Tuesday, February 3, 2015

'Angelina' and Albuquerque

The Vintage Albuquerque auction to raise funds for Children's Arts Education in Albuquerque, New Mexico has once again asked me if I would create a special guitar to be auctioned in their special event June 24 - 28, 2015.  Of course, I said yes.  If you're interested in learning more about this wonderful event, go to www.vintagealbuquerque.org.

                    In the meantime, let me introduce you to 'Angelina'.  

The basis for the 'Angelina' build is a large Riunite wine box, which I acquired a while back with no special intention in mind. But when my friend Cate Stetson asked me to create another guitar for this year's auction, I knew just what I'd do.

The size of the body shouted 'acoustic', so the basic decision was easy. However, that was only a starting point.

The neck is a one-piece mahogany 'D' style bolt-on design complete with triangle shaped volute to give it character.  A rosewood headstock overlay, Corian nut and rosewood fingerboard with pearl position markers complete this part of the package.

As we move along in the description of the build, I'll try to point out the more interesting and necessary elements that went into creating what turned out to be a really nice sounding and very playable instrument.

                                                    Grover tuning machines tension the strings.

Traditionally, acoustic guitars are made from solid pieces of wood, but when creating something special, tradition sometimes takes a back seat.  Some would argue that only traditional methods produce playable instruments, but that is not always the case.  The body of this guitar is a box made from laminated pieces of Spanish cedar, and who knows what else makes up the three layers of sheet.

We'll get to the internal parts that make this playable in a moment, but until then let me explain the top.

The bridge is rosewood with Corian saddle. The sculpted pieces at the corners are crafted from mahogany to give life to the top. You'll note that the Vintage Albuquerque logo subtly appears in the top right-hand design. The other designs have various size circular openings, which I hope you will imagine to be bubbles in the wine . . . 'tiny bubbles in my wine, tiny bubbles make me feel fine!'

The wine box itself is well constructed with dovetail joints at the corners, but to further reinforce the construction, I added 'X'-style bracing to the inside of the top and lateral bar braces to the inside of the back.

The box top was originally hinged on one side for access, with clasps on the other side to secure the lid.  But, since the body had to be one piece, I glued the top in place and eliminated the hinges, but left the clasps in place. Of course this left the hinge side looking pretty naked, so I hand carved a couple mahogany grape clusters to accent things.  The contrast in color is a little less dramatic than in the reflected light on this photo, but the idea is visible.

On the tail end of the body, I wanted to do something that would accent, while keeping with the theme, so I cut out a grape leaf shape from a piece of Rosewood to match the fingerboard and headstock overlay.

The VA logo is included in this piece as well, to further the identity of the occasion for the creation.

I chose to create a stylized New Mexico State Flag to accent the back.

The center 'sun' cutout is a piece of Spanish cedar left over from a previous build.

And, the 'rays' are thin pieces of hickory cut into the shape of wine bottles and lightly stained, for contrast with the cedar back.

I could have gone the traditional  design route for the flag, but that's not what this guitar is all about.  I built it for a special occasion and the details needed to be a bit special, too.

The neck heel cap is a piece of Leopard wood separated from the mahogany neck by a  thin piece of Sitka spruce, which adds a little detail as well.

The finish is several hand applied coats of a mixture of Linseed Oil and Turpentine, which I chose at the suggestion of my friend David.  He thought the treatment on the raw wood could work well, like it does on fine furniture . . . he is correct.  The satin effect is an 'old glow' that is perfect for a piece of modern day folk art.

I hope the folks at Vintage Albuquerque like 'Angelina', I know I do, and it will be difficult to let her go. But, I know her new owner will enjoy her.

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