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mhw48 09-14-2020 03:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wengr (Post 6444152)
My guitar was built in 1992. It measures 3 1/2'' at the neck and 3 7/8' at the tail block. I purchased it some years back from Bat McGrath, and he referred to it as a Prairie State. I cant say What Nick called it.

Nothing new is happening with my build at the moment so I have had to satisfy myself with related pursuits, including roaming the internet looking at listings and descriptions of Franklin guitars.
When I noticed that a Franklin guitar that was listed at Luthiers Collection is referred to as a Franklin Prairie State: https://luthierscollection.com/guita...prairie-state/
but the exact same guitar, when it listed at Guitar Gallery, is called a Franklin Jumbo: https://www.guitargal.com/collection...birdseye-maple
I was reminded that a couple of posts ago Wengr had asked about why Nick’s Jumbo is sometimes referred to as his “Prairie State” and whether Nick had ever called it that. I had posted a short reply after I asked Nick about it.
Then I stumbled across another discussion of the Franklin “Prairie State or Jumbo” name question from a late 2003 thread on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. It adds a few more pieces of information, although it also adds some more confusion as well.
Here’s the post on the UMGF that got me going:
https://umgf.com/the-return-of-nick-...rs-t49609.html
From this discussion — which gets quite heated at one point — it appears that initially the guitar shape was labeled “Jumbo” in the earliest Franklin Guitar Company brochures. You may have seen them posted in a thread on AGF, but if not, here’s the link:
https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...=541520&page=3
When I asked Nick about it he said he hadn't named the model himself: the “Jumbo” moniker was a decision in the 80’s by his distributor, Laury Ostrow at Guitar’s Friend, when Nick first started building and selling Franklin guitars. Laury Ostrow was responsible for putting out the Franklin Guitar Company Brochures and he decided to label it the “Jumbo”. Nick added that calling it a “Prairie State” doesn’t really make sense because Prairie State is actually a whole line of different sizes and shapes that includes the jumbo (actually a re-topped archtop guitar) that Nick based his model on.
In the thread on UMGF, the OP announced that he had just received his new “Praire State” Guitar from Nick, and says that’s how Nick referred to it in their correspondence. However, he later mentions that the build (and all correspondence) was actually handled through a friend and former assistant of Nick’s, Mike Dulak of Middle Missouri Mandolin. In the early 2000s Nick was starting up Franklin Guitars again after a hiatus. According to the thread on UMGF, Mike helped Nick start promoting his return to building guitars. It was actually Mike Dulak who informed the OP that Nick was making two models: A Prairie State and an OM. So once again it may have been someone acting as an intermediary for Nick who named the model, this time the “Prairie State.”
The thread on UMG adds an interesting footnote — at that time, 2003, John Greven was offering a “Praire State” model, and apparently credited Nick’s guitar and Stefan Grossman’s original Larson Bros. guitar as being the inspiration. It was initially going to be a “Stefan Grossman signature model,” but that doesn’t seem to have come to pass.
If you look at the current Greven website, he doesn’t offer a “Prairie State” anymore. While he does have a Jumbo, the shape seems inspired by a Gibson J200.
As a footnote to this footnote, here’s an old listing for the Greven Prairie State prototype:
https://reverb.com/item/32777463-gre...show_sold=true
It seems that John Greven only made about a dozen of his “Prairie States” and discontinued the model in 2018.
So, that’s the long answer to the question.
The short answer is that it was a “Jumbo” in the early brochures, and is currently a “Jumbo” on Nick’s website. Apparently at one point in the early 2000s Mike Dulak briefly marketed it as a “Prairie State,” probably in reference to the Prairie State guitar that belonged to Stefan Grossman. I think Mike Dulak's involvement with Franklin guitars was short-lived. Nick seems to have been managing Franklin Guitars on his own fairly soon after this, calling the model a Jumbo. In any case, neither name seems to have originated with Nick.
I think the bottom line is that no matter what you call it, it’s an incredible design with an incredible history. It was Nick who repaired Stefan Grossman’s original retopped Prairie State Jumbo — the replacement top had “caved in”, according to Nick, because it was too lightly braced. Nick was enchanted with the shape of the guitar and traced it, going on to build his own version. Later he showed it to Stefan who loved it, but asked Nick to build him one that was not as deep — closer to the depth of an OM. Thus was born the fantastic guitar that Nick continues to build.
Maybe to be most accurate, it could be called a “Franklin Stefan Grossman Prairie State Jumbo”, but that’s a mouthful!

