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Old 11-29-2010, 01:28 AM
Rod True Rod True is offline
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Default The Celtic Beauty - The epic journey - sound clips added

Well, I sort of donít know where to start with this one. Itís been a very long time in the making for me. Now please remember that I'm just learning this craft. This was to be guitar #5 for me, but after all this it turned out be #8.

This is a long story and worth writing if you donít mind reading about it. If you do, scroll down to the pictures, hope those will be of interest.

OK, Back in December 2005, Bob ďThe ZootmanĒ Cefalu posts pictures on the OLF of some incredible Imbuia, I jumped on the email and told Bob I wanted that wood.

It sat in my shop for 5 months when a friend of mine asked me if I would make a guitar for her. This was late spring 2006. I said Iíd be happy to and that I had a rather special set of wood that she might like. So I showed her the Imbuia and she really liked it. Sheís of Scottish heritage and she wanted a Celtic sounding guitar.? So I thought that we would couple the Imbuia with Cedar, a nice warm sounding guitar I though. She also wanted lots of Celtic inlays on the guitar.

So, I got to work on the guitar, started it in June 2006. I was in for a journey. Hereís the way this guitar went before I finished it this past week.

Started by wanting to make the rims. I was using a light bulb bender at the time and it worked great for EIR but thatís all Iíd ever worked with before. Well, the Imbuia was totally different. I broke the first set of sides while trying to bend. I called up Bob and he sent me another set of wood and I started to sand them. When sanding, one of the pieces hopped up from my push board and shot back at the handle and broke into 50 pieces or so. ĒBob, do you have another set of Imbuia sides, I broke another piece.Ē Yes, Bob had another set and sent them to me.

I now built a new side bender, got a heating blanket and spring steel slats. The sides bent wonderfully. I got the cutaway bent and assembled the rims. This was now in the Summer of 2006.

I got the back thicknessed and braced up with no issues and it was ready to attach to the rims, I wanted to get the top ready to attach to the rims too, so I started working on the rosette. That was a nightmare for me. First I inlayed the Gold MOP Celtic rosette upside down. I didnít know that the Gold doesnít go through the shell all the way, and when I had finished, I had a white MOP Celtic rosette instead of a gold one. I pulled all the pieces out and started to inlay them by hand, piece by piece into the top. It turned out ok till I tried filling it with black epoxy. It was a nightmare again, smearing black epoxy over the top and everywhere. AGH! I started to sand down the rosette and well, I sanded through much of the gold shell to the while pearl and the top was getting thin with still a bunch of black epoxy on the Cedar and the rosette looked like crap. That top hit the floor and I ordered another rosette. This time, I inlayed the rosette into the new top correctly. I didn't try epoxy this time but tried ebony dust and CA. Well that was a total nightmare. In order to fill all those cavities... let me just say that I didnít do it right and I used to much Ca and it started to get the top hot and it actually warped the top. When the CA cured I started sanding down the dust/CA filler and due to the warping of the top, I sanded the upper bout way to thin and I was getting really frustrated thinking Iíd never get this thing right. That top hit the floor and I ordered another rosette.

I now put this guitar aside, feeling like I was biting off way more than I could chew.
Came back to the guitar in early 2007. Now that the back had gone through a few seasons with some humidity changes, it had flattened out a bit so I pulled the braces off and waited till I was ready to brace up the top.
Take 3 on the rosette went great. I got some advice from another builder, who had inlayed the same type of rosette on one of his guitars. It all worked out fine and I could finally brace up the top and get it on the rims. I think we are just into 2007 at this point.
I had a new idea in my mind for a bracing pattern. So I set to work getting this done. Voiced and ready to attach to the rims, I braced up the back and got it glued to the rims. It was a box finally.

I took a rather long break from the shop in late spring of 2007, actually it was a nine month break due a very difficult pregnancy my wife (and I and our other kids) went through. Shop time came to a full stop. I didnít get back at this guitar till spring of 2008.
I started to work on the bindings, bending Ebony is not very fun. I broke a few sets but the really hard part was the cutaway. I must have broken 5-6 pieces just tring to get it bent. Finally I decided to use black fibre 0.020Ē thick, stacked up on the cutaway. It worked pretty good to my surprise.

