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  #1  
Old 02-09-2021, 05:35 PM
elephony elephony is online now
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Default Preservation Guitar Aviva's Special

I took delivery of a new commissioned guitar a week or so ago, and wanted to post about it here because the maker is someone I haven't seen get too much attention.

My main guitars for a while have been an old Gibson HG-00 and a Guild F30R, but I'd been interested in a smaller bodied rosewood-y guitar, as I have designs on gifting the Guild to my brother, who played it in his wedding. I poked around vintage options, and strongly considered a 00-21NY, but got curious about custom builds, especially because I've been interested for a while in domestic tonewoods. I ended up contacting Aviva Pilgrim (previously Steigmeyer), the luthier at Preservation Guitar, and commissioning her Aviva's Special, a 0 size guitar, with osage orange back and sides. She apprenticed with Fraulini Guitars and builds old-time inspired models, and I couldn't be more thrilled with the guitar she built me.

The tone is tremendous, first and foremost, but the V carve on the neck is tremendous and the french polish finish looks fantastic, like the guitar is both brand new and very old. The spruce/osage orange combo is everything I'd hoped, with a lush, ringing tone very like the rosewood tone I was looking for. Aviva was a pleasure to work with, and the guitar was everything I hoped and more. She builds with mostly hand tools and I decided to go without a truss rod (the neck is a deep enough V, with a bookmatched lamination for strength), so it's light as a feather and super responsive. I also was able to have her use her take on the old Stromberg-Voisinet bridge, as she makes another model based on their old Venetian design.

She doesn't seem to have much internet/promotional presence, so I wanted to give her some attention, as she's doing really great work as a one-woman luthier.

I don't know how to post pictures (sorry!) but here are two links to her gallery pictures of the guitar:
Aviva's Special front
Aviva's Special back
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Last edited by elephony; 02-20-2021 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 02-09-2021, 06:17 PM
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Mark Hatcher Mark Hatcher is offline
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Great stuff! I really like her work and her website is wonderful

Mark
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Old 02-09-2021, 07:40 PM
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I've been following her for a couple of years now as she's been getting started. The Aviva is the one I would go for also. I looked the other day and I believe she's taking orders for next spring. I'm thrilled you are happy with the guitar. I'd love to hear anything and everything you have to say about it.
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Old 02-10-2021, 12:54 AM
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It looks great. Congratulations!
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Old 02-10-2021, 01:22 PM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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Congratulations!

Here are the pics you linked to...


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Old 02-10-2021, 02:20 PM
elephony elephony is online now
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Thanks for posting the pics, John, appreciate it.

To expound a little more about the guitar, I was looking like I said for a small, rosewood-type guitar but with domestic woods, so Preservation was an immediate fit because in addition to an overall focus on domestic woods, Aviva had worked with osage orange previously and had a couple of sets on hand. I opted for the one with squirrely grain, as she accurately called it, and am glad I did.

Overall, the guitar seems to me to marry the best aspects of an old guitar from the 20s and a new one. It's light as a feather, and has the kind of sweet, balanced voice you'd expect. The neck, as I mentioned, has no truss rod, something Aviva suggested and I was happy to go with. It instead is bookmatched quartersawn walnut, arranged in a v pattern so that the grain matches the soft V of the neck. It's done for strength, clearly, but I also really like the understated V pattern it left on the headstock. The neck carve is a soft V tapering to a full C, a little smaller than the old Regal/Oscar Schmidt necks I've played, but fuller than most modern necks I've come across.

I was looking for something elegantly simple aesthetically, and love how it ended up. The three dots decrease in size, making it just a little more interesting than the old school three dot inlays without being blingy, and the single bound body means the end grain of the back is visible, which is a nice little touch, given how interesting that grain is. I opted for the Stromberg Voisinet-style bridge because I have an old Kay Kraft Nick Lucas-style guitar with one and think it's really stylish. Her version is a little more curvy than the original while still remaining very true to the inspiration. The french polish finish is great, nice and glossy but also as thin as you'd expect.

Overall it has the old 20s guitar looks I was after, but in a sustainable domestic wood and with all the benefits of a new, custom build. Aviva was a pleasure to work with, and I can't stop picking it up to play, the truest test of a new guitar. The two things Aviva does well that I opted out of are inlay work (not just on the fingerboard, she also does great inlaid pickguards) and ladder bracing; I was looking for a fingerstyle x-braced guitar, so the pickguard wasn't necessary and the ladder bracing wasn't quite what I wanted, but if I were to get another of her guitars I'd definitely do something ladder braced and with some spiffy inlay.
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Old 02-10-2021, 05:51 PM
Richard Mott Richard Mott is online now
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I’ve followed her builds for the past year and just love the whole ethos of her work!
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Old 02-11-2021, 04:58 PM
Carey Carey is offline
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Beautiful work.
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Old 02-11-2021, 05:41 PM
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Not taking any new orders currently until the fall. According to her web site.
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:12 AM
Jofari Jofari is offline
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That looks great! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the new guitar!
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Old 02-12-2021, 11:45 AM
Richard Mott Richard Mott is online now
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I’ve just been exploring the pics of Aviva’s current output. She’s definitely pulling aesthetic cues from the ‘20s and combining them into her own design vocabulary! I particularly love some of the etchings in the metal tailpieces, bee and trailing arbutus. Who else anywhere is doing things remotely like that? Really terrific.
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