klath Guitars


newportJust got back from the Newport Guitar Festival in Ft. Lauderdale.  It was a lot of fun, but a bit slower than I’d hoped.  I got lots of good feedback about my guitars.  The classical in particular received positive comments for it’s tone.  It is built fairly light, but I didn’t weigh it until I got back– 2 lbs, 11.9 oz, including the tuners.  Definitely the lightest I’ve gone.  Then again, this is the first traditional classical I’ve built.

The best parts of these shows is always talking to other builders, and listening to some great music.  In that respect, this show did not disappoint.  I got to hang out with a number of luthier friends I hadn’t seen in a while, including Kathy Wingert, David Freeman, and Harry Fleishman.  (Definitely worth checking out their sites.  They are great builders, teachers, and just generally cool people.)  The music was wonderful.  There was a ridiculous number of really great players who were doing demos, playing concerts, sitting in song circles, and wandering around trying out the instruments.  As a beginning player, I was completely overwhelmed by the caliber of skill I got to see and hear.  In a couple of instances I had world class players trying out my guitars, and only found out afterward that I should have known who they were.  (That might be the way to go, though. Not know, not be intimidated, and simply enjoy their incredible playing at face value).

Andy and Nancy figuring our their set. Wish I'd gotten a photo of Jamie playing too.

We all got time slots to present our instruments on stage (and I hear the performances will be available on youtube sometime soon).  Two of my demos were done by Jamie Stillway, who is a great bluesy jazzy guitarist from Portland.  In fact, I’m listening to one of her cds right now.  Hearing her play was one of those world-expanding moments, where I was just sitting in amazement thinking “I didn’t know my guitars could sound like that!”  Nancy Conescu and Andy Wahlberg shared the third slot.  Nancy is an incredible celtic singer and guitarist, and Andy is probably one of the most entertaining people you’ll ever hear of.  He played his harp guitar in the final all star concert, and whipped out this amazing instrumental version of Bohemian Rhapsody.  Anyway, the two of them sat down for about 5 minutes at my table, figured out what they were going to play, and then at the demo produced an incredible performance of celtic and old jazz tunes.  Nancy did a couple tunes by herself that were just beautiful after Andy left the stage.

A Huge thanks again to all three musicians!

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 3:27 pm.

Add a comment


I’m officially participating in not one, but TWO handmade instrument shows this summer.  In fact, they are back to back.  The third and the fourth weekends in April.  One, Newport, I’ve already mentioned.  The other has been a favorite of mine since the first time I went.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many people who are so passionate about their craft all in one place.  In many ways, going to this show for the first time was probably the single biggest event in my development as a builder.  It is the Northwest Handmade Musical Instrument Exhibit.

Chromatic Marimba Frame

Chromatic Marimba Frame, Dean Marimbas

I was there to help Carl Dean with his marimba table.  I figured we’d switch off table duty and wandering around, and since I’d just started building guitars I thought there might be a stringed instrument or two I could look at, or a luthier who might be able to offer a little advice.

I was very wrong–  There were dozens(if not hundreds) of amazing handcrafted instruments, and EVERY SINGLE person I approached to talk to was incredibly supportive of my beginning efforts at lutherie, and they were very open about their techniques, methods, materials, and everything else.  I met people that weekend who have become friends, teachers, and mentors.  It really was my doorway to contemporary lutherie.  I spent every minute I could talking to every person I could, and poor Carl got stuck manning the table all by himself all weekend.

The next year, I got my own table.whee

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 4:56 pm.

Add a comment

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

And the website is… Not complete, but at least I’m not ashamed to give out the URL anymore

So it’s been a while!  I’ve been busy in all sorts of ways (including new job, and completing 3 guitars.. almost). Gearing up for the Newport Guitar Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, FL has finally spurred me into getting this website serviceable.  Finally swapped out the default pictures in the cool slidy header for my own pics– which was the big complicated project that I avoided for months.  Then I linked them to pages that actually exist…  and… Voila!  Real website!    My last big step will be to get the gallery working fast enough to not scare away casual browsers.  And maybe add more pictures, while I’m at it

I’ve got 3 complete or nearly complete projects to show now, but I think what I’ll do is make a new post for each, for later ease of searching.  How fun!

Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 5:06 pm.

Add a comment