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Old 02-01-2022, 07:22 AM
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iim7V7IM7 iim7V7IM7 is offline
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Default STEPHEN KINNAIRD GUITARS: 000, 12 Fret [Adirondack Spruce | Macassar Ebony]

Steve Kinnaird and I have been AGF forum “pen-pal” friends for about eight-years now. We have corresponded on guitars, tonewood, lutherie and non-guitar topics over the years. Steve, Ryan Middlebrook and I finally met in person at the 2017 Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase (yikes, where did 5-years go?) where I was able audition some of their show guitars. Last June, I decided to commission a custom guitar with them. Somehow, the eight-month build queue has gone by and it is time to begin the making of the guitar.

One of the great pleasures when commissioning a custom guitar for me is the discussion back and forth between a client and luthier about your playing goals for the instrument to create something that does not yet exist. We spent a good deal of time discussing my style of play, my ergonomic playing preferences, and tonal goals for the guitar. This resulted in Steve recommending that he build me either their 12-fret FS model (15-5/8”) or a slightly less wide but longer bodied 12-fret 000 (15”) sized guitar. After a bit of back and forth, we ended up deciding upon a 000-12 Fret model.

We then discussed potential soundboards for the project. I told Steve that I was “spruce species agnostic” and suggested that he select a soundboard set for the project that he felt that would best meet my playing goals. Steve joined up three different soundboards (one Sitka, Bearclaw Sitka and Adirondack Spruce) and evaluated them physically and acoustically to decide which to use. In the end, he suggested that we use a AAA grade set of Adirondack (Red) Spruce that he had sourced from Indiana luthier/Red Spruce purveyor Randy Lucas.

Being a longtime luthier and “wood nut”, Steve has amassed large wood-locker of traditional and non-traditional tonewoods. He generously took the time to take and share photos of well over a dozen species of back and side sets for me to consider for this project. These ranged from light and woody species to dense and glassy species. We ended up selecting a set of figured Macassar Ebony back and sides for the project. Steve told me that he had purchased the set years ago from Todd Taggert when he had left LMII to form Allied Lutherie. Steve said that this set had a particularly exciting tap tone to it. Since the set also featured some nice sapwood, we decided to keep it intact as an unadorned aesthetic feature and omit the decorative addition of a backstrip.

Here is a composite photo of the top set, trimmed back and side set, the laminated neck blank, neck/end blocks, binding/purfling strips arranged on their shop bench (The Nacacogdoches sous chefs have been quietly busy!). Steve trimmed down the sapwood a bit to make it a bit narrower.



SPECIFICATIONS:

