FAQ/Order, continued ...

How fast do you work?

Slowly. I build about 12 guitars per year. Normally I work on one or two at a time; sometimes three. I prepare neck blanks, fingerboards, bridge blanks, linings, heel and tail blocks, purflings and rosette materials, as well as a few other parts in advance and in bunches. I usually plant rosettes in half a dozen tops at a time. This gives me the advantage of a certain economy of scale, but when it comes to putting it all together and producing a guitar, there is no substitute for one-at-a-time. I suppose I could build faster but to try to industrialize the process much more than it already is can give no greater quality, and in the final analysis quantity has to be subordinate to quality (as long as it continues to put food on the table!).

What about scale length?

I build most of my guitars to the standard 650 mm scale length. In addition I build short-scale guitars, typically at 630 mm and 613.5 mm. There is a great range of hand sizes among guitarists. Finger length and width of spread can easily vary 25% between a man with large hands and a woman with smallish hands. Yet the difference between 650 and 613.5 is less than 6%. I commonly encounter the belief that scale-lengths of 645 mm or 640 mm are sufficient to accommodate players struggling with 650. There are surely players for whom these lengths are optimum, but I think the value of even shorter lengths is underrated. Take a guitar of 650 scale and capo at the 1st fret. You now have a scale length of 613.5. If your hands are small and you are having a struggle with 650, try this. In addition, if you can have a local luthier make a new nut for your guitar with closer string spacing, you might find an even better fit. (The normal string spacing at the nut is about 43-44 mm, E to E, center to center. A person with very small hands might benefit with spacing as close as, say, 37 mm. It is usually best to keep string spacing at the saddle unchanged, since no matter how small the hands, free-stroke playing requires about the same amount of space between the strings.)

I have great faith in shorter scale lengths and feel they have been unjustly "belittled" for having reduced power and volume. For people with smaller hands the increased playability could far outweigh any perceived loss of power. This loss can occur, in theory, because of reduced string tension or reduced box dimensions. Yet by using higher tension strings the first objection is overcome, and as for the effects of reduced box size, bigger is not always louder. Every design will have an optimum box size and shape to maximize volume, but a smaller box may actually increase projection or quality of sound. Some of the smaller Torres and Hauser I guitars faired quite well in the concert hall. These sizes are easy to adapt to shorter scale lengths. I reduce the size of the plantilla by only about 3-5 mm around the perimeter for both my 630 and 613.5 scale guitars. The sound can be very lovely and without one of my 650s for direct comparison, diminished volume is not obvious. Beyond compromised enjoyment, discomfort from too big a guitar can be a precursor to a repetitive stress injury. Without wishing to cause undue alarm, I think this possibility should not be taken lightly, and may often be obviated by playing a short-scale guitar. End of rant!

What options are available?

Standard Classical model ($10500): elevated fingerboard design with Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) back and sides, mahogany neck with headstock joined by a V-joint, 20 fret ebony fingerboard, and bridge with double-hole tie block. Flamenco model: traditional geometry with spruce soundboard, mediterranean or domestic cypress back and sides, cedro (Cedrella mexicana) neck with headstock joined by a V-joint, 19 fret ebony fingerboard and bridge with double-hole tie block. Sloane machine heads or wooden tuning pegs. The following scale lengths are available at no additional charge: 650 mm, 630 mm, and 613.5 mm. Soundboards are available in cedar, European spruce, Adirondack spruce, Engelmann spruce, Port Orford cedar, and redwood.They all have merit, though the great majority of my guitars are in European spruce and cedar. Back and Sides are also available in various other rosewoods, and maple (both Western big leaf and European). Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) is available, with an additional charge of $3500. African blackwood is $2500 extra. Cocobolo rosewood and Madagascar rosewood are $1500 extra. Sloane tuners are standard. Rodgers are optional at about $800 extra. Graf tuners are also an option from about $800 extra. Please inquire. Standard finish is French polish. The standard case that comes with my guitars is a good quality double-arched plywood case imported from Canada. As an option I can provide a custom-fitted Hoffee case for a very reasonable additional charge.

How do I order a guitar?

To place an order, call, e-mail or write. I need to know your contact information (phone, e-mail and snail-mail) and I will send you confirmation. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required. Any estimate of the waiting period is just that: an estimate. The future is beyond our control, and I ask for your understanding should your guitar be ready later (or sooner!) than predicted. However, if I cannot fulfill your order within a year of the predicted date, I will refund your deposit upon request. I will contact you when I am about to begin construction of your guitar. At that time we can finalize the details of construction, payment, and delivery. Full payment, including the cost of shipping, shall be paid in advance of taking possession of your guitar. Once you receive your guitar you will have a week to decide if it is right for you. If you are not completely satisfied with it you can return it for a full refund (less deposit). However, return shipping is your responsibility and I may also deduct from your refund an amount commensurate with any damage incurred while it is in your possession. The foregoing term does not apply to special orders that have non-standard features. In these cases the guitar must be paid for in full before construction begins, and there may be no return option. I will guarantee your guitar to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for one year after you purchase it, unless I have specifically stipulated otherwise. For example, if a crack should appear within the first year, and reasonable precautions were taken by the purchaser to avoid this problem, I will repair it at my expense. The owner, however, is responsible for shipping costs. At the present time, the price of my standard Classical model is $10500. Please inquire for information about my Flamenco guitars.

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