Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Short Break

I'm having a short break and will be away from the workshop from May 25th until June 6th.
 Here's a picture of a sexy Telecaster to keep you going in the mean time.



Cheers
    Glyn

Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand
09 307 6501, 021 912678

Monday, 7 March 2016

10 String Lap Steel






Towards the end of last year I got a call asking if I could make a 10 string lap steel guitar. Why not I thought.

 In their simplest form lap steels are very simple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ7DZ7HPXck

 I wanted to be a tad more sophisticated with mine. This might be a simple instrument but the components and construction still make a difference to the sound. It's a fretless electric guitar with a high action - the wood, bridge, nut and electronics are just as important as for a LesPaul or Stratocaster. Well that's how I look at it anyway.
 I decided to design it with a cool old traditional vibe - Empire State meets LeMans which sounds like I'm mixing my decades but there's a boldness of line in common that I like.



 I combined 2 woods, Paulownia and Australian Blackwood.
 I wanted a hard wood (Blackwood) to both emphasize the high frequencies and help transmit vibrations along the instrument and help it sustain. It gives it structural strength too.
 The soft Paulownia is great for lower frequencies, warms up the bass and mids and adds an almost reverb like quality to the note.
 Blackwood on its own would make a harsh sounding heavy instrument with too much treble, Paulownia on its own, wooly and undefined without enough structural strength. But together, they really work.
 They give a nice colour contrast too with the darker stripes running right through the instrument.
 For the fingerboard I chose a piece of Swamp Kauri (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swamp_kauri). This is one of the oldest workable timbers in the world. I don't know how old this piece is, I'd need to get it carbon dated, lets just say a few thousand years. It's frequencies lie between the other two woods and it's a beautiful colour. It gives the player something pretty to look at. We're lucky here in NZ to have some fantastic timbers. I inlayed fret markers and some chequered stripes into it.




I chose aluminium for bridge and nut, it has a lively, quick response. Steel feels like it reacts slower. I think that extra mass just takes more string energy to get it moving. I used long screws to mount the bridge deep into the wood - that coupling is important.
 I made the P90 style pickup from scratch using alnicoII magnets and fibre board. I wound it as I would a conventional P90, ties the ends off and then wound a couple of thousand extra turns of thin wire on top.
Using a switch the extra turns can be added. So it can go from a traditional chiming pure sound to a grunty, dirty powerful blues tone at the flick of a switch - two pickups in one.
 I got the pickup cover 3D printed, remember this is a 10 string, parts just aren't available.




  I had the decals made up in a groovy font - I usually inlay my guitars but the decal suited this one better.




 I finished it in shellac so as not to stifle any of the sound I'd worked hard to achieve.There's no point in making a light, resonant instrument and then stifling it with thick polyurethane just for the sake of ease.

 By now I'd gone way over the usual spec for a lap steel (I just can't help myself) but I do think it's an instrument that needs to be taken more seriously.
 I'd come in exactly on budget but a week over time.

He seemed pretty happy with the end result.






 ………………………………………………………………………………………….

Feel free to contact me, the workshop phone is always the best 09 307 6501.
If I don't answer don't be shy to leave a message, it's not easy picking up the phone sometimes.
I very rarely check emails these days, I never seem to find time.


Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand

09 307 6501, 021 912678

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Multiscale Guitars - what's it all about?



Recently I've been making a few acoustic guitars. Some have been custom orders and some to have at the workshop for sale.
But until now I haven't made a multiscale guitar. I've been interested in multiscale guitars for a while but have never played one. I find the idea of them very appealing so I just had to try one out.


 As you can see the frets, nut and bridge are not parallel.
The idea behind it is so much more than a gimmick - there's a lot of sense in it.
It's all about scale length - the distance between nut and bridge.
Scale length plays a huge part in the tone of the guitar. To put it in electric guitar terms - ever wondered why a Strat and a Les Paul sound and feel so different? One of the main factors is scale length.

