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  #1  
Old 05-09-2019, 07:39 AM
jmagill jmagill is online now
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Default Build: Chasing Tone with a Tom Doerr Legacy Select

With all of my commissions, the goal has always been the creation of an instrument with a particular, specific Voice to complement those of the superb guitars and mandolins I am already privileged to own. Achieving that Voice is paramount and determines everything else about the build.

I choose my builders very carefully; those whose craftsmanship, attention to detail, fit & finish and sense of design, all of which contribute the look of the guitar, meet my standards, so I don’t have to concern myself with those areas, and we can then focus on achieving the target Voice. To that end, as the build progresses and necessary aesthetic choices are made, I constantly remind myself that Doc Watson never cared about what his guitars looked like…

I make a few ergonomic specifications (a cutaway, EVO frets, my preferred neck width & profile), but once the builder and I are confident that we share a clear understanding of the sonic goal to which all other decisions will be subservient, I leave most build decisions, including body size, the woods to be used, etc. in the capable hands of the person whose task it is to produce it. Where a decision is required of me regarding the look of the instrument (for example, choosing a rosette design), I generally keep it simple and select from among the builder's usual options. Any customization I might request will generally concern the Voice, but I since I select my builders because I appreciate their signature tone, I don't ask that they build me something with a Voice that sounds like anyone other than themselves.

I had long admired Tom Doerr’s work and remembered playing one of his wonderful instruments at nearby Dream Guitars some years back, so last spring I drove up from NC to the Artisan Guitar Show in Harrisburg, PA, specifically to sample the guitars Tom was bringing to display.

When I got home I sent him a deposit.

Now, some 14 months later, Tom has begun building a Legacy Select model to be personally delivered to me when Tom arrives to take part in the Luthiers Exhibit during Guitar Week at the Swannanoa Gathering in late July, and I look forward to sharing the process with you as it takes shape.

Tom and I are going for a pretty lofty goal in this guitar’s Voice, and he’s using some of the very finest wood in his stash to achieve it.

Here’s a shot of the woods he’ll use. On the right you can see some of his highest grade Swiss moon spruce for the top (note the crescent moon in the corner). The mahogany neck block is at the top, with the Brazilian rosewood back & sides in the middle and the outline of the Brazilian fretboard drawn on the piece on the left. All the Brazilian used on this guitar is flitch-matched from the same plank.




The straight-grained Brazilian back.




A closeup of the laminated neck block




The top being joined




Back being joined




Stay tuned...
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Director, The Swannanoa Gathering

'07 Circa OM, '09 Bashkin 00-12 fret, '10 Circa 00-12 fret, '17 Buendia Jumbo, '17 Robbins R.1, '09 Heiden Heritage F5 mandolin, '85 Sobell cittern,
'08 Poe F5 mandolin, '80 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin, '83 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin (oval hole)

Last edited by jmagill; 05-21-2019 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 07:47 AM
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This will be fun to watch - knowing Tom as I do I'm very confident you'll be "over the moon" upon delivery!
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:11 AM
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+1 on this!! A great guitar will emerge from this process. Beyond that, a wonderful connection for you with Tom's Doerr guitar family!

Though it's been 5 years (exact date was Tuesday of this week) since my Legacy arrived, Tom and I are still in touch pretty regularly.
I'll enjoy watching this one the whole way!! Congrats!
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:23 AM
jmagill jmagill is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by islandguitar View Post
+1 on this!! A great guitar will emerge from this process. Beyond that, a wonderful connection for you with Tom's Doerr guitar family!
At the Artisan Show I was also privileged to meet Tom's other family, his beautiful wife Alisa and daughters Isabel, Anna and little Aleah. All as lovely as his gorgeous guitars...
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Director, The Swannanoa Gathering

'07 Circa OM, '09 Bashkin 00-12 fret, '10 Circa 00-12 fret, '17 Buendia Jumbo, '17 Robbins R.1, '09 Heiden Heritage F5 mandolin, '85 Sobell cittern,
'08 Poe F5 mandolin, '80 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin, '83 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin (oval hole)
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmagill View Post
At the Artisan Show I was also privileged to meet Tom's other family, his beautiful wife Alisa and daughters Isabel, Anna and little Aleah. All as lovely as his gorgeous guitars...
That's fantastic! And, I'm a little jealous! I know we'll meet personally one day!! What a great guy!
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2014 Doerr Legacy-LS Redwood/Cocobolo
2014 Bamburg FSC-Carpathian Spruce/Macassar Ebony


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  #6  
Old 05-10-2019, 03:24 PM
jmagill jmagill is online now
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The top & back are now out of the go-bar deck. Here's the joined back.




