What’s New?

THIS IS THE “WHAT’S NEW” PAGE

Or, at least what “was new” when it was posted!

The “Red-Caster”

The “Red-Caster” was made from old, very well seasoned Redwood. The wood was a gift to me by a good friend. It was in the form of 4″ X 6″ & 6″ X 8″ posts, which I cleaned, ripped, and milled down to a workable thickness. This guitar has a “double book-matched” top, is fairly light, very resonant, and one-of-a-kind. This one went to a long-time friend who “sings praise” unto the Lord. Very cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s another interesting build that is “not quite traditional & not quite Cigar Box” in nature. It is a short scale (20.5″) 3 string reso guitar. Pure acoustic but plenty loud. It has a walnut top, southern pine sides and back, a 3-piece lamented (for strength) red-oak neck with a true angled headstock, a mahogany fretboard, a nut made from very old hard maple topped with bone, a “biscuit bridge” made from old oak also topped with bone, and a hand-spun aluminum resophonic plate.

RESO – FUN

Short Scale – Loud!

 

          

CHECK THIS OUT!

The instrument shown below is some of my latest work – and possibly my overall best. I can honestly state that I spent way more time constructing this than I had expected! Most of the wood came from the actual elementary school that my wife attended! That being the old Webster Elementary School Located in Pontiac, Michigan. I’m not going to say how long ago that was, but did I mention that the wood is “well seasoned”?

This instrument is a 3 string, short scale, resophonic Cigar Box Guitar. Equipped with a “foil type” humbucker pickup, with volume and tone controls, and a standard 1/4″ jack.  Mandolin style bridge with string ground.

The top is a piece of cleanly jointed Douglas Fir – that I thinned to instrument grade.  The box itself is made of very special wood – well seasoned and very old popular with sapwood, with a center strip of Bloodwood.  The fretboard is also a piece of well seasoned – yet very green in color – popular.   The neck is one piece, made from multi layers of popular, mahogany, and oak. What may look like a “scarf joint” style headstock is actually angle cut from the same neck block.  I took layered pieces from the neck cuttings and made them a veneer thickness, and then inset along both sides of the headstock edges. Finished with WATCO Danish Oil, and then paste waxed after the oil finish had cured.

EVO fretwire hand filed and leveled. Side and fretboard dot markers. Bone saddle on maple biscuit bridge. Hand spun copper cone from Charles Atchison – with all machine screws “double nutted”.   Hand made nut from 80 year old (extremely) hard Michigan Maple. Many details from green colored pieces of wood, such as  vertical box edge strips, and a hand made pickup ring.

The instrument is rock solid. The action is currently on the low side – more for fingerstyle than slide. That can be adjusted to suit individual preferences, and the neck angle can also be adjusted.

Is it for sale? Not unlike a recently finished 8 string Cigar Box Ukulele (see below) I really don’t plan to sell this one (but they would make a great set!) My friends who know me well understand that I normally don’t build instruments with the idea of selling them. Most times I don’t even know myself what I’m going to end up with from one build to the next.  I would, however, love to see this one go to someone that would have a true appreciation for the (who-knows-how-many-hours) I put into this one.  So, feel free to contact me if interested. Fair warning: as my friend Hank used to say, this one is going to cost you “The Long Dollar”… but I can honestly state that the last several finished instruments have far exceeded my expectations.

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3 String Reso CBG !

(posted 05/22/17)

PS – I have more pictures from the actual construction process.

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Nine Tine Cigar Box Kalimba

(posted 03/11/2017)

Here’s your opportunity to own that Cigar Box Kalimba you’ve always wanted! This instrument will be part of the “silent auction” being held by the CTK (Oxford, Michigan) Youth Group. Monies are being raised to help fix up the New Life Chapel building where the youth meet.  More info to follow soon!

UPDATE

This was “won” at the above mentioned silent auction by a very kind and generous person – who actually “out-bid” himself several times in the process! I pray that he and his wonderful family will be truly blessed.  

Cigar Box Kalimba
Cigar Box Kalimba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aeolian Harp

So this is the latest in my “I Haven’t Made One of These Before Projects”. It is an Aeolian Harp – also known as a wind harp. It represents one of the oldest known instruments https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeolian_harp 

I first read about this tyupe of instrument many years ago, and have long since been intrigued by them. There is a truly fascinating effect that takes place when air moves across the strings. Rather than creating the fundamental sound of the note the strings are tuned to (in this case C) – the air movement actually plays the harmonic tones.  The amazing part of that occurring is that only air is “touching” the strings.  The strings can be made of different materials (or thicknesses) and all be tuned to the same pitch, or identical strings can be tuned to different pitches. Besides being the only strung instrument played solely by the wind, the Aeolian Harp is the only stringed instrument that plays solely harmonic frequencies.  Quite interesting!

On this particular harp there are 12 strings.  All of various diameter classical guitar nylon strings.  They are all tuned to C – which is then considered to be the fundamental note. That is, if “plucked” the string(s) would play a C note. But, as stated previously, they play the “harmonics” instead.