 A Strat has a longer scale length than a Les Paul (25.5 inch to 24.75inch). To tune a longer string to the same pitch it needs to be tighter. So a Strat has more string tension than a Les Paul for the same gauge strings in the same tuning.
 The result is, the bass strings of a Strat have a lovely chime where as the Les Paul bass strings can be a bit woolly (especially when tuned down).
 But the more taught treble strings of a Strat can be a bit pingy where as the Les Paul treble strings really sing.
 So it makes sense to build guitars with a combination of scales. PRS use a 25 inch scale length to try and get the best from both. But that doesn't solve the problem, it just compromises on both bass and treble.
I decided to build this guitar with a 25.625 bass string and a 24.75 treble with the scales converging at 12th fret.

 It's not a new idea - not at all, it's been around since the 16th century.

The guitar is constructed slightly differently to allow for the different scales. I've off set the internal braces and bridge plate.



 I carved the braces to free up the bass side and help the treble project.



The body is of Australian Blackwood,Cedar top and Mahogany neck with a traditional tapered dovetail neck/body joint. The headstock has been modified to accommodate the angled nut.





I use the traditional tapered dovetail neck/body joint.



And does it work? Well, ... yes.

I'm delighted with the result. The bass is clear, the treble is punchy but warm, there's a well balanced mid range.
 Having each strings at its ideal tension means it intonates superbly. - I'm chuffed.

From a players perspective - how does it feel? I imagined it would take a bit of getting used to, but not so. The biggest surprise has been how easy and natural it is to play.
 So far a few people have played it and they've all found it feels natural.
Dylan Kay (http://www.aucklandguitarschool.co.nz/) popped in the other day and he loved it.



This guitar is residing at my workshop (until someone buys it) - pop in for a play. And of course if you'd like a custom made guitar... (especially a multiscale)
 Cheers
    Glyn



 ………………………………………………………………………………………….

Feel free to contact me, the workshop phone is always the best 09 307 6501.
If I don't answer don't be shy to leave a message, it's not easy picking up the phone sometimes.
I very rarely check emails these days, I never seem to find time.


Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand

09 307 6501, 021 912678

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Guitar Tuners


Guitar tuners are a fantastic tool. There are lots of them out there, these are just the ones I use.

For a handy (and surprisingly accurate), go anywhere tuner I use the PitchLab (free) app on my phone. Microphones on phones are great at filtering out unwanted background noise and this tuner is simple to use and has a great display (as well as other stuff you don't need). I find I use it all the time - tuning a ukulele at home, a guitar at a mate's house, wondering what pitch the chickens squawk at...



On stage I use the old faithful Boss TU-2. It's robust, the lights are bright, it's accurate enough and doesn't flicker about or give false readings. It's hard to fault the TU-2 for live use.

Boss TU-2

My workshop tuner, however, needs to be the best I can get. My own pitch hearing is pretty average but some of my customers are very sensitive to pitch.
 My workshop tuner needs to be better than my most sensitive customer. So I use the Peterson Strobosoft.
 I have a computer under the workbench solely dedicated to running the tuner. I run all the cables under the workbench so there's less in the way.
 It's a fantastic system, a bit much for the most players but in my situation it is unbeatable. You can get Peterson tuners in NZ from www.heywiremusic.com


 I just plug a short cable into the edge of the bench - the switch gives me tuner/amp/both. This minimises the amount of wire to get tangled.


Cheers
     Glyn


 ………………………………………………………………………………………….

Feel free to contact me, the workshop phone is always the best 09 307 6501.
If I don't answer don't be shy to leave a message, it's not easy picking up the phone sometimes.
I very rarely check emails these days, I never seem to find time.


Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand

09 307 6501, 021 912678

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Custom Acoustic Guitar




My friend and long time customer Shannon Coulomb (www.facebook.com/sematics) popped into the workshop late last year. He's a great player with a fantastic ear so I was keen to get his opinion on one of my handbuilt guitars.
This was the one he played:


It has a Carpathian (European) Spruce top, Australian Blackwood back and sides and Mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard and bridge. I use bone nut and saddle and stainless steel frets.
 I inlay a Piwakawaka (fan tail) in the headstock, otherwise I like to keep it simple.


Carpathian Spruce has a lovely balanced tone with sensitive, strong treble, a chimey bass and just enough mids.
 Australian Blackwood (NZ grown in this case) has similar characteristics to Rosewood.

