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Old 02-14-2017, 06:06 PM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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Arrow T. Drew Heinonen "Olson" SJ - Cedar / Honduran RW - Build Thread - [PHOTOS REBUILT]

I've been playing nice guitars for some time and buying them new/used, but this is going to be a first for me. Still a bit nervous about my first commission!

Background: I was at Mike Joyce's Luthier's Collection earlier this year and decided to try out some Olson SJs. I've tried some in the past and never walked away thinking it better than what I already had. Mike had some nice spruce topped ones there this time--the Larry Robinson peacock Euro/BRW and an Adi/Pernambuco that came a few days ago. They were nice, particularly the latter, but I wasn't blown away.

I'm not a cedar fan generally, but asked to try out a cedar SJ so I could check that off my list. I played a few--but one SJ in Cedar/BRW knocked my socks off. The sound still haunts me. (The price tag did too, unfortunately.) The tone was nothing I'd heard... the full bloom or swell of the overtones, with emphasis on the lower end, had a built in delay. While the fundamental tone was full and warm with decent sustain, the delayed overtone bloom eventually kicked in without overtaking the fundamental excessively. And it still had sweet, somewhat sparkly trebles. I started laughing to myself. It wasn’t what I typically wanted in a guitar but I loved it.

I couldn't plunk down 20k+ for it, so I contacted Jim Olson to see if he would build an EIR and asked if he could get that sound again by any chance. The answers were no for now (only BRW was a for sure yes) and maybe. With the latter, he didn't do anything different voicing wise--his bracing was fairly standard and created the general Olson sound, and then he let each piece of wood be the difference. So I looked at alternatives. Brian Applegate and Bill Wise are building their own takes on the SJ, but even Brian has made his own tweaks to the Olson voicing.

I found out that Drew Heinonen was Jim’s last apprentice and is building an Olson-esque SJ with the same bracing pattern as a template--authorized by Jim. He also apprenticed with Dana Bourgeois and has experience with guitar voicing, something Jim doesn't do. So here was a luthier who could build with the same bracing but then try to voice to achieve what I was looking for. (Stevie Coyle at Mighty Fine Guitars also had great things to say about Drew’s work) We talked a few times and I felt that he got what I was trying to do—he acknowledged that he couldn’t guarantee it, but building toward my request would be a fun challenge--particularly the delayed bloom that he thought required a very reflective back. I'm also his first commission under his own guitar brand for a Florentine cutaway.

In going through options, I debated whether I wanted a very vintage style look with more abalone, tortis pickguard and snowflake inlay like:



or a more modern and elegant wood (less bling) with abalone accent here and there:



I opted for the latter. After many hours talking with Drew, here is where I settled:
  • Western Red Cedar top – uniform, wide grain selected for tonal qualities
  • Honduran Rosewood back and sides – Drew's first choice set for tonal qualities
  • 5 piece laminate neck
  • Florentine cutaway - Drew's first ever on a Heinonen brand guitar
  • Radial light HRW/Blue Paua/light HRW rosette - accented with dark HRW bound soundhole and dark HRW outer ring
  • Blue Paua back center strip
  • Wood purfling – light cross grained HRW
  • Wedge - light perpendicular grained HRW
  • Blue Paua wedge strips
  • Wood binding - flamed koa
  • MOP Green Abalone “H” logo
  • Headstock front veneer – subtle streaked ebony bound with W/B
  • Headstock back veneer - matching dark HRW
  • Fretboard - subtle streaked ebony bound with W/B
  • Bridge - subtle streaked ebony
  • MOP Green Abalone Olson dove inlay - with Jim's written permission
  • Paua side dot inlay
  • EVO gold frets
  • Gotoh 510 gold tuners with ebony buttons
  • 1 3/4" nut and 2 1/4" saddle
  • Cedar creek case
  • Price that is far below what I would have to pay for Jim’s build
Only the HRW set is selected for now:



The case is inspired by Kent Hamblin's cases and should feel elegant. The guitar should be complementary but not blend into it too much either.



He’s also fitting my build into the batch he’s doing right now, so only a few months to wait! I hope this goes well as I know other luthiers I spend time with have generally encouraged me to *not* commission given how picky my ears are--but since I haven't picked up an Olson (which I might still do, and then A/B these), I figured this was the next best route.

Will keep this post moving as I get more news. By the time it's all done, I hope it looks something like this (forgive the poor Photoshop):

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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 07-07-2017 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 02-14-2017, 08:48 PM
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AlanHw AlanHw is offline
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Smile TDH SJ, the best choice you made there!!!

