I assembled my first guitar during 1998 – 1999 from a Martin D-28 guitar kit. I enjoyed woodworking and playing guitar, so a kit from the world premier guitar company seemed like a good idea. And it was. The thrill of stringing up and playing a guitar that you constructed is fantastic.
A few years later I assembled a second guitar from a custom-ordered Martin EC-28 kit. This guitar was a gift for our oldest daughter Tara for her graduation from college. This started a handmade guitar gift tradition that repeated for Rachel and Scott.
When I retired in 2007 from a 35 year career in engineering, I set out on a journey to learn to create outstanding instruments. This period was also marked by the pursuit of the phi proportioned guitar.
Much of the how-to information has been gathered from periodicals such as Guild of American Luthiers, books, information on the internet, and in workshops at the GAL conferences and Healdsburg festivals.
My initial efforts at voicing the guitar centered on Chladni patterns. Guidance for using Chladni patterns came from information shared by Alan Carruth and in a workshop presented by luthier Mark Blanchard. My recent focus has centered around books by Ervin Somogyi and Trevor Gore/Gerard Gilet. My guitars’ responsiveness and projection are improving.
My personal style of play is fingerpicking, so most of my guitars are medium body guitars focused on that style. In my pursuit of visually attractive guitars, I slightly modified the shape of the body to conform to phi proportions. The relative dimensions and profile are described on my Phi Proportioned Guitars post in Luthier Notes page.
Guitars are a unique canvas for unique woods. One of the joys of building guitars is hand-selecting the wood – feeling it, listening to it, and projecting how it will look in a finished guitar. It’s part of the organic experience of transforming wood into a fine musical instrument that makes guitar building so enjoyable.
Learning to build good guitars is a journey. I feel that I’m making progress in my quest.