The materials used are only part of the story, design and construction methods are equally important. You can't buy a guitar purely on the 'spec' of its component parts. That's fine for buying a phone or computer but a guitar made of the best timber but poorly built will not be a good guitar.  The skill, knowledge and experience of the maker are the most important factors.

 I like to build my guitars light - that way they react quickly and sound lively and full - I want them to "fly".

Shannon seemed to rather like the guitar, he was back a few weeks later for another go.

Then in August he was back again, he'd been around all the Auckland shops trying out guitars and couldn't find just what he wanted. So he commissioned me to make him a guitar just like the one he'd tried only with a tiny wee bit more bass.
 So to achieve this I've decided to make his guitar's body slightly deeper across the lower bout.

 Here are a few pictures of the construction process. I haven't finished his guitar yet, but some 'bare bones' pics might be of interest.


 Here are the two bookmatched halves of the back getting glued together with the centre strip.



I mainly bend the sides in my heater side bending machine then finish them off free hand with a bending iron.


The box is coming together.


I've inlaid a very traditional herringbone rosette.



All the braces are jointed together. Most guitars I see have the braces just butted up to each other or even just close. I cut all joints to fit snugly - even the bridge plate. This is much stronger and means the top and braces can be built lighter.


On this guitar I'm using a traditional 'X' brace configuration. All braces are quarter sawn spruce.


 The advantage of a handmade guitar over a factory, mass produced one is in the bracing. I 'tune' the top to match the properties of its components as well as what the customer requires. This is the really fun part - shaving the braces with thumb plane and chisel until its 'right'.
It's a shame all the clever stuff is tucked away inside.


 The neck is mahogany. Here's the heel very roughly shaped - there's a still a long way to go.


If you're interested in a guitar I always have examples of my work at the workshop.



Cheers
     Glyn


 ………………………………………………………………………………………….

Feel free to contact me, the workshop phone is always the best 09 307 6501.
If I don't answer don't be shy to leave a message, it's not easy picking up the phone sometimes.
I very rarely check emails these days, I never seem to find time.


Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand

09 307 6501, 021 912678

Saturday, 7 June 2014

New Workshop

I have moved workshop - but I'm just next door to the old one.
The new place is still down the alley between the buildings at the top of Khyber Pass Road.


But now I'm at the end of the driveway.
Walk 10 paces past the old workshop and there it is - my fancy new place.


 I've got a bit more space, fantastic natural light and it's quieter. I've been able to design this workshop specifically for my needs. I have a store room with racking to keep guitars safe and a main work area. It's got a great creative feel to it.
 Here are some pics:
 






Hope to see you soon

 Glyn



 ………………………………………………………………………………………….

Feel free to contact me, the workshop phone is always the best 09 307 6501.
If I don't answer don't be shy to leave a message, it's not easy picking up the phone sometimes.
I very rarely check emails these days, I never seem to find time.


Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand

09 307 6501, 021 912678

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Strap Locks

Just a thought on Strap Locks.
There are a lot of strap locks out there and most of them work well.
My favourite of the 'bought' ones are Schaller.
I don't use any of them though. I learned this little trick years ago:

'98 Les Paul std


They're bottle seals from the homebrew shop round the corner from my workshop. They're cheap (20 cents each!), easy to fit and after hundreds of gigs have never let me down. I have a different strap for each guitar and never take them off.
Any strap lock is only as good as the mounting screw so check yours regularly especially with a heavy guitar like a Les Paul.

 Just a thought

     Glyn

 ………………………………………………………………………………………….

Feel free to contact me, the workshop phone is always the best 09 307 6501.
If I don't answer don't be shy to leave a message, it's not easy picking up the phone sometimes.
I very rarely check emails these days, I never seem to find time.


Workshop Hours

Mon……. 8-6
Tues……. 8-6
Wed…….. Closed
Thurs …..8-6
Fri ……….8-6
Sat/Sun ..Closed

Mr Glyn’s Guitars

  21B Khyber Pass Road
Auckland
New Zealand

09 307 6501, 021 912678