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  #1  
Old 10-21-2020, 07:47 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Default 40th Birthday Present - Kinnaird Build - Deep OM

Howdy!

Like most of you, pretty much everything I was looking forward to this year was Covid-cancelled and the most recent example was my 40th birthday trip to Costa Rica that was supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago. When I found out about 6 weeks ago that CR wasn’t allowing Texans in I was pretty bummed but at the time was following a thread on here where another AGF member was doing a student build at Kinnaird Guitars in Nacogdoches, TX. I responded to his thread a few times and he DM’d me pointing out that the class wasn’t far from me (I live East of Dallas), and recommended that if I was interested I should reach out to Steve and Ryan. I did so, and about a week later we had dates booked for me to come out and build a guitar.

I’m sitting on the couch at my family’s cabin in the woods about 30 min from Kinnaird as I type completely worn out 4 days into a 5.5 day build. I have almost no internet, but am going to try to get the first day posted here and take it from there.

Before I start, I will say that Steve and Ryan are an absolute pleasure to work with, are more knowledgeable than you can imagine while still having a rare humility about them, and are extremely skilled craftsmen. I am relatively new to smaller luthier builds, but have been around a ton of very nice guitars in the past 20 years and can tell you that if you haven’t played a guitar built by these gentlemen you owe it to yourself to do so. I have now had the honor of playing a half dozen of their creations and it is shocking what they are able to coax out of their impressive tonewood collection.

This student build is a rare combination of you building an acoustic guitar in a week with 50+ years of building experience looking over your shoulder and doing everything they can to make the final product amazing. It is obvious that they take a ton of pride in the quality of anything that leaves their shop but are still making sure that I am the one building the guitar. I won’t get into details on the price, but I can tell you that it is fair enough that I would pay it for the experience itself and the fact that I will be leaving with an incredible playing and sounding guitar made of premium quality tone woods is just a bonus. They still have a couple of slots open for student builds next year and have accommodation options/recommendations if you aren’t lucky enough to have a family place nearby like yours truly. ��

Next post will start the pics and story, but first, here are the woods:

Top - Lutz Spruce



Back/Sides - EIR (cool color; will finish Pinot Noir-ish)

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- john

2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited

Last edited by BlackKeys36; 10-23-2020 at 06:53 AM. Reason: Fix wording
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:10 AM
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colins colins is offline
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What a great way to celebrate your 40th. Looking forward to more posts.
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:34 AM
bmh1 bmh1 is offline
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Excellent!!! Steve and Ryan are great builders and great people! I am looking forward to seeing more of this 40th birthday celebration guitar. Congratulations on plunging into this process. I'm impressed!!

beth
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:39 AM
Nemoman Nemoman is offline
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What a cool experience--congrats!

Looking forward to your updates!
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:24 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Default Day 1

Day 1 was a very busy one. I tried to take lots of pics but Ryan did a great job of keeping me busy and I definitely missed a few.

AM -

- Safety Briefing
- Review all design considerations and tweak as necessary. After some back and forth in the prior month on shape I drove out to Nacogdoches one weekend and tried a couple of their deep body OM’s and decided that was the one for me. They had/have a European/BRW deep OM that was mind-blowing good (multiple people on this forum have called it one of the best guitars they’ve ever played/heard). After spending 10-15 minutes playing that guitar I knew I had to build one of those in some Spruce/RW combo.
- True and glue the back joint. It was at this point that I got my first glimpse into the level of detail that would be the norm for the remainder of the build. Ryan had me sand the zipper strip, and then flatten the sides of the 2 back halves until I could hold them up to a bright light mated and not see even a glimpse of light in the seam. We then used an ingenious jig to glue and clamp the back together so that we could continue work on it after lunch.





- Layout rosette, route for the Koa blank, and glue it in so that we can route and glue the purfling after lunch. I got to use a compass for the first time since junior high and it hadn’t gotten any easier 30 years later. The routing was tedious between the depth and width measurements and being careful not to take too big of bites from the Lutz top. Once again I was impressed with the level of detail in the measuring and care taken to make sure it was perfect. I did the work, but Ryan was right there making sure my math was good, my dial caliper usage was accurate (it wasn’t), and that my router was set right for the next cut.




