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Old 11-12-2021, 09:58 AM
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Default Michael Kennedy Guitars -- The Tree OO

Greetings everyone!

There are a couple of exciting things to note just in the title of this thread -- one, this will be my first build ever using the Tree! It's a thrill to finally get the chance to work with some of this legendary wood. Second, I'll be transitioning from Indian Hill Guitars to Michael Kennedy Guitars over the coming months. It's something I've thought about for years and years and I decided to finally take the plunge. I grew up on Indian Hill Road in Pound Ridge, NY and while it remains one of the most special places in the world to me, I don't think it fully represents me as a one-man shop and how much of myself I put into each guitar. So, onto something new!





Now let's get on with the build! First up is joining the back...





Joined with a little bit of naphtha on it...





I'm still finalizing what kind of design elements I want to include on this one, but I'm pretty sure there will be some uninterrupted Tree passing through the end-graft area. So, just to be safe I thought I should really try to nail that joint. Here's a shot of the rim fully joined and looking at the butt end of the guitar (the joint is above my knuckle)...





I decided to go with western red cedar laminations for the interior of the body. The back was ringing like crazy once it was fully laminated and braced -- incredibly clear with loads of sustain. In doing the frequency analysis, I don't know if I've ever had a back with such distinct and prominent peaks for the main modes. If nothing else, the cedar sure makes it look pretty and smells absolutely lovely!





I'm building this for a couple of shows that (...fingers crossed...) will happen next year. Of course, if anyone is interested I'd be happy to sell this one ahead of time so don't hesitate to get in touch and stake your claim!


Thanks for looking and more soon...
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Old 11-12-2021, 10:26 AM
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Congrats on the name change and the nre branding of the name looks great. I think working under your own name changes everything. Great job.
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Old 11-12-2021, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by IndianHillMike View Post

I grew up on Indian Hill Road in Pound Ridge, NY and while it remains one of the most special places in the world to me, I don't think it fully represents me as a one-man shop and how much of myself I put into each guitar. .
I think that's a very wise move......and that's a very scrumptious set of wood!!
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Old 11-12-2021, 04:02 PM
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Mike, you may not have known this but I am originally from Westchester County as well. Additionally, in my mind it has been Mike Kennedy guitars for years…
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Old 11-12-2021, 06:34 PM
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Hi Mike, that is unbelievable craftsmanship on that end joint. That’s so hard to do. I’ve enjoyed your threads in the past and look forward to seeing what you will do with this special wood. Thanks for bringing us along with you. Dave
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Old 11-12-2021, 08:16 PM
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I really like the name card design. Looks great!
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Old 11-12-2021, 08:30 PM
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Congrats on the name change and the nre branding of the name looks great. I think working under your own name changes everything. Great job.
I wish the AGF had a "Like" button. I agree. Michael Kennedy Guitars- a classy name for amazing guitars.
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Old 11-12-2021, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
Congrats on the name change and the nre branding of the name looks great. I think working under your own name changes everything. Great job.
What Tom said! And, that wood is indeed beautiful.

Amazing join too! Almost invisible…. Nice

May your herds increase!!!

Paul
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Old 11-13-2021, 05:44 AM
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Congrats Mike on the new name. About time.

Look forward to seeing this Tree 00 come together.
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Old 11-14-2021, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
Congrats on the name change and the nre branding of the name looks great. I think working under your own name changes everything. Great job.
Thanks, I'm looking forward to launching into this next phase!


Quote:
Originally Posted by fitness1 View Post
I think that's a very wise move......and that's a very scrumptious set of wood!!
It sure is some pretty wood... just a bit nerve-wracking to work with at first.


Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post
Mike, you may not have known this but I am originally from Westchester County as well. Additionally, in my mind it has been Mike Kennedy guitars for yearsÂ…
I didn't realize! My parents moved out west a couple of years ago so it's slowly fading into the past but a pretty special place to grow up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Carpinteria View Post
Hi Mike, that is unbelievable craftsmanship on that end joint. ThatÂ’s so hard to do. IÂ’ve enjoyed your threads in the past and look forward to seeing what you will do with this special wood. Thanks for bringing us along with you. Dave
Cheers, thanks!


