Sunday, February 7, 2016

Repair: Miguel Rodriguez 1962

Baltimore area flamenco guitarist Fritz Lerma brought this great vintage Miguel Rodriguez blanca for some crack repair, a re-fret, and a golpeador extension. 

I took some pictures documenting this guitar and some of the repair. Let's look at some of the features:

The bridge:

The front and back of the head:

The rosette:

The heel, back and side:

The top and the wear:

The bracing pattern:

And now for the repair.  The crack on the top was on the treble side near the end of the bridge wing. The thin cypress back had a few cracks, too. The neck was cracked on the nut end from one side to the other:

Because of the wear on the treble side I made a golpeador extension of clear plastic. As with all repairs, it was carried out using hide glue.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Postcards from Paracho

The town of Paracho in Mexico is that country's center of guitar making. There you can find the cheapest to the finest of corded instruments being made in an artisanal way using mostly handtools.

I made my pilgrimage through the city in June, 2002 and was drawn to the open front space of Jose Luis Diaz' "taller". That afternoon and on subsequent days he treated me to great conversation and gave me these old postcards.

On another day a young man began to talk to me at the plaza. He invited me to his father's shop, none other than the great Carlos Piña. So generous was this man with his time that he let me stay all day, talking and watching him work.  On another day he took me sightseeing to a parcel of land he had outside of town with a view just like the one on this postcard.

Paracho was also home to some of the best and genuine Mexican food I have ever had. But most of all this experience was key in forming my passion for guitar making in the artisanal way. Thank you Señores Diaz and Piña!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Brief Explanation of my Torres FE-17 style guitar

Antonio de Torres is one of my greatest influences and so I decided to make a guitar replicating one of his most famous instruments, the guitar made in his First Epoch in Seville that he made for himself but later sold to Francisco Tarrega, probably the greatest guitar virtuoso in Spain of that time.

These guitars use the same plantilla as the 1864 FE-17 that Tarrega used, but that is about it.  The rest of the design is an amalgamation of elements from different Torres guitars and some of my own construction style so in other words, these guitars are not really copies but guitars homaging the romantic guitar style of Torres.

To begin, these guitars have a smaller plantilla.  About 12 15/16 inches wide at the lower bout as opposed to the 14 inches of the last Tarrega Torres, the SE-114.

I used a smaller scale length (633 mm) than in the FE-17 which had a scale length of 645 mm. I think this string length of about 25 inches combines well with the smaller shape. It is very comfortable, too.

I used glue blocks for attaching the sides to the top instead of Torres' kerfed lining. I also used my laminated solid lining to join the sides to the back.

The necks are of modern widths, 51 and 52 mm at the nut.

I used pegheads planetary friction pegs because they give the guitar a romantic 19th century look but are 100% dependable to hold their tuning. They are also very light weight.

The tops are very thin, about 1.2 to 1.7 mm to be true to Torres' style and sound. One of the guitars has an open lower harmonic bar and one doesn't, but the one that has it has a transverse brace in under the saddle, something Torres never did.

Both guitars have a shallow wood tornavoz, again Torres only used a deep brass tornavoz on some instruments.

One guitar has a rosette and top purfling copied from another guitar from 1964 the FE-18. It looks a little like the one on FE-17 but is a little more simple.  I added a little something I saw on a Lucas Waldner guitar that I think made good design sense.  The other one has the austere style of Torres' simplest and least expensive guitars, which I think looks very nice. too.

And the bridges are pretty much the same proportions as the FE-17 but one I decorated in the style of Llobet's FE-09 with big pearl circles inlaid into the wings.

Archive: Guitar No. 34, romantic classical

Romantic classical guitar, based on Antonio de Torres FE-17 1864 model, but with rossette and purfling copied from Torres FE-18 and bridge from FE-09. European spruce top, flame maple back and sides, rosewood head plate and bridge, ebony fingerboard, Pegheads planetary friction tuners. 633 mm scale length.

Archive: Guitar No. 33, romantic classical

Romantic classical guitar, based on Antonio de Torres FE-17 1864 model, but with austere aesthetic. European spruce top, sipo back and sides, flame walnut head plate, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, Pegheads planetary friction tuners. 633 mm scale length.