- Cut sides close to final shape, sand to final thickness, and hand bend to the form. This was probably my first “heart thumping out of my chest” nerve-racking moment. I was terrified that the rosewood was going to snap in my hand, but I made it through with the worst being that I had some good char to sand out later. ��






- We then glued in the blocks and had a rim assembly roughly in the shape of the guitar.

PM -

- Cut out back and sand to final thickness.



- Glue down back seam reinforcement so we can shape it, layout the back, and glue in back braces by day’s end.



- Route and glue in the rest of the rosette.



- Shape back seam reinforcement.



- Cut out top, sand to final thickness, and layout top brace pattern. Kinnaird pre-deflects their tops and already had a goal number for us to get to for final thickness. That said, this whole week was a blend of extremely detailed measurements and extremely experienced artists using their eyes, hands, and ears to help me make each piece the best it could be.



- Glue in back braces



I finished the day exhausted and amazed at what all we had accomplished.

Steve and Ryan both have great senses of humor, are incredibly kind high-integrity guys, and are a genuine joy to be around. I couldn’t wait to get back up there and continue.
__________________
- john

2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited

Last edited by BlackKeys36; 10-23-2020 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:35 PM
vpolineni vpolineni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackKeys36 View Post
another AGF member was doing a student build at Kinnaird Guitars in Nacogdoches, TX. I responded to his thread a few times and he DM’d me pointing out that the class wasn’t far from me (I live East of Dallas), and recommended that if I was interested I should reach out to Steve and Ryan. I did so, and about a week later we had dates booked for me to come out and build a guitar.
I think I know that person. Legend has it that the Kinnaird Guitars workshop was never the same after his time there!

Quote:
Before I start, I will say that Steve and Ryan are an absolute pleasure to work with, are more knowledgeable than you can imagine while still having a rare humility about them, and are extremely skilled craftsmen. I am relatively new to smaller luthier builds, but have been around a ton of very nice guitars in the past 20 years and can tell you that if you haven’t played a guitar built by these gentlemen you owe it to yourself to do so. I have now had the honor of playing a half dozen of their creations and it is shocking what they are able to coax out of their impressive tonewood collection.

This student build is a rare combination of you building an acoustic guitar in a week with 50+ years of building experience looking over your shoulder and doing everything they can to make the final product amazing. It is obvious that they take a ton of pride in the quality of anything that leaves their shop but are still making sure that I am the one building the guitar.
I couldn't have said it better myself! I'm so glad that you decided to take the plunge and be the second student builder with Steve and Ryan. Reading through your day 1 recap brought a lot of memories back to my time there-mostly good with a healthy dose of PTSD!

I won't spoil the rest of your story to be told but you have chosen some amazing woods and are off to the races on what will be a great sounding OM!
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:46 PM
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WilbornGuitars WilbornGuitars is offline
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Wow. That is some serious progress in just a few days. Beautiful woods- particular fond of Lutz. Sounds like a fun week. I hope I get to hear it some day!
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Old 10-23-2020, 03:32 AM
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Wish I was there to watch. This sounds like soooo much fun! Congrats on your build and thanks so much for posting!
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Old 10-23-2020, 10:37 AM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile Happy 40th!!!

Oh to be 40 again... "You kids today!" hahahaha

This is going to be the birthday you always remember. And what a souvenir you will have!!!

Plus Steve and Ryan are such nice folks. I really enjoyed meeting them at B.I.G.

Be careful, this could be addictive

Salud

Paul
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Old 10-23-2020, 07:50 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Default Day 2

Day 2 would turn out to be just as busy as day 1 and end with gluing the back. The guitar is starting to undeniably look like an instrument. I get to use chisels to carve for the first time which was (of course) way way harder than it looks in the cool YouTube videos.

I shouldn’t go much further without mentioning Billie. If you aren’t already sold on this experience by the building of an amazing instrument under the tutelage of masters or getting to spend a week on a beautiful piece of land in a quiet workshop in deep East Texas, then Billie’s cooking would surely win you over. Sometime around noon every day she would walk out to the shop and get an ETA for lunch break and without fail would have a delicious meal ready for us. I’m a food guy and a pretty good cook myself, and can tell you with confidence that you will love Billie’s cooking. The Kinnairds redefine hospitality for these student builds and take it to another level. They are warm and welcoming and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and FULL (daily freshly baked cookies and at least one of my meals had fresh-baked bread).

