The last guitar I built was recently made for a terrific young man and musician who is off pursuing a masters degree in classical guitar performance at Yale. My previous classicals have been quite traditional. This one was something new for me, incorporating many elements found in contemporary classical guitars: elevated neck, soundport, carbon-fiber neck reinforcement and ultra-stiff laminated sides. That guitar was so successful I built another like it. I again used Englemann spruce for the top (thanks to my friend Link for choosing some great wood!), but I changed the back and sides to Macassar ebony. Success — a powerful, attractive guitar appropriate for the performer or advanced student.
A group of experienced guitarists had a chance to review it recently (including a former concert artist and GFA prize winner). Some of the comments:
“All of the players…were immediately impressed not only by the beauty of the instrument, but by the very features which you described before sending it. It is soooo loud! It has a clear, brilliant and balanced sound that separates voices wonderfully.””
…loved the port,… they could hear detail in the tone that they’ve never been able to hear on other guitars.”
“…never heard a guitar that sustains individual notes like #28”
After five years of exclusively making violins and violas it took a request from a fine young guitarist to coax me out of guitar building retirement, and I am glad he did — it was an invigorating project. In contrast to my previous work, which was quite traditional, this guitar features several modern innovations: elevated fingerboard, dual carbon fiber rod reinforced neck, a sound port and laminated sides. I also redesigned the neck block for a light and very stiff connection of the neck to the body, while simultaneously allowing the upper bout of the guitar more freedom to resonate.
Win one for modernism. I am pleased with the tonal presence of this instrument: crystalline clarity, singing trebles, distinct, lush basses, and plenty of volume. And it appears this guitar will be accompanying its new owner to the Yale School of Music graduate program in guitar performance.