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Old 10-07-2019, 02:43 PM
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Default Indian Hill Guitars -- 2019

Greetings everyone!

It's a been a little while since I've posted but not from lack of building! I thought over the next week or two I'd update you all on some of the builds I've been working on this past year. I'll start with a sweet little OO I built for the various shows I took part in this year (Vancouver, Sonore, and Quebec City in a few weeks). This one has a killer set of Malaysian Blackwood and an Adirondack top...




This is the first time I've built with Malaysian Blackwood and it definitely won't be the last. I find it to be such a pretty combo with the Adirondack...




For the past few years I've been building with "structured sides" and have loved the results. I this case the core of the lamination is western red cedar and the inner lamination is yellow cedar. With a dark back, I thought it would look best to ebonize the yellow cedar. For those of you that haven't seen this process, it's MAGIC -- basically you wipe on a coat of something with a high tannin content (I used a quebracho "tea") followed by an iron oxide solution (steel wool dissolved in vinegar). Here it is after one side has had it's first coat...




A radial-grain rosette with a bound soundhole using Malaysian Blackwood and Arariba (aka Canary Wood)...




Here you can get a view of the structured sides and one of the ways I like to brace my backs. In addition to the standard cross-grain braces, I laminate my center strip into a 15' arch to help maintain support along the length of the back. I also have two other laminated braces on either side for the same reason with the cross-grain braces notched and crossing over of all the long grain braces...




The binding and endgraft are Indian Rosewood with a simple little inlay of Arariba to tie in with the rosette and headstock...





The top braced, carved, tuned and ready to go on! Keen eyes might note a tornavoz around the soundhole. For those unfamiliar with a tornavoz, it is a thin and, in my case, shallow tube (~3/4") inset into the top. The concept has been around since the early 1800's and lowers the frequency at which the main air cavity vibrates. The structured sides and sound port both raise this frequency so adding a tornavoz to the mix allows me to create a more balanced system and stronger bottom end...




Thanks for looking and stay tuned for more soon!


Mike
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:42 PM
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Wow, there is some really cool stuff going on there. The woods are beautiful as well.
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:23 PM
tkoehler1 tkoehler1 is offline
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Structured sides seem to be the Canadian craze these days... and I like it!
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Old 10-07-2019, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
Wow, there is some really cool stuff going on there. The woods are beautiful as well.
Thanks, this was definitely a fun one to build!


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Originally Posted by tkoehler1 View Post
Structured sides seem to be the Canadian craze these days... and I like it!
It's pretty fascinating in this age of instagram seeing how quickly an idea can spread. Myself and Jeremy Clark built one or two like this for Sergei de Jonge while we were apprentices and Jeremy decided to try it again a few years ago with a couple of modifications. Once our old shopmate Dion picked up the idea it really started snowballing from there. For me, it just makes so much sense with benefits structurally, tonally, long-term stability, and speed/ease of building.
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:21 PM
Halcyon/Tinker Halcyon/Tinker is offline
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That Blackwood is amazing...
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:23 AM
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So the structured sides are 3 layers, right? Even more stable than 2 layers? My recent John Kinnaird Customs have double sides, and CF struts from neck block to waist for rigidity. Somewhat the same? If I am correct it allows the top to be lighter as it is no longer doing structural duty.

This is a pretty axe for sure.

Cheers

Paul
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:18 AM
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So the structured sides are 3 layers, right? Even more stable than 2 layers? My recent John Kinnaird Customs have double sides. If I am correct it allows the top to be lighter as it is no longer doing structural duty.
Yup, three layers with the middle layer being quite thick and they are incredibly strong. With just the rims joined (no top/back) my shopmate stood a guitar on it's end and balanced a full 5-gallon water bottle on top with little deflection. Over time most guitars fold in on themselves under tension with the backs flattening out -- hence the eventual need for a neck reset. With sides like these, I can't really imagine that happening (though you'll have to check back in with me in 50 years). Like you mentioned, this now changes some of the fundamental requirements you need to consider in construction/bracing. Also, the increased weight of the sides helps them act as a reflector and keep the vibrations where I want them. A simplified example -- imagine sticking a ruler off the side of a desk and giving it a twang. If that ruler is held down by a 1 lb. weight versus a 50 lb. weight, it's not difficult to imagine which scenario will lead to more efficiency and sustain!


One of the more fun things that came out of this build was coming up with a flush magnetic truss rod cover. My shopmate Nic (Island Instrument Manufacture) had done a circular and flush cover held down by a couple of screws. It looked pretty darn slick and with a little thought I figured a way to take the screws out of the equation...









(this one is actually a pretty nifty animated GIF that shows how the magnet just sucks the cover in -- you can see it in action on my instagram!)


No fancy tools required to accurately and evenly push the bushings in for tuning machines...




And here's a shot of the pinless bridge (macassar ebony, arariba, and malaysian blackwood) carved and ready to be glued on...




