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Old 03-31-2014, 05:49 PM
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I have been keeping the Healdsburg 2013 thread going as what has turned into a sort of building blog, but as we are now at the end of the first quarter of 2014, I thought I start a new thread -- a more contemporary extension of the same concept.

This year has found me with a profound shift of priorities, I semi-jokingly refer to it as "retirement". The joke goes that I have retired from my day job of 45 years in order to pursue my passion, building guitars. The non-joke is that I have held my work to the standard that it must be able to pay all my bills or it wasn't up to snuff. Since I basically AM my work, this means that my personal validity was based on the success of my business. So, retirement means I am allowing myself a little more slack, but I am continuing to work six days a week, 50 to 60 hours, just as I have previously. I am playing more music and spending more time with my hobby, which is racing my Lotus 7 one or 2 week ends a month when the weather permits.

Also, I have decided to build fewer guitars a year. My average over the last 15 years has been 10.9 per year (14 in 2012, 7 in 2013) and I plan to keep it at 6 or so for the time being. I started my first guitar of the year just this week, the last week of March, 2014! Of course I DID make a violin and 4 Concert/Tenor sized Ukuleles, as well as finishing up the guitar I started towards the end of December, 2013.

The new start is what I call an FT-15. That is my nomenclature for Flat Top, 15" wide lower bout, and 14 frets to the body. Had it been 12 frets to the body it would be called an FT-000. Had it been 13 frets it would be a Kerala. This guitar will be a WRX. That is my "Factory Works" model, stripped down for action, it is missing a few bells and whistles in the interest of economy, but made with the same high quality materials and personal attention which created my reputation.

This guitar has Dalbergia tucarensis (came from Belize, and was called Honduras Rosewood when I acquired it 35 years ago, today it is commonly called "Panama") back and sides, and they are flitch matched, which means the four pieces for the back and sides were consecutive cuts off the same billet, all long enough for sides and wide enough for backs. I cut them myself.

The top is Carpathian spruce. It is the wide grained material that came into the market and created confusion by looking to some like the wide grained second growth Adirondack that first showed up about the same time. In my opinion the Carpathian could hardly be more different from the Adi it superficially resembles. The Carpathian is far lighter in weight, typically, and yet incredibly stiff both with and across the grain. The "summer growth" is much softer than the "winter growth", and care must be taken not to damage it during construction. Sawing it on the bandsaw is a little like sawing thin pieces of foam glued together with hard glue; ssssssCHINGssssssChingssssssChingsssss etc. What these woods have in common is that they both can make A1 guitars, the biggest difference is that Adi is easily overbuilt with, and with Carpathian I don't think I've ever seen it done.

My intention with this thread is to lightly document my work this year. More than a "Hey, check this out", and less than a series of build threads. I hope you'll enjoy the process, and hopefully find something educational in it as well.

Being a WRX this guitar has neither a fancy rosette, nor my relatively challenging standard tapered and purfled back strip. The customer did ask for a little color, however, so I have put in a bit of marquetry in the back, and added some red lines to the single ring I include on the WRX:




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Last edited by Bruce Sexauer; 04-01-2014 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:37 PM
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theEdwinson theEdwinson is offline
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Great to see this new thread, Bruce. You're pretty well known around here for being a wellspring of authoritative information, and well-informed opinion. I speak for a lot of folks who visit this site when I say thanks, for being so generous with your wit, wisdom, and Master-level craft knowledge. I'm looking forward to following this, and other projects in your 2014 pipeline.
The state of the art of American lutherie is a result of your pioneering efforts and decades of work. That saying, "We are standing on the shoulders of giants" is about YOU, Bruce. Thanks for doing what you do!
-Steve
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:49 PM
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For some reason, this kind of compliment makes me feel humble. That was extremely nice of you, Steve, Son of Edwin, thank you.

I do encourage, as I always have, anyone to ask me any burning questions my sharing may provoke. I don't always have an answer, and you do me a huge service by giving me reason to look for one. Yes, I do make it up as I go!
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Old 03-31-2014, 09:14 PM
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Looking very nice, thanks for sharing. I really like carpathian spruce, the guitar I am building has carp for the top as well, but I'm in a real holding pattern and haven't worked on it in over a year due to moving, new job, baby etc. so is live vicariously and am looking forward to seeing this one come along.
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theEdwinson View Post
Great to see this new thread, Bruce. You're pretty well known around here for being a wellspring of authoritative information, and well-informed opinion. I speak for a lot of folks who visit this site when I say thanks, for being so generous with your wit, wisdom, and Master-level craft knowledge. I'm looking forward to following this, and other projects in your 2014 pipeline.
The state of the art of American lutherie is a result of your pioneering efforts and decades of work. That saying, "We are standing on the shoulders of giants" is about YOU, Bruce. Thanks for doing what you do!
-Steve
This is well said... Thanks Bruce!
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:21 AM
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As a fly on the lutherie wall, I agree with Steve, though am not so eloquent. Thanks Bruce. Enjoy your semi, semi retirement, and thanks for sharing your artistic gifts.

I love my Carpathian dread. It is light, and it can be loud, but it is very sweet. Looking forward to watching this.
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:53 AM
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Bruce,

When one is lucky enough to have their passion and vocation be one in the same, one never retires but just begins to balance it with the other/new passions in their life.

Regarding your "Stash-o-Carpathian", do you know where the wood came from? The term Carpathian covers a very broad region. The Carpathian used in some of my guitars came from Romania.

:-)

Bob
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:59 AM
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I read that the gypsies liked to "hold" that wood for their violins{in Romania}.
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:59 AM
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Thanks for all the info you proved and thanks for this thread. I will enjoy following it.

Happy building!
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Sexauer View Post

I do encourage, as I always have, anyone to ask me any burning questions my sharing may provoke.
Bruce:
Wonder if "retirement" will include enough time for book writing? Certainly lots of folks with interest. Just as an aside, most folks after retirement are confronted with a mysterious question. " How did I ever find time to go to work" ? All the best and take care.
Tom
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

Regarding your "Stash-o-Carpathian", do you know where the wood came from? The term Carpathian covers a very broad region. The Carpathian used in some of my guitars came from Romania.

:-)

Bob
I think the Carpathian I have may all come from the Ukraine. I have seen it offered from Slovakia, but mine probably isn't that.
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:16 PM
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Great to see a build thread. Looking much forward to watching it. This will be funů.well for us.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:09 PM
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Hola Bruce,

Lovely to see some good old Honduras Rosewood again... that set looks to have some interesting figure/flecks in it. It will be interesting to see it under finish.

All the best, berf
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:26 AM
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Despite a Uke being something like an eighth the size of a guitar, guitars do not take me 8x as long. I think I am selling my Ukes too cheap and if I keep making them they may put me out of business. Here's the FT-15 top this morning, ready for blocks and I had better bend the sides.
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Sexauer View Post
I think the Carpathian I have may all come from the Ukraine. I have seen it offered from Slovakia, but mine probably isn't that.
I have heard that most of the "Carpathian" spruce sold in the US is from Ukraine. I get mine from Wood Direct http://eurotonewood.com/
This supplier often has sets of Carpathian for sale on eBay, and if you're a canny shopper, you can get a pretty good deal on some nice top wood. I recently picked up ten sets, and it is very stiff, lightweight, ivory white in color, and rings like a bell. One thing I really like about it is, it's readily available in high grades.
The species is Picea abies, often called "Norway Spruce". This species grows all over Northern and Central Europe, and depending on where it's from, it can be anywhere from mediocre to excellent. The Carpathian spruce from Ukraine is my favorite of all the spruces.
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