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Old 01-23-2020, 10:31 AM
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IndianHillMike IndianHillMike is offline
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Default Indian Hill Maple/Spruce OO with f-holes

In addition to the koa cutaway, I've also been working on a (hopefully) super cool OO that will come with me to the Holy Grail show in Berlin and La Conner this spring. This one will have flamed maple back/sides and a sitka spruce top with an overall violiny type vibe to it. The biggest difference compared to my standard guitars will be the f-holes -- something you don't typically see on a flat top but that I LOVE! The original inspiration was to squish together Gillian Welch and David Rawlings guitars into one -- basically to have the throatiness and cut of an archtop but with more of the sustain, warmth, and bottom end of a flat top. This will be the first one in this style I've built with an elevated fingerboard and with the violin theme in mind I realized it should be a floating elevation. If I'm going to go through the trouble I figured I might as well go all in and make it an adjustable neck as well!

We'll have to jump in a bit into the build already and start with some bracing...




With a couple of f-holes and no soundhole a standard bracing pattern doesn't quite fit but a lot of the core ideas still work and the pattern is surprisingly not all that different from one of my "regular" guitars...




Once all the braces are on it's time to cut out and clean up the f-holes. I trace out my f-holes, cut as close as I dare with a router, and then clean everything up with sanding sticks. This is a prime example of how I approach building. I could rout with a template but certain parts are too thin for a router bit and no matter what I'd have to go back and spend a good bit of time cleaning everything up by hand, cutting the sharp corners, etc. It makes sense to me to just skip the positioning and setup for using a template and jump right to the hand work. It takes about 15 minutes to clean everything up at this point...







Looking good!




The last step will be to bevel the edges of the f-holes once the woodwork is nearly done. This next photo is from a previous build but it's one of my favorites and gives an idea of the final look...




Thanks for looking and more soon!
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:30 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Love that beveled f-hole, Mike. This build is looking great!
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:43 PM
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What a fascinating strutting pattern Mike ... and I too love the chamfering on the f-holes!
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Old 01-28-2020, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
Love that beveled f-hole, Mike. This build is looking great!
Thanks! It's such a simple addition but beveling those f-holes is really of my most favorite things!

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Originally Posted by David Wren View Post
What a fascinating strutting pattern Mike ... and I too love the chamfering on the f-holes!
Thanks Dave! One of the really nice things about working the with f-holes and this bracing pattern is that it's quite easy to get the top tuned where I want it. I look at the f-holes as the boundary of the main working area of the top -- as if there's a mini top within the bigger overall area. I think having a lot of the string energy focused in this smaller area gives it the cut and throatiness I'm looking for while the body volume and larger top movements give it more of the fullness of standard flat top.

Here's the top with a tuned ring and a half mode (you can see how the ring fills up that area nicely)...





With the top tuned and glued on it's time for binding. With the idea of an violin type vibe for this build, I decided to go quite simple with the binding and purfling scheme and do two dark lines all around. On the back and sides I have cutoffs from the sides sandwiched between the dark lines and spruce separating the lines on the top. The idea is to give the effect that the dark lines are inlaid, similar to a violin. Of course, once I put some stain on the guitar those types of details might disappear but at least I'll know it's there!





When I look at another builder's work, there are often subtle cues that might hint at who they've worked with or have been inspired by. Anytime I see some nicely rounded and thick binding I think, "Aha! Sergei!". If you look closely in the picture above you can see that there is another maple strip directly next to the outer maple binding strip -- this almost doubles the thickness of the binding, puts the purfling farther inboard on the top, and allows for a much rounder corner. I find that a rounder corner is more comfortable to play and that by pushing the outer purfling that slight bit inboard, it visually frames the guitar much more cleanly. With thinner binding my eye will sometimes loose the edge but this puts more material on the outside of the purfling line visually locking it into place...





I've been bouncing back and forth between this one and the koa cutaway so more updates on that one soon as well!
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:57 AM
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Last night I was sitting on the couch after dinner and realized that my CD player was playing the amazing Jonathan Kreisberg playing Skylark on one of Mike's Indian Hill guitars ... as I was reading a great article in the latest Fretboard Journal featuring Mike and his cohorts at the Mile End Co-op. The future of lutherie is in good hands!
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:18 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is online now
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I'll be following this! Can't wait to see how it turns out.
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Old 02-07-2020, 12:04 PM
collingsd2 collingsd2 is offline
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Looks great!
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Old 02-07-2020, 02:02 PM
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Ukulele_Eddie Ukulele_Eddie is offline
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Beautiful!

I've never played a guitar with f-holes. What are the pro's and con's vs. a regular sound hole?
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:30 PM
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IndianHillMike IndianHillMike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Wren View Post
Last night I was sitting on the couch after dinner and realized that my CD player was playing the amazing Jonathan Kreisberg playing Skylark on one of Mike's Indian Hill guitars ... as I was reading a great article in the latest Fretboard Journal featuring Mike and his cohorts at the Mile End Co-op. The future of lutherie is in good hands!

Ha, thanks Dave! It is definitely a thrill having one of my guitars is such capable hands as Jonathan's. We're still waiting on our copies of the Fretboard Journal and can't wait to finally check out the article!


Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
I'll be following this! Can't wait to see how it turns out.

I can always tell how into a build I am by how quickly I can shut my brain down at night and get to sleep. Between this one and the koa cutaway it's been a challenge this past month!


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Looks great!

Thanks!


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Originally Posted by Ukulele_Eddie View Post
I've never played a guitar with f-holes. What are the pro's and con's vs. a regular sound hole?

One of the things I love about these guitars is that they're truly a departure from standard guitar and sit in their own realm of tone. The original goal was to find a balance between the cut/throatiness of an archtop and the sustain/depth of a flat top. So, it's not so much a question of pros and cons but more how I can use the f-holes to aim for a new tonal target. For sure one challenge of using f-holes is the reduced air movement -- this is something I partially counteract with the addition of a sound port but the fundamental way the air moves in and out of the box will never be the same as a traditional sound hole. I think a big part of the tone for these guitars comes from a smaller and more isolated working area on the top with the f-holes really defining the boundary. The energy put into plucking a string is the same as on a traditional guitar but now that energy is acting on a smaller and more isolated area of the top.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:57 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile Whee Dogies!

This is really nifty! I too love the chamfered F Holes. The wider purfling and rounded edges are visually sweet and it will be comfortable. I am a glutton for tone, playability, and COMFORT. This should have plenty of all three!!!
Plus it is Beautiful already...

Have fun

Paul
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Last edited by Guitars44me; 02-08-2020 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:27 AM
EverettWilliams EverettWilliams is offline
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The detail work here is just top notch and Mike’s tonal target for it - smack between David and Gillian has me very eager to check out one of these special OOs!
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:56 AM
sayheyjeff sayheyjeff is offline
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Among my best memories of my couple of days at the Artisan Guitar Show in Harrisburg, Pa. is meeting Mike and playing the guitars with f holes he brought. Favorites of a show packed with great guitars and good folks. If I recall correctly, those 2 guitars were a little larger. If I were going to be at one of these upcoming shows, would carve out some time for these guitars.

Jeff
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