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-   -   Build Thread: Circa OM Adi Spruce and Madagascar RW (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=288812)

justonwo 03-21-2013 11:16 PM

Build Thread: Circa OM Adi Spruce and Madagascar RW
 
I was really inspired by John's 00-12 at Healdsburg 2011. It was one of the really stand-out guitars for me. I'm not usually a fan of 00-sized instruments but somehow this one managed to sound big and bold for its size and had a nice balanced sound with plenty of volume.

The thinking has evolved on this guitar, particularly as I've had an opportunity to play man examples of vintage Martin-esque instruments . . .00-12s, 000-12s, OMs, parlors. I've decided I love that sound and can really use that sound musically. So I'm editing the original spec . . . again, which for reference was a Euro spruce/African Blackwood 00-12. Then I switched to an Adirondack/Tas Blackwood 000-12. As it turns out, I ended up with a Larson style 000-12 with Euro spruce and koa in December (which I love), but then became concerned a the Tasmanian blackwood 000-12 would overlap too much with this guitar.

SO, we are back to the original plan of a 00-12 (a lot can happen in 2 years), but with my revelation in the last 9 months that I love the vintage Martin sound, we are going very traditional. If any of you know John, you will know he is very laid back. He's been very patient and accommodating about my design changes.

Body: 00-12 with cutaway, style 42
Top wood: Adirondack spruce
Back and sides: Madagascar rosewood
Neck: One piece mahogany
Scale length: 25.4"
Nut: 1 3/4"
Saddle: 2 5/16"

Fast forward a few years and here's the finished product:

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-01.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-02.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-03.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-04.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-05.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-06.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-07.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-08.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-09.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-10.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-11.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-12.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-13.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-14.jpeg

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/OM-30..._OM-30-15.jpeg

justonwo 03-21-2013 11:19 PM

And just for kicks, here's Jim's stunning 00-12.

http://www.magills.net/Assets/Circas...rn/00Rback.jpg

http://www.magills.net/Assets/Circas...0Rheadback.jpg

http://www.magills.net/Assets/Circas...n/00Rfront.jpg

hobbesy123 03-22-2013 01:29 AM

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but after the last build don't you think your time and money might be better spent seeking out an instrument that actually speaks to you instead of taking the risk of having one built and finding out that it's not the one after all? No matter how skilled the builder there are always going to be variables that are beyond their control when it comes to the nuances of each specific instrument.

When Chris Thile bought his Loar there was a specific run of serial numbers he was looking for.... out of the surviving Stradivarius violins not all of them are considered exceptional. I've read about underwhelming Somogyis and I've read about magical Gibsons and Martins. There are duds and gems at every price point. I'm not saying anything you don't already know. I think it's fantastic that you're in a position to commision instruments and support these luthiers, but it also seems that you're in a place as a musician that you're looking for a very specific sound and it seems like a rather hit or miss way of finding it.

Teleplucker 03-22-2013 01:55 AM

There is a risk with every build, however John told me when I ordered my 00 that the 00 body style was particularly easy to work with and come out with the expected result with a high degree of consistency. Not an exact quote but that was the jist of what he was saying.
I don't think you have to worry, if you are looking for a pretty traditional sounding 00. The 00 with 12 fret neck joint and a cutaway is just about the perfect guitar in my opinion.
Good luck with yours.

steveh 03-22-2013 03:06 AM

Re some of the comments above, I'm guessing lightning isn't going to strike twice; at least I really hope it doesn't for your sake! I'm confident this will be a great build but that's based on intuition, nothing else.

I will say one thing for definite though: That could well be the nicest set of ABW I've ever seen!

Quote:

Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 3407538)

Here is the African Blackwood we will be using.

http://jus-tone.com/misc/circa/Afric...kwood_Set.jpeg

Cheers,
Steve

colins 03-22-2013 04:58 AM

Hey Juston, get back on that bicycle and keep riding! I look forward to following another of your very entertaining build threads, and I hope the build and the final guitar both give you a great deal of satisfaction.

Love that ABW too, almost as much as the set in my Baranik CX.