Woods: Aside from the Adirondack Spruce top and Macassar Ebony back and sides; the guitar will have a five-piece laminated neck, Gaboon Ebony fretboard, and a Brazilian Rosewood belly bridge. To match the back’s Macassar Ebony sapwood, Steve is making a five-piece laminated neck with Honduran Mahogany outer, Macassar Ebony runner center section of Swiss Pear (to color match the Macassar Ebony sapwood).
Top - Red Spruce
Back & Sides - Macassar Ebony
Neck - Five-Piece Honduran Mahogany/Macassar Ebony/Swiss Pear
Fretboard - Gaboon Ebony
Bridge - Brazilian Rosewood (A dark blank to match the ebony)
Ergonomics: the guitar will have a traditional Nazareth long-scale (25-3/8”) with a 1-3/4” nut width and 2-5/16” bridge spacing. Staying with tradition, it will have a slotted head headstock. For enhanced upper fretboard access, it will incorporate a Venetian cutaway. They will add a sound port which I enjoy since I am a solo home player. These tend to enhance the player’s acoustic experience. I also asked for EVO frets.
Scale Length - 25-3/8”
Frets to the Body - 12
Nut Width - 1-3/4”
Bridge Spacing - 2-5/16”
Top Dish Radius - 25’
Back Dish Radius - 15’
Upper Bout - 10-3/4”
Lower Bout - 15”
Body Length - 20-7/16”
Body Depth - 3-1/4” to 4-1/8”
Sound Hole Diameter - 3-7/8”
Neck Profile - C-Profile with a Shoulder, 0.840” (1st fret), 0.940” (9th fret)
Cutaway - Venetian Cutaway
Sound Port - Oval, Bound/Purfled
Headstock - Slotted Head
Frets - Jescar EVO 43080
Fretboard Radius - 16”
Aesthetic Appointments: The guitar will be bound in hard Gaboon Ebony throughout (Body, Fretboard and Peghead). The rosette will be a radial cut Macassar Ebony with Zebrawood and Maple purflings. To match the rosette, the top will be purfled with Zebrawood and Maple as well. The back and sides will be decorated with simple black/Maple/Black viola style purflings. The peghead veneers will be Macassar (front) and Gaboon Ebony (back). We are having Steve’s signature inlayed in MOP into the back peghead veneer instead his standard “K” logo on the front peghead veneer. The guitar body will be finished by Tony Ferguson in a clear polyester with satin nitrocellulose lacquer neck finish by Steve. It will also have a transparent polyester pickguard.
Peghead Veneer, Front - Macassar Ebony
Peghead Veneer, Back - Gaboon Ebony
Heelcap, Body Binding, End Graft, Fretboard & Peghead Binding - Gaboon Ebony
Rosette - Radial Macassar Ebony/Zebrawood/Maple/Black Fiber
Top Purfling - Zebrawood/Maple/Black Fiber
Side & Back Purflings - Viola, Black Fiber/Maple/Black Fiber
Side Position Markers - 2 mm MOP
Inlay - Stephen Kinnaird Signature in MOP on Back of Peghead
Nut & Saddle: Unbleached Cow Bone
Pickguard - Clear Polyester
Finish - Clear Polyester (Body), Nitrocellulose Lacquer (Neck)
Hardware & Case: I am having Rob Rodgers make a set custom three-on-a-plate tuners for it (I ordered them in late October so they should arrive this month) and have purchased a lightweight Visesnut Active Series 000/OM case for it.
Bridge Pins - Gaboon Ebony with MOP Dots
Tuners - Rodgers L 330 Three-on-a-Plate with Black MOP Buttons
Strings - Acoustic Light
Case - Visesnut Active Series 000/OM
More when I get it…
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Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 02-28-2022 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:29 AM
Tim Porter Tim Porter is offline
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Incredibly well thought out, as usual. Really looking forward to following the progress! Tim
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Old 02-01-2022, 09:35 AM
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Nice to hear from you Tim . I hope that you are enjoying your new Sobel...
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Incredibly well thought out, as usual. Really looking forward to following the progress! Tim
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Old 02-01-2022, 10:27 AM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile Oh Boy!

This will be a thrill ride. What a beautiful set of woods!!!

You are in GREAT hands, with Steve and Ryan! (As you know!)

Looking forward already to hearing you play this….

Enjoy it all

Paul
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A few choice 90s Taylors
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Last edited by Guitars44me; 02-02-2022 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 02-01-2022, 02:39 PM
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Glad to see you are following along...

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Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
This will be a thrill ride. What a beautiful set of woods!!!

Looking forward already to hearing you play this….

Enjoy it all

Paul
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Old 02-01-2022, 05:47 PM
Nemoman Nemoman is offline
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Looks like a very cool build--love the wood choices.

Hopefully I can't see it in progress when I'm down in Texas later this month for my student build...
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Old 02-01-2022, 06:11 PM
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It should be there for February and March before heading off to Tony’s shop for finishing in April.

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Originally Posted by Nemoman View Post
Looks like a very cool build--love the wood choices.

Hopefully I can't see it in progress when I'm down in Texas later this month for my student build...
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Old 02-01-2022, 06:52 PM
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Default Laminated Neck Blank

Here is the five laminate pieces used in the construction of the neck out on the bench after being wiped with some solvent before gluing them up. You can see small pilot holes for alignment pins on both ends. The center laminate is made from of 1/8” thick pieces of Gaboon Ebony (2) and Swiss Pear (1) and is intentionally narrow so it remains clear of the two slot head channels that will later be routed into the peghead. The Swiss Pear center section was chosen because it is an excellent color match to the Macassar Ebony sapwood present in the back set.




The five pieces of hardwood are glued up with Tightbond Type 1 adhesive and affixed with ten 5” cast iron clamps are arranged in an staggered left/right and over/under configuration to evenly distribute the pressure.



