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mhw48 07-31-2020 06:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6453819)
The OP can check with Nick, or maybe Nick will grace us with a post, but it is my recollection that the current style of building (e.g. the truss rod, bracing scheme, etc.) by Nick dates back to about 2003 when he was building in Missouri.

Remember, while Nick has been building guitars for nearly 50-years, much of that time Franklin Guitar Co. was a small team-built shop like Michael Millard’s Froggy Bottom is today with Nick as its leader performing key operations and directing his staff.

Nick’s solo built guitars Are mostly from the last two decades. I would guess only 200-250 of the 700 Franklin guitars are solo built instruments by Nick.

While my Franklin has an “F” on its headstock, when I look at it, I see a “K”...:)

You are exactly right about the date of Nick's shift to solo building -- 2003 when he moved his shop to Missouri. The current style of truss rod dates back earlier, to around the mid 90's -- Nick says it was the first guitar after Woody Mann's jumbo.

mhw48 08-03-2020 11:32 AM

neck line
 
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Once the faceplate and fingerboard are attached to the neck blank, the excess wood is removed with a bandsaw.

mhw48 08-03-2020 12:03 PM

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Nick then hand carves the neck with these tools. The last picture is the neck before it has its final sanding.

mhw48 08-05-2020 08:04 PM

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So Nick let me in on one of the things he's been cooking up on weekends. And it is something that he has quite literally been cooking: Nick had been experimenting with, and perfecting his own recipe for oil varnish. He sent me a short video of the result in its thickened state. It looks like some kind of black sludge, but as it thins it has a beautiful amber tone that imparts an incredible warm tone to the wood.

Link to the video
https://vimeo.com/user106562669/revi...277/00ef3c3d77

The board behind the guitar is the test board. The guitar top should end up that color with a few more coats. It hasn't yet been sanded or buffed.

FormerFoodie 08-05-2020 11:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6459964)
So Nick let me in on one of the things he's been cooking up on weekends. And it is something that he has quite literally been cooking: Nick had been experimenting with, and perfecting his own recipe for oil varnish. He sent me a short video of the result in its thickened state. It looks like some kind of black sludge, but as it thins it has a beautiful amber tone that imparts an incredible warm tone to the wood.

I think it's awesome that someone as accomplished as Nick continues to experiment and seek ways to perfect his craft. That's a true master - a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Getting close!!!! :up:

mhw48 08-06-2020 07:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FormerFoodie (Post 6460067)
I think it's awesome that someone as accomplished as Nick continues to experiment and seek ways to perfect his craft. That's a true master - a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Getting close!!!! :up:

In addition to the excitement in discussing the plans and then the progress of the build of this guitar, there is also the pleasure in encountering Nick Kukich. It’s an experience that I am really enjoying. Nick is clearly a master craftsman, with a unfathomable knowledge of guitar building, but he also has an enthusiasm and curiosity, and an engaging flexibility to his thinking. He’s happy to share his experiences and his knowledge; to answer my questions, even those that are the most basic. In his updates to me on his progress, or in discussing his decisions and choices at various points — or even in talking about something unrelated to the guitar at hand — I have a sense of my guitar as something in which Nick has a permanent investment. As Nick says on his website: “I believe a production line is a type of machine that produces units, while a guitar built by a single craftsman remains unique — a piece of art.” In my conversations with Nick, it’s clear that for him Franklin Guitars are his life's work, from number one right through to number 700 (and counting!) They all bear his stamp. Like any artist’s work, they have evolved as representatives of Nick’s engagement with his vision of a guitar.

Getting very close, indeed! Now is the most tedious part of the process: literally watching "paint" dry...

jt1 08-06-2020 02:44 PM

Thanks for keeping us posted. I love Nick and his work.

Plus, oil varnish is the sh&% for steel string guitar finishes. :)

nickk 08-06-2020 04:14 PM

bigger om
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by blindboyjimi (Post 6448722)
Nick has to be on a least #700 or so guitars? My 1980 is in the low 200’s, my 1989 in the mid 400’s and my former 2007 was in the 570’s. I’d love to know the proportions. I see about 90% OMs and 10% Jumbos and the rare dreadnaught. I think I’ve seen only 2 dreads. One was a hand rubbed sunburst 12 fret that was at Healdsburg about 8-9 years ago and written about by John Thomas in the FBJ. It popped up for sale about 5 years ago at Luthier’s Collection.
Attachment 41372

I should have jumped on it and there was another that required a lot of repair to bring back and someone here on AGF spent a lot to get it right, but it appeared well worth it. I don’t recall ever seeing an 0/00/Slope shoulder/J-185 or any other shapes. I play alone in my home and don’t need the volume of a Jumbo or Dreadnaught. I’ve had a Stefan Grossman HJ-38 which is Martin speak for a dreadnaught depth 16” 0000 and 2 Goodall Concert Jumbos which we’re also 16” but more like OM depth ala Martin’s 0000 or M shape. If I’m correct the Franklin Jumbo is 17” but it appears to be only 3 3/4” or 4” at the heel. The bass on the Jumbos is addicting. I found the HJ just too boomy with the deep body and regrettingly moved it on. The Goodalls were also wonderful, but my Franklins just got more play. They are gone as well.

