I recently finished the first batch of guitars for the new year. It was a fun group, Gibson inspired more than anything. I’ve really been getting into the hand rubbed sunbursts of some of the early Gibsons and got to try my hand at it again.
The most unique of the bunch was a seven string that I made for my friend Adam Kiesling. Adam is a great musician in Minneapolis. He mentioned to me a while back that he had been thinking about a seven string, with a low B for quite some time. Adam has an old Galiano six string, made by Antonio Cerrito, which has a 26 1/2″ scale. He plays a lot of upright bass and is a big dude, so the long scale doesn’t bother him. Having the low B string, it made it nice to have an extra inch on the scale. I used a .066″ for the low B and the rest of the strings are a light gauge set. The tuning is B,E,A,D,G,B,E.
I had a couple weeks to play around with the 7 string. It was definitely fun, though I kept messing up as the extra string kept me thinking that I was somewhere where I wasn’t. With continuous playing I’m sure I wouldn’t gotten used to it. There is definitely a lot of potential for open tunings. I look forward to hearing what Adam does with it.
The second guitar in the batch was a Fenezia six string for another great musician, Mark Rubin of Austin, TX. Mark plays all kinds of great music, from Honky Tonk to Klezmer, with all kinds of great musicians. He was looking for a guitar to cover that wide variety of music. After putting our heads together, this is what we came up with . It’s a great sounding box. Strung with medium gauge strings, it’s got a lot of bark and very nice bass. It’s going to be a real gem once it’s had some playing on it and has broken in.
Last but not least was a Loretta for Todd Albright of Toledo Ohio, a straight ahead bluesman. Todd gave me the instructions, “I just want a small guitar. I don’t want to tell you what to do, I don’t want to see any pictures. I want it to be a complete surprise when I open up the case.” I don’t think there are better words you could give to a craftsperson.
The night before I made the pickguard, I had a dream about some leopard skin fabric, and that was the inspiration for the pattern of the pickguard material. As Todd is an artistic dude, I though a black guitar would be fitting. I followed Orville Gibson’s lead, giving it a black top, but making the back, sides and neck red using a red varnish that I made up. It turned out to be a pretty hot looking little thing. Very fun to play with its short 24 1/4″ scale.