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-   -   MARK BLANCHARD Bristlecone [Italian Spruce | Brazilian Rosewood] (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=596397)

justonwo 04-13-2021 06:01 PM

Great looking guitar! You must be excited.

eKat 04-14-2021 09:02 AM

DONE DEAL, DOOD!
 
Hi, guys.

I've been postin' up photos of the build of Bob's Blanchard Bristlecone (whoa - say that fast 10 times) on my FaceBook page and they've been a real hit.

Here's the final post in case you might want to check it out.

It's PUBLIC right now but it won't be that way until the end of time.

SO. . . here's what's undoubtedly going to be a huge URL:

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=...eric&ref=notif

Bob, thanks for letting me crash your thread. May you have the time of your life breaking this puppy in. It's really beautiful!

iim7V7IM7 04-14-2021 11:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eKat (Post 6690380)
Hi, guys.

I've been postin' up photos of the build of Bob's Blanchard Bristlecone (whoa - say that fast 10 times) on my FaceBook page and they've been a real hit.

Here's the final post in case you might want to check it out.

It's PUBLIC right now but it won't be that way until the end of time.

SO. . . here's what's undoubtedly going to be a huge URL:

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=...eric&ref=notif

Bob, thanks for letting me crash your thread. May you have the time of your life breaking this puppy in. It's really beautiful!

Kathy, this is my second Blanchard guitar (my other is a Pinyon that Mark built for me 7-years ago). Mark's guitars are responsive, balanced and have a unique timbre with fat, round trebles that I have really bonded with. I own a number of other custom flattops by other luthiers and surprise, surprise... they all have different signature timbres! I like them all for different reasons, but they are all different. People's perception of these differences is of course heterogeneous and somewhat subjective.

What I try to do in these “build threads” is to try to unveil subtle differences in how guitars are uniquely designed and built to help begin to explain the diversity of sounds that we all experience. Forums like this one on AGF tend to focus on beautiful woods, artful decoration and novel design/features. I like these aspects as much as the next guitarist, but I also try to highlight “what” is going on beneath the hood and to touch upon the “why” underpinning certain decisions.

Most luthiers who started building > 25 years ago, learned their craft in isolation and developed their own unique approaches unless they apprenticed for someone else (minority). Today, this is less true amongst younger builders. This is driven by the advent of lutherie schools, the availability of tools/fixtures/materials from supply houses and the proliferation information on the internet.

Over the last 6-years, Mark (and some other talented luthiers) has been extremely generous in sharing his time and approaches for building instruments. I hope that this thread serves as an information source for anyone considering commissioning a custom instrument from Mark. I should get the guitar late next week and I will of course share my impressions with the forum.

eKat 04-14-2021 12:12 PM

Yeah, Bob. . . I know this is your 2nd Blanchard. . . remember, I'm the one who had to ship a ton of tops to him back then. HA!

Feel free to click into that FB link and read my final post on #2. It's fun to see how people are responding to it. Another multi-Blanchard client has even posted up shots of his OldSkool Braz Bristlecone.

I dig it!

I'm really looking forward to hearing how you like #2. I hope you love it as much as my FB friends do. They can't seem to get enough!

La Conner will be back in 2022. I hope lots of guys get out here to connect with the small shop builders. It's been a long time. Everybody needs to be surrounded by magnificent hand built guitars right now and that's a top notch show.

Keep the magic alive, Bob.

iim7V7IM7 04-14-2021 12:49 PM

Kath, there are actually two luthier shows scheduled ahead of La Conner next year.

The Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase (Woodstock, NY) is scheduled for October 2021 and despite COVID's best efforts there is a chance that it will happen! I think luthiers will need to make sure that they have "Purel Proof" neck finishes...:). Additionally, the Artisan Guitar Show (Harrisburg, PA) is scheduled for April 2022 as well.

I am planning on attending both should they happen and I will have Mark's guitar with me.

Quote:

Originally Posted by eKat (Post 6690568)
Yeah, Bob. . . I know this is your 2nd Blanchard. . . remember, I'm the one who had to ship a ton of tops to him back then. HA!

Feel free to click into that FB link and read my final post on #2. It's fun to see how people are responding to it. Another multi-Blanchard client has even posted up shots of his OldSkool Braz Bristlecone.

I dig it!

I'm really looking forward to hearing how you like #2. I hope you love it as much as my FB friends do. They can't seem to get enough!

La Conner will be back in 2022. I hope lots of guys get out here to connect with the small shop builders. It's been a long time. Everybody needs to be surrounded by magnificent hand built guitars right now and that's a top notch show.

Keep the magic alive, Bob.


eKat 04-14-2021 03:52 PM

Guitar Fesitval Revival!
 
Yay, Bob!

I'm thrilled that these shows are gettin' fired up, again. They're good for the industry all the way around. There's nuttin' better'n a room full of ultra creative people focusing on shared passions; builders as well as players.

