Articles

Thoughts, musings, blogging and more...

The Ultra Tonic Pickup
Dec 2017

The Ultra Tonic Pickup - Onboard Feedback Suppression

I recently received my first shipment of Ultra Tonic pickups from James May Engineering (James is a partner in Audio Sprockets, creators of the ToneDexter)...Paired with the ToneDexter, I believe I possess the closest representation to a mic'd guitar I have ever encountered.

Refretting my 1999 RainSong WS1000
Aug 2017

Refretting my 1999 RainSong WS1000

My 1999 RainSong WS1000 carbon fiber had never been an exceptionally comfortable guitar to play...the guitar had visible fret wear (as a result of my fear of approaching that carbon fiber fingerboard)...

Pickups and Gamechanging Technology
Jul 2017

Pickups and Gamechanging Technology

I can only imagine the potential for confusion regarding acoustic guitar pickups, as there are so many pickup offerings from so many manufacturers available, and there are so many differing needs amongst different players...

D-Tube Truss Rod Alternative
Feb 2017

Truss Rod Alternative

In todays steel string acoustic guitars, the truss rod is as common as the soundhole. But what does it do? Is it really necessary? And what would happen if it were removed and/or replaced with something else, such as carbon fiber?

Neck Angle Jig Modification
Feb 2017

Neck Angle Jig Modification

...I use a bench-mounted router jig that simplifies cutting the desired neck angle at the heel...Recently, I set out to modify my jig to reference the edge (side) of the neck, instead of the center, as I had added a carbon fiber Dragonplate D-Tube to the neck...

1975 Guild F-212 Overhaul
Sep 2016

1975 Guild F-212 Overhaul

I had successfully put off re-setting the neck on one of my 1975 Guild F-212 12 strings for several years. I didn't take it out of it's case very often, anymore, as the action was too high to be comfortable. The saddle had been lowered beyond acceptable limits for years...The day of reckoning had come - this Guild needed a neck reset. But, as with many of these projects, it didn't stop there. After all, why should I simply reset the neck and get back to all the other projects awaiting me? As you will see, there was an opportunity to spend way more time on this guitar than I had originally intended...

Tool Rack
Jan 2016

In the Shop: Luthier Tool Rack

How do you organize all those small, intricate hand tools and parts that are so helpful in the construction of an acoustic guitar (or any craft or hobby, for that matter)?...Here is my take on the venerable pegboard tool rack. By combining magnets and pegboard, all housed in a sturdy shadow box frame, I produced a modular, moveable solution that works great and looks nice, too!...

Pine Table
Mar 2015

The Floor Joists That Were Hiding A Table

A completely non-instrument-related topic: A 100 year old building was torn down, and a friend who worked for the construction company doing the work asked if I would be interested in the floor joists. He and his sons brought them to my shop where we did a quick test to confirm they were pine. Each board measured a rough 2 1/2” thick by 13” - 14” wide. They varied in length up to 12 feet (the demolition crew had already reduced the lengths of the joists in order to remove them from the site). Surprisingly heavy for pine boards, these were beasts to lift, let alone move them around the shop repeatedly as I processed them...

1980 Guild F-412 Overhaul
Dec 2014

1980 Guild F-412 Overhaul

By the winter of 2014, my venerable 1980 Guild F-412 12 string was in need of a neck reset. A straightedge, when placed on the fretboard, plowed down toward the top of the guitar contacting the bridge well below its top surface. Over the years the saddle had been lowered repeatedly and the bridge had been shaved (planed, slightly, to allow more saddle to be exposed) as the top had bellied and the neck had pulled forward. A JLD Bridge System had been applied and was marginally successful in adding a few more years of playability. But the time had come to put things right...

Shop-made Body Mold
Oct 2013

Shop-made Body Mold

Of all the fixtures and jigs in my shop, perhaps the single most important is the body mold, a wooden form that holds the precise shape of the guitar body during construction. There are several acoustic guitar body molds readily available for purchase, so long as you happen to be building the instrument the mold was sized for. But what do you do when you set out to build something different, a guitar that deviates from the popular, factory-made guitar shapes and sizes? You make your own body mold, of course! This article details my particular approach...

Kent Carlos Everett
May 2013

A Week with Kent Carlos Everett

Spending a week with master luthier Kent Carlos Everett has been a life altering event, and taken my guitar building to a whole new level. I am convinced it would be impossible for the most callous and jaded luthier to walk away from a time such as this un-changed...

George Gruhn
Apr 2013

A Guild and George Gruhn

A great bunch of folks from the Let’s Talk Guild forum had gathered in Nashville, Tennessee in April 2013 for a chance to see and play some great guitars, swap stories and build camaraderie. As a result of that event, and a phone call placed by a dear lady from Texas, Ms. Toni Hynds requesting a special tour, I was privileged to spend a Saturday with George Gruhn...

L.R. Baggs Anthem Stage Pro Retrofit
Mar 2013

L.R. Baggs Anthem Stage Pro Retrofit

The Challenge was to replace an onboard preamp / pickup system with an L.R. Baggs Anthem stage pro where the existing opening in the side of the guitar is too large for the new preamp....

John Greven
Dec 2012

A Saturday with John Greven

The days right after Christmas provide for a particular time of reflection. The somber realization that another year is winding to a permanent close is replaced by the anticipation for the celebration of the new year about to begin. It was during this special time in 2012 that I was able to spend a Saturday with master luthier John Greven...

Pan Flute
June 2012

Wood is wood...until it is more!

The right wood, worked the right way by the right person becomes more than simply the sum of the parts. It opens up, it blossoms and blooms, revealing itself in a most intimate interaction between man and nature. The end result of good design and expertise reveals an unprecedented physical, visual and auditory experience that can leave one at a loss for words...

1976 Guild F-512 Overhaul
May 2011

1976 Guild F-512 Overhaul

By the winter of 2009, my 1976 Guild F-512 12 string was in desperate need of attention. In addition to needing a neck reset and a fret job, sadly the top had dried out in places producing a washboard-like effect of raised grain, and the finish on the soundboard had chipped, crazed, cracked or worn off sufficiently to warrant serious consideration. I determined the options before me were...

1976 Guild F-512 Overhaul
Mar 2010

Handcrafted vs Factory-built

...I have...owned many handcrafted and factory-built guitars, and have performed with and played several hundred more of each over the last four and a half decades. A couple of my favorite personal guitars happen to be factory-built. I began playing guitar as a child, started repairing and building as a teenager, have apprenticed with master luthiers and now, nearly 40 years after beginning, I have convinced myself I am qualified to offer an informed opinion on this topic, replete with generalities, stereotypes and a mixed metaphor or two...