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  #1  
Old 06-18-2019, 11:54 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Default Jack Spira bouzouki build

Jack Spira built a shorter scale (610mm) zouk for me a couple of years back. It's an absolutely wonderful instrument and I've decided to add a longer scale zouk to the stable.

Jack and I started talking about the next zouk a year ago. At the time, Jack was planning on moving his workshop to another town in Australia. He offered to get it done before his move but I wasn't in a hurry and said it could wait until after he was settled. He's finally settled into his new place and my zouk is the first instrument being built there.

I've long been intrigued by the stories I've heard about how wonderful mandolins and zouks built with King Billy Pine sound. Since we had a long wait ahead of us, I asked Jack to see if he could get his hands on a good set of King Billy for the top. After some months, that happened. We decided to pair the King Billy top with Australian back and sides.
FYI - The dark spots on the King Billy Pine are sap marks that will disappear when sanded.

Here are the sets Jack is using for my new zouk...


At some point in the conversation, I decided I wanted this build to consist of only Australian woods, the only exceptions being for the bracing and linings. Jack was very helpful in providing lots of pictures of various species for me to consider. Everything is in place now except for the fretboard.
These are the full specs:
Top - King Billy Pine
B/S - Australian Blackwood
Neck - QLD Maple
Fingerboard - to be determined
Bindings - Beefwood
Faceplate - Blackwood
Tuners - Schertler open-back metallic with ebony knobs
Scale - 650mm
Nut width - 34mm
Bridge - pin style

We went back and forth on rosette ideas and the one I was most excited about was to create a patchwork rosette out of native timbers. Jack used Gidgee, Tiger Myrtle, and QLD Silky Oak, for the bigger pieces, and Swamp Red Gum for the dividers. I'm totally digging how beautifully it came out. I'm really excited about this build.
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Last edited by jim1960; 06-18-2019 at 09:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-19-2019, 03:07 AM
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colins colins is offline
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Fantastic! I did the Aussie (and Kiwi) wood thing with Laurie Williams back in 2015 and am still pleased at the quality of sight and sound that can result.

Will be interested to see what you use for the fretboard as there is no shortage of rock hard local woods, so it may come down to what piece sizes are available and the visual impact on the rest of the instrument.

Looking forward to more posts!
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Old 06-19-2019, 01:33 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colins View Post
Fantastic! I did the Aussie (and Kiwi) wood thing with Laurie Williams back in 2015 and am still pleased at the quality of sight and sound that can result.

Will be interested to see what you use for the fretboard as there is no shortage of rock hard local woods, so it may come down to what piece sizes are available and the visual impact on the rest of the instrument.

Looking forward to more posts!
Laurie Williams makes some stunningly beautiful guitars.

I'm hoping for a fretboard with some figuring to it. Lighter to medium Ringed gidgee, figured Desert Ironwood, or some Curly Mulga would work for me. I figure the bridge can be whatever the fretboard is and that will pull things together a bit.
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2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


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Old 06-20-2019, 05:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1960 View Post
Laurie Williams makes some stunningly beautiful guitars.

I'm hoping for a fretboard with some figuring to it. Lighter to medium Ringed gidgee, figured Desert Ironwood, or some Curly Mulga would work for me. I figure the bridge can be whatever the fretboard is and that will pull things together a bit.
Looking forward to seeing some images! I am sure Jack has his sources for woods but in case you or any other reader is interested, here is a great source of Aussie woods - https://djarilmari.com/about-our-woo...-timber-burls/

This is where we sourced the red morrel burl and wodjil for my guitar.

Col
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Old 06-23-2019, 08:43 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Not a whole lot of zouk love around here, but I'll roger on anyway...

Here's another shot of the King Billy Pine top with the rosette installed.
I really love the combination of Gidgee, Tiger Myrtle, QLD Silky Oak, and Swamp Red Gum in that rosette.
The contrast between the pieces will increase when the finish is applied.


The top bracing being glued.


The top bracing being shaped.


The Australian Blackwood box is starting to take shape.


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2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


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Old 06-23-2019, 10:11 AM
Nemoman Nemoman is offline
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This is looking awesome--love the looks of that top and the rosette!

Looking forward to seeing this zouk come together...
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Old 06-24-2019, 01:54 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Jack sent me a couple more pictures today and a video tour of his new place.

Jack said he adjusted the x-bracing slightly because the King Billy Pine is not quite as stiff as spruce along the grain, but quite stiff across the grain.



Jack has just recently moved his shop to Boolarra, Victoria, Australia, about 30-40 miles southeast from where his old shop was in Cockatoo.
The view out his back door is really lovely with rolling hills, a variety of trees, and a little river.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemoman View Post
This is looking awesome--love the looks of that top and the rosette!

Looking forward to seeing this zouk come together...
Thanks! The first zouk Jack built me is a wonderful instrument and I expect this to be just as spectacular.
I'm really looking forward to playing this one day soon.
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2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


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  #8  
Old 06-25-2019, 04:10 AM
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Boolarra? I've lived here all my life and never heard of it. Ah, Google maps say it's near Mirboo North!

Nice country down that way.
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Old 06-25-2019, 06:14 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colins View Post
Boolarra? I've lived here all my life and never heard of it. Ah, Google maps say it's near Mirboo North!

Nice country down that way.
It does look it's off the beaten path.
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2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


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  #10  
Old 06-26-2019, 09:55 AM
M Sarad M Sarad is offline
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Eric Schoenberg had a Spira guitar that was a parlor sized gem, Jack’s version of a Ditson. It was quite a wonderful guitar. If I had piles of cash, I would order one today.
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Old 06-26-2019, 03:10 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Sarad View Post
Eric Schoenberg had a Spira guitar that was a parlor sized gem, Jack’s version of a Ditson. It was quite a wonderful guitar. If I had piles of cash, I would order one today.
It might be worth an inquiry. I don't know about Jack's guitar prices, but the custom zouk he built for me two years back was $3200 AUD including shipping. That came to about $2300 US which is an absolute bargain for a custom instrument. The exchange rate has been very good in recent years.
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Jim

2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


SoundCloud link
Spotify
YouTube
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  #12  
Old 06-27-2019, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1960 View Post
It might be worth an inquiry. I don't know about Jack's guitar prices, but the custom zouk he built for me two years back was $3200 AUD including shipping. That came to about $2300 US which is an absolute bargain for a custom instrument. The exchange rate has been very good in recent years.
And it still is... A$1 is around US$0.7 at present. If you live in the USA it's a good time to buy Aussie!
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