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Steel-string guitar gallery

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Rosewood "concept" guitar

This commission during the early eighties allowed me free rein to experiment with ideas I had at the time about assymetrical bridges and bracings. It was a German spruce/ Brazilian Rosewood instrument with a very deep, sharp cutaway modelled after the Les Paul template. Notice the unique fingerboard treatment: the end of the fingerboard flares towards an abalone- encircled D-shaped soundhole. Whenever I can, I like to integrate the fingerboard/ rosette/ soundhole visually, and this is one solution that I thought was quite succesful.Notice the two pearl-dots just behind the heel inside the cutaway. These "cufflinks" were meant to be removed for access to the tapered pins that secured the neck to the body. I now use a simpler, hardware-based attachment method than this complex system.

Integrated maple 6-string

I had the good fortune to secure a large, paper-white plank of soft Norwegian maple with a persistent and extraordinary curl figure. I thus was able to saw the neck, back, sides and bindings from the same plank, unifying all the visual elements of the instrument. The result was an wonderfully integrated look: the guitar looked like it just grew that way!   This is one of the aesthetic advantages of the one-luthier-one- instrument concept which is difficult to match in a factory setting. The "grand concert" (similar to a Martin 00)-sized 6-string was made for the wonderfully talented song-writer Julia Burroughs who uses it both on stage and at home when she creates her songs
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Martin/Ditson Grand Concert recreation

My friends at Martin gave me template traces of a virtually unknown series of 12-fret-to-the-body guitars made for the Oliver Ditson Music Co. eighty-odd years ago. This short-lived series are known among cognoscenti as the "baby Dreadnaughts" since the series presaged the creation of the first Martin Dreadnaught. The series of templates consisted of one for a tiny 3/4-size model; a parlor-size model called the "Baby Ditson", a really unknown model called the "Ditson Grand Concert", and a unusually large one which became the Dreadnaught. I became particularly fond of the graceful form of the Ditson Grand Concert, and recently completed the one below made of Para Rosewood (seen "in the white" before finishing). Although similar to the Martin 0 in size,  its sound was very large and very open, far more than you might expect from a small guitar. More views below:

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Below, is a Curly Koa Ditson GC template Cumpiano guitar made for Nashville singer-songwriter Taylor Pie:

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CUMPIANO STEEL-STRING CUTAWAY GALLERY
Classic cutaways, click here

 

I love cutaways. Cutaways demand a lot of focused problem solving due to the concurrent woodworking, acoustic and aesthetic challenges that they present to the maker.

The practical consequence of inserting a cutaway into an otherwise standard- shaped guitar is that you end up with a smaller soundbox: one with reduced air volume. The soundbox air capacity in part supports the power and resonance of the bass fundamentals produced by the guitar, so if the maker doesn't compensate (by deepening the sides, widening the template, adjusting the soundhole size, etc.) the finished instrument can end up deficient or reticent in its bass output.

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Above left is a cutaway closeup of a maple 12-string (also seen from another angle immediately below). Notice the fancy rosewood piping carried through as a unifying motif throughout the whole guitar. This, in combination with the fact that the neck, back and sides were sawn from the same plank of Norwegian fiddleback maple, imparts a sense of integrity to the guitar's design..... and, to the right of it, a top closeup of a brilliant, blood-red African Padouk cutaway 12-string made for noted jazz guitarist John Abercrombie.

 

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Another view of the integrated, all curly maple twelve string cutaway guitar described above left. Note the rosewood trim continues throughout the full length of the back and neck (and headstock, too), and encircles all the soundbox plates. It took a lot of preplanning to put this all together! Beside it on the right is yet another integrated-design curly maple cutaway 12 in progress on my workbench.