The sides have also been bent.

Here's one of the sides, wet down in preparation for the bending. This also gives some idea of what the color and figuring of the sides will look like under finish.




Here are the heating blankets that the sides will go between before they go into the side bender.




Clamped & ready...




In the bender. The sharper-eyed among you may notice that there appear to be two pieces of wood between the blankets. Tom uses double sides on his guitars. The inner sides on this one are cocobolo.




The Brazilian rosewood is now taking a new shape for its future as a fine guitar...

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Jim Magill
Director, The Swannanoa Gathering

'07 Circa OM, '09 Bashkin 00-12 fret, '10 Circa 00-12 fret, '17 Buendia Jumbo, '17 Robbins R.1, '09 Heiden Heritage F5 mandolin, '85 Sobell cittern,
'08 Poe F5 mandolin, '80 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin, '83 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin (oval hole)

Last edited by jmagill; 06-03-2019 at 11:19 AM.
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  #7  
Old 05-10-2019, 06:35 PM
EverettWilliams EverettWilliams is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmagill View Post
With all of my commissions, the goal has always been the creation of an instrument with a particular, specific Voice to complement those of the superb guitars and mandolins I am already privileged to own. Achieving that Voice is paramount and determines everything else about the build.

I choose my builders very carefully; those whose craftsmanship, attention to detail, fit & finish and sense of design meet my standards, so I don’t have to concern myself with those areas, and we can then focus on achieving the target Voice. To that end, as the build progresses, I constantly remind myself that Doc Watson never cared about what his guitars looked like…

I make a few ergonomic specifications (a cutaway, EVO frets, my preferred neck width & profile), but once the builder and I are confident that we share a clear understanding of the sonic goal to which all other decisions will be subservient, I leave most build decisions, including the woods to be used, in the capable hands of the person whose task it is to produce it. Where a decision is required of me regarding the look of the instrument, for example, choosing a rosette design, I generally keep it simple and select from among the builder's usual options.

I had long admired Tom Doerr’s work and remembered playing one of his wonderful instruments at nearby Dream Guitars some years back, so last spring I drove up from NC to the Artisan Guitar Show in Harrisburg, PA, specifically to sample the guitars Tom was bringing to display.

When I got home I sent him a deposit.

Now, some 14 months later, Tom has begun building a Legacy Select model to be delivered to me personally when Tom arrives to take part in the Luthiers Exhibit during Guitar Week at the Swannanoa Gathering in late July, and I look forward to sharing the process with you as it takes shape.

Tom and I are going for a pretty lofty goal in this guitar’s Voice, and he’s using some of the very finest wood in his stash to achieve it.

Here’s a shot of the woods he’ll use. On the right you can see some of his highest grade Swiss moon spruce topwood (note the crescent moon in the corner). The mahogany neck block is at the top, with the Brazilian rosewood back & sides in the middle and the outline of the Brazilian fretboard drawn on the piece on the left. All the Brazilian used on this guitar is flitch-matched from the same plank.




The straight-grained Brazilian back.




A closeup of the laminated neck block




The top being joined




Back being joined




Stay tuned...
Love this - Tom is great. He has built me two and it’s a great process. One of the guitars you played at Artisan was mine! Hope you enjoy the process as much as I did.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:14 AM
jmagill jmagill is online now
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Next up: building the rosette.

In looking at photos of Tom's guitars, several of them had sound holes bound in ebony, a look I liked, and since the body, headplates, fretboard and bridge of this guitar will all be Brazilian rosewood bound in ebony, I thought an ebony-bound sound hole would complement them nicely. All that was left was to choose one of Tom's Braz. rosettes.

