Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tappin' that Ash

I worry a little bit that when I get better at building instruments, I will have less to tell you about. The stressful, albeit entertaining, disasters, the elation over actually doing something well...Eh, you're right, I will probably never get that good to not have any stories. How lucky for us all!

This past week, I have been finishing up a ukulele as well as working on a 000 guitar and neither have provided all that much stress. My dad was off teaching a workshop and left me in charge of things while he was gone, and the last time he did that, I forgot to glue the bridge plate onto the top of my guitar before I glued it onto the guitar body. I then spent the entire night worrying about how to remedy that instead of sleeping. After several hours of pondering how to go about righting that kind of serious oversight, Herb walks in the shop and goes, "Well haven't you ever paid any attention to what I do here?! About 90% of my time is spent removing and putting in bridge plates. Of course you don't have to take the whole top off!" So, now I know, and all the fretting (hehe, guitar joke) was for nothing because it turns out I could (fairly) easily glue the bridge plate into the top without significant hassle.

Simple curly maple rosette and purfling, rosewood binding 

This 000's top has a bridge plate, and small braces around the soundhole, and I even remembered to sign it and make sure the kerfing was fitted perfectly around the back braces before the body was glued together. After I tightened that last clamp though I was pretty sure I had to be forgetting something. I had to have, right? As far as I can tell, everything is in order. Odd to do something right once in a while, and boring as now I have nothing to tell you about, other than obnoxiously hinting that I am awesome and super good at guitar building now... Just wait till my dad sees it and finds some significant step forgotten...Until then though, I have decided that I am awesome.


Speaking of awesome things, I will say that this new ukulele that I just finished is pretty neat. The wood is White ash, again provided by the amazing Dean from Electric Hardwoods. He sent me home with this beautiful piece of ash (haha) that he and his employees had been using as a coat rack. After I sawed pieces for sides and glued together a back and a top, everyone in the shop enjoyed making ash jokes. After listening to the surprisingly strong residual ring produced when he tapped on the surface, Harrol exclaimed, "Wow! What a great sound that comes from tapping that ash!" Similar jokes ensued just about all day, but the fact remained that, aside from the eye catching grain, it was a promising piece of wood that would also produce a great tone.

Another neat thing about this ukulele is that I had free reign to make it however I saw fit, using any materials of my choosing. The ukulele is going to be featured as part of an exhibit promoting the history of instrument building at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History along with instruments made by several other local luthiers. Well known folks like my dad and Audrey Hash are among the lutheirs chosen to display instruments for the exhibit, so I am pretty lucky they decided to include me as well. The only downside is that when they came to take pictures I was still wearing Tiffany blue colored nail polish since I was fresh back from Asheville. (I try to cover the guitar stain, black superglue, and saw marks on my nails while I am in Asheville among regular folks so as not to appear homeless or scare anyone.) I think it was difficult for the exhibit designers to conceal those, so my picture looks kind of like I am napping rather than working. I really was doing something, probably really important. Here is a link to the museum's webpage, there you can find information about the exhibit and other neat goings on at the museum. They also have a facebook page, so once you are done liking my page, go like theirs too!

Photo (and borrowed ukulele) courtesy of Mac Sumner
The ash really does sound great now that it has been bent and carved into a ukulele, and of that I am very proud. I have not heard of anyone else, at least not around here, using such a wood to make a guitar or ukulele, and it is so exciting for me to be able to find new and different materials that are local and sustainable so I can help open people's minds about acceptable types of tonewood. This one is a doozy and I think if you heard it, you would want an ash instrument too! All the cool kids have one.








Decided to try metal inlay for the soundhole rosette. 



1 comment:

  1. Great looking Instrument Elle!! Though, I have to admit, I would never have thought of ash as a tone wood! Maybe that's why no one, (at least that I've heard of), ever thought of using it to build instruments.This was, as usual, a very entertaining read!

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