Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuning the Top

I missed two classes since my last post, but I returned to find I wasn't as far behind as I feared. My classmates are definitely ahead of me, but there's some comfort in at least having an excuse for it now. And I made quite a bit of progress yesterday, so I feel pretty good about things. The excitement of getting closer and closer to putting the box together keeps building and even though I still have a long way to go, the progress every week is tangible, and as difficult as it is for me to believe, it's getting hard to see how I could wind up with something other than a really nice guitar.

Right now I'm working on tuning the top, which is a crucial part of coming up with a good
sounding instrument. Little by little, I'm carving away the excess wood on the top braces. I still have quite a bit of carving to do, but I'm at the point now that I need to stop occasionally, hold the top to my ear and tap it to see how the wood vibrates. Already I can tell a difference each time I remove more of the wood, and the sound gets clearer and sustains longer the more I carve. The goal is to continue to remove excess parts of the wood braces until get just the sound I want.

I really love this part of the process, because it's
the part that makes the difference between a hand made instrument and one produced in a factory. Each step of the way is a decision based on feel. There is no equation, no set of defined steps and no finish line. Just a process of carving, tapping, carving some more and waiting until you feel the sound is just what you want.

I'll probably be working on this step for a couple of more weeks, but I'm just going to take my time with it. A few years from now I'll sit in my living room playing this guitar, and the work I'm doing on it right now will play a big role in determining how big a smile I'll have on my face.

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