Has Nick ever made an OM shaped 16”? Gibson has the J-185, Martin has the M, Bourgeois the JOM, SCGC the OM Grand, and Goodall the Concert Jumbo. I’d jump at a tight waisted Franklin 16” OM shaped guitar. I’d call that the “Goldilocks”....just right. I haven’t played a Jumbo in a long time, but this thread is causing an itch.

i do have a larger om shape i can send a drawing of the shape w/dimensions if you are interested.this shape is not the om-c as a non cutaway.

nickk 08-06-2020 05:45 PM

Varnish
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6459964)
So Nick let me in on one of the things he's been cooking up on weekends. And it is something that he has quite literally been cooking: Nick had been experimenting with, and perfecting his own recipe for oil varnish. He sent me a short video of the result in its thickened state. It looks like some kind of black sludge, but as it thins it has a beautiful amber tone that imparts an incredible warm tone to the wood.

Link to the video
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ypeqofapb5...rnish.mov?dl=0

The board behind the guitar is the test board. The guitar top should end up that color with a few more coats. It hasn't yet been sanded or buffed.

the varnsh recipe is not mine .i found a manuscript from a doctor who traveled through europe in 1571. the purpose of this trip was to study luthier varnishes. his name was Theodore Turquet .

mhw48 08-13-2020 04:20 PM

Detour
 
3 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6460220)
Getting very close, indeed! Now is the most tedious part of the process: literally watching "paint" dry...

Famous last words! Often these build threads give an impression of a smooth and trouble-free process, a series of steps that are executed with precision and expertise, an exquisite ballet of lutherie! and largely I imagine that is the case. But sometimes, the way is a bit more complicated than at other times.
Well, a complication developed as Nick was varnishing the guitar. His varnish was working very well, drying beautifully, with a stunning amber tint -- but he couldn’t get his finishing room clean enough. He has it set up in the basement of his house, and he discovered that any walking upstairs above the guitar would produce a few fine dust particles that would settle into the wet finish. Unlike nitrocellulose, it wasn’t possible to sand smooth just the affected areas, because the color of the varnish would then become mottled. It meant sanding down the entire coat, and applying a new coat. Then imperfections would again mar the varnish, and that coat would get sanded off.
Nick realized that he needed a completely different cleanroom to work in, set up specifically for varnish work. He has space in another part of his home that, with some work, he could set up. However, Nick and Jeanne are busy packing up their house in preparation for a move so that isn’t really an option.
Nick was really apologetic, he felt that he’d jumped the gun on agreeing to the varnish finish. I felt bad too: Nick had initially just talked about his tests with varnish, and I had suggested going for it with my guitar. He’d been a bit reluctant, and had warned me it might not work. At the time we agreed: if the varnish doesn’t work then just go with lacquer instead.
Now Nick offered me that option — he could abandon the varnish and instead spray the guitar with nitrocellulose. I’d have the guitar within the month. Or, if I was really set on the varnish he could seal and prepare the guitar for varnish and then wait for a couple of months until after the move and he has his varnish clean room set up.
Not so easy to decide — when I’d first discussed the build with Nick, we had both assumed it would have a nitro finish. If I opted for that I’d be getting the guitar that I had originally imagined, and I’d have it soon. On the other hand, once Nick had mentioned his research and experimentation with oil varnish finishes, I got pretty excited about the varnish. After seeing the picture of it, I was hooked.
It turned out that Nick was hooked too. He talked about the color, and about how somehow it felt different to touch the finished varnish surface. He would really like to eventually stop spraying lacquer all together.
“If you don’t want to wait, that makes perfect sense. I can spray it and you'll have it real soon. But, if if you don’t mind waiting, well some guitar has to be the first one I varnish…”

So, despite the fact that it meant a much longer wait for the guitar, I opted to stick with varnish.

That decision settled, I asked: “So I assume that means you have to strip off the varnish that’s on there now?”

“Yeah. Well, no… I actually ripped the whole top off…” Nick replied.

What happens when you commission a build from a perfectionist? Lots of things, of course, but the main one is that the guitar you ultimately receive is as close to the luthier’s ideal as they can bring it. So what happens when the luthier decides the guitar he is building is not going to meet his ideal? To explain fully I need to back up slightly:

As Nick was packing up his home, preparing to move, he stumbled across a long forgotten trove of Swiss spruce tops. As soon as he found them he immediately thought that one of those tops would have been a better match for the African Blackwood back and sides on my guitar. The top that was on there was “really nice,” in Nick’s words, the best option out of what he had thought he had available. But it kept bothering him that the characteristics of the Swiss Spruce were better suited, and… last week out came the router and the top was off.
Nick worked like a fiend preparing the new top — removing the rosette from the old top and inlaying it into the new one, gluing and shaping the braces and then gluing the new top onto the back and sides.
“I didn’t want to mention it until it was all done…” Nick told me, “I documented the whole transition. Do you want me to send the photos?”
Nick texted me the photos. Along with a short video of a whirring router and a detached guitar top.
“Kinda creepy.” He noted.

The rosette removed from the old top, and installed on the Swiss Spruce top:

mhw48 08-13-2020 04:22 PM

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The old top comes off:

mhw48 08-13-2020 04:24 PM

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The Swiss Spruce top is prepared... (New birthdate noted!)

mhw48 08-13-2020 04:27 PM

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The box is closed up.
"Take a look at the clock on the wall," Nick said. "It reads around 5:20. That's AM"

iim7V7IM7 08-13-2020 06:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6467611)
The box is closed up.
"Take a look at the clock on the wall," Nick said. "It reads around 5:20. That's AM"

Word to the wise. Never call Nick before 12 PM (PST)...:)

mhw48 08-13-2020 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6467704)
Word to the wise. Never call Nick before 12 PM (PST)...:)



Yup! One of the first rules I learned! In fact, Nick said if I wanted to call him early, I should just call when I get up in the morning -- around 6:45am Eastern time -- he'd still be awake and probably in his shop.


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