I Don’t Do Craft, Me …

April 1, 2011

But, fortunately, the Luthier who’s building my new guitar, Dave White, doesn’t just do craft – he does it superbly.

And building a guitar isn’t just about glueing some bits of wood together and adding strings. It’s about bending wood to the right shape, individually siting and shaving the support struts on both the back and the inside top to make sure that they are placed not just where they can add strength to the build but also where they will bring out the best of the tonewoods on which they are sited. For that you don’t just need tools, you need artistry and a 6th sense.

Dave reckons it’ll take about 3 months to complete my Sybil Iúr which should give her a few weeks to ‘breathe’ before being handed over.

The thing is, all guitars start off as a collection of bits of wood and other stuff. In three months’ time, Dave will have crafted me a guitar. This is what he’s starting with:

Good luck Dave!

Yew’ll Never Walk Alone – but Olive Would

March 23, 2011

You know my guitar? The one that’s being built for my 50th?

Remember how everything was sorted and I had decided on the woods?

I’d even decided on the soundboard inscription (Dave gets a quote, translates it into Gaelic and inscribes it on the inside of the soundboard – it can’t be seen; but you know it’s there). I’d decided on “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

Well, Dave White (www.defaoiteguitars.com) contacted me yesterday to let me know that the Tasmanian Olive Wood had arrived – along with a really nice set of English Yew – what did I think?

Well, I can’t make up my mind. this is what a guitar with yew back and sides can look like:

Yeah, I know, gorgeous, isn’t it? And Yew has such a ‘religious’ history – being planted in many church yards to ward of evil spirits.

It was also used to make English Longbows and is, I am told, the wood of choice for wands and ‘anti-vampire’ stakes.

It is a fairly rare wood to use in guitar making as the Yew tree doesn’t grow straight and, to get a piece that’s big enough for a guitar means that the tree from which it came must have been hundreds of years old – and most of them were cut down to make Longbows. I am reliably informed that it’s not a particularly easy wood to work with, either.

And there’s something quite edgy about playing a guitar that’s poisonous…

So, what do I do? Tasmanian Olive Wood (which, by the way, isn’t really Olive Wood – but when we sent our criminals over there, they just named it olive wood because that’s what it reminded them of most) or English Yew?

Below are the two samples – Olive wood on the left and Yew on the right. What do you think?

Olive Wood

English Yew