klath Guitars

Marylhurst

The Northwest Handmade Instrument Show at Marylhurst was a huge success (as always, it seems).  Well-organized, well-attended, and the only possible complaint is that it was too crowded!  Not a bad thing by any means.  I actually missed the cutoff date (I was focused a little too much on the Newport show) but Robert Steinegger very graciously offered to share his table with me.  He’s a long-time builder and restorer who makes beautiful Martin and Gibson inspired instruments.

The exhibitors numbered somewhere near 80, which is huge for that space.  The public came by the hundreds.  There were so many instrument demos that the organizers had to cut the time slots from 20 to 15 minutes.  Jamie Stillway stepped in and played for me at the last minute, when my regular demo guy had to have an unplanned surgery (he’s doing much better now).  Jamie played beautifully.  She’s such a great musician.  I could listen to her all day.

Posted 12 years, 2 months ago at 3:06 pm.

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Newport

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.

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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.

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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.

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