I am representing TDH guitars in Korea. Myself and the Guitar community over here are so excited about 2 SJs I ordered from Drew. We've shared sound clips of TDH SJ Cedar/EIR Drew recorded for me and they just fell in love with the sound. Myself and my friends who owns Olson SJ's all agreed that the TDH SJ is by far the best Olson's apprentice SJ embodies Olson's signature sound. TDH SJ also has Drew's own tone and you're going to love it.

Looking forward to your next post!!!!

Alan
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:10 PM
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Smile Congratulations!

Looks like a super instrument on the way! Good choice on the HRW.
I am constantly amazed at the TONE of my two J Kinnairds. Both HRW. One Euro top and the other Adi.

This will be fun to watch

Enjoy!

Cheers

Paul
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:12 AM
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Default Congrats,

I was in love with one of Drews OMs a while back that was at Mighty Fine Guitars and is likely the guitar Stevie mentioned to you. Rosewood and cedar are absolutely my favorite combination and I'm sure Drew will work wonders with it!
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:53 AM
Stevied63 Stevied63 is offline
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Congratulations, like your specs! I'm having Jim build a Cedar/BRW SJ for me this year (I have another thread on this), and your discussion with him concurs with mine - he doesn't seem too inclined to take on much more work this year. However another fellow posted on my thread, and said that Jim was willing to build him a Cedar/EIR SJ. Perhaps he is now only taking orders for BRW's? In any case, your guitar will be fabulous. I also own a Bourgeois - it seems you'll be getting Olson style with Bourgeois voicing! Will be interested to see how this turns out.

Steve
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:43 PM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevied63 View Post
Congratulations, like your specs! I'm having Jim build a Cedar/BRW SJ for me this year (I have another thread on this), and your discussion with him concurs with mine - he doesn't seem too inclined to take on much more work this year. However another fellow posted on my thread, and said that Jim was willing to build him a Cedar/EIR SJ. Perhaps he is now only taking orders for BRW's? In any case, your guitar will be fabulous. I also own a Bourgeois - it seems you'll be getting Olson style with Bourgeois voicing! Will be interested to see how this turns out.

Steve
Thanks for the comments all! Jim seems to want to build BRW, but I've heard it's also about asking on the right day at the right time too.

It'll actually be Olson voicing too, but with techniques Drew learned from Dana. Should be a lot of fun!

Drew send me two options for tops this morning. I haven't chosen yet. Option 1 has great silking and Option 2 just looks like a cleaner top with better color consistency. He says both tap out well for what I want, and I need to chat with him a bit more. He's going to join both and see how they tap out when prepped a bit more. Option 1 has more of a higher fundamental than Option 2, and the swell for Option 1 is faster. I'm leaning toward Option 2 right now. (Though I love the silking...)

Option 1:
(higher resolution HERE)



Option 2:
(higher resolution HERE)



I wanted to get his gut of which is better, but any thoughts here?
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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 07-01-2017 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:52 PM
Nemoman Nemoman is offline
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Both look like great options--all other things equal, the silking on option 1 gets my vote...
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Last edited by Nemoman; 02-15-2017 at 06:29 PM. Reason: rewording
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:13 PM
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ExpoTom
Congrats! You won't be disappointed in Drew's work. He built a guitar for our last Fretboard Summit (we actually did several interviews/podcasts with him throughout the build) that turned out incredibly well. The guitar continues to open up and it has an incredibly versatile voice. If anyone in Seattle ever wants to check it out, just drop me a line. Jason
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Old 02-15-2017, 07:43 PM
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Drew brought 3 of his instruments to an AGF get-together we had back in Feb of 2015. Of those, his BRW OM was really nice (but very new).

And he can perform:


Here's a link to some more photos from that event
http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/f...4&pp=10&page=2
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:13 PM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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Thanks all. Definitely would be fun to see him perform.

He joined up the boards and we settled on Option 2. I liked the silking and visual complexity of Option 1, but tonewise, Drew felt Option 2 had slightly more delayed bloom, fuller complexity/content, and was 5hz lower in tap--which would probably work better for what I wanted. Based on his ears and gut, he thought it was the right fit for me. I'm going with his recommendation.

Here is the board joined and with naptha. It's slightly wider grain, but quite uniform and the color pops like crazy under naphtha. Same with the HRW.



He's going to thin the board down a bit, and then we're rolling onto the rosette design and inlay. Can't wait to get mockup rosette designs from him!
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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 07-01-2017 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 02-18-2017, 03:37 PM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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We'll using premium blue paua for the rosette center (design TBD), end wedge strips, and back center strip inlay. Something akin to this sort of paua--the good stuff!



