Some Feingold Pictures

As it happens… David Feingold has a recent guitar that I built earlier this year. David’s son, Jacob Feingold, is an accomplished photographer and he took some pictures of his dad with the guitar. They are really nice studies, or perhaps environmental portraits.

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For your consideration:Wood for rosette

Here’s some wood I am considering for use in the rosette of an upcoming guitar.

naturaal and died burls
Afzelia xlay
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Bach is Back…

I got a note from Rick, who was counting practice hours to see if he could get to 10,000.

“…I am still counting hours. I wish I were better at it but a good day begins and ends with Bach.”

Blaine, WA / USA – July 17, 2019: Illustrative Editorial shot of a music montage showing a classical guitar, music by Bach, a pencil and shavings, a nail file, old guitar strings and crumpled package, and a cup of coffee on a black background

Thank you Rick, for getting in touch, and for providing the description embedded in the great picture.

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NOT attending a festival…

Since the spring of this year, I have been planning to attend the California International Guitar Festival. I’ve done only one festival (in Vancouver, BC – in July) in the last few years and was truly looking forward to it.

Unfortunately I’ve had an illness and death of one family member in the last three weeks. Additionally, another family member is in home hospice comfort care…

I had a couple of nice guitars to share at the show, but attending the festival is just not in the cards.

The illness and death make me sad, along with not attending.

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A note on a guitar, from a new owner.

I got this note from the owner of a new guitar Carina Nebula.

… as for Carina Nebula, well I am thrilled by the name and the link to the James Webb telescope.   The picture does indeed look like the guitar rosette!    How did that come to be…intention?  Coincidence?   Artistic moment?   Everyone who sees my guitar comments on how beautiful it is and when I tell them the name and show them the photo, well, amazed is a good word.   I was tied up with the guitar festival and some visitors recently so I’m squeezing in guitar time but the difference in sound and ease of playing is striking.  It motivates me to try to play more beautifully (no blaming the guitar any more).



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French Polished Shellac

“French Polish” is the finish most often found on hand-built classical guitars.  French polish is a process, a combination of shellac and how it is applied to the guitar.  It is not a product that you can buy at a hardware store.  My purpose here is not to go into depth about the process, but to explain a few properties of this type of finish to those not familiar with it.

First, briefly consider other finishes.  A lot of “factory guitars” are finished with Nitrocellulose lacquer or Polyurethane that are sprayed onto guitars.  Those finishes can be pretty thick and tough and look glassy and glossy.  These finishes look good when new and are resistant alcohol, but they are not the best for sound (or in this beholder’s eye, beauty).   While anything is possible, these finishes are not easy to repair.

My guitars are French polished.  They sound better that way.  Also, I don’t have to have expensive specialize equipment to spray and to protect me from lacquer or poly, although I have brushed on lacquer once (enough).   I find lacquer very unpleasant to apply and during the drying/curing period!

  French polish is a “Spirit Varnish”.  The ingredients are shellac, alcohol, and some oil. Non-toxic and even edible ingredients! 

A carefully applied French polish finish is attractive, transparent, thin, and light.  Because of these attributes, French polish finish is much easier to scratch or dent.    Expect some dings and scratches.  You can minimize those by learning to handle guitars carefully and with respect.  If you touch the top with your nails, you can expect some scratches and dings.  We all do it, but we can learn to do it less often!  Some great players have guitars that look like they have been played hard, and others look immaculate after years of playing.  The first mark can be upsetting, (nobody knows this better than the luthier that applied the finish) but usually no real harm is done.

Sometimes people’s sweat, skin oils, and body heat (!) can mar the finish.  This is dependent upon individual’s body chemistry and habits.  The finish sometimes dissolves where the guitar touches the player’s chest or right arm.  This only happens to certain people who practice for hours on end.  Sometimes you might see players put a cloth between the guitar and their body, or wear a sleeve on their right arm to protect the finish where the guitar touches their body.

Heat is another enemy of French polished shellac.  Don’t leave your guitar in the sun, or in your car’s trunk on a hot day!  Don’t leave it right next to a heater!  The reasons go beyond damage to shellac.  I think I should make a post about threats to guitars in the near future…

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Carina Nebula – New Guitar

This is a guitar I built for Valerie in Vancouver. Dark cedar, dark East Indian rosewood. She studies with Stanton Jack in Vancouver.

This guitar: It’s great in so many ways. Some new pictures of the Carina Nebula by the new space telescope remind me of the rosette. Cosmic!

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On the bench – 640 Cedar

640 Cedar top (5 fan bar bracing I’ve been using on cedar for a few years).
Movingui back and sides. Body is my “Bebe” style. Just a bit smaller my typical full size, but not as small as my Torres FE 05. Very comfortable to hold.

My usual nut is 52 with string spacing of 43. At saddle 58, but I might go a but wider at the saddle.

Cedar 640 is not particularly rare for me. It’s my preferred scale length and has been for about 25 years!

I’ve been using Movingui for about 4 years, but this is the first time using the “Ribbon” grain figure.

This is a spec guitar, but it’s specs are such that I would like it! Probably will be strung up late July, and I plan to take it to California for a show in Sept.

I’m not sure yet about case and tuner options.

What do Cedar and Movingui sound like with this bracing? Here is just an example. Well my recent post has a nice example.

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Bolero (Arcas)

A simple hypnotic tune…

Not easy to play flawlessly, but William Bajzek makes it look easy. Besides enjoying classical guitar (and playing celtic flute) William likes to build electronic stuff. I like to build wooden stuff (guitars) and this is a beautiful cedar top with movingui back and sides.

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Left-handed complement?

I made a custom guitar for Jake Carlon in Pullman WA. Jake came to Blaine last summer to meet me and look at my shop and some of my woods. He expressed a couple of preferences then. First and most important, he plays lefty. Second, he wanted a Torres FE5 body. Third, he loved the Movingui that I had for back and sides. So I made him a guitar. He is a rare player in that he plays guitar with the strings reversed – Left Handed. Most guitars are optimized for fretting with the left hand and plucking with the right hand (right handed). Setting up a guitar for a lefty player enables them to play easily and in tune. Here’s what Jake wrote about his new guitar.

After spending some time for a few days with "Luz" I have to say this is incredible. This is one of the finest instruments I've ever owned/ played.
The Movingui looks absolutely stunning and goes so well with the Spruce, very handsome pairing. Overall aestetics are really tasteful and fun. The dark purfling and rosette is a wonderful contrast to the light color of the main body.

The tone is waking up more and more every time I go to play it and I can hear the harmonics and fundamental so clearly and the overall sound is incredibly clear. The whole register has a nice bold voice, and the top end really sparkles and doesn't become muted like other guitars sometimes do in the extremes of the registers. In comparison, my Cordoba sounds and feels so muddy and clumsy (guess that's what you get for buying a low end factory-made classical). 

Playability is perfect. Action is right and the slightly larger frets really make fretting and vibrato easier than the smaller standard frets. The smaller body size of the instrument is also great, easier to rest my arm on while playing and I don't feel like I'm losing circulation.

You definitely made a lot of my colleagues jealous when I brought it to school earlier lol. 
I want to say thank you for such incredible work and for making a real piece of art. I'm very glad I chose you to realize my new instrument.

I made a short video with pictures of Luz, played by Jake… He also wrote the tune!

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