wood storeroom


Welcome to the Faq/Order page. If you have Questions that are Frequently Asked, they might be answered here. If you are interested in purchasing a guitar please read carefully the options and terms given toward the bottom of this page. Call me at (707) 459-4068 or send an e-mail and I will be happy to discuss the details. You may also wish to visit to see my work firsthand. I look forward to hearing from you. If it is more convenient, you may find one of my guitars for sale at Guitars International in Cleveland, Classic guitars in Santa Barbara, or Kirkpatrick Guitar Studio in Baltimore.

What do your guitars sound like?

Try listening to CDs or recorded sound files (some are available on the Media page) of my guitars. This can be very deceptive, though. If you don't have access to a recent guitar (try the dealers listed above), here is my two cents on sound. Recording conditions, player technique, and when the instrument was made all have mitigating influences on what you hear. Here is what I work toward: a big sound, very even and sustaining, of great clarity and depth, yet warm and dark. I look for a quick lively response, fundamental support for every note, and the ability to easily shape the sound, both with vibrato and color. It should also have a shimmering brilliance when called upon, that carries to the back of the hall. I want the sound to come out effortlessly, but there should be enough headroom to really push the dynamic range. Do any of my guitars have all these qualities in spades? Perhaps not, but this is what I strive for as I build, and for which I make conscious design decisions. Some of these qualities are often thought of as representing tradeoffs, such as volume and sustain; or clarity and warmth. It is often possible to overcome these limitations, though sometimes at the expense of other qualities. Designing and constructing a guitar with a full plate of desirable attributes is a subtle balancing act. I approach it with whatever advantage experience and intuition has bestowed upon me.

Do you teach guitar-building?

I have given workshops in the past, and intend to again. At present I have nothing planned. I also offer the opportunity to learn one-on-one in my shop. This is tailored to the needs of the individual, but generally consists of spending several intensive days watching and taking notes while I work and teach in the normal flow of my production. Contact me if you wish to discuss the possibilities.

What about strings?

I typically use D'Addario J-46 (hard tension) or J-45 (medium tension) strings. String choice is highly personal. However, my guitars usually work best with medium or medium-hard tension strings. Too stiff and the sound is "choked". I set the intonation for medium to hard tension nylon strings. Savarez Alliance, and Hannabach or Hense "carbons" will be slightly overcompensated with my normal setup, though you may not notice a difference. If you are in love with these strings, let me know in advance and I will make the appropriate adjustments to nut and saddle intonation.

Why French polish?

O. K., here's what's wrong with French polish. It's not as smooth and shiny as glass (usually). It is so thin that it gets scratched just by looking at it. It degrades where it comes in repeated contact with skin and perspiration. It is labor-intensive to apply. Now here's what's right with French polish. It has a warm, non-industrial appearance that is compatible with, and enhances, the organic nature of the underlying wood. It is very thin and, of all the finishes, it gives the most transparent quality to the sound. With time (months to years) it becomes less susceptible to scratching and chemical degradation. It is also very easy to "refresh" and make "new" again, though scratches that have damaged the underlying wood will not be completely eliminated. It also has the merit of being the traditional finish of guitars for hundreds of years. Not least, from my perspective, is that the solvent, alcohol, is relatively benign. I have used water-borne urethane and acrylic lacquers in the past. I can't say I won't use them again, at least on back, sides, and neck, but neither can I say when that might be.

Spruce or Cedar?

It has been my observation that players who are used to spruce find it more to their liking; and those used to cedar prefer it. Part of this seems to have to do with the sound we expect to produce. Part seems to be that different techniques are required to obtain the best sound from each. It often takes some time to adapt the appropriate right hand follow-through to compliment each wood. There is a tactile difference here, perhaps related to the generally quicker development of the note in cedar. Beyond this, the sonic differences are subtle. For many players it is not hard to feel the difference but as a listener it is easy to be fooled. In general, spruce is clearer, yet with a denser, more complex sound and longer sustain. Cedar is "punchier", often with more headroom and is sometimes described as "darker". It may seem louder to the player but in large halls spruce often carries better, perhaps because of its clarity. Spruce is usually more colorful. These distinctions are subtle and not always apparent. Both woods can make great guitars. I personally tend to prefer European spruce, but North American spruces, particularly Adirondack and Engelmann, can be very attractive. Likewise, coast redwood and Port Orford cedar can make excellent guitars.

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