Glad to hear you'll be schleppin' a Blanchard along for the ride. Somehow I get the feeling it will be much appreciated.

iim7V7IM7 04-18-2021 06:25 PM

Heading East
 
Always my favorite shot...:)

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...FCDBA3DB1D.png

dcn 04-18-2021 06:58 PM

Alright! Hopefully another dream comes true as it comes home.

cigarfan 04-19-2021 04:43 AM

Excellent!

eKat 04-19-2021 06:59 AM

Nuttin' like an unmarked, totally boring cardboard box that SCREAMS to those who know!

WOW.

Have fun with the unboxing!

iim7V7IM7 04-23-2021 03:02 PM

Arrival
 
My Bristlecone has arrived safely from the High Sierras just in time for a weekend of fun...:up:. More to say and share this weekend after we get to know each other a bit...:)

iim7V7IM7 04-24-2021 10:28 AM

One Hour In...
 
I was able to sit down for an hour this morning to begin to get to know my new Bristlecone. Here are my initial impressions

LOOKS:
The level of fit and finish of Mark’s wood working, purfling miters, finish application, fretwork and setup are all executed with mastery. I also think the elegant lines of his design, quartersawn woods that he chose with simple mottled Koa purflings and contrasting Macassar Ebony bindings looks great! The Brazilian Rosewood, while not visually dramatic, is the stable, quartersawn “stuff” we see so rarely these days. The custom Macassar Ebony buttons on the Gotoh tuners was a nice touch.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...D9AED29F7.jpeg

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...C5CE5D807.jpeg

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...09886971E.jpeg

FEEL:
The guitar is 15-1/4” at the lower bout (a touch larger than an OM) but feels smaller due to the 1” Manzer Wedge with the depth at the lower bout measuring only 3-1/2” on the low E string side of the lower bout, but 4-1/2” on the high E string side. The guitar is not light for its size, nor is it heavy, weighing 4.18 pounds. The continuous contour cutaway allows for easy access to the upper fretboard and his setup provides strong notes even in the upper register. Mark’s standard neck profile feels great to my hand as well.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...6090EB6A9.jpeg

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...7A2B5D1BB.jpeg

SOUND:
It is always difficult to describe tone, but I will try to describe it for you. Like all of Mark’s guitars that I have played, it is responsive to touch, is balanced across the strings and delivers fat trebles with authority. The guitar presents strong fundamentals with string-to-string clarity and is not awash with overtones as some guitars made with glassy, low damping hardwoods can tend to be. The overtones are there, but in a supportive manner, letting the fundamentals do the talking. The back is definitely playing an “active” role, interacting with the top which you tell most profoundly by keeping it away from your body when playing it.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...71A00C917.jpeg

WORKING WITH MARK:
Mark was a dream to work with throughout the process, from his initial discussions with me to specify the guitar, asking my input on decorative and player preferences, to communicating status as he built it and delivering a wonderful instrument on time.

mhw48 04-24-2021 05:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6699209)

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...71A00C917.jpeg

WORKING WITH MARK:
Mark was a dream to work with throughout the process, from his initial discussions with me to specify the guitar, asking my input on decorative and player preferences, to communicating status as he built it and delivering a wonderful instrument on time.

That is a happy looking guy!
Congratulations on a beautiful looking instrument, and -- from your description -- beautiful sounding as well.

Nemoman 04-24-2021 06:56 PM

Congrats on your beautiful new Blanchard, Bob!

Many thanks for taking us along on this informative ride...

Enjoy!

cigarfan 04-25-2021 04:12 AM

Thanks for the report. Sure is lovely. Congrats Bob!

jt1 04-25-2021 04:54 AM

Stunning guitar, Bob. Cogratulations!

I'm looking forward to seeing it and you at Woodstock and Artisan.

iim7V7IM7 04-25-2021 07:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6699557)
That is a happy looking guy!
Congratulations on a beautiful looking instrument, and -- from your description -- beautiful sounding as well.

Thanks! I am still getting to know it, but a delight so far...:)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nemoman (Post 6699619)
Congrats on your beautiful new Blanchard, Bob!

Many thanks for taking us along on this informative ride...

Enjoy!

I am glad that you found it informative...:up:

Quote:

Originally Posted by cigarfan (Post 6699830)
Thanks for the report. Sure is lovely. Congrats Bob!

Dennis, I hope you get a chance to audition it at one of the upcoming guitar shows...

Quote:

Originally Posted by jt1 (Post 6699849)
Stunning guitar, Bob. Cogratulations!

Dennis, I hope that you can audition it some day...:up:

I'm looking forward to seeing it and you at Woodstock and Artisan.

Count on it JT...:)

Richard Mott 04-25-2021 08:15 PM

Bob, great looking guitar but I have to disagree that the Brazilian isn’t dramatic looking! It has a fascinating texture and the colorful banding on the back is beautiful, all the drama anyone could ask for.