mhw48 09-18-2020 12:42 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Some news to report -- Nick dis-assembled my guitar in preparation for the finish. "I miss it!" he told me. He's been playing it every day since temporarily attaching the neck and bridge about a month ago. Nick applied a coat of shellac to the body:

mhw48 09-18-2020 12:47 PM

Nuts and Bolts
 
2 Attachment(s)
The morning after updating me on the current state of the finish, Nick sent me another photo, stating "I didnít show you my bolt-on neck. The bolt is made of Brazilian Rosewood and the nut is Pernambuco with a carbon graphite ring."


Nick's waiting to put the finish on the neck until after the body is done. He wants to be able to stain the neck to match the final color of the body.

4mykey 09-20-2020 09:02 AM

When I met with Nick a few weeks ago, he showed me those bolts. They're really amazing and quite ingenious. He said he designed them in response to criticism for using bolt on necks instead of dovetails. No metal hardware used now.

mhw48 09-20-2020 06:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 4mykey (Post 6502853)
When I met with Nick a few weeks ago, he showed me those bolts. They're really amazing and quite ingenious. He said he designed them in response to criticism for using bolt on necks instead of dovetails. No metal hardware used now.



It is quite an elegant solution, and quite attractive as well!

mhw48 09-24-2020 04:21 PM

3 Attachment(s)
4mykey, I envy your proximity to Nick's workshop, and the fact that you can stop in and see things in person, but I have the compensation that Nick sent me some of the test wooden neck bolt sets -- along with instructions -- The black stripe on the Pink Ivory nut is carbon fiber strands that were saturated with epoxy, then set in a groove in the nut.

4mykey 09-26-2020 08:52 AM

Mhw48, that's really cool Nick sent you some test bolts. I was really impressed with the idea and his execution of it. Not only are they functional, but elegant and beautiful at the same time. It just shows me his high level of care and thoughtfulness that he puts into his builds.

Yeah...I am lucky to able to visit him. It's going to be challenging for me to avoid wanting to drop in all the time once he starts my guitar! I just want to give him the space and time to do what he does best.

mhw48 10-05-2020 03:52 PM

Photo finish
 
2 Attachment(s)
Nick sent me some pictures of the varnishing process. The first photo is of amber chips, which Nick is sorting and cleaning. They get heated (outside!) to around 380įC. Once melted and the impurities have burned off, the heated amber is combined with cleaned oil. The second photo is of the oil being cleaned. It gets shaken several times with water. Once the water and oil fully separate, the water (at the bottom) containing any impurities cleaned from the oil is drained off.

mhw48 10-05-2020 03:55 PM

2 Attachment(s)
This is the varnishing workstation -- brush, varnish, and a kind of "rotisserie" for holding the sanded guitar body.

mhw48 10-05-2020 04:34 PM

4 Attachment(s)
To Work!
Attachment 44829 Attachment 44839

Attachment 44840 Attachment 44841

iim7V7IM7 10-05-2020 04:43 PM

Knowing Nick, those shots were taken at 2 AM and not 2 PM...:)

mhw48 10-05-2020 04:44 PM

4 Attachment(s)
The varnish really brings out the grain of the African Blackwood. Nick says that because the lighting is not ideal for photos in his finishing room the color is not completely accurate, and he'll send me some under natural lighting when he brings the guitar out of the finishing room

mhw48 10-05-2020 04:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6516565)
Knowing Nick, those shots were taken at 2 AM and not 2 PM...:)

No question! And probably another 2-3 hours before Nick called it a day.

4mykey 10-09-2020 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6516567)
The varnish really brings out the grain of the African Blackwood. Nick says that because the lighting is not ideal for photos in his finishing room the color is not completely accurate, and he'll send me some under natural lighting when he brings the guitar out of the finishing room

It looks beautiful!!!

blindboyjimi 10-09-2020 05:50 PM

This for sure makes me want to trade something in for a 16Ē or jumbo. I wish I had something I didnít absolutely love so I could trade up. Itís awesome.


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