klath Guitars

Newport and the Sonic Sitka

I don’t remember when I first met Denis Merrill.  He is certainly  someone you don’t forget once you do meet him.


If you have any connection to the lutherie community, there is a reasonable chance you have heard from him in the past year regarding the “Sonic Sitka” project.

Denis got a hold of six feet of spruce trunk, and has cut around 100 guitar tops from it.  Then he went around and convinced as many builders as he could to make a guitar out of it.  They’re going keep track of these instruments to test them sonically over time, and record the changes.  One thing I can say about this wood is that it is gorgeously figured, which you can see a little of in the pic.

Steiny's 1880's Washburn.

Steiny's 1880's Washburn.

The Sonic Sitka is the softest top wood I’ve worked with, and one challenge of it is to compensate for what I expect to be a naturally strong bass and weaker treble.  This was a deciding factor in choosing the size and shape of the instrument as well as bracing.

I love parlor guitars, and this one is based roughly on a beautiful old 1880’s Washburn that Robert Steinegger restored and had me French polish.  (Last I heard it was ready to be sold).  I adjusted most measurements for mine, but used the original silhouette because it’s just too gorgeous.

The project cumulates with a display at the Newport Guitar Festival which will happen in about two weeks  starting April 16th.  I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a big show, but since my guitar has to be there anyway I thought “why not”?  Time to really start running with the big boys (and girls)!img_3777

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 4:06 pm.

Add a comment