January was a month that, at times seemed to drag, and at other moments simply shot past. In
retrospect it has gone pretty quick! It has seen the completion of seven instruments (One of those five tenors got a bit behind due to some extras needed on it) They include 4 tenors, Ben’s 8 string, Andy’s Soprano and that project instrument that those of you following this will have seen glimpses of.
No improvement over last week as far as temperatures are concerned, even Tru-oil has been taking 48 hours to cure properly, some 40 hours longer than it would in the summer! Today though, it did improve considerably.
Using a workshop that is no more than a converted cattle stall, combined with sub-zero temperatures, and now, a carpet of snow, has had it’s moments this week. Most glues state ‘Protect from frost’ on the label and should not be used below 10 degrees C, and keeping the workshop at those heady temperatures has bee difficult. Thank heavens for Hide Glue!
Mind you, carving seven necks has kept the body warm, it’s just the air temperature that has been a problem!
To say we’ve had a hectic week would be an understatement! A simple plan, outlined last week, gone almost completely to pot this week. Batch building, yes, it’s a good idea, but the building methods that were in use are totally impractical in that situation.
The advantage of having an instrument built for you, as opposed to buying one off the shelf, is that you can have more or less exactly what you want. And that is not just having certain timbers or colours or tuners, but having the whole instrument designed for your specific requirements.
Take, for example, my daughter Lorraine, who you have seen before in these pages. She has always struggled with some aspects of playing a full sized guitar, due mainly to never having reached the five foot mark in her growth and having hands to match. By any standards they are tiny and the whole hand has difficulty spanning three frets!
The answer was a custom guitar, and although I don’t build many guitars I decided (as Dad’s do) that she deserved one for Christmas. As size was the main criteria I based it on a baritone ukulele body with a 22″ scale length. It was half built before she knew anything about it, but once the neck was made I thought I’d better check with her that the size of the neck was suitable. At that point she wasn’t shown the body!
I guess you would call it a Parlour or Piccolo Guitar, but the strings are so close together that virtually nobody else could play it sensibly. Many Thanks must go to Gary Zimnicki for his invaluable advice while building it.
She got her guitar for Christmas and earlier today she came along to the workshop to tell me how she could now form chords that were impossible with ‘normal’ instruments. I now have a very happy daughter!
This will be my last post for 2012, so may I take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy and prosperous New Year.
My name is Wally, and I’m Walnut. That’s the wood I’m talking about, not the seed I was grown from. I was born back in 1785, or maybe 1783. It depends on when you count a tree being born, when the seed is planted in a growing pot, or when the young sapling is planted out in it’s permanent location. I was put in quite a nice place, in front of a big house along with a few of my brothers and some other relatives. I remember that when we were young we were quite well looked after by a man in baggy trousers and a big flat cap. It took a few years, but it wasn’t long Continue reading My Name is Wally..→
The weekend was spent at the excellent Smugglers Festival, held in a field somewhere between Deal and Dover (It took me one and a half hours to find it, and I knew where it was being held!!) The feedback we got was little short of amazing, with a constant stream of compliments about our ‘beautiful’ instruments. The most interest, throughout the weekend, was Continue reading Smugglers Festival→
The website has been quiet of late, mainly because the workshop has been busy! Andy’s and Ian’s Concert models have been delivered, along with the completion a couple of project instruments, a Bass Cuatrolele or Q-Bass (whichever you want to call it!) and an 8 string tenor which can be seen on the left in this image. Despite both being 1st build pattern models as far as we are concerned, the results have been particularly pleasing, both in Continue reading Three Tenors→
Quex Instruments maker, purveyor of local timber artifacts