AndreF 04-26-2021 06:54 AM

Bob,
Hearty congrats on a your amazing new Blanchard. Mark takes guitar building to a whole new level, combining both artistry and masterful woodworking skills.
Your narrative, as always, was a very compelling read, as were all the pics, and I'm sure Mark appreciates how much more informed and aware people are now of how he goes about his craft.
In any case, you seem very happy with the result by the look on your face. :)
Lastly, among the many pleasant elements of this thread was seeing Kath chime in again in her inimitable style. Great to have her back around on the forum.
Enjoy your beautiful new Blanchard! :up:

justonwo 04-26-2021 07:54 AM

A real stunner. I hope you enjoy it in good health!

iim7V7IM7 04-26-2021 09:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Mott (Post 6700606)
Bob, great looking guitar but I have to disagree that the Brazilian isn’t dramatic looking! It has a fascinating texture and the colorful banding on the back is beautiful, all the drama anyone could ask for.

Richard, I agree and also find it to be beautiful! :)

We just see so many examples of stump wood with dramatic crotch figure or even sometimes some beautiful landscape figure as well and I was making a visual comparison regarding its dark, subtle pigmentation.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...20934227E.jpeg

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...09886971E.jpeg

This is a straight grained, quartersawn set from a cocoa plantation in Brazil. A friend who is a well established expert on Brazilian Rosewood recognized the types of parasitic holes in the raw set that are associated with cocoa. While it was certainly an "old growth" tree (A 9"set containing no sapwood reflective of a large tree) that was left to provide shade for the cocoa when the forest was cleared. So during some of its later life before the parasites killed it, it did not need to struggle for light through the canopy. Hence some of the wider grain that can be seen in it. Since Brazilian is a glassy wood that can be prone to cracking, I am happy that it is well seasoned and dried (been in Mark's shop 10-15 years) and is well quartered.

What is most important is that the guitar sounds EXCELLENT...:up:

iim7V7IM7 04-26-2021 10:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AndreF (Post 6700848)
Bob,
Hearty congrats on a your amazing new Blanchard. Mark takes guitar building to a whole new level, combining both artistry and masterful woodworking skills.
Your narrative, as always, was a very compelling read, as were all the pics, and I'm sure Mark appreciates how much more informed and aware people are now of how he goes about his craft.
In any case, you seem very happy with the result by the look on your face. :)
Lastly, among the many pleasant elements of this thread was seeing Kath chime in again in her inimitable style. Great to have her back around on the forum.
Enjoy your beautiful new Blanchard! :up:

Quote:

Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 6700889)
A real stunner. I hope you enjoy it in good health!

Thanks Gents!

Hanter 04-26-2021 10:25 AM

I enjoyed the build thread tremendously and have learnt a lot throughout the process. You certainly provide enhanced technical commentary and that gives more insight into the luthier's thoughts and work. The end product is an absolute gem of an instrument and I wish you many many hours of fun and enjoyment playing with it. Congratulations!

justonwo 04-26-2021 10:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6701021)
Thanks Gents!

Gent? There must be some kind of mistake here!

iim7V7IM7 04-26-2021 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hanter (Post 6701044)
I enjoyed the build thread tremendously and have learnt a lot throughout the process. You certainly provide enhanced technical commentary and that gives more insight into the luthier's thoughts and work. The end product is an absolute gem of an instrument and I wish you many many hours of fun and enjoyment playing with it. Congratulations!

You are quite welcome. I am glad that you found it informative. I enjoy looking at beautiful wood figure or a novel/elegant decorative feature as much as the next fan of guitars. But in the end, these are tools that we use to make music with. We all know that luthier X's guitars sound different than luthier Y's guitars. But why? By looking over the shoulder of a builder who is generous enough to share their thinking one can try to glean some insight into why luthier X's guitars sound different than luthier Y's.

eKat 04-27-2021 06:25 AM

When perfection is understated . . . .
 
Hi, guys (remember, that's generic, not genetic)

Whoa. . . did this puppy turn out beautifully!

About this Brazilian rosewood; it is the epitome of understated perfection, from grain orientation and structure to variety of color. It's breathtaking.

The entire guitar is an exercise in integration; it speaks of all elements, not one of which jumps out and slaps you in the face.

AND. . . Bob, I'm stoked that you're lovin' the way it sounds, after all, it's not supposed to be just a guitar shaped object.

Here's to untold hundreds of hours becoming one with your second Blanchard. It would be really fun if you checked in periodically with updates on that journey.

KEEP THE MAGIC ALIVE!

Richard Mott 04-27-2021 06:31 AM

One thing further on this guitar, is the compound curve of Mark’s cutaway. It is simply the most elegant I’ve seen—totally solves the issue of blending the curved heel to the side. Aesthetically, I never was able to get used to the little side “shelf” adjoining the heel in many cutaway acoustics. Mark’s approach is lovely and I would have expected it to become a lutherie standard. It must be quite a trick to achieve or it would be more widely used. But just beautiful!

eKat 04-27-2021 06:42 AM

Compound Contoured Venetian Cutaway . . . .
 
HA. . .

I SO wanted Blanchard to call his compound contoured Venetian cutaway his "Signature Cutaway."

Ya know what he said?

"Ewwwww. . . my name's not on it!"

Ya gotta love that level of humility!

Steve Kinnaird 04-27-2021 08:01 AM

Happy for you, Bob. What a beautiful guitar!

Steve

rule18 04-27-2021 08:13 AM

Great looking guitar, congratulations! I too enjoyed the build thread.


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