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mhw48 07-12-2020 12:24 PM

Franklin Jumbo Build
 
In April, at the height of the pandemic in NYC, the city had shut down except for the near constant wail of ambulance sirens. My wife and I were ensconced in our apartment, working from home, with only an electronic link to other humans. Many of our neighbors had fled the city, and those few of us still here would eye each other warily in the lobby. We couldn’t even visit our daughter, although she is less than ten miles away from us, working on her PhD at Columbia University.

Every day we’d watch Governor Cuomo recite the latest horrific statistics: the rising numbers of infections and deaths since the previous day. On our very infrequent forays outside we’d walk past the hospital two blocks from our home where refrigerator trucks had been set up as a temporary morgue.

I consoled myself, as probably many of you did, with playing guitar.

In the midst of this catastrophe I had a long phone conversation with Nick Kukich of Franklin Guitar Company. Due to three cancellations from pandemic anxious clients, a build slot had become available. I own a mahogany Franklin (12 Fret Dread), which I love. It’s very balanced, airy, less dry than other mahogany guitars I’ve had, but still with a mahogany “character.” I wanted something with a similar sound that would complement the Dread and I elected to go with Nick’s jumbo.

My commission is his 700th build!

mhw48 07-12-2020 12:28 PM

A bit of context: Nick was one of the first luthiers, in the early 70’s, to resurrect the OM. His Jumbo is a design he came up with based on Stefan Grossman’s Prairie State Guitar, a guitar that had originally been an arch-top, and had been retopped as a flattop by Jon Lundburg. Nick told me that when he saw the guitar he really liked the shape — he’d never seen another exactly like it — so he built one. Sometime in the early 80s Nick showed Stefan an OM and the Jumbo. Stefan liked both, and has been playing and performing with his Franklin Jumbo ever since. (Apparently John Renbourne ordered an OM at the same time)

The Jumbo is wide — a 16 3/4 lower bout — but it’s about the same depth as an OM: around 4” at the tail, tapering to about 3.25” at the heel.

Nick’s website describes the Jumbo:

“The Franklin Jumbo is another Nick Kukich specialty. Nick sympathizes with guitarists looking for the kind of “big” sound that only a Jumbo could give. But being the artist he is, he found it unacceptable to make a guitar that coupled projection with a mushy tone quality. He experimented with bracing modifications and body dimensions until he could offer a Jumbo that wouldn’t give you the problems typically associated with these guitars. The result is an instrument with the power to cut through and a deep resonant bass – but one that won’t “boom”, resulting in a loss of clarity, or create problems with a microphone.”

mhw48 07-12-2020 12:31 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Since there recently was a very thorough and detailed build thread of a Franklin guitar here on AGF, I thought I would just document the aspects of my build that differed from that one.

After some discussion with Nick about the particular sound characteristics of the Dread and of his Jumbo, and the effects of various woods, he proposed African Blackwood back and sides —luckily Nick had one set of the Blackwood wide enough for a jumbo — with a European spruce top.
Nick thought the nearly solid black appearance of the African Blackwood would be nicely set off by white bindings, so he suggested using figured maple. We decided on maintaining the theme with simple black/white purfling.
Nick sent me a photo of the purfling on a guitar that he’d built with his brother that had a thicker black band sandwiched with thin white and black strips, as an example of what he planned to put on my guitar.

FormerFoodie 07-12-2020 12:34 PM

:up:

Franklin guitars are on my short list, and I've been contemplating commissioning one for a while... Years ago, I played a Franklin at Luthier's Collection and I've been jonesing for one ever since!

I'm looking forward to seeing the pics of this build unfold. I hope this will be a needed escape from the craziness that is going on.

mhw48 07-12-2020 12:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FormerFoodie (Post 6435994)
:up:

Franklin guitars are on my short list, and I've been contemplating commissioning one for a while... Years ago, I played a Franklin at Luthier's Collection and I've been jonesing for one ever since!

I'm looking forward to seeing the pics of this build unfold. I hope this will be a needed escape from the craziness that is going on.

I'll post photos as they arrive from Nick. I'm trying not to interrupt Nick's workflow too much with photo requests -- I'm torn between wanting to see progress, and wanting him to build! He's been busy at work, and updating me when he has a break.
And yes, it is really a relief to have something in the future to look forward to...

mhw48 07-12-2020 12:49 PM

2 Attachment(s)
For the rosette, I had seen photos of a number of Franklin guitars with a diamond pearl pattern that I really liked, so I asked Nick if he could go with that. I thought the pearl diamond rosette would go nicely with the “expanded” fingerboard inlay, which consists of pearl diamond inlays at the 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th and 15th frets.
Nick told me the rosette design is a favorite of his. He came up with it himself having never seen it on another guitar, but later discovered that something similar had been done on some Martin and Stauffer guitars from the 1800s.

iim7V7IM7 07-12-2020 02:57 PM

I will be looking over your shoulder on this one....:up:

mhw48 07-12-2020 03:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6436155)
I will be looking over your shoulder on this one....:up:

I really enjoyed your Franklin Build Thread, in fact I've enjoyed a number of your build threads -- always very thorough and informative.

justonwo 07-12-2020 03:16 PM

This will be a great one to watch. Have only ever played one Franklin.

Carpinteria 07-13-2020 05:45 AM

A friend of mine owned what must have been one of the first Franklin OM’s, back in the late 70’s. The first time I played it I was absolutely blown away. I’d have to say that it redefined for me what the ideal guitar sounded like. I have gravitated toward OM’s ever since. More to the point here, Mr. Kukich builds fabulous guitars. This should be wonderful. Dave

jmat 07-13-2020 07:17 AM

I will track this one also. I have always been attracted Nick's guitars. I wanted one in the 90s but was young and needed the money. I guess I still want one...

mhw48 07-13-2020 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmat (Post 6436680)
I will track this one also. I have always been attracted Nick's guitars. I wanted one in the 90s but was young and needed the money. I guess I still want one...

My case as well. Then I realized I'm not young any more!

mhw48 07-13-2020 09:22 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Nick sent me some photos of the rosette under construction. The early Martin and Stuaffer versions had the pearl diamonds set in a mix of ebony dust and glue, but Nick discovered in the first attempts of his own back in the 70's that the paste would shrink over time, so he uses solid ebony triangles. Cutting out tiny triangles resulted in pieces too small to be able to easily handle, so instead Nick started with triangular strips of ebony that he trimmed.

mhw48 07-13-2020 09:24 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Hard at work on the rosette:

Guitars44me 07-13-2020 09:37 AM

Love the rosette....
 
That rosette is very nice indeed. And I am a fan of BIG guitars.

This will be fun to follow and I am sure you will be pleased!

Stay well and do have fun

Paul


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