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.

It's got a delightful sound: it's feisty, loud, aggressive and cuts in a jam. We had a pretty big jam going this morning and his solos leaped right out into the pack. It functions like something between a small-body Gibson archtop, one of those early flattop tailpiece ("blues guitar") parlors, and a Django-style gypsy-jazz guitar. With the x-bracing the mids are nice and thick and the lows are sculpted so they don't get floppy or spanky like some of these tailpiece-style parlors do.

He used plastic material for the line inlays so it wouldn't get icky or tarnish. The little ebony bit in the middle of the headstock hides the truss rod access and the pearl swallows are all hand-cut and inlaid.

Dick came over to toss around ideas with me while he was putting this together and he surprised me by taking my advice and installing a zero fret. I love it. As soon as he strung it up I think he understood why I like "proper" zero frets so much... they simplify setup and keep tone even.

Check out all that pearl, huh?

The adjustable ebony bridge was sourced pre-made and then cut to fit, though Dick initially had his own non-adjustable design on this guitar.

Isn't that flamed maple ridiculous? So pretty.

The butternut neck really looks great with the mix of colors in the instrument. When he was thinking on tonewoods I had mentioned walnut as a local alternate wood variety to use for the neck and Dick also surprised me when I saw the guitar next as he'd found this nice butternut (very similar) to use instead.

I love the darker inclusions in the maple.

The Schertler tuners are pretty fancy.

...and there's the handmade label. Love it.


Rol Murrow said...

If it sounds as good as it looks then it is a double masterpiece! Beautiful!

Floyd Scholz said...

What a magnificent instrument!

34 years of close friendship and admiration of this extraordinary craftsman prompt me to say that ANYTHING designed and created by Dick Robson will be something truly special! I can`t wait to hear it and play it!