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Old 02-01-2022, 09:49 PM
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Steve Kinnaird Steve Kinnaird is offline
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Well, this project has already been fun. Bob is as much a wood guy as anyone here, and was obviously—rewardingly—interested in what woods we had squirreled away. It was a little embarrassing sending a photo of *this*, and one of *that*, etc. etc.…I could hear my wife saying, “You don’t need ANY more wood”. I almost began to think she might have a point. (And if you tell her I said that, I will hotly deny it.)
In the end, when you get to use one of the best sets in your private reserve, it is rewarding knowing that the customer will value it as much as you do.
Thanks for this opportunity Bob!

Steve
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Old 02-02-2022, 08:41 AM
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Yes, we reviewed a bunch of beautiful sets! As I recall, before arriving on the Macassar Ebony we also reviewed:
  • Bigleaf Maple,
  • Bocote,
  • Bubinga,
  • Ceylon Satinwood,
  • Cuban Mahogany,
  • Goncalo Alves,
  • Grenadillo,
  • Honduran Mahogany,
  • Indonesian Rosewood,
  • Katalox,
  • Makore,
  • Movingui,
  • Oregon Myrtle,
  • Ovangkol,
  • Sapele,
  • Spanish Cedar,
  • Sycamore, and
  • Wandoo
Sorry to have “busted” you in revealing your stockpile with Billie ��. So, there are MANY great sets remaining in Steve’s wood locker for others having instruments commissioned with Steve and Ryan. As difficult as it was to decide, I think we made the right decision based on our joint appreciation of the wood figure plus your assessment of this set’s acoustic potential and understanding of timbral preferences.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
This will be a thrill ride. What a beautiful set of woods!!!

Looking forward already to hearing you play this….

Enjoy it all

Paul
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kinnaird View Post
Well, this project has already been fun. Bob is as much a wood guy as anyone here, and was obviously—rewardingly—interested in what woods we had squirreled away. It was a little embarrassing sending a photo of *this*, and one of *that*, etc. etc.…I could hear my wife saying, “You don’t need ANY more wood”. I almost began to think she might have a point. (And if you tell her I said that, I will hotly deny it.)
In the end, when you get to use one of the best sets in your private reserve, it is rewarding knowing that the customer will value it as much as you do.
Thanks for this opportunity Bob!

Steve
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A bunch of nice archtops, flattops, a gypsy & nylon strings…

Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 02-02-2022 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 02-02-2022, 09:02 AM
BlackKeys36 BlackKeys36 is offline
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I absolutely love your wood choices, Bob. I've had the opportunity to put my hands on a good percentage of Steve's collection and the set you picked is one of (if not the) best sets of ebony I've seen in any collection. Steve & Ryan are a joy to work with and I have no doubt this build will turn out spectacular.

Looking forward to this one!
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Old 02-02-2022, 09:19 AM
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Good to hear.... Thanks for your kind comments

I sometimes look back at the sets that I did not choose and wonder. They are all great sets in their own way or they would not be presented as candidates to me. Here are two other beautiful back and side sets of Macassar Ebony that I did not select on some past commissions by some other luthiers.

I ended up choosing a Malaysian Blackwood instead...


I ended choosing Brazilian Rosewood instead...


Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackKeys36 View Post
I absolutely love your wood choices, Bob. I've had the opportunity to put my hands on a good percentage of Steve's collection and the set you picked is one of (if not the) best sets of ebony I've seen in any collection. Steve & Ryan are a joy to work with and I have no doubt this build will turn out spectacular.

Looking forward to this one!
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Old 02-02-2022, 05:39 PM
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Default Making the Neck

Here the neck blank removed from the clamps and surfaces trued.



This photo shows the truss rod channel in the center with two outbound slots either side to accommodate the carbon fiber stiffeners. Note that the carbon fiber slots terminate at the eventual nut location to avoid showing when the peghead is slotted.

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Old 02-02-2022, 08:57 PM
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Default Reinforcement Strip

The Macassar Ebony back set on a 15’ radius dish under a go-bar deck having a cross-grained Italian Spruce center reinforcement strip installed. They took the back quite thin (about 0.070”) due to its density and stiffness. The beautiful figure is ever present even without finish.

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Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 02-02-2022 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 02-03-2022, 07:43 AM
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Great choice of woods. Looking forward to the build. I applaud the decision to go with a slot head
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