On to the day’s work...

AM -
- Glue top braces in one direction (lots of experience in laying out this schedule to make sure we were never waiting on glue or have go-bars in our way while trying to fit or glue anything). I transferred the brace layout onto the back of the top from a nicely worn guide template the previous evening and got some satisfaction and confidence from knowing how many times it had been used before me.



- Profile Rim Assembly



- Bend and glue on back lining (no pic)

- Glue top braces in the other direction



- Carve Back Braces 😅



- Sand Back Interior (not the most fun part of the build. 😂


PM -

- Sand radius into back lining (no pic)

- Drill holes in neck block for neck bolts (no pic; they were busy making sure I didn’t mess this up)

- Layout and rout soundport (Ryan gave me a 3 minute lecture of how bad I could mess up the guitar here and he definitely scared the fear of dremel into me). That said, throughout the week I developed a list and scale of “Ryan’s Reactions” that started somewhere around “I guess we’ll make that work” and went up to either “Perfect” or “That’s as good as I could have done” (like I said, humble) depending on your perspective. In this case i got a good reaction out of him. 🙌🏼



- Peghead work. Cut to shape, install faceplate, drill tuner holes, sand to final thickness.



- Fit back to rim assembly, trim braces, rout pockets in lining for braces (nerve-racking), glue back, and call it a day. Definitely starting to look like a guitar.



Another busy day, but we left with promises from Ryan that the skill requirement was about to increase dramatically but the workload would drop proportionately. I’m a hard worker that likes to stay busy and I am absolutely smoked.
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- john

2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited
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Old 10-23-2020, 09:22 PM
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mikealpine mikealpine is offline
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What a fantastic experience! If TX is open when I turn 60 ina few years, I may have to see if I can work something like this out. Enjoying your adventure!
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Old 10-24-2020, 09:21 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Default Day 3

Day 3 promised to be a huge one from a visual progress standpoint. We would start the day pulling the bands off the glued back and trimming it to the sides and finish with gluing the top. I would also get to carve a top for the first time which has always been a complete mystery to me. I had a short night working late on construction projects at my family’s cabin nearby and the fatigue is starting to show. Ryan and Steve both have a knack for refocusing, moving slowly and with a purpose, and always doing things with excellence. It’s obvious that with the many years of experience they’ve learned how not to have a bad day with a chisel, etc.

AM -
- Remove back from the bands and trim flush to sides. This started on a sander and ended with a rasp and some hand sanding.



- Carve top ☺️. The pics definitely look posed but I swear I didn’t even know Ryan took them...I actually look like that in real life😂. I initially anticipated this build being relaxing and somewhat therapeutic and I ended up being so nervous about messing up that it made it less than relaxing a lot of the time, but with each step I learned to slow down, really focus on feeling what the tool was doing, and found myself able to relax some. Carving braces definitely fell into this category. I started a nervous wreck but by the time I finished the top I was feeling much more confident with feeling the chisel against the grain of the wood and picking my stroke direction accordingly. Ryan made some tweaks when I was done and Steve blessed it, but for the most part I can say that I carved the top. Ryan helped me with peak and valley measurements and sketched the slopes on scratch paper or the workbench so I knew what the brace “should” look like, but overall he trusted me to do it.




In Ryan’s words, I inadvertently “hot-rodded” it a little.




- Sand top (No pic). I sanded it to the point I felt good about it and then Ryan took it significantly further. One of the many major differences between my construction experience and these guys’ luthiery experience is the definition of “final sand”. Pretty much everything that I thought I was done with they came behind me and worked harder to get things looking cleaner. I’ve always heard that a good definition of integrity is how you act when no one is watching or will ever know, and these guys do a lot of detailed sanding that no one will ever know about...even on a student build.

PM -

- Sand radius into top lining. This is one of those steps where it is absolutely impossible to look cool.



- Prep box for top. Install heel block reinforcement, bevel end block, trim top braces, rout lining for top braces, install label, sign the top (can’t believe I didn’t take a pic of the signatures and date 🤦🏻*♂️).