This YouTube video will give you a better idea of what I’m talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPDK3OVICkA&t=3s

This harp is designed to sit on the ledge of one of my double hung windows,with the window pulled down so that just the harp is catching the breeze. The soundboard is made from a nice piece of Douglas Fir that I sourced locally and thinned down to approximately 3/16″. The top plate is made from the wood I obtained from the elementary school my wife attended (please see below for more on that story).  The main box was made from 1/8th ply that I covered with veneer that I created from the same elementary school boards.

I plan to construct a larger outdoor version of an up-right Aeolian Harp.  If successful, the resulting (hopefully loud & somewhat ethereal) tones should have our neighbors searching the skies for a UFO !

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A Brand New & Very Special One-of-a-Kind Instrument Has Just Been Finished.  This is the Most Challenging Instrument I Have Made This Far. To get Proper String Spacing of the Four Individual Pairs: – in Relation to Each Pair; the Distance Between the Pairs; and Following the Fretboard as it Widens From the Nut to the Saddle; was a Unique Task!    

                                                     This one had the Little Grey Cells Working Overtime 

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This is an 8 – String Cigar Box Ukulele. The Body Was Constructed of Two All Wood Cigar Boxes That Were Joined Together to Make One Large Open Box. The Bottom Piece is From One of the Boxes. Here’s Where it Gets Interesting. The Soundboard, Headstock, Fretboard, Neck, & Bridge Were All Constructed From Wood That Came From the Actual Elementary School That My Wife Attended! That Being the old Webster Elementary School Located in Pontiac, Michigan.

It Should be Noted That a Renovation of That Beautiful Old Building is Now Underway by a Ministry Known as “Micah 6”. The Intention Being to Create a (Much Needed) Community Center. That is a Great Endeavor and Certainly Worthy of any / all Support it Can be Given!

Please Take a Moment to Check Out Their Website: http://www.micah6community.com/

I Was Able to Obtain Some Beautiful Old Boards That Came From Shelving Units From the old School.  When I Ran One Through my Drum Sander I was Completely Surprised by What I Saw. The Pictures Below Show the Before and After Shots Taken of the Same Board.   

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What Appeared to be Something Like a Walnut / Maple Combination Was Anything But That! The Lighter Wood is Hard Maple.  The (Very) Green Wood is Definitely Not. I’ve Been Told it’s Popular with “Sapwood”.  Anyway, What a Great Surprise.

I Did Use Several Different Pieces of Power Equipment in the Build Process, as I Often Times Start With Dimensional Lumber That Needs to be “Built-Up” or Joined Together.  But, I Also do a Lot of Hand Shaping. Nothing is Done via a Production CNC Machine.

Here’s a Few Specifications of the Instrument Itself:

True Tenor Size

Double Box (for Extra Sound Projection)

Good Tuners With Very Cool Buttons

Nice, Clean Fret Work

Very Playable Neck Profile

Low (fast) Even String Action

Hand Filed 80 Year Old (very) Hard Maple Nut

Hand Filed Bone Saddle

Hand Shaped Bridge

Brass Corner Protectors

Authentic “Drain Strainer” Soundhole Cover

The Instrument is Strung in Four Pairs: G, C, E, & A  The G & C Strings Are Two Strings That Each Have a Different Gauge Size and Are Tuned One Octave Apart. The E & A Strings Are Also Two Stings But Are the Same Gauge Size and Are Tuned in Unison With Each Other. There is a Strong Push From the G & C Pair – while the E & A Pair act as Drone or Melody Strings (Similar to a Dulcimer).  The Effect is Similar to a Natural “Chorus Sound”.  

A Considerable Amount of Planning Went Into This One. The Proper Spacing Between Each String in the Four Paired Sets Had to be Determined, As Well As the Distance Apart From One Pair to the Next. Added to That is the Fact That the FretBoard Widens Out From the Nut (Just Below the Headstock / Tuners) to the Bridge (2/3 of the Way Down the Body). 

I Didn’t Have a Set of Plans to Work From.  I Used a Picture and Then Scaled the Dimensions From It. Those Calculations Alone Took Several Days (and Attempts) to Get Correct… And Only Then Could I Actually Start to Build the Instrument!  I Typically Have 30 to 40 Hours in One of My Instruments. Adding the Initial Planning Required, I Have Considerable More Time Invested in This One, to be Sure.

I am Being Very Honest When I Say I Don’t Know if I Could Make Another One Like It… That’s Part of the Beauty of Hand Made Instruments! This is a Very Solid, Stable Instrument.

Is it for sale? Not unlike a recently finished 3 string reso CBG,  I really don’t plan to sell this one (but they would make a great set!) My friends who know me well understand that I normally don’t build instruments with the idea of selling them. Most times I don’t even know myself what I’m going to end up with from one build to the next.  I would, however, love to see this one go to someone that would have a true appreciation for the (who-knows-how-many-hours) I put into this one.  So, feel free to contact me if interested. Fair warning: as my friend Hank used to say, this one is going to cost you “The Long Dollar”…but I can honestly state that the last several finished instruments have far exceeded my expectations.

The Video Below Is a Brief Demo of the Actual Instrument Described Above

This is what keeps me out of trouble… and keeps my mind working. Both of which – according to my wonderful wife – are very good things!  I should point out that it really was made from a cigar box – two of them actually, that were joined together for extra depth.

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