I have been absolutely terrible for updating this section of my website in the last while - I aim to be better this year. I have been very busy making instruments in the last while. In early September, I finished the Cedar/Rosewood Mandolin I was working on in previous posts. I was very happy with it and it is now with it’s new owner in Belgium and both seem to be getting on great together.
In October, I had the joy of spending a week with Taran Guitars in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland making Springwell mandolins. It was a fantastic experience and I learned a huge amount from Rory, Zachie and Gemma.
Yesterday, I delivered the spruce/cocobolo bouzouki. It was my favourite instrument to date and included many new techniques that will now be standard on my instruments. It was lovely to be able to deliver it in person and to see John’s reaction to the first few strums. That’s why I love what I do!
In terms of builds that are in progress, Victoria’s guitar has been finished, fretted and is awaiting a bridge, machine heads and set up. I look forward to stringing it up in the next few weeks. I have also started 6 new custom builds for this year:
I’ve been pretty busy in the workshop these days and I’m very grateful for that. I’m currently working on Victoria’s guitar, a bouzouki in Spruce and Cocobolo as mentioned below, and a mandolin in Cedar and Indian Rosewood. All the sides are bent and the blocks glued to the bouzouki and the mandolin. The top and back are also braced and ready to be carved once the sides are completed. I’m having a lot of fun with these instruments and I’m very excited to see how they turn out!
I have been working on a bouzouki in Spruce and Cocobolo lately. It’s being made for a very talented carpenter. When he came to talk woods and try some of my instruments, we spoke about the wonders of wood and how much we both enjoy crazy grain and the natural wonders of wood. As a luthier, you often come across a top which has a great tap tone but looks a little too unique for a lot of people, as I did recently. Seeing as we both love mad grain, I decided to use this piece of spruce for this bouzouki.
To add to this top, I included my first mosaic rosette. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and I thought it fitting to use this on a carpenter’s bouzouki, as he deals with loads and loads of tiny pieces of wood a day. It’s an enjoyably challenging process, which takes more time than the average rosette, but totally worth the time! It includes eleven different types of wood: Cocobolo, Bog Yew, Yew, Bog Oak, Maple, Padauk, African Blackwood, Walnut, Mahogany, Ovangkol and Indian Rosewood. A fantastic way to use up scrap woods! I am now offering this type of rosette as an upgrade on all my instruments.
I recently completed two bouzoukis made from 5000 year old Bog Yew from the Boora Bog, Co. Offaly. Many thanks again to my friend Matt Lohan for sourcing this stunning wood and I’m delighted I got to make two bouzoukis from it, as well as a mandolin, that can be seen below. These two are paired with cedar tops. One is with maple ornamentation and one with yew ornamentations. The Yew comes from Carton House, Co. Kildare. Both are currently for sale. More info on my available now page.
I decided to make Victoria a guitar for her birthday, though it’ll probably be closer to her next birthday before I finish it. It’s a copy of a 1940 Gibson L-00 and I’ll be using a Sitka Spruce Top and Birdseye Maple back & sides. At the moment, the top and back have been joined and the shape is roughly cut out. The rosette is installed and the soundhole is cut out and bound. I’ve also glued the back reinforcement strip. I’m just about to make the mold, which is a dusty job! I’m very excited for this project.
Here’s a little sound sample of the recently completed Cedar/Bog Yew mandolin I made for Custy’s Music Shop. It was pre-ordered and bought before it reached the shop and I’m happy it has a lovely new home in Co. Waterford. I was very pleased with the sound and the Bog Yew grain is simply magical. More info about this mandolin here. This mandolin included my first three piece back, which myself and anyone who tried it liked. I have a set of Indian rosewood here that is suitable for another three piece back mandolin, which may very well become the next mandolin!