- Close the box! My glue control has improved dramatically this week. When I first watched Ryan lay a consistent bead of glue with various glue bottles I assumed it was some type of wizardry, but I got to the point where I could do it respectably by week’s end.




Day 4 will be our last day with a daunting list of tasks to complete and the skill requirement is definitely increasing with each day. I’m using new tools and pushing the limits of my hand/eye coordination daily. I love learning and I’m getting a huge dose of it every day.
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2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited
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Old 10-24-2020, 09:33 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vpolineni View Post
I think I know that person. Legend has it that the Kinnaird Guitars workshop was never the same after his time there!

I couldn't have said it better myself! I'm so glad that you decided to take the plunge and be the second student builder with Steve and Ryan. Reading through your day 1 recap brought a lot of memories back to my time there-mostly good with a healthy dose of PTSD!

I won't spoil the rest of your story to be told but you have chosen some amazing woods and are off to the races on what will be a great sounding OM!
Hey Vasu! I can’t thank you enough for DM’ing me and encouraging me to contact Steve. This has truly been the opportunity of a lifetime. I can’t wait to meet up and play our student builds together and compare notes in a few months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WilbornGuitars View Post
Wow. That is some serious progress in just a few days. Beautiful woods- particular fond of Lutz. Sounds like a fun week. I hope I get to hear it some day!
Thanks for stopping by, Ben! That was actually just 1 day’s work. Ryan is pretty good at whip-cracking and keeping Steve and me on task.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cigarfan View Post
Wish I was there to watch. This sounds like soooo much fun! Congrats on your build and thanks so much for posting!
Thanks, Cigarfan! I saw some pics of your commission this week and “spectacular” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
Oh to be 40 again... "You kids today!" hahahaha

This is going to be the birthday you always remember. And what a souvenir you will have!!!

Plus Steve and Ryan are such nice folks. I really enjoyed meeting them at B.I.G.

Be careful, this could be addictive

Salud

Paul
Hey Paul! You came up in conversation a number of times this week (always good, of course). Steve and Ryan are both stellar guys and you’re right, this IS addictive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikealpine View Post
What a fantastic experience! If TX is open when I turn 60 ina few years, I may have to see if I can work something like this out. Enjoying your adventure!
Thanks, Mike! In small town East Texas it’s easy to forget about a lot of the craziness in the world right now. I’m sure they would love to have you!
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2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:11 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Default Day 4

Day 4! Getting close! The neck is still a rectangular block and the guitar wouldn't be the prettiest thing ever created without binding and finish, but in theory I could string it up and I have made an instrument! After pulling the clamps off this morning the body sounds and looks great!

This will be the last day with a really long list of things that must be finished.

AM -

- Remove box from clamps and trim top flush to sides




- Level sides. My understanding is that this would normally involve a little more power sanding and scraping, but Ryan made the wise decision to have me do it by hand. We essentially chalked up the sides all the way around and then i had to make the chalk disappear with a sanding block...fun stuff.



- Rout and install end graft (no pic). This was fairly simple compared to most of our routing to this point. We took it slow and worked out to the layout lines we drew. We did a piece of the leftover koa blank we used for the rosette with BWB on either side.

- Find neck angle and cut heel. This was the first time I got to use the fancy T-Bevel with rosewood handles. There were a few high end squares and other angle-finding tools that I was extremely envious of and could never justify owning.



- Install dowel for heel reinforcement. Another one of those nerve-racking moments involving a drill press and a piece of precious wood I really don't want to destroy. You can see here that I opted for a laminated neck. I don't have a ton of experience with them, but my eyes find a way to convince me it will be stiffer and less likely to move over time.



- Rout heel relief. Another rendezvous with my friend the dremel. Ryan gave me some good tips on how I hold it and being more careful not to bite off too much at once and I felt way more in control than the last time.



- Fit and install truss rod (no pic)

- Glue on fingerboard. This was fairly painless due to the holes we drilled for pins to hold it in place while we clamped that were smaller than the fret tang.




PM -

- Level end graft. I have no idea how it happened, but I managed to grab the top grain with one of my scraper strokes and we had to do a minor repair there. 90+% will be routed out for the binding, but it still hurt and was a harsh reminder that as the days progress the need for care increases with the skill requirement.