Col

jackaroo 03-22-2013 05:48 AM

Ever think to just buy a vintage guitar of you're after a vintage tone?

I'm in the cue at a few luthiers shops, so I'm in no position to judge you too harshly for getting back into the "build my dream guitar scenario"... Even though the Kraut experience was a bumpy one.

BUT, I agree that it's much harder to hit a moving tone target than to just decide if you like a guitar that exists already. I'm only shopping builders and creating guitars that don't exist or that I could never afford in the vintage world, like a Pre war 'bone or an AJ.

That slight negative aside...I know how exciting it is designing a build, and getting to know these talented craftsmen. So congrats!

Hope it works out well.

Jack

ukejon 03-22-2013 05:50 AM

Part of the allure of a custom build is wondering about the sound that will come out of the new beauty. John is certainly a builder who you can trust when it comes to tone. Worst case is you don't love the sound, sell it to someone who does and try again. Worth the risk!

jmagill 03-22-2013 09:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 3407538)
...we're going to build a 00-12 that is more of a modern interpretation of that vintage sound. I believe that is what Jim Magill was going for when he ordered his Italian Spruce/Macassar 00-12 - the one that the HGF guitar was based on, I believe.

The 00 you saw at HGF is indeed a twin to mine, and a 'modern interpretation' is exactly what we were going for in mine: lots of the vintage tone, but with a few more chime-y overtones, and a big, fully resonant voice. And that's exactly what John delivered.

I understand those who say if you want vintage, why not just buy vintage, but I'm assuming you want something customized to your own aesthetic, ergonomic and auditory preferences. With John you can get the vintage sound (minus the age, of course) with the look, feel and tone dialed in to your personal tastes.

There is no other luthier I know of with the same consistency of quality from guitar to guitar, and the 00 size is right in the center of John's comfort range and expertise.

If you can accurately describe to him what you want, I'm confident he can build you something great.

I'll be following this build thread with great interest. Best of luck with it!

justonwo 03-22-2013 10:01 AM

I understand the temptation to discuss the Kraut build in the context of this new build, but I'm hoping we can really focus the discussion on John's great guitars.

This build has been in the works for several months and the idea of working with John has been gestating for several years, so please understand that I haven't decided in the last few days to commission a new guitar as a rebound from the Kraut experience. It's a different builder, a different spec, and is likely to be completely different experience.

The Kraut was not my first commission. I have taken delivery of a Mustapick OM and a Baranik - both experiences were great, particularly the experience with the Baranik. The guitar he delivered, which was based on a guitar I had played, was/is exceptional in every conceivable way. The experience with Mike was/is exceptional in every conceivable way.

So I am not using this guitar as a way to recover from a bad experience. I'm simply progressing with a build that's been in the works for a long time.

And, to be clear, I am not trying to achieve a vintage Martin sound. I liked the sound of the modern voice on the 00-12 I played at HGF, and that's what I'm hoping for. So, again, this guitar is not going to be described in completely abstract terms. It will be described relative to a guitar John has already built. That has proven to be a successful formula for me in all but the Kraut experience.

I believe the experience with Ray Kraut was the exception, rather than the rule. I will continue to commission guitars from talented luthiers, and I will continue with guitars I already have in the works (Beneteau, Baranik, Osthoff, Circa). There are all highly talented - and reasonable - luthiers.

If we can, please let's leave the Kraut discussion locked up in the other thread.

ericcsong 03-22-2013 10:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by steveh (Post 3407588)
I will say one thing for definite though: That could well be the nicest set of ABW I've ever seen!

took the words out of my mouth. Congrats on the build and looking forward to seeing this come together!

MikeD 03-22-2013 10:59 AM

Love John and his guitars. I own a 00 cutaway and its my main gigging guitar. I owned a dread from him as well, but sold it to help fund the purchase of my 1934 D-18. I can't say enough about the man and his guitars. I have a build coming up with him this summer for a 12 fret Martin-style dread. I am lucky to live an hour from his shop and visit him quite a bit. I will concur that his guitars are about as consistent as it gets. He's a pleasure to work with, and comparing him to Ray and what happened in another thread is not fair to a man like John. Good luck and keep us posted. I hope to play your guitar on a visit to his shop. Looks like it will be a great instrument. Are you getting a slot head?

