4/16/2014

Shipping Price Increase

Hi everyone -- I hate to say it but my "shipped" prices in general from now on are going to be going up by $10-30 depending on the size and insurance cost of the instrument in question as the new shipping rates are higher. It now costs $40+ just to get a guitar or banjo halfway across the country going Parcel Post vs. the $30 it was before and let's not even get into the blown-out faster-service rates!

That said, if you're at all local, keep in mind that also means a steeper discount if picking up in-shop.

4/13/2014

c.1920 Harmony-made Supertone Extra-board Mahogany Soprano Ukulele




Just like the Harmony-made uke I finished yesterday, this is that company's sort of trademark "peanut" shape from the late teens through the late 20s. By the 1930s the shape had changed to reflect a more Martin-y or Gretsch-y look but this is their original-style, smaller-width and cuter variety. It's all solid mahogany with a dyed-maple fretboard and nice long fretboard extension which gives it a "dressy" look.

It plays spot-on with hair-above 1/16" action height at the 12th fret and it has that signature mellow but snappy Harmony tone. I like these a lot for sweet fingerpicking.

Cinema: Shugo Tokumaru @ KEXP


The last couple years we've listened to Shugo's music every time the snow starts thawing to hopefully get that sap running in the maple trees. I always thought that his recordings were fun "studio projects" in the way they were so complex. I had no idea that a 5-piece band played all that stuff live. So fun.

4/12/2014

c.1890 Buckbee-made 5-string Banjo




This is a fun old 5-string setup with Aquila Nylgut (Red Series) strings as it would've originally been strung with gut (steel is not safe for this era of banjo, despite how most folks tend to try to string these old guys). It's got a simple spunover pot and the top edge has the "curled over a hoop" construction as well as the bottom which means this has a "tonering" built in.

At 25 7/8" it's almost at the 26-ish" scale which became fairly standard for 5-strings by the early 1900s. The pot is 10 3/4" diameter and I've installed a new Remo Renaissance head to replace the lost/torn original skin. Though the hardware is a mixup of vintage (and a few new) parts, the whole thing came together looking pretty authentic. The sound is direct, snappy, and pretty darn loud and it plays great.

c.1920 Harmony-made Flamed Mahogany Soprano Ukulele




This pretty little uke has a nice, warm, creamy sort of sound. I've worked on a bunch of these and they always turn out pleasant. This one has a little bit more flame/curl to its mahogany than usual and it really pops in the sun. These are made in the late-teens, early-20s standard "Harmony peanut shape" which is slightly smaller than a modern (read: Martin-imprint) soprano uke. It's got a straight 13" scale length and the rope detailing around the top edge and soundhole sets it apart from the general mahogany pack of the day.

c.2014 Richard Wylie Robson Barn Swallow Parlor Guitar


I didn't manage to grab a soundclip but I did procure a set of photos of Dick's newest build. Last year I shared his 2006 octave mandolin and this year he's finished up this stunningly-gorgeous little "parlor" guitar. Initially he was going to build a pin bridge design but as he went along the project turned into a tailpiece/floating bridge project similar in many ways to old teens-era steel string guitars.

His guitar is x-braced, however, and features both fancy detailing and also locally-ish sourced woods: Adirondack spruce top, flamed maple back and sides, and a butternut neck. The ebony for the bridge, tailpiece, and fretboard, however, are tropical of course.

4/11/2014

Workshop: Double Bolt Tiple


I wrote a few posts back about this 30s Regal tiple's neck joint being a bit wonky after (and, for that matter, before) old repairs and here's my "two bolt" solution.

In addition to these bolts the flat of the heel will also be glued to the sides (after I prep them, of course) for further rigidity. This is, in many ways, similar to the modern Martin-style tenon joints save that mine will (hopefully) be more reliable over time as there's two decent-sized bolts taking the load and keeping neck alignment rigid. This same mounting is also used in pretty much all Gibson banjos since the 20s.