- Rout body for purfling and binding. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this and though it was multi-multi-multi-step I never felt out of my comfort zone and this process went without a hitch. I was SHOCKED at how much the tone of the box changed after this step. It's going to give me something to ponder about the relationship of binding to the final tone. I would have laughed out loud before this if someone told me binding played into the tone, but the fact that almost all of the tone left the box when we routed away the top/sides connection and then it came back when gluing in the binding/purfling tells me that they have to have some effect.



- Clean up purfling/binding channels (no pic). This was micro sanding and filing until we had flat and clean surfaces to glue to. Once again, I did what I thought was good enough and then Steve showed me how to raise the standards.

- Install purfling. Aside from getting the joints as perfect as possible, this wasn't too bad. However, it gave me a new appreciation for some of the fancy miters you see around the end graft...those are some really tiny lines.



- We were supposed to bend and glue binding by end of day, but because I did the following bridge work we pushed the binding to Day 5 morning. One of the coolest things about this experience for me has been watching blocks of wood be turned into curvy artsy things by hand and the bridge was one such thing. We used a drum sander to get the thickness approximate and then all the rest was by hand. Steve talked me through it but let me do pretty much all the carving. It's ever so slightly asymmetrical, but I'm very happy with how it turned out. The ebony is gorgeous and i love the curves.





Ending Day 4 content and with the finish line in sight. Day 5 will bring my first neck carve and getting the box prepped for finish.
__________________
- john

2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited
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  #15  
Old 10-26-2020, 08:28 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Default Day 5

Our last full day of work! At the end of today we will essentially have the guitar ready for finish aside from locating and masking the bridge, fitting the neck, and some final sanding. I now have the ability to ruin a guitar instead of just a piece of wood and the to-do list reflects that. We have a short list of high-skill things and for the most part I will spend the day working with Steve.

The majority of the time Ryan builds the bodies and Steve does the necks (exactly what they both prefer), but they switch roles from time to time to keep up their chops and are constantly talking and using each other as a second set of eyes and hands.

I've gotten glimpses of Steve's neck carving throughout the week as he has been in the middle of carving a neck to a customer's specifications that is significantly different than Kinnaird's norm. I can't wait to see it up close and get involved.

AM -

- Glue binding. I joked with Steve that his builder friends would give him a hard time about having to have 3 guys to glue binding and he assured me they would all be jealous. We rotated positions but all 3 stayed involved the whole time. The only reason there aren't 6 hands in the pic is I took one away to take this picture and got in trouble for it . This operation was more involved and more care was taken than I anticipated, though in retrospect it makes sense. You really wouldn't want any gaps at this point. Once again, I was impressed with how much the years of experience showed; they always knew how many pieces of tape they would need, where they wanted to double up, and where to be extra careful.





- Carve Neck. I helped with quite a bit of material removal, but admittedly there is zero chance I could do this by myself. Steve was nonstop telling me where to shave, which tool he would use in which area, what to look for where, what not to do, etc. Watching this neck go from a block of wood into a perfectly hand-carved neck was one of the most impressive things I've ever watched. I could have spent 50x the amount of time and not gotten anywhere close to how good it was after an hour-ish of Steve's eyes and hands on it. These pics are not posed...I did actually do a little with the master carver behind the camera.







- Install frets. I didn't get any good pics of this as my hands were pretty busy during. I chose to use EVO Gold frets and this was my first time to do a complete fret job on a guitar. With Ryan's good instruction and timely words of caution it went by pretty quickly and without a hitch. They will be gorgeous and match the tuners and accents on the bridge pins and end pin.




- Level Binding/Purfling. Files and scrapers.



- Fit bridge to body. Black dust on raw white top.




- Side dots were installed somewhere in all of this and I didn't get any good pics of it.

Day is done! We made plans to meet for breakfast at an old diner on the square in the oldest town in Texas (Nacogdoches), and then come back and do some final fitting and masking to close out the week. So close!
__________________
- john

2021 Wilborn Nautilus
2020 Kinnaird Deep OM Student Build
2016 Wilborn Patros
2011 FE Tellier SJ
2004 Taylor 414CE Limited

Last edited by BlackKeys36; 10-26-2020 at 08:37 PM.
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