This eight string guitar holds deep personal meaning for me. Choosing the wood was one of the last things Laura and I did together before I headed west. She looked so beautiful in the sunlight as we drove together down Route 29 along the Delaware River. I always fall in love with her all over again, each time I see her.
We wandered isles of flitches, tap-testing and evaluating figure before deciding on this crotch slab from an old-growth walnut taken down in Princeton, New Jersey. Exceptionally lightweight and resonant walnut: worm holes, sapwood, and bark...I knew it would be an engineering challenge to design around these natural features of the piece.
But then again, that was my goal.
Daniel, the client, had asked only that I build an eight string guitar "that looked as much like a natural walnut tree as possible." How I got from point A to point B, and the end result, was entirely up to me.
I love these kinds of challenges.
I am exceptionally fortunate to have clients who trust me completely, willing to proceed on a virtual handshake, with nebulous design parameters. I am humbled and honored. Grateful.
As you can see from the photographs, it was necessary to hand fabricate stainless steel and carbon fiber support structures to bolster the integrity of the wood. Portions of the body near the patented TOONE & TOWNSEND headless tuning system still have outer bark from the tree exposed. Additionally, sections of the walnut needed to be infused with clear epoxy in order to stabilize naturally occurring faults.
What is perhaps not seen is the emotional work required to build this instrument. Having lived a lifetime in my beloved forests of the Northeast, I shaped this guitar under spacious blue Texas skies from memory — sculpted the emotions I feel when I think about the woodlands I miss so much.
Toward the conclusion of the build I sent Daniel a video from my iPhone. It was his first glimpse of the guitar that was emerging from our email design conversations...
My jaw dropped and face melted as if the ark of the covenant was opened.
I love everything about this! Keep doing whatever you are doing. Thanks for delivering on the vision and creating my dream guitar. I appreciate the luxury of buying a high end custom guitar without experiencing any qualms, buyer’s remorse, or disappointment! My already high expectations have been exceeded.
This masterpiece will lobotomize the uninitiated.
I'm still recovering from the initial stupor. The more I watch this video and inspect the instrument, the more I begin to appreciate how incredibly difficult this must have been to make. The wood grains are so complex and the metal components are so unique, yet mysteriously necessary.
I feel a mixed sense of terror and awe when I realize that I will never fully understand how you made this instrument or why you chiseled where you did...it is beautiful and unfathomable. I like giving feedback, but this guitar is so beyond my comprehension that I don't even know where to start.
The best part is that I get to play music on it!