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Old 01-20-2022, 05:52 PM
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Default Itzkin workshop 2022

A client whom is a long time member of this forum and owner of some exceptional steel string guitars/future owner of a crossover instrument I'll be starting shortly recommended I start this thread to better share my work with this lovely community.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm a young primarily classical guitar maker who built my first guitar in my early teens. Throughout my high school days I dreamed of building modern steel string guitars of the Somogyi vein but my preferences shifted in my college years leading me to study classical guitar making under a few masters in the south of Spain. After building an OM interpretation this past summer my long held passion for steel string instruments has been somewhat renewed so expect to see some finger style steel strings with a Spanish flare in this thread shortly.

At the moment I have a lovely padauk and cedar concert model destined for a talented musician in North Carolina in the varnishing process. I built this guitar during my most recent yearly working holiday to one of my mentor's workshops (Stephen Hill) in La Herradura, Granada Spain.

Sealing the guitar before pore fill (important to make sure your grain alcohol is nice and warm in these cold winter months )



Pore filling these cavernous pores with the traditional method of shellac and pumice proved to be quite laborious...



A day off from polishing led to a proper drying rack in mahogany and Wenge



Now the bodying sessions can begin. Love this phase of French polish when the timber picks up a glass like clarity and shine





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Old 01-20-2022, 05:56 PM
FLRon FLRon is offline
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Beautiful guitar. I just love the understated elegance of a good classical guitar.
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Old 01-20-2022, 05:58 PM
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Also on the varnishing bench is a spruce and Indian rosewood model that represents quite a departure for me. While the signature voice of my instruments has been categorized by a Granada/Bouchet style of construction I've decided to attempt an interpretation of a Torres/Romanillos construction ideology informed by my experiences building in a more French mindset. This guitar was also built in Spain alongside the guitar above. The future owner of that guitar has taken to calling it "the fox" so I've begun referring to this one as "the hound". This guitar has been sealed and now the pore filling process may begin.






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Old 01-21-2022, 12:19 AM
vpolineni vpolineni is offline
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So I may or may not be the person Brian referred to in his first post. Yes, we are collaborating on what will be a fantastic nylon crossover but he also mentioned that the person is a long time member. I actually checked and I apparently joined this forum in 2008! Time really does fly... I guess that qualifies as a long time ago so all signs point to me as the client.

While my interests predominantly lie in steel string guitars, I have a great appreciation for classical as well. From the history to the tonality of nylon strings, it's a beautiful instrument. Also as someone who is fascinated by lutherie, I find the challenge to coax energy from significantly less string tension captivating.

Alas, my barely inept playing does not support the rigors demanded by classical guitar technique. Hence the desire for a crossover but I want to retain the qualities of a classical guitar as much as possible. To me, the crossover name focuses on ergonomics. Brian and I discussed this and landed on a slightly radiused fretboard (20") and reduced nut width (49mm). The most controversial choice is probably the cutaway but luckily he was excited about this deviation too.

Now you may be thinking, the choices listed above can be found on many crossover guitars, be it factory made or small shop production like Kenny Hill. I wanted a luthier made guitar and felt compelled to work with Brian for multiple reasons. I've admired his work for years along with his dedication, having relocated to Spain to apprentice and learn this craft in full immersion. That level of commitment resonated with me and I must say it was worth it, as I saw this demo of his work on youtube:


When I think of a classical guitar, that's the sound I have in my head. I'm thrilled to work with Brian and learn more about the history of the design, which he's already alluded to(granada, bouchet, romanillos, torres). Some of our design choices have specific references which I'll leave to him to elaborate on as build pics make their way to this thread. We'll leave the wood choices as a mystery for now but suffice it to say, I intend for this to be a lifelong companion so I did not hold back!

Last edited by vpolineni; 01-21-2022 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 01-21-2022, 06:41 AM
GeoffStGermaine GeoffStGermaine is offline
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Brian,
Thanks for sharing your work. It looks outstanding! I'm looking forward to seeing more through the year.

Cheers,
Geoff
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Old 01-21-2022, 12:34 PM
Jwills57 Jwills57 is online now
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Beautiful work! You've definitely got a great thing going on with your guitars. A man who has found his passion in life. "... a talented musician from North Carolina in the varnishing process." That I would like to see! Sorry, it's the old English teacher in me creeping out. Best of luck.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:12 PM
dennisczech dennisczech is offline
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Very lovely looking guitars indeed, and I agree that the tone of the one at Siccas is excellent, wonderful clarity, sustain, beautiful trebles. I remember being strongly tempted by that one when Brian was offering it at a bargain price. One question I had for Brian was whether you intend to stick with the label you've been using for a while? I know it's a small detail, but to my eye it doesn't quite speak of the impressive quality of your work.
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Old 01-21-2022, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisczech View Post
Very lovely looking guitars indeed, and I agree that the tone of the one at Siccas is excellent, wonderful clarity, sustain, beautiful trebles. I remember being strongly tempted by that one when Brian was offering it at a bargain price. One question I had for Brian was whether you intend to stick with the label you've been using for a while? I know it's a small detail, but to my eye it doesn't quite speak of the impressive quality of your work.
Thanks Dennis! I have a cedar and Guatemalan rosewood guitar headed to Siccas in the next few weeks so it should be interesting to compare the demo videos!

