Making a musical instrument is an amazing experience. Making a Spanish guitar with your own hands is even a major challenge. For many people, something impossible, but that is far away from truth. It is true that to really master the job you will need a lifetime of dedication, discipline and passion, but you don't need special skills neither belong a special artisans elite to really enjoy and have fun making your own musical instrument.
The experience lived by Eduardo Esquivias during the One to One Guitar Making Course is what we are going to share in this article. Eduardo had never built a Spanish guitar before and he arrived to the workshop with very little experience in this job, but he have the most important: determination, interest and the attitude to learn and enjoy. Six days later we will try him to get back home with a professional concert guitar with a high quality level both in sound and aesthetics. ¿Impossible? ¡Let's try and we will make it happen!
¡Let's get started! Early in the morning, there is a lot to do. First mission is to build a neck. We cut and plane the Spanish Cedar and its smell is all around the shop. We prepared the pieces that will make the heel, the headstock and the neck. The top will also be Cedar, but Western Red Cedar from Canada, a superb wood for a Spanish guitar that will provide a warm, sweet but powerful sound, full of expresiveness. The plane sharpened like a barber edge left the table full of shavings. We installed the rossette and while the glue cures, we started working on the sides. They will be made out of East Indian Rosewood, really dark and hard with its typical fruits smell. Here we discover the cabinet scraper... our favourite tool! We won't stop using it any single day. Today it will help us to leave a perfect surface on the sides before bending them... a process that scares many people, but it actually turned out like a piece of cake. We have spent all day long working, but we are not tired, we have really enjoyed the day! A total success! Neck, top, back and sides on their wey! That's almost all parts of the guitar! Now it is time to rest and enjoy the local food and take a refreshing drink!
We will continue tomorrow... will we be able to complete the challenge?
Yesterday we achieved all of our goals and today we have to do the same looking towards Wednesday, the key day. The top took most of the day, it is the guitar acoustic engine so it well deserve our best attention to the details. The bracing will be a classical Torres pattern together with a Western Red Cedar top and East Indian Rosewood back and sides. Really interesting the student proposal of making a classical guitar but with Ebony wooden pegs. Also the head will be dressed with a stunning two tones Ebony that really shows up on a very simple but elegant headstock shape. Almost all parts are ready to be assembled tomorrow! Another great day! We well deserve some delicious tapas at D. Antonio’s bar!
Box is closed! On this key day, we achieved our goal so my most sincere congratulations to this student, from whom to be honest, I am learning even more. The day was long and aside from closing the box, the most exciting moment was installing the label, he cannot hide it, you just need to look at his smile! More than a hundred pieces put together inside the guitar and it was a hard task to prepare, install and polish everything perfectly before closing the guitar and define the musical universe it will contain. Despite the fact the work was hard, it was really worth it. Tomorrow we will continue and our goal is even more ambitious… leave a completed guitar except the bridge. That’s a lot!
Today we worked on the bindings, fretboard and bridge. These three pieces tell us we are approaching the end of the building. Bindings for this guitar will be curly maple, a beautiful wood that will embellish the edge of the guitar. It a harder to work wood, more than rosewood is, but we will install them anyway. Installing the binding and purflings is a key task because any error will magnify under the finish and will ruin all the previous work. Same applies to the fretboard, one error on the calculations and after that... well you will have a guitar that cannot be tuned properly! Luckily everything went smooth like silk. The bridge is on the way also and the goal is to glue it on tomorrow, fifth day, the moment when the build finishes and we start the French Polish. To top the day off, we made a guided night visit to Ubeda with María Jesús Rodríguez from VisitaUbedayBaeza.com, graduated and a true expert in our city heritage. It was a an exquisite visit and we enjoyed and learned to recognize the worth of the huge and rich cultural and arquitectural heritage of Úbeda, declared a World Heritage site together with the near Baeza. Now it is time to rest because tomorrow we will have a very long day!
To top the day off, we made a guided night visit to Ubeda with María Jesús Rodríguez from VisitaUbedayBaeza.com, graduated and a true expert in our city heritage. It was a an exquisite visit and we enjoyed and learned to recognize the worth of the huge and rich cultural and arquitectural heritage of Úbeda, declared a World Heritage site together with the near Baeza. Now it is time to rest because tomorrow we will have a very long day!
Impossible but... we got it! Congratulations to Eduardo for his determination and the efforts he's put in this project. It was a pleasure to have such an student, because to be honest, the one who learned the most was, without any doubt, me. Glueing the bridge is the last step during the building stage and despite the fact there is a long process of finishing, we have something to tie the strings in and allow this guitar to show the sound inside her. Before glueing the bridge we sanded and detailed and polished every single square inch of the instrument. Tomorrow we will enjoy a relaxed day and we will apply the first coats of shellac and we will discuss about the process of French Polishing. Now let's enjoy dinner and a well worth it rest. We will allow to bridge to sit and the glue to cure overnight and tomorrow we will find out how this guitar sounds!
Today it was the French Polishing day. It is an art by itself, a job that requires as much as discipline and dedication as the guitar making art. The traditional finish with shellac and a "muñequilla" or pad, also known as French Polish, is a long process that my end up taking over 30 days. But most of those days a very repetitive and there is no need to extend the course. During today we practiced the basic techniques to apply and work the shellac, how to fill the pores using the traditional pumice stone and some other moder techniques, like the grain fillers provided by our friends from nitorlack.com. The detailed work of sanding and polishing we did yesterdar will be the key when finishing, because other wise, the smalller imperfection would be seen huge now under the first coats of shellac. Again, contratulations to Eduardo and my most sincere thanks to all the people who makes this project possible and those one who followed the history. To everybody, THANKS!
Below you will find a few pictures from the last day, a gallery with photos of the completed instrument and also a video to sumarize the project. Enjoy it!
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