The week that passed was very exciting. First of all, there was the Scandinavian Guitar Show in Stockholm last weekend. I visited and met many good friends and made further connections. I also saw more than one ridiculously expensive guitars…
Then I met up with my good friend Michele Benincaso, luthier based in Stockholm, with whom I have been collaborating for a few months. With him was Paolo Tofani and they had brought his Tri-Kanta Veena that Michele built for him. A truly amazing instrument and two amazing individuals. I encourage you to follow the links above and explore the music and history of Paolo and the Tri-Kanta!
The picture shows Paolo with the Tri-Kanta. The top neck hosts 13 strings that are typically played as a “back-drop”, the middle has 8 regular guitar strings, out of which 2 are on a fretless part of the fretboard – and there are 2 additional reference strings for the “raga” (apologies if I don’t get the details 100%) that sits underneath these strings. The bottom neck has 13 additional strings that can be plucked and played in a harp manner. The guitar-like fretboard is played both conventionally and in a tapping manner. The topics of our discussions, I hope to get back to soon.
Also this week, Ane Brun, one of my absolute favorite artists, played at Cirkus in Stockholm. Supporting her were Rebekka Karijord and Jennie Abrahamsson. A magical evening that was also visited by Anna Ternheim and Elin Ruth Sigvardsson as guest appearances and I spotted Nina Kinert in the audience.
A picture says more than a thousand words, so here are a few:
Click on the images for larger versions.
Anodized aluminium is not very conductive to electricity, which can lead to string grounding issues. It is quite easy to overcome though, and with recent and future orders, I am including the necessary materials. However, I do not want to make any assumptions on how you would prefer it to work, so I am not grinding off the anodization as described below.
Drill a hole into the control cavity as usual and run a bare wire through it to the bridge.
Next, grind off the anodization (using a Dremel for instance) from underneath the base plate.
As well as on top of the base plate. Take care to check an approximate intonation first though. You want to make sure that the area you grind off will be completely covered by the bridge when it is mounted. The ground off portion should sit straight under the saddle.
Lastly, insert the supplied spring into the bridge and re-mount it. The saddle will have full contact with the ground off anodization through the spring, and on to the ground wire that sits under the bridge plate.
I have put the EGS demo up on YouTube.
Here are some of the vital statistics about the participants:
And some vital stats about the guitar itself:
I will start shipping the new batch of bridges tomorrow. I would like to thank those that pre-ordered for your patience!
There are many improvements and changes compared to the previous batch:
Please feel free to place orders on the Products page. I aim to ship within 1-2 days from receiving the order.
I have just spent a couple of very ego-boosting days at the Uppsala VI International Guitar Festival. My EGS guitar was finished with only days to spare, still smelling of linseed oil, and it was with some nervousness I showed up on Friday to exhibit it. Those of you that have followed the progress know that there are many experiments going on at the same time: ergonomic body shape, fanned frets, trapezoidal neck profile (contact Rick Toone for more information about this neck profile) , carbon truss rod, Lace Alumitone pickups, semi-hollow body, and the list goes on. Most visitors of the exhibition stopped to look twice and were intrigued. Those who looked closer and actually tried it said without fail something along the lines of: “That wasn’t as strange as I thought it would be” and then moved on to: “It’s actually really comfortable”. But this is only after dropping their jaw at the weight of 1850 grams (approx 4 lbs). And after commenting on the amazing sustain. Yes – putting 10 lbs of solid wood on your shoulder is not the only way to obtain it. Some other comments were:
One comment that isn’t necessarily positive in all players’ ears was that “A ‘slow’ guitar like that one [a Gibson ES335] kind of prompts me to play faster. This guitar [the EGS guitar] is almost intimidating, because it responds so quickly.”
Anyway, until I work out how to get video clips in the right format and so on to put it on YouTube, here is a Windows Media clip of some players. There is a lot of ambient noise and it’s recorded with the built in video camera microphone, but I think it still shows the concept. I am working on more of a presentation video that I will post shortly.
Yes, it has strings, it plays, it sounds, it weighs 1800 grams… Here’s a sneak preview – I will post more photos in the near future.
and, it’s got the new batch of hardware! In other words, feel free to order.
I was travelling all last week, so I have spent a hectic the weekend getting ready for final assembly. I received the new hardware on Friday so am now only missing the glide bearings that sit at the rear of the tuners.
In terms of finishing, the original idea was to leave all wood their respective natural colors, since this is the way I prefer it. But, I have ended up with the back of the guitar stained “ebony black”. The thought was that this would go together with the color that I put on my first ever build, the Rockette. The deep orange would have looked good with the black back. The issue is that I don’t remember how I achieved this finish… A violin builder, Tommy Jakobsson, taught me some of the basics of lutherie back in the day and I’m pretty sure he tipped me off on this finish. Since I am on a deadline and Tommy has not returned either phone calls or e-mails, I had to abandon it. I have a very strong memory of the finish being a two-step process involving chemicals rather than stains. It reacted with the wood itself and became an incredibly vivid orange when oiled. Does anybody know what this process is? I have googled as much as I had time for, and there is a process involving potassium dichromate that could be it. Potassium dichromate, however, has been banned from use in Sweden for 15 years because of its health hazards. I bought two kinds of orange stain that I tried, but I eventually decided to leave the top as-is and just oil it. Here’s what it looks like now:
I hate to disappoint the reader who loved the control placement of an earlier shot. I decided on a regular 5-way lever switch in the last moment since the shape of it harmonized with the f-hole.
Above, the back has been stained.
And the top oiled.
I also assembled the mounting plate for the string locks.
And mounted the string locks. Tomorrow, when the oil has dried, I will string it up for the first time…
Today, drilled the fastening holes for the neck and could for the first time test out the balance of the instrument. It was a nervous moment the first time I put it in my lap, since the body is so incredibly light and the hardware and pickups add very little weight. The neck on the other hand, being made out of wenge and ebony, felt like a rock in comparison.
However, I needed not to have worried. I’m happy to report that it balances perfectly and exactly according to plan.
I started with an alignment test setup that was left sitting all the while I was drilling the holes.
Then, the three main positions were tested:
Look ma, no hands!
Lastly, note the angle of my index finger and how it follows the angle of the frets.
The guitar obviously doesn’t balance itself in this position, but it is very comfortable nonetheless.
I can feel that the comparatively heavy neck and the trapezoidal neck profile (contact Rick Toone for more information on this neck profile) seems to address the “headless wiggle” problem. I can’t wait to string it up, but the mounting plate for the string locks is off for finishing along with the rest of the new hardware.
Today, I have worked on the neck, finishing off the head end of it and mounting side dot markers (abalone).
I also routed the pickup holes and this is where things started going wrong. My idea was to have the pickups extending out of the top of the guitar as if the top itself was a pick-guard. The mounting screws would actually come in from the rear of the guitar to be invisible. I routed enough clearance (I thought) inside the body to allow the pickups to be slid in under the top and then be mounted in this way. But, it didn’t work out at all. I don’t want to carve out anything more from the rear, so instead I had to cut openings for the mounting pieces of the pickups. (Although as I’m writing this, I realize that I could have cut these pieces off altogether and replaced them with something else underneath the pickup! Ah, well – next build…)
Note that the bridge is missing parts so looks a little un-proportional. I also realized that there is not a lot of space to mount the controls. This guitar will have a single volume and a 6-way rotary pickup selector. My initial impression was that the pickup holes look OK, but if that wears off, there is still the option to mount them in mounting rings.