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Old 07-15-2015, 05:39 PM
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iim7V7IM7 iim7V7IM7 is offline
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Default MARK BLANCHARD - Pinyon, German Spruce/Madagascar Rosewood: Build Thread

I have commissioned a guitar with Los Gatos, CA luthier Mark Blanchard (Blanchard Guitars, http://www.blanchardguitars.com/).

Mark's flat top guitar models are all named after different North American conifer trees. Aside from his 7 different flat top models, Mark makes 2 styles of archtop and 2 styles of nylon string guitars as well. The model that I have commissioned with Mark is his small bodied, 00 sized, 12-fret model. He named it "Pinyon" after the small pines that grow out Western United States. Since I play chords and single lines up in the "dusty" portions of the fingerboard, and this model being a 12-fret guitar; it will have Mark’s continuous contoured cutaway that is flush with the heel of the neck.

For those of you who have not yet heard of him, Mark’s roots as a builder like many great luthiers originally lay in guitar repair and restoration back in the 1980s. He began to build his own line of guitars 1994, later becoming a full time custom luthier in 1998. I did a quick search of the AGF Custom Shop and surprisingly there has not yet been an AGF Custom Shop “build thread” featuring Mark’s lutherie. So this thread looks like it will be the first and I think that we will be in for a real treat.

Mark's guitars are known by those who have played them to have a voice with balanced tone in all registers, a resonant bass, present, clear midrange, and thick, powerful trebles. Mark builds his guitars meticulously; “one at a time” with fairly basic shop tools and some very innovative self-designed fixtures and methods. Mark is very inventive luthier and actually designs and fabricates his own truss rods (which are used by a number of builders who show their work here on AGF, http://www.blanchardguitars.com/guit...russ_rods.html).
SPECIFICATIONS:
Lower Bout: 14"
Top: German Spruce (Luthier's Choice)
Body: Madagascar Rosewood, 4-Piece Back
Bridge: Ebony
Saddle: 2-5/16" Spacing, Bone
Bridge Pins: Ebony with Paua Abalone
Rosette: Brazilian Rosewood
Binding: Macassar Ebony
Purflings: Top = BWBW, Side = WBW
Cutaway: Venetian
Manzer Wedge: Yes,~3/4”
Pickguard: Clear
Neck: 1-Piece Honduran Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Fingerboard Radius: Compound, 14”-18”
Scale Length: 25.0"
Nut Width: 1-3/4", Bone
Fret Wire: Jescar EVO FS43080
Position Markers: Top = 4-mm Paua Abalone Dots, Side = 2.5 mm White MOP Dots
Peghead Style: Paddlehead
Headplate: Brazilian Rosewood
Backplate: Brazilian Rosewood
Headplate Binding: Macassar Ebony
Headplate Purfling: WBW
Truss Rod: Blanchard, 2-way, Sound Hole Access
Tuners: Rodgers, Single Gear Units, SS23, Brass with Ebony Buttons
Strings: PB, Lights
Case: Hoffee, Blue Exterior/Black Interior
The Madagascar Rosewood back and side set that we selected is the type of Dalbergia Baronii rarely seen these days. It is the type sold by LMI years ago that was originally intended to be used as wide bass fingerboards. These boards were resawn to make a 4-piece quartersawn back sets. This particular set contains enough beautiful spiderwebbing and landscaping to not be able to tell whether it is a 2 or 4-piece back. The image on the left is the back is unfinished and somewhat oxidized but you get a hint of just how beautiful it will be. The image on the right is more representative of the color of the finished back (Mark was kind enough to spray up some samples with nitro for me).



The choice for the top is totally up to Mark. He will select a set of spruce for this build based upon a target density and ratio of long-grain to short grain stiffness for this body size. Mark uses Gotoh 510s as his standard tuners, but for this guitar we worked with Rob Rodgers to come up with a slightly simpler looking plate/sleeve/end pip design for his single gear units:



The guitar is targeted to be delivered in December 2015. As Mark shares the progress of this build with me, I will post some images here.
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Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 11-13-2015 at 06:52 PM. Reason: spruce selected
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Old 07-15-2015, 05:47 PM
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Congrats. Mark is a superb luthier and one of my favorites. Looking forward to the build pictures.
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Old 07-15-2015, 06:45 PM
Bulldozer27 Bulldozer27 is offline
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Congrats, be prepared for the FATTEST sweetest trebles you've ever heard. Mark's use of Chladni soundboard analysis really shows through in the finished product. I stupidly sold a German/Brazilian Sequoia awhile back and have regretted it ever since.
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:53 PM
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Default Bruce Sexauer

holds your opinion of builders in the highest regard. With that sentiment in mind, I'm sure this will be a world class guitar.
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Old 07-16-2015, 04:57 AM
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John Osthoff John Osthoff is offline
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Bob,

I remember you telling me that you had this one in the pipeline. Mark tends to fly a little under the radar, I suppose that has something to with being humble, yet he is highly respected in the guitar community. I first met Mark way back we both exhibited at the first Newport show (when it was in Newport) and got to try his guitars then. Totally blown away by them. Very smart guy too.

I am sure this will be a great guitar from a great builder and a great guy.

