November 2012
1 post
Nov 14th
October 2012
1 post
Guitar Building: Post Script
Well, it’s finally really done.  I mean completely finished.  By finished I mean it now has a finish applied to it.  And it took forever.  I sent it out through the guys at SF Guitarworks, who then sent it to a guy in Santa Cruz.  And he took 3 months instead of what should have been 3 weeks.  But whatever, no big deal. I also put an inlay into the headstock.  Well, I didn’t.  Again,...
Oct 29th
July 2012
1 post
Guitar Building Day 12: La Fin
And so, here we are.  The end.  I finished the guitar.  Here it is, on my kitchen table back in Berkeley: Yep, that sure looks like a guitar.  Sounds like one.  Almost feels like one, and certainly will when the finish gets applied on there.  Which, speaking of, I have to admit I plan to outsource.  I feel kind of bad about it, because it’s the one thing I wouldn’t have done myself....
Jul 3rd
June 2012
12 posts
Day 11: Rosewood Boogars
Here we are, entering the home stretch!  Today is our last day! Yesterday we installed the frets, which is a big freakin’ deal.  Frets and the way they lay on the neck are probably the most important part of the guitar for the player.  If the frets are good, the guitar will play well. My frets look beautiful.  But I’m not so sure I did a good job on them.  Our teacher, Charles,...
Jun 30th
Day 10: Made With Wood, Skill, and Love
Today was a big day.  We finished the necks.  It was crazy to carve a neck out of a block of wood.  Check it out: That turned into this: All with a rasp and some sand paper! But wait…check this out! Holy shit that looks like a guitar! Charles Fox, our teacher, said that I had a natural ability for carving the wood, which was awfully nice to hear.  And he said he took a lot of...
Jun 29th
Day 9: Neck Part I
Well, we’re really getting down to the end here.  Today we made the fretboard and peg head, and glued the fretboard to the neck.  I also put little fretboard dot markers in the side of the fretboard.  Tomorrow we shape the neck into something that will look like a real guitar part.  From there, we start assembly.  It’s pretty neat. A few pictures from our work today, going clockwise...
Jun 28th
Day 8: Tools
Today we cleaned up all of the bindings for the body and continued our progress on the neck.  I had my first unrecoverable screwup—I sanded my neck a little bit too much so it’s a bit short, and we can’t get anything back—but it’s going to be okay.  We’ll just move a few other things around, and the guitar will still play and sound fine. I neglected to take a picture of my...
Jun 27th
Day 7: In A Bind
Today was the most difficult but somehow the most rewarding day.  Instead of doing big obvious things, like cutting the body shape out of a plank of wood, or putting the decorative rosette around the sound hole, we focused on the bindings.  Holy crap are they difficult. Bindings run around the edge of the guitar.  They make it look clean and pretty, and can have some pretty nice decorative...
Jun 26th
Day 6: Story time!
Yesterday was my day off, so instead of focusing on the guitar, I’m going to tell a little story about the people in and around this little rumspringa of mine. It all starts with Monday night.  I have the good fortune of playing in a folk/old timey/bluegrass jam session with a handful of the greatest people every week.  It’s always at my friend Sally’s house.  Sally is in her 70s...
Jun 25th
Day 5: Hoy crap, that looks like a guitar
Today is going to be super duper short, because I don’t think people read this stuff on Saturdays. But Monday’s post should hopefully be an extravaganza, because I don’t have to be in the shop on Sunday, and will actually have time to write. Imagine that?! Actually, time in the shop is worth mentioning. This program is 9AM till 8PM six days per week. It’s a real testament...
Jun 23rd
Day 4: Handmade
Well, bad news.  I had a whole post written out where I was all poetic about the virtues of making things by hand, and how it’s so nice to produce something that anyone can relate to, versus my regular day job, which is really good and all, but not obviously making the world a better place… And it was deleted.  And now I have to go back to the workshop.  Damnit. The gist of it was...
Jun 22nd
Guitar Build Day 3: What I did at summer clamp
Happy first day of summer! Today is going to be a relatively light blog posting day because I’m beat dead tired, and, while we did plenty of work today, we didn’t have a whole lot of obvious results to show for it.   That’s actually one of the things I’ve learned about building guitars.  I knew they were marvelous instruments, but I didn’t really know how many...
Jun 21st
1 note
Guitar Build Day 2: Hot, wet, and steamy
Remember when you had braces in middle school, and they made you feel so awkward and weird and lonely?  Today was like back to the future: I felt weird and awkward, and it was all because of braces. It turns out these braces are really hard to make: They go on the inside of the top and back of the guitar to help give it the stability it needs to withstand all that string tension.  And they are...
Jun 20th
1 note
Day 1: Cool, refreshing beverages. Nonstop.
Day one at The American School of Lutherie was filled with the normal rigamarole of “first day of class.”  Introductions of the students (all four of us), a tour of the workshop, some general housekeeping, all led by our instructor, Charles Fox. Charles founded the American School of Lutherie, which has the distinction of being the oldest guitar making school in the country....
Jun 19th
How did this happen anyway?
11 years ago I took a job telling how much money they were going to make.  This job was not for me.  I thought I was an artist, not a finance guy.  But I was young, and needed the money, and “financial analyst” sounded fancy. It didn’t take long for me to know I had to do something else.  So I walked into the director of our department’s office and said,...
Jun 18th