Friday, December 12, 2014

Repair: Herman Vazquez Rubio with intonation problem

I got this GVR Hauser model with a great sound and beautiful Brazilian rosewood back and sides but with bad intonation. The owner suspected the fret positions and I corroborated that with calipers. The scale length is 655 mm.

I did a re-fret and did the slotting all over again. First I fill all the slots except the 12th which will become my indexing fret (since the saddle was in a correct position).

I made a template with 1/4" MDF and put it next to the fingerboard making the 12th fret line up perfectly. I used the saw with the red handle as an indexer.

Here you can see how off some of the frets were.

Here is how I cut the slots.

I also made the new nut with compensation and a shim on the back to fill in the gap caused by moving it closer to the 1st fret.  I think that a nut thicker than 3/16" looks wrong.

I made a saddle with individual string compensation,

and installed new Rubner tuners since the Schallers were a little stiff.

The owner was pleased with the result:

Hi Luis, I picked up the guitar today and after playing, I'm completely satisfied with the work and couldn't be happier.  Thank you so much for fixing my guitar, the intonation and fret work is amazing, the saddle, nut, and tuners are perfect.  You do beautiful work my friend! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Videos: Miguelito and Ricardo Marlow play latest flamenco guitars

The Washington DC area has a good share of professional flamenco players. They frequently gig at La Tasca in Old Town Alexandria, so they're always a few blocks from my shop and gladly stopped by when I told them I had some new flamenco guitars I had just finished.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Archive: Guitar No. 30, flamenco

Flamenco guitar made with European spruce top, Mediterranean cypress back and sides, Spanish cedar neck, Indian rosewood binding and bridge. Amber shellac finish. Sold by GSI.

Making a flamenco guitar

For me the flamenco guitar is basically the same as a concert guitar, but I strive for a couple of differences:
  • quick attack, fast decay
  • lower action
  • lighter bridge
  • lower height from top to string at bridge
  • edgier more aggressive sound
  • drier sound
  • a lighter guitar, especially the neck and head
Here are a few pictures when I was building No. 30.

the braced top...

...ready for back

binding at heelcap

fingerboard gluing

fingerboard gluing

carving the neck

refining the side to neck join

beveling the fret ends

the finished guitar

the finished guitar, top

the finished guitar, top

the head

the back

the bridge

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Archive: Guitar No. 27, flamenco (for sale)

Flamenco guitar made with European spruce top, Mediterranean cypress back and sides, Spanish cedar neck, Indian rosewood binding and bridge. Amber shellac finish. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Repair: Jose Ramirez 1ra 1984

The Jose Ramirez guitar was the preeminent classical guitar from the 60's well into the 90's.  It was known for it's great power and sustain, with a dark, mature tone with lots sweetness, too. 664mm long scale length and cedar top.

Because of this, a great number of players used his instruments, and a great number of luthiers copied his guitars in that era, although now you see more guitar makers searching further back to the likes of Torres and Santos Hernandez as their inspiration.

So this is a 1984 in great shape that came into the shop with some fret buzz.  The action was perfect, about 4 mm to 3 mm from low E to high E measured at the 12th fret, but it had two problems. One was that the string slots at the nut were too low, about .4 mm at the 1st fret.  So I had to shim the nut up about .5 mm more.  I'm gluing on thin bone veneer with hide glue to save the original nut and the result is nearly invisible and it is bone on bone, so you can't go wrong acoustically.

The other problem was a slight hump around the 13th to 15th frets and some other frets that were not level.  This required a fret-mill, crown and polish.

First I spot level individual frets and zones with files and then I level the whole surface using a leveling bar and fine sandpaper.

Then I recrown the frets to give them their rounded shape back.

I also polish them with fine sandpaper on a special block.

Oiling the fingerboard gives it luster and also helps clean the metallic dust from the surface.

And last I give the frets a super shine with some steel wool wrapped on a block of wood. Pretty old school, no?