Repair Updates

I've finally gotten around to updating the repair list over on the repairs page. It's hard to stay on track as so much stuff comes in for quick setups, too, but that'll give current long-term repair customers an idea of what's going on.

c.1938 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 Guitar




KG-14s don't come around too often as they're simply rarer than the more-often seen KG-11 model. They're also even more desirable as they're essentially a ladder-braced, non-truss rod variant of the coveted L-00 14 3/4" lower bout guitar shape. It's pretty obvious why, too, as they just have "that sound" that sits so nicely in folkie, blues, and old-time settings. These flatpick and fingerpick equally well and have that sort of darker, huskier, boxier Gibson sound when compared to a similarly-sized period Martin. It's sort of like "all the good" of the fun 30s Harmony/Kay/Regal flattop sounds but a step up in tone and many steps up in terms of durability, playability and structural integrity.

When I bought this one I knew I'd have a tug at the corners of my gear-obsession complex so I made sure not to play it more than a half hour after stringing it up Thursday morning. Unfortunately for said complex, my buddy Rick came in midday and picked for at least an hour or so on this while I was taking calls and I got to hear it from the audience perspective, too. Loud and proud, this'n.

4/10/2014

c.2012 Blueridge BR-40T Tenor Guitar




It's amazing what's coming out of China these days... this is the closest in sound, looks, and temperament to a vintage Martin 0-18T (or, simply, that x-braced tenor sound) that I've ever seen come out of Asia yet. Compared to the thin-sounding instruments of other makes (Gold Tone, I'm talking about you, specifically) this tenor really nails the 30s/40s Martin sound, if a tad bit fresher and slightly darker. It handles almost exactly the same, too, and responds to picking styles in the same way that I'm used to from 0-18T and 0-15T Martins. Blueridge did their homework when making this fella.

This tenor was traded-in towards another instrument, comes with a nice gigbag/soft case, and is in "as new" condition. The owner bought it a little over a year ago and it certainly hasn't seen much play -- it looks like it just came out of a shipping crate from overseas. It's spotless. My only adjustments were a tiny bit of setup (nut and truss rod adjustment) and tuning up (it seems to have DGBE-gauged strings on it right now so I left it there).

c.1975 Japan-made Madeira A30M Dreadnought Guitar


This down-on-its-luck square-shouldered dreadnought came in to the shop via a partial trade for some work I did on a customer's instrument. At the time it arrived, half the main x-bracing had come unglued (with an appreciable "dip" to the whole middle of the guitar), the original bridge was totally unglued and held on by some tiny bolts, the frets needed leveling and dressing, and the top had severe bellying behind the bridge as well.

I originally intended to take it in to pass on to someone wanting a free project for art use or something like that but in the end I started doing the repairs here and there while working on other projects. I finished it up on Wednesday morning and was happily surprised to have it come out a fantastic player with a sound that's actually not bad at all. It's firmly in the tone-region of 70s and 80s laminate Yamahas... which is to say... practical, functional and fairly loud with just enough sonic pleasure to get you playing.

4/07/2014

c.1936 Gibson L-37 Carved-top Guitar




I have a huge fondness for Gibson carved and press-arched products... they just kill the competition most days. This one is especially sweet as it has a "bluesy" shape and size (L-00 shape with 14 3/4" lower bout) with a flat back. Add to that its carved, tonebar-braced top and you get a creamy, punchy, carrying Napoleon. I wish my own L-30 had the sort of forward bark and drive that this one has.

Anyhow, this is a customer's guitar that should be up for consignment soon. My work on it included a fret level/dress and cleating/filling of the top center seam near the tailpiece area. I also filled/sealed a much smaller hairline crack on the upper bout (where you'd expect it: at the screw hole for the pickguard) and sealed up the center-seam on the upper bout of the rear.

This guitar is all-original save its tuners and has killer sound and playability. There's nothing like that Gibson 24 3/4" scale for a slick feel and the mild-v neck brings your right back to that 30s Gib feel.