Nov 6, 2011

From Piano Soundboard to Guitar Tops

Soundboard Soundboard Soundboard Soundboard

Wood From Belize

Belize Wood

Above: Ziricote from Belize for the "Bookbag Santa" guitar.

Jim, Jack

Jim and Jack check out the painting inside Larry's guitar.

Jack, Larry

Jack and Larry examine Chet's Zebrawood Guitar


Robbie plays Chet's zebrawood, steel string OM


Howard's Grafted Walnut

Here's the scoop from

Franquette Walnut is an ancient variety from Persia. Starting in the 1800's, for commercial Walnut production in the Pacific NW, it was grafted to Claro Walnut rootstock. About 70 years ago, newer hybrid Walnuts were introduced and Franquette was replaced. The last of these old grove trees are now dying and soon there will be no more of this unique wood. Both Claro and Franquette have excellent tonal qualities, exquisite colors and contrast.


Jack plays Larry's two-tone, nylon string OM


Justen plays Larry's rosewood nylon string OM

Chet guitar

Jack shows of the back of Chet's Koa Dreadnought.

Meeting - Nov 6, 2011

Click on an image to see a larger picture.

Howard's new place

We met at Howard Wilson's new shop on top of some mountain in Roanoke.

If your vehicle was capable of making it up the mountain and you got past the attack goats, you were in good shape.

Here are some photos of his new place. He's still in the process of setting up, but enough is there for him to start building again.

Photo, lower left, is the view from his deck (looking toward Roanoke).

Shop Shop
Wood Stash View

New Member - Robbie Dummitt

I started playing guitar at age 5 and did my first public performance at 7 for our elementary school's talent show. I remember playing "Little Brown Jug". That did it. The applause and cheering got me hooked in a big way. I've been playing ever since. I've had a lot of great successes in my life with the guitar including being ranked #3 in an international guitar competition sponsored by "Guitar Player Magazine", but I'm still just Robbie! When asked how I feel about my playing I just quote my old friend Chet Atkins: "I'm a little above below average or a little below above average". You can decide for yourself.

I'm building a Martin Dreadnought kit for a friend of mine.( First one I've built). So far the biggest obstacle I'm facing is getting the neck to fit correctly. Chet Dickerson has been very helpful showing me exactly what to do and how to do it. Thanks Chet for the advice. This is my 5th year on this guitar. Ha! I've had several obstacles along the way like playing and recording, but hopefully I'll have it finished soon.

Jim Thacker - on his Dulcimer

My Dulcimer (Fleurcimer) will be made of quartersawn red oak. The body will be 32" x 13 1/2".

I will use an Indian Rosewood veneer on the fingerboard. There will be 18 frets (including the 6 1/2 fret) for a total scale length of 27".

I had to kerf the curves and will strengthen those kerfed areas with West System 105 epoxy.

Jim's comments on his shopmade Steam Bender:

The steam chamber is a 36" length of 4" diameter PVC SCH 40 Pipe. The steam machine is a Wagner available at Lowe's.

The end is sealed with a wood cap and pull latches. I attached the rubber seal with contact cement.

There are two 1/8" lines for pressure relief and water draining.

The "Fishbone" is an internal rack to help keep the wood drier & help with removal of the wood from the pipe.

Steam Bender Steam Bender

Chet on his Zebrawood Guitar (aka "Guitar from Hell")

After everyone’s input, I plan to reset the neck angle on the “guitar from Hell” this week to make it more playable. That should wrap up that guitar.

On the initial neck angle alignment, the plane of the top of frets was aligned to the top of the bridge. This should ultimately be the alignment when the instrument is under string tension.

I forgot to compensate for the top raising a little under tension. So I will fix that and hopefully it will make the guitar a little easier to play.

Chet talks about his other projects:

  • Also working to finish my sons dreadnaught.
  • Repairs I’m working on: Cracked neck on a MK F-style mandolin/ re-glue bridge on a ’59 Gibson J-45.
  • Upcoming repairs I have to do- Cracked head stock on old German upright bass fiddle.
  • I also have a couple of my own guitars to do some repairs on when I get time -neck reset on a ’66 D-18/ refret and bridge plate replacement, level fretboard on a ’68 D-28

Larry's Nylon String OM

This guitar was the prototype for another guitar that I built for a friend. It started out with walnut back and sides, and a redwood top.

After cracking the walnut side at the tight cutaway bend, I successfully bent a piece of cherry, and the two tone guitar was born.

Nylon Nylon
Nylon Nylon

Larry's Cedar Top, Rosewood Back and Sides, Nylon String OM

I built this guitar for a friend, Rich Kalakauskis. It has a cedar top and rosewood B/S. Although it's a nylon string guitar, it has a neck width of 1-3/4" at the nut, like most fingerstyle steel string guitars.

It also has a two-way truss rod, side sound port, and a painting on the inside visible through the soundport.

Nylon Nylon
Nylon Nylon

Chet's Koa Dreadnought

Chet show off the body of a dreadnought in progress.

At left, Jack show off the Koa back.


Guitar Projects for Charity

We made these decisions:

We will make a steel string OM (no cutaway) for the "Bookbag Santa" charity.

We will design a guitar shape (to fit inside a standard size case) for the "Guitar for Vets" group.