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  #16  
Old 12-26-2010, 10:52 AM
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hnuuhiwa hnuuhiwa is offline
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Congrats Wade...very nice set of black walnut!
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  #17  
Old 12-26-2010, 12:27 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is online now
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I'm excited about this project. Wade has been great to work with. He has a discriminating ear, and it's helpful for a builder to get a versatile, experienced player's perspective on things. One thing we keep noticing is that we will talk about the same thing in different language. He might mention quickness and sustain of a wood, for example, and I translate it into density and damping. This has been interesting for both of us.

Another great thing about working with Wade is that it really is first and foremost about sound with him. The black walnut set has great curl, but that wasn't his first consideration; he wanted it to be stiff, dense, and tap well. When I told him I have a great top I want to use that has a little color variation (the standard for Euro spruce to get a Master grade is pure white), he didn't hesitate to OK it (actually, the color really gives it a vintage red spruce vibe that I like).

And he's given me a lot of artistic license on trim design, and also on interior design. This guitar will be loosely based on a vintage AJ, but beyond copying the slope D shape and aiming for a vintage AJ sound, I don't need to duplicate the bracing, liners, etc.. The trim choices will allude to a Gibson AJ, but make no attempt to be a copy. So this is my interpretation of an AJ; not a reproduction.

For example, we've chosen these as the fretboard inlays. Suggestive of the AJ, but different.



Binding may be Ceylon satinwood. The bridge will likely be the simple AJ style rectangle in Brazilian or Mad Rose.

I have a couple of other guitars to get out the door before this one becomes my main focus, so photos may be slow in coming for a week or two. Thanks to all who have commented.
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Last edited by Howard Klepper; 12-26-2010 at 12:33 PM.
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  #18  
Old 12-26-2010, 02:57 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Originally Posted by rlouie View Post
Wade,what kind of neck profile are you going with??? does Howard have his own type of profile or did you just describe what you wanted???
That's actually one of the details we've yet to thrash out. The neck on my existing Gibson AJ is like a rock and roll electric guitar neck, very fast and slim, but we haven't yet gotten to the point where it's crucial that we decide what the neck profile on this one is going to be.

We only just both signed off on the woods and body shape a few days ago! There were a lot of options for us both to consider.

As for working with Howard, it's been fun. As he mentioned, I'm not the sort of custom guitar customer who'll tell a guitarbuilder where and how to build or brace a guitar - that would be like Howard coming up to me in the middle of a performance and telling me what chord voicings or tempos I should be using in a song:

"You're doing it all WRONG! 'Born To Be Wild' is supposed to be a soft, gentle BALLAD!!"

Every handbuilder I know has had experiences with custom guitar customers who try to micromanage every aspect of the build - though Howard is extremely discreet and has never so much as hinted about any such experiences. But I know he's had customers who have a hard time discerning where that line needs to be drawn, simply because folks like that do go with the territory when you're a custom guitarbuilder.

But that is most emphatically not my style. My approach to a custom instrument order is more like: "Here's the sound I'm looking for, I'd kinda like it to be in this body shape, and that set of wood looks like it might work." As for the rest of it, I'm more like: "Go get 'em, tiger!"

Because what I've discovered over the years is that luthiers get most inspired and deliver their finest efforts when you sort of point them in the direction you'd like them to go, and then turn them loose.

As for which tonewoods are most fashionable or whether there's bearclaw figure in the top or any of that, to me it's unimportant because none of that bears directly on the tone. I never order a custom instrument for the bragging rights, I do it to get an instrument that I can't get any other way.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #19  
Old 12-26-2010, 03:31 PM
guitarsanyone guitarsanyone is offline
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Excellent choice in choosing Howard Klepper. I too have been considering a dread with Howard.... maybe Brazilian, maybe that Pernambuco. He has some very interesting sets of wood and sure knows how to create a piece of art!
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  #20  
Old 12-26-2010, 05:57 PM
J185-4Me J185-4Me is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post

... The trim choices will allude to a Gibson AJ, but make no attempt to be a copy. So this is my interpretation of an AJ; not a reproduction.

For example, we've chosen these as the fretboard inlays. Suggestive of the AJ, but different.


I really like those inlay designs! While I have great respect for the 'Mighty AJ', I've never liked the fingerboard and headstock inlays. I think Stan Jay of Mandolin Bros termed the original inlays the "fast forward-fast reverse" inlay set.

Those, as you say, Howard, evoke the originals, but develop the thought a bit.

Cool.

The look of the black walnut seems quite similar to that of koa or Tasmanian blackwood/acacia(?). Also, very nice.

Fred
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  #21  
Old 12-26-2010, 08:35 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Originally Posted by J185-4Me View Post
The look of the black walnut seems quite similar to that of koa or Tasmanian blackwood/acacia(?). Also, very nice.
It's funny you should mention that, Fred, but Howard told me that another well-regarded handbuilder stopped by his shop the other day, looked at the wood set that Howard and I had decided upon, and thought at first that it was Tasmanian blackwood. In any event, this other luthier was impressed by the tap tone and stiffness of the walnut set and told Howard that it would produce a superior quality instrument.


whm
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  #22  
Old 12-27-2010, 01:58 AM
Broadus Broadus is offline
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However good the tonal quality of the black walnut back and sides is, and I believe it will be really good, no aesthetics were sacrificed in the choice which you and Howard made, Wade Hampton. The wood is gorgeous. I, too, and looking forward to the progress of this guitar.