Regarding the label, I'm aware that it might not be everyone's cup of tea but from my perspective it adds a bit of the DIY and punk aesthetic which has played a large influence on me both musically and visually. In the same vein I really enjoy the juxtaposition of a very conservative guitar with a much less formal makers mark; to me it seems to be disarming and more inviting to the player to utilize the guitar as the tool it is rather than an object to simply be admired.

While I've had a few people who weren't so keen on it I've had more positive comments regarding the design then negative. Perhaps this is due to the oddly large amount of classical guitarists and lutenists who started their musical life as heavy metal guitarists...
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Last edited by Itzkinguitars; 01-21-2022 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 01-21-2022, 04:56 PM
dennisczech dennisczech is offline
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Aha, yes that makes sense, and helps to locate the aesthetic juxtaposition in a more playful place as you say. I was associating the label more with the younger version of your current self, remembering the kid that started out a few years ago!
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Old 02-05-2022, 11:07 PM
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This fun side project I had started in December has finally reached its completion. Built as a material and structural copy of Torres' FE-07, I used material that was either rejected, scrap, or in regard to the soundboard packing material used to protect veneer in transit. I had last built a guitar for myself 5 years ago and as my fascination grows for romantic era music I thought it'd be interesting to learn and play music by my favorite composers on a guitar inspired by one contemporary to them.





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Old 02-09-2022, 10:46 PM
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Looking good! I remember some of your first steel strings here and on UMGF. Congrats!
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Old 03-06-2022, 07:35 PM
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3 guitars left the shop this week and all major components assembled for the first of my new recital model, a concert guitar made of less expensive material with minimal appointments aimed at the conservatory student or budget conscious enthusiast.









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Old 03-07-2022, 06:56 AM
dennisczech dennisczech is offline
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Looking great Brian! Congratulations on the good work... I was recently chatting with a local classical builder, who explained the different types of arching or doming the top. I hadn't understood the differences and still don't fully, but I became fascinated, as the method he now uses (no. 2 below) is very successful tonally in terms of achieving a good balance across the board, and a lovely musical timbre that makes the guitar delightful to play. I was curious as to what you might be using?

1) Flat top pulled down at edge all around the lower bout. This arching is a combination of flat top in the upper bout and the parabolic curve in the lower bout centre line. The perimeter is flat around the upper bout but falls from the waist to the line of the bridge and continues lowered, around to the end block.
2) Flat top pulled down at edge in line with the bridge. Again this arching has a flat upper bout and this time a flat centre line, combined with a single curve in the lower bout. The perimeter will be flat in the upper bout falling from the waist to the bridge line, then rising again up to the end block that is level with the upper bout.
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Old 03-07-2022, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisczech View Post
Looking great Brian! Congratulations on the good work... I was recently chatting with a local classical builder, who explained the different types of arching or doming the top. I hadn't understood the differences and still don't fully, but I became fascinated, as the method he now uses (no. 2 below) is very successful tonally in terms of achieving a good balance across the board, and a lovely musical timbre that makes the guitar delightful to play. I was curious as to what you might be using?

1) Flat top pulled down at edge all around the lower bout. This arching is a combination of flat top in the upper bout and the parabolic curve in the lower bout centre line. The perimeter is flat around the upper bout but falls from the waist to the line of the bridge and continues lowered, around to the end block.
2) Flat top pulled down at edge in line with the bridge. Again this arching has a flat upper bout and this time a flat centre line, combined with a single curve in the lower bout. The perimeter will be flat in the upper bout falling from the waist to the bridge line, then rising again up to the end block that is level with the upper bout.
Thanks Dennis! I’m having a hard time visualizing the doming from your descriptions but I use a very traditional doming method in which the upper bout is flat with a tear drop shaped dome carved into the solera with its apex at the soundhole, deepest point at the bridge location (depth of the dome is proportional to the slope of the neck), and gently tapering to the rims of the guitar.

I think the second doming method you’re describing might be the one more closely associated with the recently departed Jose Romanillos in which the doming is raised from the bridge location to the the tail by adding more material to that section of the solera. I’ve built in this method but find the more traditional approach works better for my style of building which is somewhat firmly in the Granada and Parisian schools. I wouldn’t say either method is better nor do I think one could accurately ascribe certain tonal features to either. They’re more like pieces of a puzzle and depending on the rest of your construction might offer benefits or disadvantages.

Somewhat interesting to note is that Segovias famous 1937 Hauser was built flat with minimal doming. The bridge was arched and when glued to the soundboard imparted a dome which was further increased by the pull of the strings. There are about as many approaches to this as there are guitar makers.
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Last edited by Itzkinguitars; 03-07-2022 at 11:38 AM.
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  #15  
Old 03-07-2022, 01:00 PM
blackie51 blackie51 is offline
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Quote:
I remember some of your first steel strings here and on UMGF.
I do too, really nice work Brian, congratulations and good luck.

Tom
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