klath Guitars

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Building the Torres

Both Francisco Tarrega and Antonio de Torres were masters and innovators in their fields, and both have influenced every single builder and player of classical guitars who has come after them.


Now it’s my turn to reap the benefits of their legacy.  I am building the 1888 Torres guitar.  It was owned and played by Tarrega, and recently restored by master luthier Jeff Elliott (who made the plans that I’m using).

My materials are Engleman Spruce for the top, Indian rosewood for the back and sides, and Alaska yellow cedar for the neck (reinforced internally with maple).

The biggest obvious challenge in this project is the infamous Spanish Heel.

In steel string guitars, the body and neck are built


separately before being fit together right at the end.  When you build with a Spanish heel, the neck and top have to be joined right at the beginning of the assembly because the neck continues into the body.  I was excited to tackle this one, and it went surprisingly smoothly.  The final finish details might be difficult, but so far so good.

I went for a solar theme with this one (my one design indulgence).  The fingerboard shows the progression of an eclipse (or perhaps a lunar cycle), and the rosette shows a stylized solar eclipse.  I used similar techniques here as for the sunflower guitar–allowing the pattern to continue over the fingerboard, and the precisely inlaid petals.  The rosewood background, however,  made it a very different project.  I’ve found that when inlaying into hardwood it is more difficult to keep crisp lines. At the same time, dark woods are more forgiving to work with.  It’s a fair trade.

img_3770The most recent pic:

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 10:57 pm.

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Sunflower is a hit!

img_3605So Megan’s Sunflower guitar is done.  I thought it came out beautifully.  The rosette was exactly what she wanted, and I did the bee as a bonus.  It has long been packed up and shipped off (actually, she picked up while in town to run the Portland marathon) and I’m realizing now that I don’t have any good pictures of the full instrument.   Details, yes, and I’ll post a few of those:  img_3611

I love bumblebees, and was very excited to try to inlay one.  It was definitely a challenge to do, and I had to come up with new techniques to get it to look the way I wanted it to (eg, the semi-transparent wings).


The sunflower motif was the one visual element that Megan requested.  As an avid gardener who’s favorite flower is, well, the sunflower, she felt it would be a fitting way of personalizing the instrument visually.

The debut performance for this guitar was at the Portland Guitar Society (PGS),  which is an organization that supports, encourages, and mostly just loves guitar performance of all sorts.  I brought it to show a few friends and mentors who frequent the gathering.  Peter Zisa, who is a well known teacher in the area, and an excellent performer, volunteered his talents to play the instrument during the open mic segment.  He played music as it came to him (when I later asked what piece he had played, he smiled and said it was an interaction between musician and instrument).  I had liked the balance and tone of the guitar before hearing Peter play, but until then had no idea that it could sound like that!

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 6:13 pm.

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Megan’s sunflower

The design for this rosette was a collaboration between myself and the client.  If you think it looks sweet now, just wait until it has some shellac on it!img_3576

Maybe the most unique bit of this design is the way it continues over the fingerboard


Posted 13 years, 3 months ago at 7:20 pm.

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