OK, so now I got the body all done, onto the neck. A few other life moments keep me out of the shop again and I found myself putting this guitar on hold, again!
I got back to it in late 2008 or early 2009. I got the headstock inlay done and then the neck sat again. I finished off a guitar for a friend of mine while I pondered how I was going to inlay the ďTrinityĒ knots on the fret board. This took me to spring of 2009, when I lost my job and ventured out on starting my own company. There goes the motivation to get into the shop. I was so exhausted with my day job that I had no motivation to go out to the shop.

Finally, winter of 2009/2010 I got motivated enough to get the fret board inlayed and then the neck come together rather quickly. I found myself ready to finish the guitar in mid February 2010. As I was spraying shellac seal coat on the body, I dropped the body and it hit the floor and fractured the top and binding at the lower bout. I cut out the fractured portion of the top and I inlayed another piece of cedar from the off cut of the board. It was a seamless repair but I could still see a slight difference in the wood color. This guitar was killing me. I just had to get it done. So I sprayed it and waited to buff it out, than attach the neck. This was April 2010.
I attached the neck, got the bridge located and attached it, I installed the frets, levelled and polished and it was ready for a saddle and nut. I had a friend over the night I was stringing it up for the first time.
Now remember, I had tried a new bracing layout. It was braced really lightly and I found out very quickly after the strings went on that it was just way to lightly braced. With the strings on, up to concert pitch, the top rose, and rose and the bridge rolled forward and forward and even separated from the top just at the back of the belly.
This was total top failure. It happened over a period of about 1 hour.

So, instead of smashing the guitar into 100 pieces right then and there, I set it aside for a month. Then I removed the top (#3) and cut the rosette out, which I needed to salvage for the next new top.
I got to work on top #4, getting down in my stash of cedar now. I got the rosette inlayed. I braced the top as I had done on my other guitars.
I got the top glued back on the rims, bindings bent, dang, I had another piece of ebony to try for the cutaway. I actually tried again but to no avail, I couldnít bend that ebony for the cutaway. I broke 3 more pieces. So, I bent a piece of EIR and after installing it and levelling it, I died it black with Indian ink.

So now Iím back to the finishing stage, this is now October 2010.
Into the booth, spray spray spray.... then the wait. Level sanded and used my buffer for the first time (everything before this was hand buffed)
Got the neck and bridge glued on just a couple weeks ago and I let it sit for 3 days before I could get strings on it.
I was now at the home stretch, rounding third, I could see the summit...I put the nut and saddle in place, put the tuners back in place and got out a set of strings.....
HOLY COW was I ever nervous. After all this, I was again putting strings on this guitar. Would it survive? Would it sound ok? I was pretty confident in the bracing that I did as I have several other guitars with the same bracing and they are all holding up just fine. But I was still nervous.
Moment of truth. Stings went on, pulled up to concert pitch and beyond the normal popping and creaking, everything was fine. The top hardly moved. So, I let it sit with high action, a flat saddle etc for 3 days. Of course I played it and the sound started to open up (gotta love Cedar for this) and I was thinking it might be my best sounding guitar yet.
So, this past Tuesday, November 23, I did the final set up on it. Got the action nice and low as I my customer wanted, got the intonation all dialled in and did a final polish.

My wife took pictures of the guitar this morning and at 8pm tonight, I delivered the guitar to my friend.

What an amazing journey of trial, stupidity (on my part) and perseverance. I totally love this guitar and want to build another one right away. But I hope I never go through these types of challenges again.

Thanks for sticking with me on this. Now onto the pictures, there arenít many but they are good










Last edited by Rod True; 02-09-2012 at 05:43 PM. Reason: added sound clips
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:22 AM
jonathanvaljean jonathanvaljean is offline
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Wow!!! What an absolute stunner! Keep up the amazing work!
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:30 AM
WhistlingFish WhistlingFish is offline
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Congrats Rod - a fantastic outcome by anyone's measure. Top marks for sticking with it!
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:31 AM
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Congrats Rod...that's some story and some guitar! I'm still working on my first one, and have made a few mistakes, but nothing like your experience..whew!