Rainbow 03-22-2013 11:09 AM

I will be following this thread closely too. :)
Heard so many good things about John and his guitars look elegant.

justonwo 03-22-2013 11:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeD (Post 3408053)
Good luck and keep us posted. I hope to play your guitar on a visit to his shop. Looks like it will be a great instrument. Are you getting a slot head?

Thanks! I think I will probably be going with a slab head on this one. I won't be deviating too much from the HGF guitar, except for the choice of back/side wood. John felt this would be a particularly great set for a 00.

usb_chord 03-22-2013 02:47 PM

Great stuff. Looking forward to following this one. I didn't realize John builds from AB. . . and that set is amazing. I can't for the life of me figure out the style of guitar I want John to build - 00 or OM. I think it's time to create a thread of my own and get some help from you kind folks!

Bruce Sexauer 03-22-2013 03:30 PM

Using Ebony to get a "liver than EIR" tone was ill advised, there's been plenty of agreement about that, and it is certainly my opinion. I feel exactly the same way about using AB and thinking about vintage tone, except that it is in the opposite direction. In any case I see uncanny consistency where the potential for trouble is concerned and for some reason feel compelled to say so. I have never heard an AB guitar that had vintage sensibilities, nor do I expect to. I love John and his work, and I would hate to see a train wreck on this one.

justonwo 03-22-2013 03:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bruce Sexauer (Post 3408414)
I feel exactly the same way about using AB and thinking about vintage tone, except that it is in the opposite direction. In any case I see uncanny consistency where the potential for trouble is concerned and for some reason feel compelled to say so. I have never heard an AB guitar that had vintage sensibilities, nor do I expect to. I love John and his work, and I would hate to see a train wreck on this one.

To quote myself. I'm thinking perhaps I shouldn't have started this thread.

Quote:

Originally Posted by justonwo (Post 3407963)
. . . And, to be clear, I am not trying to achieve a vintage Martin sound. I liked the sound of the modern voice on the 00-12 I played at HGF, and that's what I'm hoping for . .


justonwo 03-22-2013 10:04 PM

Again, given that I'm going for a MODERN voice (that would be the opposite of vintage, for those of you concerned about such details), the choice of traditional woods is less important. John suggested African Blackwood, and I have every reason to believe he'll deliver an amazing guitar. That wood was selected several months ago, along with most of the other details on this guitar.

Rainbow 03-22-2013 10:08 PM

Once you have let known your intention for the tone, listen to the luthier :)
Regardless of what has happened, just enjoy every moment of this NEW build.

Teleplucker 03-22-2013 10:24 PM

My Circa 00 is Red Spruce and Mahogany, about as old school as it comes. I also played the 00 that you played at Healdsburg, when John had it at Swannanoa. It was a little different, but not different enough to call one vintage and the other modern. When I think of modern sounding guitars my reference would be something along the lines of a Ryan guitar.
We can talk about tone all day long and I know it's your money. I know you will end up with a great guitar, I hope it's the guitar that you are looking for. That being said, I don't know anybody that would steer you to John for a "modern" sounding guitar.

justonwo 03-22-2013 11:17 PM

Good grief you guys are a tough crowd. I played a Circa 00-12 at HGF. I liked it. I asked John to build something similar. That guitar is described BY JOHN HIMSELF as a modern interpretation of the vintage sound. It is also described by Jim Magill the same way. Either way, it's academic. I liked what I played, and I trust John to build something reasonably close to that guitar, particularly as most of the ingredients are the same. He recommended the African Blackwood as a great option.

