A Luthier's Scrapbook
|An archlute is restored in our shop
A partially collapsed rennaisance lute that had been "theorboed" is being restored by Harry Becker in our shop. I'm photographing the sequence as it progresses. Oh, and find out what "theorboed" means.
REMORA OR SHARK SUCKER. FAMILY ECHENEIDAE
A six-foot, clamp-on harp extension to an existing guitar. We called it the Remora
Fifteen years ago, Sean MacLean wanted to cover Michael Hedges' inventive (and fiendishly difficult) guitar compositions--and play his own compositions in Hedges' style. Sean had purchased one of my Brazilian rosewood Dreadnaughts previously, and asked me how he could convert it into something like Michael Hedges' harp guitar. At first I thought the idea was nuts. I liked that.
It took a whole lot of interaction with the client, a six foot slab of inch-thick Sitka spruce, six mando-bass strings, four EMG bass pickups, two Campagnolo bicycle quick-releases, and a lot of Industrial Design--and the Remora was born...a Remora being the peculiar fish (see above) that spends much of its life attached to sharks by a sucker on its head.
Fifteen years later, Sean calls me out
of the blue. He now works doing classical music programming for WGBH Boston Public Radio
and still performs of his Remora, which is still going strong. Two rare old friends
The abalone "S" was my logo fifteen years ago when I called my shop "Stringfellow Guitars"
American Craft Museum displays William's work
Thirty years ago, during summer breaks from art school, I packed art work into cartons as an intern in this prestigious craft museum. Now my stuff is on the museum's walls.
|Work in progress
Come in and see what I'm working on: commissions, classes, special projects, and process shots
Purpleheart Jumbo 7-string
|A guided tour
through my shop
A virtual walk-through. Well, virtually.
Shot just before it went out the door.
We've replaced a smashed side on a friend's guitar. Photosequence here.
Beeswing Mahogany Wedge Cutaway 12 string
|Interesting Visitors||A prodigal child returns
first published in 1984, detailed the construction of a steel string
guitar [and also a classic guitar], written in 1980. The steel-string made
for the book was bought soon after by Nashville country-western singer
songwriter Susan Taylor, known professionally as Taylor Pie. Pie's beaming
smile was captured in the
photograph which was published at the end of the book.
Twenty-seven years later, Pie mails me the guitar. She had bought a second Cumpiano guitar [and a soprano cuatro!] from me since, and found herself playing the other, the Ditson Grand Concert illustrated on the home page of this site, more often. So she asked me to spruce it up and sell it for her. This is my 27-year old child, returned after many miles, and many songs:
Pie's 1980 Cumpiano "book" guitar still has the abalone pie I inlaid on the 12th fret, plus a few bumps, dings, and well-repaired minor cracks--but played and sound marvelous! I resold it for her to a customer who wanted "the guitar from the book."
Does this look like a 30-year old twelve
Distinguished guitarist Martin Simpson visits us 5/04
Awarded "Musician of the Year 2004" by BBC Radio, Bristish Isles folk stylist Martin Simpson has been very busy lately. During a break from his recent US tour, Simpson dropped by our shop for a visit, and to try out a just-finished cocobolo/cedar guitar (first instrument on this page) purchased by a friend of his. He expressed his delight repeatedly...
Puerto Rican master musicians perform impromptu in Cumpiano shop
Listen to them here
All the way from India
Yet another prodigal son returns...
Distinguished visitors all the way from California
West Coasters Teja Gerken and Dan Gabel of ACOUSTIC GUITAR magazine during a recent whirlwind New England luthiers visit.
Danger! Genius at work...
In early January 2002, past editor/publisher of the Journal of Guitar Acoustics Tim White brought the latest iteration of his famed Chrysalis guitar. I've been cheering Tim on with his revolutionary guitar project for at least twenty five years, a magnificent obsession which has been called "the next guitar paradigm." Made mainly out of graphite (there is a wood version available) it is snapped together from several components --which all fit into a briefcase--with the flip of a lever, at once popping all its strings up to tune! It sounds terrific as an electric, and quite well (with the addition of an inflatable soundbox) as an acoustic guitar. Here is what it sounds like:
The Chrysalis was on recently display at a guitar show at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, along with the Stradivarius guitar, John Lennon's guitar and Les Paul's "log", and was judged an audience favorite.
A MOST DISTINGUISHED VISITOR:
We will be taking exact measurements of this instrument for our own edification and that of the guitarmaking community. It's sound? Well, perhaps the most beautiful sound I have ever heard from a guitar. How much of that magic sound was a result of skill, how much of it was the result of its 73 years? Sorry--as far as that goes, the guitar was silent...