October 2000 Meeting

October 2000 Highlights

Our October LINT meeting was held at Ed Shaefer's shop in Hillsboro, TX. We had our largest attendance of the year, with a total of sixteen folks showing up for our meeting. Included in this total were four first timers.

In addition to seeing a couple of Ed Schaefer's wonderful archtop guitars, five people brought instruments to show to the group.

Chris Jenkins brought in one of his palor guitars that he had built for Folk singer Sara Hickman (shown above right with Steve Kinnaird).

Although Chris was a bit apprehensive about Sara's request for a green guitar, I think the final result works very well. Chris' attention to detail and fine craftsmanship continues to amaze us all.

Bo Walker brought in a guitar that he designed specifically for song writing. Bo's client is a Texas songwriter who is a fairly small guy and finds it uncomfortable to write songs while wrestling a dreadnought. The guitar has a body shape and depth that was custom fitted to the client so he could reach over the guitar to write. The scale length was also shorten to accommodate his small hands. After all of these changes, Bo built a very traditional looking and fine sounding instrument that most importantly, the customer loves.

John Timblin brought in his third guitar (shown left).This guitar is still in the finishing stages. It is a model John calls "Fat Bottom Girl". This guitar has a Spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides. I'm sure we'll get a chance to see and hear the finished product at an upcoming meeting.

John Fitzgerald also brought in the latest in his line of Perretta guitars, www.perrettaguitars.com. This one John calls his SMP Model (below right). It is a small parlor sized guitar (13" lower bout) with a Sitka Spruce top and Mahogany back and sides. This is a beautiful little guitar with an amazingly full voice.

Steve Kinnaird came in all the way from Nacogdoches, TX and brought with him a recently completed Koa 7-String flattop (below). Steve uses Koa for the back and sides as well as the neck. The guitar has a wonderful full sound. It was a shame that we didn't have a seven string player present to allow us to hear the full potential of this instrument.

Once the Show and Tell was over we got down to main presentation of the meeting. Ed Schaefer walked us through is entire finishing process. Ed was is the painting and finishing business for 20 years before he started building guitars full time, so he knows what he is talking about.

Ed was quick to point out that like virtually everything else in guitar building, his finishing method is not the only method, but its the method that works for him. Here are some of his thoughts on guitar finishing:

Surface Preparation is the single most important step in the finishing process. He sands down up to 320 grit sandpaper. Prior to his first coat of finish, Ed masks off the fingerboard using masking tape (Ed uses the green masking tape specifically designed for lacquer finishes). For the finish, Ed uses only Lawrence-McFadden's nitrocellulose lacquer. Ed sprays it directly from the can or thinned up to 25%. He doesn't feel this lacquer needs to be thinned any more than that. Ed doesn't use any type of vinyl sealer or sanding sealer on his instruments. It should be noted that all of Ed's guitars are built using closed pore wood (maple), if you are building using an open pored wood that requires filling, such as rosewood or mahogany, you may want to consider using a sealer of some type. Ed's first coat is pretty heavy after the lacquer is dry he does a very light sanding with worn-out 220 grit sandpaper. This is the only sanding Ed does prior to the rub out. If color is to be added, it is added after this first coat. After the color, Ed sprays 5 to 6 coats of clear lacquer. He then lets the guitar cure for 30 days (he has pushed it to 15 days). For the rub out Ed goes through MicroMesh from 1500 grit to 12000 grit. After the 12000 grit MicroMesh, very little buffing is needed to bring out the final gloss.

After Ed's finishing demonstration, we talked about the different methods of acoustic instrument amplification. Several different methods were discussed, under-saddle transducers, magnetic soundhole pickups and soundboard transducers. The most common systems used by or members seemed to be under-saddle systems made by L.R.Baggs and Highlander. We also discussed whether or not these systems should have an onboard or outboard preamp system. While no definitive consensus surfaced, we did all agree that none of these systems perfectly reproduces the sound of an acoustic instrument. The sound expectations and volume requirements of the customer will remain the most important factor in determining the setup used for any instrument.

After we finished our time in the shop we all moved outside to enjoy a pot luck supper. I was initially worried that we might not have enough food, that turned out not to be the case. Believe me, everyone had more than enough to eat and drink. Based on the way some of us were moving afterwards, we probably didn't need to eat for two or three days.