Teleplucker 03-22-2013 11:19 PM

I stand by what I said. You will get a great guitar:)

justonwo 03-22-2013 11:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Teleplucker (Post 3408900)
I stand by what I said. You will get a great guitar:)

I'm going to have to go ahead and agree with you there.

billgennaro 03-23-2013 12:03 AM

congrats on the new build! i see it is not your first. it must be great excitement to commission new guitars from such fine builders. i played my first Circa a few months ago at Luthier's Collection. it was a red spruce over koa 00-12. i took it home wanting to buy it but the fact that it didn't have a cutaway was a deal breaker in the end so i returned it. but, i must say, it was a fabulous guitar in every way. the description of it being a "modern interpretation of a vintage sound" is on the mark in my estimation. its one of those guitars that, if you hold it in your hands and play it, you're going to want to take it home. i have some fine guitars and a Circa 00-12 would fit right into the mix. i'm feeling a bit envious.

best of luck with the build.

bill

racman 03-23-2013 05:06 AM

Congrats on starting what looks like a wonderful build Juston. Of course it's a tough crowd but I am sure everyone means well.

I think it will be great (from what I've heard on John's work). Enjoy the journey.

Howard Klepper 03-24-2013 11:52 AM

If someone said to me that he or she wants a "modern" sound, I would not think without a bunch of further discussion that I knew at all what was wanted. I've heard the word used to describe guitars that I consider to be on opposite ends of the tonal spectrum (e.g., Somogyis and Taylors). "A modern interpretation of the vintage sound" would just muddy the waters with an oxymoron.

In the discussion of Juston's Kraut, I saw a few people call that guitar "bright," when to me it was the opposite (from what I could hear). I would have called it dark.

I try to steer the tonal discussion to terms that have some objective meaning, such as frequencies, treble, midrange and bass, fundamental and overtones (although these get misused, too), attack or rise time, and sustain. I also find it very helpful to ask people which maker or manufacturer's guitars they like and dislike, and why. That can tell me a lot about how they use the language.

I am confident that John will build a great guitar; he is an outstanding builder. Whether he will build a guitar with a "modern" sound or a "modern interpretation of a vintage sound" as Juston intends those descriptions, I have no idea.

RiloKiley 03-24-2013 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard Klepper (Post 3410589)
If someone said to me that he or she wants a "modern" sound, I would not think without a bunch of further discussion that I knew at all what was wanted. I've heard the word used to describe guitars that I consider to be on opposite ends of the tonal spectrum (e.g., Somogyis and Taylors). "A modern interpretation of the vintage sound" would just muddy the waters with an oxymoron.

In the discussion of Juston's Kraut, I saw a few people call that guitar "bright," when to me it was the opposite (from what I could hear). I would have called it dark.

I try to steer the tonal discussion to terms that have some objective meaning, such as frequencies, treble, midrange and bass, fundamental and overtones (although these get misused, too), attack or rise time, and sustain. I also find it very helpful to ask people which maker or manufacturer's guitars they like and dislike, and why. That can tell me a lot about how they use the language.

I am confident that John will build a great guitar; he is an outstanding builder. Whether he will build a guitar with a "modern" sound or a "modern interpretation of a vintage sound" as Juston intends those descriptions, I have no idea.

That's the crux of the problem, isn't it? There is no objective, measurable determination of what "modern" or "vintage" sound like, as far as adjectives used to discuss tone those two terms have to be some of the worst.

Furthermore, using words in general to describe sounds ranges from vague to pointless in my opinion. I'm not saying it can't or shouldn't be done, but I will say that if you are commissioning a guitar and you want to communicate what tone you want out of it, it makes infinitely more sense to use soundclips. Refer to a recording, youtube clip, whatever. If it is audio it will do a much better job than words in getting your ideal tone across than saying "bright" "bassy" "balanced" "modern" etc.

MikeD 03-24-2013 02:41 PM

Make sure to let John build "his guitar" and all will be good... As I'm sure you will do. I've had bad results when I have told builders I want a guitar to sound like this or that, or if i want it built differently than they normally do, which may be outside of their tonal envelope. John's guitars are nothing short of exceptional. I have played a bunch of his guitars on my visits to his shop, and although I have played a few that simply weren't a good fit for me & my style, I've never played a bad one... in fact every guitar was superb in its own right and some actually made me weak in the knees. Trust John to do what he does best and you will be rewarded with an exceptional instrument.

justonwo 03-24-2013 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Teleplucker (Post 3408900)
I stand by what I said. You will get a great guitar:)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard Klepper (Post 3410589)
If someone said to me that he or she wants a "modern" sound, I would not think without a bunch of further discussion that I knew at all what was wanted. I've heard the word used to describe guitars that I consider to be on opposite ends of the tonal spectrum (e.g., Somogyis and Taylors). "A modern interpretation of the vintage sound" would just muddy the waters with an oxymoron.

