Thursday, August 31, 2017

'The Chief'

Several months ago, I purchased a raw Goncalo Alves acoustic guitar back and side set, which caught my eye because of the interesting highly figured grain in the wood.  I wasn't sure how I'd use it in a design, but the pointed shape of the dark grain in the back led me on a journey in my mind that resulted in creation of 'The Chief', a tribute to one of my favorite Native Americans, Chief Joseph, the great Nez Perce leader.

Goncolo Alves is a hardwood sometimes referred to as tigerwood, a name that underscores the wood's often dramatic, contrasting color scheme, that some compare to rosewood. The wood's color deepens with exposure and age and even the plainer-looking wood has a natural luster. Brazil is the main exporter of this neotropical wood.

The primary construct of this guitar is slope-shoulder dreadnought design. The neck is mahogany with rosewood fingerboard and bridge, bison bone nut and saddle. ebony bridge pins and strap button, mahogany headstock overlay with arrowhead inlay created from scrap left over from profiling the back and sides. Grover black tuners draw Ernie Ball 10-50 strings across the frets. The top is cedar. Internally, spruce top bracing is like all guitars I create, which is based on the Martin Guitar pre-war (WWII) scalloped design, and typical ladder braces stabilize the back.

These closeup shots of the top and back demonstrate why it's named 'The Chief'.  I drew the art on the top, which was then burned into the wood.  The figure on the back carries the natural shape of an arrowhead.

The soundhole rosette is a combination of art, which in my mind forms a 'dreamncatcher'.

The broken cord on the deer antler is separated from the eagle feather on the lower bout, which represents the broken promises made to Chief Joseph by the federal government.

The circular birch branch bending around the sound hole opposite the antler signifies the great strength of the Nez Perce people.

The eagle feather is a symbol of strength and honor. It is of two parts light and dark, which represents daylight and darkness, summer and winter, peace and war, life and death. According to legend, the eagle feather tells the story of life,

I choose to believe the image of Chief Joseph on this guitar serves to express what I attempt to create in my guitars . . . strength, beauty, peacefulness, and a voice that will be heard, understood and appreciated.

I hope you enjoy it.

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