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Madagascar Rosewood and Cedar-Available Spring 2010

Every few years I build a guitar that is not commissioned. This year I am building an instrument with Madagascar Rosewood back and sides, and a figured cedar top. The rosewood is nicely quartered-the sides have a distictive black ink line reminiscent of Brazilian rosewood. The top is unusual in that it has a bear claw-like figure-this is rarely seen in cedar.

The scale is 650mm, the head veneer and bridge are Brazilian rosewood, and the guitar will be French polished. This is the first guitar I have done my Torres Tribute Mother-of-Pearl rosette in two colors of pearl. Every other link of the rope braid is the same color.

I will upload more photos as I progress, and date the link on the homepage so you can see when the latest photos are up. I would like to say a big Thank You to all of my clients for your continued support-I very much appreciate your feedback and referrals. Please contact me if you are interested in owning this guitar. I hope to have it available in March of 2010.


The reinforcing strip is being glued to the back. The strip is mahogany and will be thicknessed and shaped with a hand plane. This is my neck block. Here I am cleaning up the bandsaw marks with a cabinetmakers rasp and files.
In this photo the neck block is being glued to another pad that sits directly under the fingerboard. Here the blocks are being glued to the sides. The next step is to put in the linings.
The first round of linings being glued in. I'll flip the mold over and glue in the other set next. Here the edge of the sides and the blocks have been shaped to receive the back, and the linings have been morticed.
This is the body with the back glued on. Because I glue the top last I can clean the glue squeeze-out when gluing on the back. Nice straight grain Madagascar rosewood. The color is actually a little less brown, and more like the previous photo.
Here you can see the distictive grain of the Madagascar rosewood sides. There is a nice black ink line right down the middle. This is the first step in making the mother-of-pearl Torres tribute rosette. Thin ebony is being edge-glued.
The thin ebony was laminated to plywood. Then the inlay cavity was routed, and the MOP inlaid. Here the ply/ebony ring has been cut out. The ID of the ring must match the OD of the concentric lines exactly.
In this photo I am bandsawing the ring prior to using the jig in the next photo. This is the jig I use to reduce the rosette to its final thickness. At this point it pays to go slowly.
Here is the ring with the plywood routed away. It is now its final thickness, and is ready to inlay into the top. This is the bear claw cedar top. It is very unusual to see this type of figure in cedar. I have only one other top like this.
The rosette has been fit to the channel-I just need to make a plug for the area at the top, and glue it in. This is the back side of the top, and the numbers indicate the thickness in that area. I am planing the top to final thickness.
Here the bridge patch is already on, and the wide braces are being glued with hide glue. This portable go deck is really convenient. This is a close-up of the previous photo. You can see the wide braces notching over the bridge patch.
The transverse braces being glued. I'm always surprised at how heavy the bracing looks in photos. It's actually quite light.

The top is ready to be glued to the body now. I have signed and dated the center wide brace, and stamped the top with my initials.
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This is a detail shot of the cut-off brace notching into the lower cross brace. You can also see the fans tapering to almost nothing.

This detail shot shows how all of the fan braces notch over the bridge patch. The wide fans are planed to around .020" over the patch.
Another shot of the braces-here you can see the height and profile of the regualr fan braces. They are highest in front of the bridge. Here is a look at the inside of the body before the top goes on. I took this shot with the body on its side-I like the juxtaposition of lines.

This is almost the same view as the previous shot, showing the back braces notching into the linings.

This shot shows the reinforcing veneer I use on the inside of the sides in the port location. I use Brazilian rosewood for this. This
Here, I am marking for the notches in the linings that will receive the brace ends. The marking guage is scoring a line as a chisel guide.Hefffff This photo shows the operation of sawing the notches for the brace ends. After I saw down to the scored line I can chisel them out.
Here are the finished notches. Next I will sand off the pencil marks, steel wool the inside, and put in the label. Now the box is ready for the top. The end block has been pared back a little, and the neck block pad has two narrow lines chiseled in it.
The transverse brace ends have been marked, and are now sawn off to fit inside the notches in the linings. Here is my setup for gluing on the top. The body is still in the mold, and the clamps are dryer hose clamps that I have altered for this job.
Before routing for bindings I take a few passes around the top with my hand plane to level any unfairness in the top edge of the sides. This is a shot of the rosette after I have flooded it with superglue. This helps to fill the pores in the ebony and stabilize the whole rosette. Here
This is my setup for routing the binding channels. I rout one rabbet, and make the bindings and purflings the same height. Here you can see my jig for routing the backstrip. Next I will cut in the slot for the butt inlay, and move to cutting all the purfling miters.
A view of the bindings being tied on. With this method there are only two miters to cut on the fly, the ones at the heel end. Here I am fitting the last piece of binding. The miter and the butt joint have to fit exactly. There is no room for error here.
This is my setup for cleaning up the bindings before sanding. Here I am planing most of the bindings before going to a scraper. This view of the head shows the just completed string ramps. This head is not being carved and stippled-the head veneer is too nice.
This is a view of the neck joint before it goes together. The spline is Baltic birch plywood and you can see how it stops short of the heel. A close-up view of the neck joint. You can see how the shape of the neck/heel block matches the contour of the body.
In this shot I am planing the taper into the fingerboard. It has already been slotted for frets, and bandsawn very close to the final taper. Here is the setup for gluing on the fingerboard. There are a lot of clamps involved, so it helps to be well prepared before spreading glue.
A close-up of the clamping at the soundhole. I can't live without my wood screw clamps. The large C clamp has a special caul glued to it. I forgot to take pictures of the neck being carved, so here that's been done, and the 7th fret position marker is being fitted.
In the first stage of finishing, the whole guitar gets an egg white wash coat. Now the guitar starts to change colors. The back and sides with the egg white. In photos the maple bindings always look whiter than they are, even without a flash.
In this photo I am trying to show the 'bear claw' figure in the cedar. This is a very unusual top-it's quite rare to see this type of grain. Here you see the end graft, and all of the mitered purflings coming together. There is a very thin green in the purflings.
A detail shot of the mitered purflings at the heel, and the ebony heel cap. The guitar is now ready for a light sanding and on to shellac. The first coats of French polishing are done, and now the building up of the shellac begins. This photo quite accurately depicts the colors.
In this photo the bridge is being glued on. The French polishing is done and after the glue dries, I'll make a nut and saddle, and string it up. A view of the bridge clamps going into the soundhole. This is also a decent look at the alternating colors of the rosette rope links.
Another angle of the bridge being glued on. Here you can see the sound port and the distinctive grain of the sides. I used a particularly nice piece of Brazilian rosewood for the head veneer, and decided not to carve and stipple it for that reason.

To see the finished guitar please follow this link.


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