In the discussion of Juston's Kraut, I saw a few people call that guitar "bright," when to me it was the opposite (from what I could hear). I would have called it dark.

I try to steer the tonal discussion to terms that have some objective meaning, such as frequencies, treble, midrange and bass, fundamental and overtones (although these get misused, too), attack or rise time, and sustain. I also find it very helpful to ask people which maker or manufacturer's guitars they like and dislike, and why. That can tell me a lot about how they use the language.

I am confident that John will build a great guitar; he is an outstanding builder. Whether he will build a guitar with a "modern" sound or a "modern interpretation of a vintage sound" as Juston intends those descriptions, I have no idea.

Right, which is why when I describe the tone in detail to John, as I did with Ray, in a very descriptive document using what I believe are fairly unambiguous terms, I will not simply say, "Please build me a modern interpretation of a vintage guitar." I will describe in great detail what I think that means . . . just as I have always done with builders. And I will expect John to ask questions about my descriptions. And I will further expect there will be extensive discussions back and forth until we are both clear what the other means. You are making an incorrect assumption about how I will communicate what I want to John and have therefore created a phantom issue.

We have already had some of those discussions and I think we both have a pretty good idea of what we heard from our one common point of reference (the HGF 00-12). Construction will not begin for some time and we have many, many discussions ahead of us, and I still need to write my formal design document where I lay out in painstaking detail what I want. Of course, wood decisions are subject to change over the next couple of years if we both come to the conclusion that we're headed down the wrong path. I will also be doing what I can to play more Circas to jog my tonal memory. So there are some very incorrect and presumptuous conclusions being drawn about how sophisticated and involved the discussions will be with John. I have always, and will continue to go to a lot of trouble to communicate my goals using objective terms that both parties can agree on.

I am not in the slightest surprised at the attempts to use this thread to stir the pot about the Kraut. Nor am I surprised by the obvious misrepresentation/oversimplification of the issues that arose during that build and the subtle negative inferences, particularly given the sources.

justonwo 03-24-2013 03:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RiloKiley (Post 3410646)
That's the crux of the problem, isn't it? There is no objective, measurable determination of what "modern" or "vintage" sound like, as far as adjectives used to discuss tone those two terms have to be some of the worst.

Furthermore, using words in general to describe sounds ranges from vague to pointless in my opinion. I'm not saying it can't or shouldn't be done, but I will say that if you are commissioning a guitar and you want to communicate what tone you want out of it, it makes infinitely more sense to use soundclips. Refer to a recording, youtube clip, whatever. If it is audio it will do a much better job than words in getting your ideal tone across than saying "bright" "bassy" "balanced" "modern" etc.

Again, crux of what problem? Why are we making the (incorrect) assumption that my only communication with John has been (or will be), "Hey build me something cool that sounds good with not too much vintage and a pretty good amount of modern and make sure it has a fair amount of rad without being eclipsed by warmth."

When I commission guitars, I write a 2 or 3 page design document that usually goes through several revisions. Topics include:

1) my tonal points of reference. Guitars I may have in common with the builder that they know well. Ideally, something they built.
2) attack and decay
3) sustain
4) overtone context
5) balance, relative strength of mids,bass, trebles
6) note separation
7) type of music to be played and playing style (with picks, mostly fingerstyle)
8) Volume and projection
9) player's experience vs audience
10) neck profile, depth, width etc
11) ergonomic details, scale length, saddle spacing, etc, etc
12) aesthetic details
13) etc etc etc

I have absolutely no desire to leave things undefined and risk a disappointment, so I go to great lengths to communicate what I'm looking for and to make sure the builder knows what I'm talking about.


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