Sunday, April 20, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Denver Hub Article on April 17, 2014: As you know papers will edit the junk out of your trunk so I wanted to give you my full answers since I worked hard on them. Thanks, Marshwood Guitars
Correction in the article, my buisness address IS NOT at Red Rocks Community College it is in Golden
Something surprising about guitar building is the infinite mastery level. Meaning you may have built a hundred or more guitars but there is always room for improvement and innovations. I have told fellow builders I thought their work had reached the “mastery” level in their craft but I bet they would never say that about themselves which I think is cool. So there is a lifetime to improve, which of course, is not long enough.
What is your business’ biggest challenge? Marshwood Guitars, is really an “on the side” business. I spend forty hours a week working for a county park system and therefore only dedicate a hand full of hours a week to the craft. I have six total clients that I have built guitars for, over six years that’s about one per year. Of course I build prototypes and have a few on hand. All told I have built a total of twelve guitars. So here in lies the biggest challenge. How to make it a full time business? Can it even be a full time business? Realistically, not many folks are buying guitars from small builders. And that’s ok. There are people out there looking for something different, and I can hopefully help them turn their ideas into something unique and beautiful. From the building aspect, applying finish is the most challenging step for me as a builder. Getting colors and tones just right and the lacquer level and smooth is surprising challenging. Sometimes you have to sand it all down and start over and the entire process can take up to two months (for curing time). But when it comes out right it is worth all the hassle.
I built a custom guitar for Roy Ponce, a guitarist for the band Brainchild, out of Peoria, IL. It was rewarding because it started with a drawing he sent and materialized into a one-of-a-kind custom instrument. This is something I really enjoy: holding up the concept on paper next to the completed tangible instrument. And if that is not enough, seeing your client on stage with the guitar is a most rewarding feeling. It would be comparable to a fine oil painter sitting in a corner of a gallery watching people understand and enjoy his/her art. Brainchild came to Breckenridge and Denver in 2011 and I had the incredible time seeing them preform. To see Roy’s guitar in person head to the 2014 Summer C amp Music Festival, in Chillicothe, IL May 23-25. There is a great lineup this year! Adding personal touches to clients’ guitars is really fun and is another gratifying element I enjoy about building. I have included a figure from a fine art painting into the head stock, made from abalone and pearl as a surprise for a client (his own artwork). A Microbiology professional got a small strand of DNA on his 12th fret. My Dad, a navy retiree, got a ship’s wheel inlayed into the headstock of his acoustic. I like to inlay pearl inside of f-holes so there’s a little secret in there for the player to see. That’s the best part. It is a way to connect players to their instruments.
The biggest difference is other businesses probably make a profit. I’ll get there one day! Maybe another difference is my willingness to try materials that may not fit the traditional mold. In 2009, I acquired a board of blue stain beetle kill ponderosa pine. I thought it had potential to make a cool guitar top. It turned out great! It is a real Colorado guitar. I used Douglas fir as an acoustic top material (when spruce is the more popular choice) and it sounds wonderful too. I think I was inspired to do use these kinds of materials by Bob Benedetto. He is a world renowned guitar builder and in his book he took the time to build a construction grade pine topped archtop jazz guitar. Said it sounded and played just as good as any of his other guitars made from choice tone woods. I like that out of the box thinking and creativity.
Most guitar players and enthusiasts envision creating an instrument at some point, but most do not because the task seems impossible. When you hold an amazing instrument it seems like it was built in space then beamed down to your favorite store. That is how I felt, anyway. After many years of playing and tinkering, I was able to get started. I attended a two month guitar building course in 1999, after graduating from college. There I built an archtop jazz guitar and it helped me to realize it could be done. However, it was not until 2006, when I moved to Colorado that I really got into it. I became involved as a student and teacher assistant at Red Rocks Community College Department of Fine Woodworking. There I was able to create, study and trade ideas with a very talented pool of guitar builders, woodworkers and artists. I am still involved with the school today. And this is how I became involved in guitar building.
Friday, April 4, 2014
My Grandpa gave me this bass a while back. I have used it for recording for years but never took the time to give it the TLC it needed. The neck was sound but the body all beat up. I had a 8quarter poplar board just sitting around so I decided to make a new body for this bass. Should be fun!