The Year in Review, The Latest Completed Guitar, and Some Plans for 2019

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Sitting in my kitchen tonight, my MacBook laid out in front of me, the wind howling outside, looking back over the year and I’m honestly as grateful as I’ve ever felt. So much more than I will or care to share has unfolded this year, but so much good has come along with it that I find myself in a truly grateful and content place for the first time in quite a while. The ups and downs were intense, and quite certainly not entirely behind me. But I learned a lot about myself and the people around me. Some of you know that I lost my dad early this year after a 9 year battle with brain tumors. It continues to hit me in new ways every day. The first holidays without him there were particularly heavy with reminder. But I am doing okay and using it to face my own mortality and accept that one day I will also die. And using that as motivation to make sure my days here really count. It’s cliche, but it is exactly how I feel. My views have shifted. My priorities are different. And, though the topic is not exactly uplifting or guitar related, I myself am uplifted and inspired by it. And so I thank you for taking a moment out of your day to read this.

As most of you reading this probably saw and watched the progress of on Instagram, I have spent the last 4 months or so building a pair of 00 guitars. One of them is pictured above. The other, well, it’s still in progress. In theory and in my mind it is such a simple task to build a guitar from scratch. I’ve laid out the individual steps on paper multiple times. Sometimes just because I was stuck somewhere unable to actually build, like on a flight or a classroom, and figured it was the next best thing (which should clue you into the kind of neurosis that guitar building can become). Sometimes it is to try and organize the steps to better incorporate self-locating fixtures and jigs to help make the process a little bit more efficient. But, the fact is that there are hundreds of individual parts in each of my guitars, each needing specific, individual attention to be shaped, fit, sanded, and assembled, and that adds up to a whole mess of time and sacrifice and to me is a worthy pursuit. Each step with its own risks and challenges that threaten to undo 1, 2…10 or even 100’s of hours worth of work if we’re not careful. But back to the point- the 00’s.

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I delivered the 00 pictured above a couple of weeks ago. The commissioner of the piece wanted a small, comfortable guitar suited for couch playing. He also stated that he’d love to be able to run extra light strings (10’s) on the guitar. I accepted the challenge, gladly. We took a previously completed 00 of mine in almost the same wood combination and threw on a set of 10’s. He played it for a couple of weeks. Made some recordings and then we got together and made a list of what we liked and disliked about that guitar with those string gauges. To be totally honest, I was not entirely off-put by the original 00 with the 10’s and neither was my client. So, he offered the challenge with confidence and I accepted. The result? A grin from ear to ear and a “you’ve exceeded my expectations.”. [Sound clips on the way]. I’m not about to start putting 10’s on all of my guitars. It isn’t the guitar for everyone, but it was never meant to be. That is the guitar that my client requested, and that is what we do as independent luthiers and what brings so much joy to this craft.

I’ve also accepted my spot to exhibit my guitars at the Vancouver International Guitar Festival in June of 2019. I’ve already begun joining backs and tops for the upcoming builds that will be showcased in Vancouver. Along with the Wenge 00 that is to be rebuilt and a commissioned build I will spend the next 5 months or so building a larger batch of guitars than I’ve every attempted- 5. Which will include an OM in Katalox and Engelmann Spruce, an OM in Wenge and Lutz Spruce, an OM in Cocobolo and Lutz Spruce, a 00 in Katalox and Curly Redwood, and the guitar to be rebuilt- the 00 in Wenge and Lutz Spruce. I’ve already spent some time putting some new jigs in place to help with this feat and plan to keep the journey well documented on my Instagram as well as Facebook, so feel free to follow along on the progress.

This batch of builds should take us half-way through 2019, hard to believe! I can’t wait to share the journey with you all and hopefully inspire and maybe even teach a little along the way.

Cheers!