Archtop Update, Pizza Pie

Time for some skillet licker pizza:  bacon-spinach with grated nutmeg, cooked up in the trusty Griswold #11 skillet.  YUM.


I’ve kept myself busy, refining my fretwork in class, rehabilitating the archtop at home, and getting in some great tunes and square dancing in the Twin Cities over the weekend.  My friends Bob and Julie had a great house party, with Old Time tunes in the kitchen, Cajun upstairs, Quebecois in another room, and so on!  We stayed up ’till almost 5am singing ballads and sea shanties…what a blast!  It was just what I needed.

As for the archtop, I’ve had my hands full attending to the most heinous faults: filling 19 holes in the headstock with mahogany plugs, installing the correct bushings and redrilling for the Golden Age reproduction tuners, and rebuilding the dovetail joint.



When I steamed the neck out, I discovered that this beautiful guitar was put together rather haphazardly.  The dovetail joint holds the neck onto the body, maintaining the correct extension height and resisting the pull of the strings.  In this case, the dovetail pin on the neck was badly gouged (it appeared to have been assembled that way).  With this much material missing from critical surfaces, it is no wonder why the neck had pulled away from the body.

I decided to rebuild the dovetail.  To do this, I chiseled away the gouged sections, leaving nice square and flat surfaces to splice in fresh mahogany.  Although this work will be hidden inside the headblock of the guitar, it is nice to know there is clean, respectable work in there.

Next step will be to carefully fit everything back together.  As the joint fit was rather poor to begin with, some careful shimming and carving will be required.  I can’t wait to hear what this guitar will sound like with a correct neck angle and solid neck-to-body connection.  Fun!

P1080589 P1080591

Fun with Fretwork, and Electric Set-Up, Oh My!

Another wonderful week of learning the Noble Arts, or at least working up some excellent set-up skills.  This week we began our Fretwork and Electric Set-Up sections.  This means we kept ourselves busy preparing a mock-up fingerboard, a fret end dressing file, practicing soldering techniques, etc.

Electric set-up seems straightforward so far, using the same care and attention we are accustomed to taking with our work.  We’ll zip through it efficiently, I expect.

For the weekend, Aaron and I had a great day in Minneapolis, playing old time music, eating tortas, then playing more music.  We made a visit to one of the great guitar shops in the Twin Cities, The Podium.

The Podium is a cool little shop.  Open since 1959, they now specialize in fine acoustic instruments such as Collings, Santa Cruz, Fairbanks, and Kopp guitars.  Since I’ve been fairly obsessed with 1930’s Martin and Gibson instruments, I was very impressed with the selection of beautiful vintage reproduction slope-shoulder dreadnaughts, L-OOs, etc.  Real nice folks, as well.  Check ’em out.


Peace, Land, and Bread

This past weekend, I went and visited some dear friends in Southwestern Wisconsin.  While I was down there, I visited an amazing guitar shop (Dave’s Guitars), square danced at Gays Mills, and visited a very innovative and interesting repair person named Kevin Duhse.  We also celebrated a birthday in country fashion with food and tunes.

Lilly with Leland

Liz, leland, and Lilly

Liz and Jesse

tunes with Jesse, Aaron, and Nate




Most excellently, I finally had the chance to meet my friend Jesse’s new son, Leland.  I had a great time and ate very well, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.


Day Two of the …

Day Two of the Guitar Program at Minnesota SE Technical College.

Day One of Tools Class had us first etching the tools with our initials,  then on to lapping flat the soles of our block planes, plane iron, and chisel backs.  A cutting edge occurs at the intersection of two flat, precise planes, so all of our cutting tools need to start life with perfectly flat backs and soles.

While the majority of my classmates purchased the Veritas block plane, I had the pleasure of reconditioning a Stanley 9 1/2 adjustable-mouth plane, with a Hock iron.  It flattened out nicely, and will perform about as well as the modern superhero handplanes.  To polish the backs of our irons and chisels, we adhered a very fine adhesive-backed sandpaper to our thick glass plates, then employed the flat, abrasive surface to annihilate all nicks and machine marks.  What is left is a flat, mirrored finish.

a very fine sandpaper is adhered to the flat glass plate. The plane iron can then be ground flat.

“good to go”

After a days work at the grindstone, it’s nice to take a sunset ride on the Schwinn Torpedo.