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Taming the wilds with the 1888 Torres


Fred Carlsons Big Red harp sympatar

Fred Carlson's "Big Red" harp sympatar

So, I’m a raring young luthier, ready to take on the guitar world, make my mark, and of course solve all the problems that 600+ years of instrument builders haven’t been able to perfect.  My luthier-hero is Fred Carlson who is famous for building some of the most insane, yet perfectly balanced, instruments you will ever see. (<— check out the pic)  I enjoy the experimental, the new, the scientific, and the creative.

In any case, my instruments do reflect this.  Don’t get me wrong– I’m very detail oriented, precise, and patient when it comes to the work, but when it comes to design I have a hard time reigning myself in.  Every aspect of my first several instruments were my own design, more and more completely as my abilities increased.  How about a guitar that I could play in the passenger seat of the car?  How about something made out of this gorgeous bright red Padauk?  And inlay…?  There are just too many possibilities, and I learn brand new things every time I try one.

However, there is another, more subtle side of lutherie.  Repeatability, consistency, and the ability to finely tune and predict how a particular bit of wood will sound if you shave off .001 inches rather than .005 inches.   Basically, sensitivity to what you’re doing.   And that only comes with experience and thinking about what IS there rather than what could be there.

With that in mind, a while back I asked  for the advice of Jeffery Elliott and his partner Cyndy Burton, who are both great classical builders and have become friends and mentors.  They strongly suggested that I find myself a proven guitar design and build it– preferably multiple times.  In fact, they even recommended a pattern:  The 1888 Antonio de Torres.

After resisting for a while (who likes discipline?), I decided it was for the best, and ordered myself the plans.

This instrument is now almost complete, and to my surprise I’ve had a fabulous time building it.  Next post: building the Torres

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Posted in 1888 Torres and On the Bench-- blog of current projects 9 years, 11 months ago at 9:03 pm.

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