I'm finishing up my bindings, and the semi-bevels on the lower bout and the waist. Hopefully have my headstock inlay done and the neck set and bridge located by year-end (I'm really taking my time with this). Then it's on to finishing, and with any luck, I should have it completed by Feb/Mar. Aloha,

Hen
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Old 11-29-2010, 04:57 AM
Fliss Fliss is offline
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What a great story and a great looking guitar, Rod, thanks for sharing! Everything about it looks great, but I especially admire the Celtic knotwork rosette.

Fliss
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:09 AM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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That's a wonderful story of trials and tribulations with a happy ending! I hope the owner didn't lose patience through all this because that there is a lifetime guitar! Great job!
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:30 AM
Tone Gopher Tone Gopher is offline
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Is there something symbolic about taking pictures of the guitar sitting between railroad tracks? Are you tempting fate once more?

Congrats for persevering through your tribulations.

All the best to you and yours!
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:27 AM
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Steve Kinnaird Steve Kinnaird is offline
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It's a beauty, Rod. Congrats for your endurance!

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Old 11-29-2010, 09:37 AM
gregg gregg is offline
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Wow Rod, beautiful guitar, well worth the journey!!

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Old 11-29-2010, 09:53 AM
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Nice work! I love that burl.... amazing. Beautiful guitar.
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:18 AM
naccoachbob naccoachbob is offline
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Rod, I can relate to the problems you had on this one. I'm doing one now that I cut the binding channel too long on, then cut off the top and back to save them. Lost the top, salvaged the back. Then one of our cats knocked the guitar off a countertop and there were 3-4 long cracks, but was able to clean them up. My ordeal didn't add but a couple of months to the build, but the frustration level was almost what you had. Glad you were able to get it done finally.
You did a marvelous job on it, Congrats!
Bob
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:49 AM
mutley2209 mutley2209 is offline
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wow great story! love the finished product, being a celt myself i can always appreciate a guitar with one of our knots for an inlay love the back & sides, where exactly does that wood come from? anyone else see a sought of eerie figure on the back with that dark stain?
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:05 PM
Rod True Rod True is offline
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Thank you everyone. I'm now missing this guitar....it's always so hard to give them over the the customer

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutley2209 View Post
wow great story! love the finished product, being a celt myself i can always appreciate a guitar with one of our knots for an inlay love the back & sides, where exactly does that wood come from? anyone else see a sought of eerie figure on the back with that dark stain?
The wood is Imbuia and it comes from Southern Brazil.

Oh, and just so you know, there is no stain on the wood, that's its natural color under finish
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:22 PM
mutley2209 mutley2209 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R. True View Post
Thank you everyone. I'm now missing this guitar....it's always so hard to give them over the the customer



The wood is Imbuia and it comes from Southern Brazil.

Oh, and just so you know, there is no stain on the wood, that's its natural color under finish
Is it hard to get hold of and sustainable? Some luthier's re-frame from using Brazilian rosewood because of issues surrounding it's sustainability so it'd be good to hear of high grade sustainable tonewoods making they're way out of Brazil. thought it was natural aye but alot of people refer to them as 'stains' as in natural, is there a proper term for that kind of figuring?
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:23 PM
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cotten cotten is offline
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Rod, I don't mean to be unkind, but I found myself laughing as I read through your "adventures" with this guitar! Why? Because it reminded me of why I'd rather try to play guitar than try to build one. I've learned enough about the tremendous art and meticulous craftsmanship of builders here to know that I am not well suited to building guitars!

OK, I cried, too, but mostly I just laughed. I thought that perhaps you should change your "aspiring luthier" in your signature to "perspiring luthier!" Maybe it's just a Monday thing. I'm not usually that sadistic.

Ah, but then I got to the end of the story. Your perseverance definitely paid off, and you are due an extra star in your crown. I'd love to hear a recording of this great looking guitar!

cotten
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