Tom sent me photos of the rosettes he's used before and there was one of his more recent designs I favored, but the guitar's soundhole wasn't bound. I work a lot in Photoshop, so it was no problem to create a mockup of the rosette with a bound sound hole and send it to Tom.

Tom responded this way:

I thank you for Photoshopping it because I have often thought about doing it but it never looked right in my mind. This rosette will definitely be a go-to for me in the future.

Then he went to work.

Here's the top with some of the materials used to make the rosette.




The rosette nears completion.




Trimming the excess from the soundboard.




The finished rosette against the back and a closeup of the sound hole binding.



__________________
Jim Magill
Director, The Swannanoa Gathering

'07 Circa OM, '09 Bashkin 00-12 fret, '10 Circa 00-12 fret, '17 Buendia Jumbo, '17 Robbins R.1, '09 Heiden Heritage F5 mandolin, '85 Sobell cittern,
'08 Poe F5 mandolin, '80 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin, '83 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin (oval hole)

Last edited by jmagill; 05-21-2019 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:37 AM
Nemoman Nemoman is offline
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That looks awesome!

I've always really preferred the look of a bound sound hole...
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Last edited by Nemoman; 05-15-2019 at 10:39 AM. Reason: rewording
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:25 AM
jmagill jmagill is online now
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FYI, here's the mockup I made for Tom & I to try out ideas. This is not an actual guitar – yet. Just playing around with graphic elements to see what they look like... I've also included the original close-up photo of the rosette.

What I added or replaced in this mockup was the rosette I liked, with ebony sound hole binding, circular fret markers with ebony dot centers on a Brazilian fretboard, and I lightened all the Braz. elements and boosted the saturation slightly since Tom told me the Braz. he'd be using on my guitar is lighter in color than some.

I expect the actual guitar to look similar to this, but we have a long way to go yet.

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Jim Magill
Director, The Swannanoa Gathering

'07 Circa OM, '09 Bashkin 00-12 fret, '10 Circa 00-12 fret, '17 Buendia Jumbo, '17 Robbins R.1, '09 Heiden Heritage F5 mandolin, '85 Sobell cittern,
'08 Poe F5 mandolin, '80 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin, '83 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin (oval hole)

Last edited by jmagill; 05-15-2019 at 05:15 PM.
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  #11  
Old 05-15-2019, 06:29 PM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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You have very good photo shop skills - the photos look very realistic. It looks like it will be q handsome guitar when it is done.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:50 PM
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GO TOM DOERR....!!!! Very exciting, congrats, thx for sharing...
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:43 PM
Dustinfurlow Dustinfurlow is offline
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MAN I am jealous. Congrats and really can't wait to see how this comes together.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:04 AM
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My goodness, that wood looks incredible. Shaping up to be an exquisite guitar.
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Old 05-17-2019, 07:31 AM
jmagill jmagill is online now
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Back & sides progress.

One clarification from Tom about his 'double sides':

I actually do more of a laminate. I have the outer wood and then I use a thinner inner wood and a thinner middle wood between the two which is cross grain wood. The reason for this is it's much stronger doing 3 ply. If you look at any good laminate there is always a odd number of laminates with alternating grain direction. It stabilizes the wood and it's virtually crack resistant. I just use the term double sides for the lack of confusion. Plus, this is top secret stuff man!

So don't tell anybody....

Here are some B&S parts before lamination. The smaller piece is for the cutaway.




The sides being laminated using a vacuum press.




Trimming the excess from the back. Note the Band-Aid. Tom puts his heart and soul (and a little blood) into every guitar...




The space alien building my guitar.




Thicknessing the back.

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Jim Magill
Director, The Swannanoa Gathering

'07 Circa OM, '09 Bashkin 00-12 fret, '10 Circa 00-12 fret, '17 Buendia Jumbo, '17 Robbins R.1, '09 Heiden Heritage F5 mandolin, '85 Sobell cittern,
'08 Poe F5 mandolin, '80 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin, '83 Monteleone Grand Artist mandolin (oval hole)

Last edited by jmagill; 05-18-2019 at 08:13 AM.
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