And another change... when I thought about the Olson style doves in white MOP and the "H" logo, I thought it would be too white/bright compared to the rest of the light embellishment on the guitar. I do like MOP--but when I saw pictures of other Olsons with abalone on the body and MOP doves on ebony fretboard, what stick out are the doves. Not enough balance there. We spoke and decided to go with a slightly "lower" grade abalone for the doves and logo. I actually think it will work out nicely since I've seen some of Jim's guitars with high quality paua doves, and there isn't enough contrast. (I also considered black MOP, but thought that there might be too many design elements if we went that route)

This is the sort of sheet we'll be cutting doves out of:

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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 07-01-2017 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:56 PM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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Just wanted to respond to some other posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHw View Post
I am representing TDH guitars in Korea. Myself and the Guitar community over here are so excited about 2 SJs I ordered from Drew. We've shared sound clips of TDH SJ Cedar/EIR Drew recorded for me and they just fell in love with the sound. Myself and my friends who owns Olson SJ's all agreed that the TDH SJ is by far the best Olson's apprentice SJ embodies Olson's signature sound. TDH SJ also has Drew's own tone and you're going to love it.
Thanks for chiming in Alan. Drew mentioned he was building one of the current batch for you--perhaps you can post some pictures of that build too! I haven't heard his tone yet, but I did ask him to take Jim's voice and then shape it according to what I wanted. I have high expectations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
Looks like a super instrument on the way! Good choice on the HRW.
I am constantly amazed at the TONE of my two J Kinnairds. Both HRW. One Euro top and the other Adi.
Thanks Paul. I can't take credit for this choice. I described what I wanted to Drew. He said he thought Honduran, Panamanian or Madagascar rosewood could all work. He also steered me away from EIR. He looked through his stash, he felt this was *the one*. He thought it paired with the right cedar top with certain tonal qualities would be perfect. That was all I needed to hear, so we're using HRW.

I haven't played many HRW guitars so I'm looking forward to this treat.

The same with the top. He wouldn't have chosen it based on visual qualities, but when I told him I only cared about tonal match, the 2 options we ended up with didn't *look* ideal... but they sounded it to him. I wish I was local to his shop so I could listen along, but definitely trusting his ears for this build.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonv View Post
ExpoTom
Congrats! You won't be disappointed in Drew's work. He built a guitar for our last Fretboard Summit (we actually did several interviews/podcasts with him throughout the build) that turned out incredibly well. The guitar continues to open up and it has an incredibly versatile voice. If anyone in Seattle ever wants to check it out, just drop me a line. Jason
Thanks Jason. I actually listened to almost all of those and it confirms how Drew thinks about things. We've also talked for a few hours on separate occasions and interacting with him is the same as the podcast.

I love how he's very analytical about it--he chooses his words very carefully, and he's thought through many issues of build. (e.g., he uses a bolt on versus the standard Olson dovetail, even on his Olson inspired SJ) I almost feel guilty picking his brain since we take a long time talking through stuff only somewhat related to my build.
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2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:49 AM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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It's coming along. It's a taking a bit longer because Drew had to come up with new molds and tooling for the Florentine cutaway. I'm proud to be his first and it will now be a standard option on Heinonen guitars going forward. Anyways, that explains why so little actual build construction photos. The sides were bent this week, and here are the sides being joined with blocks to form the rim:



and then some kerfling added:



I've been told both kerflings are glued in now. That means Drew needs to inlay and sand down the top and back. Hoping to post the final rosette mockups soon!
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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 07-01-2017 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:18 AM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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Here's Drew's mockup of what I think will be the final rosette in CAD:



I did a light Photoshop mockup using HRW radial as the wood and filling in the 3/32" abalone strip:



I'm hoping it comes out as nicely as I'm imagining it to be... Drew's never done a bound soundhole in his own builds, so this will be a first for him--but he was definitely willing. He's been so great to work with.
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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 02-25-2017 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 03-01-2017, 06:15 PM
SiliconValleySJ SiliconValleySJ is offline
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Drew is starting the rosette and he gave me two great HRW options. One radial ring he cut using darker HRW, which is from the back/sides set, without and with naphtha:



And he cut a second using lighter HRW that he happened to have lying around, without and with naphtha:



Here they are in top of the cedar to show the contrast:



I was pretty torn. I liked the rich, darker grain, but it felt looked too dark on the cedar top--particularly when we were going to have matched wood for purfling. Leaning toward the lighter HRW and maybe we can use the darker HRW for the bound soundhole and thin outer wood wing on the rosette.
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2000 Langejans R6 dread Engelmann Spruce / Indian RW
2006 Maingard 000-12 European Spruce / Brazilian RW
2017 Heinonen "Olson" SJ Western Red Cedar / Honduran RW [build]

Last edited by SiliconValleySJ; 07-01-2017 at 01:05 AM.
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