Construction

CONCEPT

My aim here, instead of shooting guitar designs and theme into the future, is to mix current and past craftsmanship combined with futuristic touches. For example I am studying ancient woodwoking, harp building, American Indian color staining, etc. At some point I will be building a guitar made strictly out of animal hide glue, stained with blueberry dye, and covered with a beeswax finish. I'm picturing a slew of guitars hanging on a castle wall or inside of some pyramid. Another example is that I recently built several harps of cyprus wood for the body, using olivetree wood for the nut base and saddle, then camel bone for the nut and bridge. Think Sumerian, Annunaki, Atlantian electric guitar players building axes on Earth with materials available 6000 years ago..

CONSTRUCTION

Construction of AGW guitars is straight forward and usually only found on high-end electric guitars. I don't use any duplicators or CNC routers. I build it all myself, one guitar at a time. I use a neck-through guitar design with attached body wings. I prefer the neck through design because it noticeably increases sustain or “string ring”. Neck through designs also allow the neck end of the guitar to influence tone a bit more for example headstock design and fingerboard wood changes are more apt to change the overall tone. These tone changes are subtle and can be experienced mostly by guitar players who run ‘direct’ into their amps, and process the signal later on. Guitar players who overdive their signal before the amp will notice these changes less.

STAGE OR STUDIO

A guitar concept can lean toward stage, lean toward studio, or a combination of both. Comfort while sitting has to do with body design while comfort while stand has to do with weight. What I try to do is build all my guitars for stage or studio or both. On occasion some buyers order two or three guitars and set them up for each chore individually. Changing woods, pickups, strings, and bridges for the most part. For example someone may wish for an all maple neck dual cutaway with a maple top and maple fingerboard. From there they will add three pickups. That design would be great for stage or studio but lean toward studio because of the added weight.  Then the same person may order a near identical dual cutaway in the same stained finish using a mahogany neck, mahogany body and a rosewood fingerboard. They would then add one split coil humbucker for the bridge. Although that guitar would serve great in the studio, less weight would make it great for stage.

NECKS

Necks can be any combination of wood but for the most part I use a three-piece opposing grain design made of maple or mahogany. I also offer a 5-piece neck. I use maple when a bright tone is desired or mahogany when a richer tone is desired. (please visit the tone page for my thoughts on design and tone). In the Adirondacks there are several great lumber mills and I am fortunate to be five miles from a large import/export yard of local and exotic woods. I personally head there once a month and hand select the woods to be used. Some woods such as maple need extra drying/curing times so I like to buy those woods in advance, rip them, then stack them for curing. Some of the wood I use has been ripped and sitting here for over five years. Again just about any type of wood desired I will use except for cocobolo. I finish all my necks with a Satin finish to ensure smoothness even in sweaty conditions.

MAPLE vs MAHOGANY (hardwood vs softwood)

Maple necks are bright in tone and are very strong resisting falls. The downside is that they are heavier and occasionally, being a very dense wood, tend to ‘move’ a few thousandths of an inch over time, losing some of the great ‘action’ or string closeness to the fret wire. This doesn’t always happen, but can happen depending on which part of the tree the board was cut from and what type of drying process was used. Mahogany on the other hand is a more ‘airy’ wood and is usually very stable once cut and leveled. Once setup, a mahogany neck can stay straight forever. Advantage is that they stay straight, are lightweight. Downside is that some guitar players prefer a very bright sound and mahogany loses this a little. Keep in mind this again is a subtle difference but all the woods, metals, body design and pickups together will effect tone and appearance.

NECK – BODY JOINT ANGLE

Depending on design, I sometimes tilt the body into the neck. This allows me to raise the bridge higher which in turn allows for a thinner body. Sure this means a lighter guitar but sometimes the neck becomes heavier than the body making the guitar ‘neck heavy’. Having the neck tilted allows for a lighter guitar but raising the bridge can be a bit more intrusive on the picking hand. This bothers some players but not others. These are just things to keep in mind.

CEMENTS

I typically use a water based wood glue for all materials. On occasion I may use hide glue which was used back in the day. Hide glue is basically a hardened animal skin which is then powdered and placed in a container. Adding water and heat turns the hide glue into a very effective glue for fingerboards. Keeping in mind the more glue in a guitar the less tone, this again is a subtle concern but should be mentioned. I keep this in mind during every build and make sure just the right amount of glue is used in every joint. Too much glue is just as bad as too little.

CUSTOM

I can design, co-design, and build just about any type of musical instrument. What was mentioned above is what I personally prefer and am familiar with. This doesn’t mean I do not wish to try new things or replicate something not mentioned. All requests are welcome.