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Old 03-07-2018, 09:26 AM
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mikealpine mikealpine is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Long Island, NY
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Originally Posted by Stevied63 View Post
Perhaps let me step in, Mike. The LS Redwood/Claro Walnut commission is mine. Very excited about it - this will be my first Kinnaird. As everyone probably already knows, Steve and Ryan are very thoughtful luthiers, and so far it has been a pleasure to work with them. Steve has spent an extraordinary amount of time with me, considering all sorts of options. Its a process (as it should be) and Steve understands that and guides you through it. I can give you a little background on how we came to this combination. However, let me caution you that: (a) I'm not a great guitarist - I love to play, primarily for myself and I veer a little more towards finger-style, but also strum; (b) visuals are important to me - part of my love of guitars is the craftsmanship (I realize some people cringe at this - I know they are instruments to be played and not put on a wall like a painting - but the look is very important to me); and (c) I'm not a tone nut - I struggle to hear minor variations in tone that many people claim across many of the tonewood choices.

The top was first - my last guitar build was a cedar top, and while I love it, I wanted something a bit different. I didn't want to go towards Sitka since I wanted something a bit warmer in tone. I was intrigued with the look of Redwood - in particular the Lucky Strike Redwood guitars I had seen. After consulting with Steve, he had some LS sets, and there was one I particularly liked. This was probably the easiest part of the the process.

Second was back and sides. This is one I really struggled with. I had previously owned a beautiful Bourgeois torrefied Adi/Mahogany guitar (it was, in fact, the first of his limited 40th anniversary guitars) - wonderful guitar to look at, but I never connected with that guitar. The sound was a bit too woody for me, and felt a bit flat (not flat in the pitch sense - just no overtones). The rest of my guitars were rosewood (either EIR or BRW), koa, and maple. I wanted something different, but not all the way to the Mahogany end of the scale. Steve was very patient, and showed me many, many different sets. Bubinga was in the running for quite a while - but ultimately the Claro set ticked my visual boxes, and it was slightly more towards the rosewood end of things with respect to overtones. So...decision made.

Third was the binding - obviously this is purely visual, and the Kiaat was a nice contrast to both the Redwood and the Claro - and different enough for me that I appreciated the uniqueness.

Finally, the, I wanted something with the mass of Ebony, but something that was a bit more visually interesting. Steve's suggested African Blackwood - and also had a bridge with sapwood that he had previously made for another customer (who ultimately went in a different direction). This is the one that I'm still pondering - I think its the right choice, especially after seeing Ryan's pics of everything together. Curious what others think.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I thought it might help others who might be thinking about a luthier built guitar, and wondered how the process worked.


Don't apologize, this is a great post, showing a well thought out plan. Thanks for sharing it! I'm kind of on the same page with you regarding everything you wrote. Passable guitarist, primarily a strummer/singer, working on more finesse and interesting rhythm accompaniment. Visuals are very important to me as well, and everyone should understand that we each have our own list of priorities when it comes to an instrument, especially something custom. Yes, it has to tick the sonic boxes, but it really needs to be something I love to look at.

It sounds like you made great choices. I like redwood because most of the samples I've heard and had the chance to play have a specific tone that just pulls me. Sparkle of a good spruce, some warmth and richness, and can often have quite a lot of headroom. I've played it mostly paired with Macassar Ebony, love that combination. Based on your description, the walnut should be a great match.

If you're asking for an opinion, I have to admit I don't really care for the sapwood on the bridge as I look at it on its own. The sapwood seems too bright on its own like that. However, if the rosette ties in somehow, that could totally change my thinking, making it seem more a part of the whole rather than jumping out at me. Of course, you're the one that needs to love it, that's just my thinking. As I said, this is going to be a pleasure to watch evolve!

2013 Joel Stehr Dreadnought - Carpathian/Malaysian BW
2014 RainSong H-OM1000N2
2017 Rainsong BI-WS1000N2
2013 Chris Ensor Concert - Port Orford Cedar/Wenge
1980ish Takamine EF363 complete with irreplaceable memories
A bunch of electrics (too many!!)