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Some Luthiers do it better

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Zhurh, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    Here I go, (the chestnut guy). I've had a trk load of amer chestnut from barn built in 1832 squirreled away for 20 some years. When I had the beams sawn up, I wasn't thinking guitars and mostly 2 1/4 inch boards or various widths and a bunch of wide inch boards. So finally got these bds in first pict to luthier, gave him at least 8 bds from 5-8 inches wide, 10 footers. He said great, could match 2 or 3 bds and do me a nice tele and a nice natural finish; I really like the wormey effect; stands out with oil type finish. So before xmas, I got pict of body he was going with, I was upset about the match. He went on about how difficult it was to match 3 bds ect. You all have spent lots of money on guitars too, so I figured well just go ahead and get this tele done in a goldtop finish, cover up the awful match and get it over with; then start over. This first luthier does build nice guitars, I just don't figure he cares how they look, more about how they sound. Boards I gave him that I wanted used and blank he came up with:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So then I decided on maybe learning from my mistake. I sent a couple 5 inch bds to someone back east and told him he'd have to have a builder put 3 bds together, match to get a body. He said fine. These bds all come from the same big hand hewn beam and weight the same 2.3 lbs/ft. So he sends me the picts of bodys the builder done for him. Quite a difference in builders ability to match the bds I do think. The builders well known, and opinionated for his strats & teles but he does nice work. Picts of bds sent to second luthier & blanks he came up with. Only sent 2 10 foot bds.

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    Needless to say, I learnt a lesson, ha. I'm sending these several bds (with wooden peg holes as they didn't use bolts back then) to the second luthier and have him do me a couple strats. Maybe they won't sound no better, but the wormey chestnut look does something for me too. In the future, I won't just tell the luthier what I want and figure it'll be that way; but keep my options open in case it doesn't.

    [​IMG]

    Anybody ever play a chestnut geetar? How'd she sound?
     
  2. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    yah the second guy got a much better match out of em ...
    it'll be interesting to hear how this will work out, haven't heard anyone do a chestnut guitar yet personally.
    Keep us posted.
     
  3. Quarter

    Quarter Member

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    Those new bodys look great :)
    No experience with chestnut, but am looking forward to seeing how they come out.
     
  4. mbrown3

    mbrown3 Member

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    HUGE difference. I wouldn't have gone forward with the first one at all. Much better match from the 2nd guy. It will be interesting to hear how it sounds!
     
  5. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans Compliance Officer Gold Supporting Member

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    I like them both. The second being more symmetrical, the first being more random. I'd be happy with either, but they are not my boards (my loss!). Love the wormy as well. Keep us posted. What do your blanks weigh?

    SE
    CI
     
  6. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    btw I just thought of this, perhaps ... (devil's advocate) the first guy tapped out the pieces for the best tone and the second guy went for best looks ... just saying you know ...
     
  7. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans Compliance Officer Gold Supporting Member

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    Excellent point.
     
  8. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    Actually, the 1st luthier told me: "You know how hard it is to match 3 bds" when I was shocked at how they were matched but originally said 3 bds would be no problem if two didn't work. The boards I gave 1st luthier were 7 1/2 inches wide and over 6 inches wide (8- 10 foot bds) but he said they still weren't wide enough for a 2 piece body and they were the nicest bds I could pick out.

    The bds I sent to friend who sent to 2nd luthier only 2- 10 footers were only 5 1/2 inches wide and that guy down south in florida did pretty good I think matching 3 bds together making several guitar bodys. And I'd never picked those bds myself but look pretty good.

    Kinda the reason why I did the post. In the future, I'll make sure that if body isn't what I like, I can just pay for luthier building body and get out. Once you have 600 down, it kinda gets uneconomical to get out; live and learn.

    I've made frames, bookcases, tables outta chestnut; have a thing for its wormey look. Then I read where back in 1800's, chestnut was dominent wood used in American guitars; ahh, that's where my troubles began, ha. Neighbor and I are trying a couple teles ourselves once snow is gone.

    I should have the goldtop tele to play in a couple months, Box here from allparts, thinline pearloid pickguard, and waiting on some hand wound pickups to arrive on mail plane. I'll let you all know if it sounds any better or worse. But what I am going to do is send them other bds to jacksonville pretty quick and get me a strat started. I learn, just ever so slow.
     
  9. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Very cool project! Having some history of the wood makes it a bit more personal a guitar with a story. You should maybe woodburn something in the neck pocket or pickup cavity to note that.