Thanks again for checking this one out!
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:55 PM
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That Blackwood is amazing...
Yeah. And not to mention that endgraft and rosette and bridge, okay all of it. Well done!
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:33 PM
Halcyon/Tinker Halcyon/Tinker is offline
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The magnetic trapdoor is brilliant. The grommet trick is pretty slick too. Coulda used that yesterday...
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:55 PM
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Nice, very nice.
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Growler View Post
Yeah. And not to mention that endgraft and rosette and bridge, okay all of it. Well done!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Halcyon/Tinker View Post
The magnetic trapdoor is brilliant. The grommet trick is pretty slick too. Coulda used that yesterday...
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Originally Posted by TBman View Post
Nice, very nice.
Thanks everyone!


For the past 15 years I've always done my own finishing and essentially only ever french polished (one or two with oiled back/sides and sprayed one guitar while apprenticing with Sergei). I love the process/look/sound of a french polished guitar but after seeing some of the results my builder friends were getting with UV Poly I decided to expand my horizons and shipped this one out to the fine folks at Vancouver Guitar Finishing. One of the big motivating factors was the durability -- bringing a french polished guitar to a show can be pretty nerve-wracking. Suffice it to say I'm very happy with the results! The guitar looks killer and it feels wonderful to hand it over to someone at a show without the onslaught of warnings and caveats about being careful touching the finish. There's no chance I'll ever stop french polishing, but it I'm happy to be able to offer a more durable option or some combination of sprayed and polished.


And here it is all done!

















I finished the neck with an oil/wax (Osmo) that I've been using the past few years. It feels amazing and is incredibly smooth and fast.




I love this little guitar and will be sad to see it go. Even after all these years it still surprises me how much power and depth you can get out of a smaller body size. The plan is to bring this one to it's final show of the year in Quebec City at the beginning of November and then it's looking for a home! (though if anyone wants to lay claim to it beforehand and send me into a scramble the next couple weeks I'm happy to do it!)
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Old 10-12-2019, 11:33 AM
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The second guitar I've built for shows this year is a maple and lutz Concert model with a hand rubbed sunburst. I don't have too many progress pics of this one but I'll post a couple of what I do have.

Never one to be content and just settle, I'm always experimenting and developing my bracing patterns. Over the years I have more or less come up with three families of patterns that I work with depending on what tonal goals I have in mind. The pattern for this guitar came from a combination of two of my favorite guitars that were both members of the same general group. Like the last guitar, this one has a tornavoz and something else to note -- because I use a pinless bridge I'm able to use a spruce bridge plate. This cuts down on weight and helps reduce the concentration of stiffness you would normally find with a hardwood bridge plate.




I gotta say, I love maple! I think it's incredibly beautiful and so abundant (especially in Canada!) it's definitely become a favorite of mine. In recent years I've started experimenting with color and that opens up so many possibilities as well. Here it is all boxed up with the sides stained and the top ready for it's burst...




Here's my color "laboratory"...




There was a fun side project during this build when my friend Shena came into the shop for a couple of months so she could try her hand at building an instrument. We ended up designing something from scratch that was part ukulele, tuned in fifths, and shaped a bit like a balalaika -- hence the balalaikalelelin!


(for her first fine woodworking project I made her do 20 mitres! Totally nailed it.)





That little thing sounded so good and was a great project for teaching basic instrument building. I definitely couldn't hide how jealous I was and when I have a bit of free time I think I'll make one of these for myself!

Unlike the first guitar in this thread, this one was french polished. Even after all these years french polishing is always a challenge and when you add in color it takes it to another level. Somehow I made it through and here's a shot just before scraping/sanding away the finish to glue on the bridge...




One thing I love about doing a hand rubbed sunburst is the wild figure that is revealed from the stain. The medullary rays pop in unexpected and wonderful ways. I also like using flamed maple for purfling and in the rosette in situations like this to get a subtle shimmer effect.




Thanks again for looking!
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:19 PM
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Great stuff, thanks for posting this. I was reminded while looking at these photographs how basically conservative I am about guitar construction, so to see (what to me are) non-traditional structural designs in a guitar body for a guitar that ends up looking so beautiful is a reminder not to be such a stick in the mud about these things. And of course I wonder how these guitars sound. Beautiful work.
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:21 PM
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Beautiful work and your photos are very very nice as well. The grain in that last top with the French burst is amazing!
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Old 10-12-2019, 01:34 PM
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Great stuff, thanks for posting this. I was reminded while looking at these photographs how basically conservative I am about guitar construction, so to see (what to me are) non-traditional structural designs in a guitar body for a guitar that ends up looking so beautiful is a reminder not to be such a stick in the mud about these things. And of course I wonder how these guitars sound. Beautiful work.
Thanks! One thing I find fascinating about guitars, especially steel string, is that they are relatively young in their development as instruments. Unlike violins which have had hundreds of years to settle into a very standardized definition, there's no specified way to build a guitar. For me, this gives builders a lot of freedom to experiment and still build "guitars". Even what some people might think of as "new" developments (fan-fret, adjustable neck, etc.) have actually been around for quite a long time so there's a "tradition" of experimentation. And of course I think my guitars sound excellent but the only real way to find out is to get one into your hands! (or, for whatever recordings are worth, check out some of my videos... https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vot9YajhvXdrEG)


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Beautiful work and your photos are very very nice as well. The grain in that last top with the French burst is amazing!
Thanks! One of these days I'll have to get myself a real camera but it's kind of unreal what phones can do these days!
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