaded top paired with the saturated color the oak was stained was surprising. The wood that Mark, the owner sent for me to use was, if we are being honest, not the prettiest pearl in the bunch...I even asked him if he would mind if I used a different set of oak that I bought from the lumber yard in Asheville. It boasted big bold light colored stripes set in the darker wood that looked like those marking a Bengal tiger. Luckily I sanded that set a little too thin for such a large guitar and ended up using his wood after all. (Don't worry, my set will be used for a smaller body guitar or a ukulele) When I circled on the first few dips of stain, the wood transformed into the most figured, beautiful piece I had ever seen. My dad was equally amazed at the transformation, as no one saw that coming. The finished product ended up being significantly more exciting and fun than I anticipated, the dropping episodes aside.
I am so honored to have been asked to build a guitar for the fellow who ordered this instrument. He really knows what he is talking about when it comes to quality and sound, and when he came to pick up his finished guitar last week, he seemed pleased with the outcome. Sometimes it feels like I am sending something equivalent to a child or a beloved puppy off to an adopted family, hoping so hard that my baby guitar will be well cared for and loved as it should be in its new environment. It is always such a relief to know for certain that they will be, and in this case I am certain.
|Wood straight out of the box from Seattle|
|Note: The light in the spray room makes the guitar look a lot more red than it really is,.|
|My dad testing her out.|
|I apologize for the quality of these last few pictures-I might have left my camera in Asheville and had to use my phone...|