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Originally Posted by gerberguitars View Post
I really like the name card design. Looks great!
Thanks! Earlier in the year we had a builder (Graham Miller) spend a month working in our shop and he came up with the core of the idea to use an old design of mine. I had already spent a bunch of time trying to come up with new logo ideas not realizing I had basically done the hard work years ago!





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Originally Posted by theEdwinson View Post
I wish the AGF had a "Like" button. I agree. Michael Kennedy Guitars- a classy name for amazing guitars.
Thanks!


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Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
What Tom said! And, that wood is indeed beautiful.

Amazing join too! Almost invisibleÂ…. Nice

May your herds increase!!!
Thanks and hopefully I'll do this wood justice.


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Originally Posted by cigarfan View Post
Congrats Mike on the new name. About time.

Look forward to seeing this Tree 00 come together.
I think it's the right call and past time I committed to making the change -- sometimes it takes a while but I get there eventually!
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Old 11-14-2021, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndianHillMike View Post
Thanks! Earlier in the year we had a builder (Graham Miller) spend a month working in our shop and he came up with the core of the idea to use an old design of mine. I had already spent a bunch of time trying to come up with new logo ideas not realizing I had basically done the hard work years ago!




I remember that inlay and still marvel at the precision. So impressive!
Congrats all around Mike!

Steve
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Old 11-21-2021, 10:08 AM
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I remember that inlay and still marvel at the precision. So impressive!
Congrats all around Mike!

Steve
Thanks Steve! I think that was an important guitar in helping me hone in on my aesthetic.


I had lots of picky work last week as I dove into the rosette. As per usual, it started with a bunch of staring into space and seeing what ideas bubbled up. Once I had a vague direction in mind I started sketching out the design...





It was more or less standard procedure to get an ebony ring inlaid with some maple lines...





Next up was routing out sections for pieces of the Tree...





It's probably not a surprise that I have a pretty limited supply of the Tree to work with, so every piece I cut out needs to be bang on -- no real room to cut something too small and try again. I also tried to be very intentional with how every section would be used...





Slowly getting there...





Fully inlaid and looking pretty sharp...





And now with the soundhole cut out it's officially done (for now)...





I'm quite happy with how this one turned out and looking forward to carrying on with bracing/tuning the top!
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Old 11-22-2021, 06:12 AM
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Nice rosette! Elegant!
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Old 11-22-2021, 09:07 AM
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Yes, I agree, that came out just super. I would not have changed a thing!
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Old 12-09-2021, 09:08 AM
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Nice rosette! Elegant!
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Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
Yes, I agree, that came out just super. I would not have changed a thing!
Thanks guys! I think it's one of my favorites and probably the cleanest execution I've pulled off for one of my more intricate rosettes.


This build has been moving right along and in my flurry of activity I didn't get any process shots during bracing. Here's the fully finished top joining the back/sides to close up the box...





There seems to be endless ways to rout the binding and purfling channels but I'm pretty sold on doing it the same way I've always done it. It's quickly adjustable, accounts for a domed top/back, and is actually kind of hard to screw up despite how intimidating it might look at first. I think this is still the way Taylor routs their binding -- considering how automated many of their processes are, I think that's a pretty good endorsement!





If I'm going to be working with a wood like the Tree, I figure I might as well go for it and use it where I can. Here are my ebony binding strips freshly cleaned up with maple and Tree purfling...





In the thick of it...





One handy trick to cleaning up the binding quickly is to wrap a bit of tape around the end of a rasp and just go to town. The tape protects the top and I stop rasping right before I start to hit the spruce and finish cleanup with a hard block...





So, now for the big question! I'm really pleased with how the lower bout joint came out and am completely torn if I should add an end-graft! I started to make a little inlay that echoed the theme in the rosette (which will also appear on the headstock and bridge) but it seems a shame to unnecessarily cover up some beautiful wood...





All of my shopmates think I should just leave it but I'd love to get some opinions!

And I should have mentioned earlier, but I'm building this guitar for a couple of shows next year (Victoria and La Conner) but if anyone out there is interested, please get in touch! (especially if you're interested and have a strong opinion about an end-graft )
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