    Just spent some time in Fairbanks last month (at 30 below:eek:), so I can picture you hunkered down working on a tele by the woodstove. Great winter project. Keep us up to date with progress!:AOK
     
  10. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    Here's an update that'll leave ya all laughin. I'm still waiting on that mismatched tele (chestnut) that I posted pict of above. Ended up having that local luthier do it in Goldtop finish; to cover that awful match. I actually should have stopped the build but I was worried about losing entire deposit. He continued having all kinds of problems with the build and been waiting for it since March, but promised once again will be done in June and sent my way. I just hope it plays ok, and this local luthier does build nice sounding geetars too I should add. Anyway, if I had it to do over again, I'd said stop and throw in woodburner, well, maybe not that but close, ha.

    I wanted that natural wood grain finish bad, so I sent Ron Kirn some chestnut after seeing how he did other chestnut bodies. Lookey here will ya; and I do believe I'll have her by July, maybe even before Goldtop at the rate my luck is going, ha.

    [​IMG]

    Advice: Really check Luthiers out; some are great, some think they are great. I like how KIrn did this strat and going to have him do me an LP nx winter.
     
  11. unkindone

    unkindone Member

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    nice! thats about as exotic as a wood can get :p

    whats that big hole patch down at the corner? or is that just a burl in the wood
     
  12. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    Beam I had sawn up had wood pegs as nails & spikes were too expensive to haul over the Appalachian Mnts. I asked Ron to try and use one of those pegs holes somewhere if he could. The beam come outta a neighbor's barn (in Pennsylvania). Neighbor had ended up with his ancestors Revolutionary War land grant. At wars end, country was broke, so they gave vets 600 acres. Trouble was it might has been on the moon; land was 500 miles off in the wilderness. Neighbors ancestor migrated on horse trail with wife & kids late 1790's, so this beam was cut around 1800. Anyway, wish my old neighbor played geetar; like a part of his familys history, ha.

    Actually, there's tons of old barns still around, look for the hand hewn beams. Often, they reused beams as they tore down & rebuilt new barns. I have seen barns built around civil war era with beams already 75 years old. The wood is super dry & light as swamp ash.

    I got this thing about chestnut, hauled a pickup load to Alaska 20 years back and now finally doing something cool with her, geetars.
     
  13. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    Wrong. . . . this stuff is WAY Super dry and lighter than Swamp Ash... :rotflmao

    it is a beautiful lumber to work with....

    I'm in the middle of doing a set neck LP TV special for another friend..out of some he sent me.... I've been photographing it for a build thread... any suggestions as to where to post it?:banana

    Ron Kirn
     
  14. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    Ron Kirn mentioned to me about doing an LP outta chestnut for somebody,sent me the pict about a month back. I'm no builder, but a chestnut freak I figure and the more I look at this chestnut LP, the more I like her. I'm posting this just for enjoyment of everyone; no this builder or that.

    [​IMG]

    At first glance, I thought; I'd never use such weathered chestnut; I've burnt chestnut like this thinking it was too flimsy; then I thought about how light it must be. I've got some wide boards (26 inches) that are so wormey & unreal grain patterns but are like an inch thick and super solid. I really screwed up when I had her cut up, wasn't thinking about guitars, more about paneling & bookcases. Should have made entire beam into 2x16 inch boards.

    When you finish the wood, the holes darken up and really look nice. Once I get the garden in, before the salmon show up; I'm going to dig out all those chestnut boards and look them over; wifey sez she's afraid of what I might find in those piles of boards in the shed.

    Hope everybody likes the pict.
     
  15. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    Well, finally got the goldtop tele on the mail plane. Actually, she turned out better looking than I figured and the luthier did a great job on the neck. I have to play around with neck pup & raise action some but other than that she's a pleasure playing. I guess that whole mismatched wood deal left me with a bad taste in my mouth but if that hadn't occurred, my opinion would be much different. The Novak tele pups are nowhere's near as bright as my Fralins, but you know; they all have their own sound for different music you fool around with. These Novaks are kinda middy, unreal for that old Wes jazz I still enjoy so much. This goldtop will be my jazz player. I guess that's why all the jazzmaster guys luv curt's pups so much. So here's the end result of this story, sorta.
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    [​IMG]

    I should be getting Ron Kirn's strat natural finish in about a month, can'y wait, also Novak pups. The wifey realized how down I was about the tele not being a natural finish, so she said go ahead and try another luthier. Things like that make me realize why I have been happily married almost 25 years.
     
  16. atquinn

    atquinn Supporting Member

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    I can see why you might have some negative feelings about it, but that's a beautiful guitar IMO!

    -Austin
     

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