Congrats
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:33 AM
Richard Mott Richard Mott is offline
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Mark builds a fabulous guitar! Clear as a bell, flawless fit and finish. Super thoughtful and informed guy. My first luthier built guitar was his 12-fret Sugar Pine, in Macassar/German. Wonderful instrument!
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Congrats. Mark is a superb luthier and one of my favorites. Looking forward to the build pictures.
Derek, we both do!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldozer27 View Post
Congrats, be prepared for the FATTEST sweetest trebles you've ever heard. Mark's use of Chladni soundboard analysis really shows through in the finished product. I stupidly sold a German/Brazilian Sequoia awhile back and have regretted it ever since.
There is a solution to that problem you know. You could have Mark build you another Sequoia! Yes, Mark's Chladni talk at Healdsburg 2007 was a great one. His practical approach (key word) and diligent use of notes and >100+ guitars worth of thickness, density, stiffness, pattern data impressed me greatly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JJI View Post
holds your opinion of builders in the highest regard. With that sentiment in mind, I'm sure this will be a world class guitar.
Josh, Bruce has generously and freely shared his knowledge of guitars and guitar making with me for which I am most grateful. I hold Bruce's guitars as among the best you can get bar none!

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Osthoff View Post
Bob,

I remember you telling me that you had this one in the pipeline. Mark tends to fly a little under the radar, I suppose that has something to with being humble, yet he is highly respected in the guitar community. I first met Mark way back we both exhibited at the first Newport show (when it was in Newport) and got to try his guitars then. Totally blown away by them. Very smart guy too.

I am sure this will be a great guitar from a great builder and a great guy.

Congrats
John, Yeah I was very surprised to find only 11 posts with "Blanchard" in the title from 2005-2015 (that other humble guy John O has 48 posts from 2007-2015!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Mott View Post
Mark builds a fabulous guitar! Clear as a bell, flawless fit and finish. Super thoughtful and informed guy. My first luthier built guitar was his 12-fret Sugar Pine, in Macassar/German. Wonderful instrument!
Glad to hear it!
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:26 AM
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Back in the days of the 13th Fret, Mark's guitars were all the rage. I've wondered why he hasn't gotten as much air play here. I'm looking forward to following your thread!
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post
John, Yeah I was very surprised to find only 11 posts with "Blanchard" in the title from 2005-2015 (that other humble guy John O has 48 posts from 2007-2015!
Sound clips anyway here: http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/f...archid=5608204
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Guitars by Mark Blanchard, Albert&Mueller, Paul Woolson, Collings, Composite Acoustics, and Derek Coombs

"Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Woods hands pick by eye and ear
Made to one with pride and love
To be that we hold so dear
A voice from heavens above
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Thanks Derek!
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Old 07-16-2015, 12:44 PM
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Question and comment:

4 piece back?

0.43 X 0.80 wire is the standard size wire my Collings came with, and the size is fine, however I have taken to bigger wire and have refretted my guitars with taller, wider, wire. The last refret I went with FW47104-EVO. Just a thought.
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Derek Coombs
Youtube -> Website -> Music -> Tabs
Guitars by Mark Blanchard, Albert&Mueller, Paul Woolson, Collings, Composite Acoustics, and Derek Coombs

"Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Woods hands pick by eye and ear
Made to one with pride and love
To be that we hold so dear
A voice from heavens above
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Old 07-16-2015, 12:52 PM
Shoreline Music Shoreline Music is offline
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We used to carry Mark's guitars back in the early days of Shoreline.

When I met up with him at the final Healdsburg festival a couple years back, I shared with him a secret that should NOT have been well-kept: In a room full of amazing instruments, his were the best in the show.

You're in for a treat.

John
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Question and comment:

4 piece back?

0.43 X 0.80 wire is the standard size wire my Collings came with, and the size is fine, however I have taken to bigger wire and have refretted my guitars with taller, wider, wire. The last refret I went with FW47104-EVO. Just a thought.
Derek thanks for the suggestion...

Perhaps you have a lighter touch than me? Taller/wider fret wire is easier to play and lasts longer; but I have a fairly heavy left hand and can inadvertently bend sharp more easily pressing the strings against a taller fret. There is also a slight intonation trade-off as wire get's wider. I have the 43080 wire on a number of my other guitars and I am quite satisfied with it.

That being said, my guess is I would be happy with either set of EVO wire...

Regarding the back set, it is a 4-piece set. Nearly all of the quartersawn landscaped sets of Madrose that you see are. They are just beautifully flitch matched so you cannot see the two joints on the raw set shown, just the center seam. Was your question because it looks like a two-piece set?
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:35 PM
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Yep, looks like a two piece set. I should have read your first post more carefully. Again, congrats.
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Derek Coombs
Youtube -> Website -> Music -> Tabs
Guitars by Mark Blanchard, Albert&Mueller, Paul Woolson, Collings, Composite Acoustics, and Derek Coombs

"Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Woods hands pick by eye and ear
Made to one with pride and love
To be that we hold so dear
A voice from heavens above
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  #15  
Old 07-16-2015, 06:26 PM
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Default Choosing a back & side set

One of the things that Mark did for me that was EXTREMELY helpful was to make some scrap samples of hardwoods being considered for the body to me. Back/side sets are frequently old and oxidized, photographic lighting can be variable so seeing what they will actually look like can be a challenge for a client from afar.

For Mark's smaller bodied guitars, given my goals for this instrument; Mark wanted to choose less dense, but glassy sets (by less dense, it obviously is a relative statement meaning not African Blackwood, Cocobolo, Honduran Rosewood etc.) Mark proposed some Brazilian Rosewood, Madagascar Rosewood, Panama Rosewood and Ziricote sets as possibilities.

Below are some small sample pieces of Brazilian Rosewood, Madagascar Rosewood and Ziricote that he was kind enough to spray a quick coat of nitro on and mail them to me. While far from finished, seeing these is person was tremendously helpful in selecting a back/side set. All three were beautiful, but in the end I chose the landscaped Madagascar Rosewood set.

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