I fabricate each instrument with hand tools, building one of a kind instruments, one instrument at a time... I start by developing a full-scale drawing of each instrument, specifying materials, ornamentation, and electronics (if called for).... I fabricate all patterns and moulds, bend the sides dry in the traditional Spanish method, hand split all braces and structural members, and fabricate all ornamentation and inlay. I compute each fret scale individually and select the scale relative to the needs and desires of the player... the instrument featured here is a short scale, contemporary classical designed to accommodate the needs of a professional player of small stature with tiny hands.
The slightly radiused (approximately a 24" radius) fingerboard is of Gaboon Ebony (Diospyros piscatoria). A radiused fingerboard is highly unusual on a classical guitar. (The flammed maple fingerboard binding is unusual as well.) In this case it facilitates the player's left hand technique, but does not seem to effect the right hand adversely, and, in fact, stiffens the neck, improving sustain. I build from materials selected from the finest imported and domestic tonewoods.... I personally split, cut, stored, and seasoned all of the materials in my instruments. The spruce and hardwoods are seasoned in a controlled environment (temperature averages 70 degrees and relative humidity is maintained at 50%) to ensure stability. I am currently building with materials that have been seasoned a minimum of twenty years in this controlled environment. The hardwood used for the back and sides of the instrument pictured here is Acacia Koa ; it is extraordinarily well flamed. It is unusual for the medullary rays in deciduous woods to be so dramatically pronounced.
The Acacia Koa was cut on the big island of Hawaii, in 1969. The soundboard is fabricated from Sitka spruce (Picea Sitchensis) from northwestern Alaska, it too features a high incidence of medullary rays, (due in part to the perfect quarter sawing of the timber); it was cut into billets and has been seasoning since 1975. About eight years ago it was resawn into bookmatched tops, (2 pieces approximately 6mm thick), the endgrain was sealed, and the matched sets were stickered and stacked for final acclimatization. Even the ebony, which is very difficult to season, had been sealed with beeswax, stacked and stored since the early 1970's. The same is true of the Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) used to fabricate the bridge, it is perfectly quartered and hand split of materials I gathered many, many years ago.

The bindings on this instrument are highly flamed Eastern Hard Maple (Acer saccharum) (it is extremely difficult to bend) and the purflings are fabricated from American holly veneer (Ilex opaca) dyed with aniline stains. The rosette is fabricated from dyed holly veneer as well; it is a marquetry design based upon a traditional needlepoint pattern. The ivory used to adorn the tieblock of the bridge, the heelcap, the nut, and saddle is African in origin and was purchased from game rangers in Botswana.... It is legal ivory from the culled herds of the early 1970's. When my current supplies of ivory and endangered tropical hardwoods are exhausted, I will no longer seek to acquire them, nor will I build with them any more. We must preserve the planet and its inhabitants....

This instrument is finished with a synthetic. I used nitro-cellulose lacquer. Traditionally classical guitars and the instruments of antiquity were finished with oil varnishes on the back and sides, and a spirit varnish of shellac and denatured alcohol was used to "french polish" the top. While both of these traditional finishes are very fine indeed, they present a special set of problems in the contemporary environment. Varnish by its very nature never really dries thoroughly, and often becomes sticky and gummy with age. There are some good modern varnishes that have excellent clarity and drying properties... and on many instruments I employ their use. I use French polish as well, typically on concert quality instruments and historical reproductions. French polish, however, while it does tend to allow for better tone, is a very delicate finish. It clouds if exposed to moisture and, because it is so thin when properly applied, does little to protect the soundboard. Thus, over the years, I have managed to develop a special recipe that uses synthetic lacquers in much the same way that French polish is used. It is applied with a pad like French polish and uses a special blend of solvents, and retarders to slow down its otherwise rapid drying time. This allows for a controlled, methodical buildup, yielding an onion skin thin film finish that is capable of being buffed to a high gloss. It is essentially as thin as French polish, but is much more durable. It is more moisture resistant, and once cured, provides characteristics similar to those of the finest French polish. In my estimation, this synthetic finish has only one drawback ... it does not impart the same richness of amber coloring to the work. However, this patina can be approximated by tinting the fluid prior to application. All things considered, I feel it is a very practical alternative to problem ridden traditional finishes, and thus the better choice for instruments used in a commercial environment.

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