Congratulations to you both!

Bill
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  #23  
Old 12-27-2010, 01:12 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
However good the tonal quality of the black walnut back and sides is, and I believe it will be really good, no aesthetics were sacrificed in the choice which you and Howard made, Wade Hampton. The wood is gorgeous.
Well, of the four or five "finalist" wood sets that Howard sent me pictures of, this set of black walnut really was the least "glamorous." Howard's reaction to my choice was: "Really?" because he's got an extraordinary number of just staggeringly gorgeous sets. All of my other choices were considerably more striking from a visual standpoint. But this one felt right to me, and I know Howard's perfectly happy to be working with this set, or he wouldn't have included it in my choices to begin with.

Anyone who orders an instrument from Howard will get memorably attractive wood on it. He's got a remarkable collection of guitar sets, and I know there are a huge number that I didn't see, for the simple reason that I told him at the start that I wasn't interested in maple, Brazilian rosewood or any other member of the rosewood family, for that matter. I was interested in black walnut.

Howard did try to entice me with some outstanding koa and one set of Tasmanian blackwood that's one of the most beautiful sets of guitar wood that I've ever seen. I was tempted, because acacias like koa and Tasmanian and Australian blackwood are close cousins to black walnut in terms of their acoustic properties. But I stuck to my guns and went with black walnut, as I'd originally intended.

My loss is somebody else's gain - that Tasmanian blackwood Howard has is going to make a terrific guitar for somebody

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Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
I, too, and looking forward to the progress of this guitar.

Congratulations to you both!

Bill
Thanks, Bill. I'm looking forward to it, too, obviously.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #24  
Old 12-29-2010, 08:22 AM
Broadus Broadus is offline
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Hi Wade. I think you understand that what I meant was that this selection of walnut will look great in its own right. Frankly, I don't get too caught up in the visual appearance of the back of a guitar. Admittedly, I enjoy looking at the grain and color and such of the entire guitar as much as anyone, but not many of us display our guitars to show off the back, and we don't see the back when we play them. I have no doubt that your choice will prove splendid on all counts.

Bill
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  #25  
Old 12-29-2010, 01:25 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
Hi Wade. I think you understand that what I meant was that this selection of walnut will look great in its own right.
...
...I have no doubt that your choice will prove splendid on all counts.
Oh, I agree, and I knew what you were saying. I was just making the point that the other sets Howard showed me were even more visually arresting.

But, yes, it's a very nice-looking set of wood, and it will do its job, no question about it. I'm actually very stoked that that set of wood is going onto this guitar.


whm
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  #26  
Old 12-29-2010, 02:49 PM
guitarsanyone guitarsanyone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Oh, I agree, and I knew what you were saying. I was just making the point that the other sets Howard showed me were even more visually arresting.

But, yes, it's a very nice-looking set of wood, and it will do its job, no question about it. I'm actually very stoked that that set of wood is going onto this guitar.


whm
I am glad you stuck to your guns about your choice of woods. At least you won't have to wonder "what if"... I have no doubt Howard will build you a stellar guitar. Despite the fact the guitars that I have seen from Howard are all exceptional works of art, I have no doubt that at the core, these guitars are exceptional instruments that happen to be works of art not the other way around. Glad to see someone who is a active performing musician stepping to the plate. I might just have to do that myself!
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  #27  
Old 12-29-2010, 03:26 PM
bkharmony bkharmony is offline
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Originally Posted by Spieler View Post
I was joking, as I was hoping my red wine glass story would illustrate...?
I got it, and I thought it was pretty funny. I seem to tell lots of "jokes" that cause folks to try to explain things to me reeeaaalll.... ssslloowwwwww.....

Looking forward to more pics, Wade! I love the burst top with Walnut b/s!
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  #28  
Old 12-29-2010, 04:33 PM
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Spieler Spieler is offline
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Originally Posted by bkharmony View Post
I got it, and I thought it was pretty funny. I seem to tell lots of "jokes" that cause folks to try to explain things to me reeeaaalll.... ssslloowwwwww.....
Now, that's funny. Also: thank you.

Quote:
Looking forward to more pics, Wade! I love the burst top with Walnut b/s!
Likewise!

~ S.
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  #29  
Old 12-30-2010, 12:01 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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I promise that the pictures will get posted as Howard gets a chance to take them. He's in the middle of finishing up a couple of other guitars right now - what he and I have been doing is thrashing through some of the details even as this thread has been posted and added to by you all. But actual work on the guitar itself hasn't yet commenced, other than deciding on the materials and appointments.

My guess is that we're at least a week or so or more away from getting any more photos, simply because there won't be any progress to photograph before then.

But check back every so often - I suspect that this is going to be one of those threads that keeps reappearing when you least expect it.


whm
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  #30  
Old 01-01-2011, 09:13 PM
Billy Boy Billy Boy is offline
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Wade, I know absolutely nothing about black walnut as a tonewood, and I'm really looking forward to this thread's progression. I think the wood you and Howard have chosen looks great, and it's clear that your focus is on the tone. I think this is going to be a thread that documents a great build. Congratulations!
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