PHOTOS: Old growth crotch walnut from Princeton, New Jersey. Laminated birch. Carbon fiber. Aluminum and stainless steel.
Seemingly unconcerned by my presence, the mockingbird loosed a fluid and complex series of trills and chirps. Liquid subtlety, scaling improvisation, bursts and extended phrasing. I stood mesmerized, fifteen feet below.
I'm genetically blessed with good hearing, and have carried earplugs in my front pocket for decades, so the frequency response and energy behind each note was just stunning. Visceral. I am grateful for these small things.
Here in Fort Worth, Texas, spring has moved forward this week, pushed by daytime temperatures in the low 70's. Cherry trees spray purple or white against unfurling new leaves of ash and other deciduous species. Rhythms are different in the grassland prairie — I am well acclimated to forests of the Northeast. I called Dad for his birthday, and buds back home are barely forming. March in New Jersey is a month of unpredictable snows.
In Frenchtown, with Tricia, was when I first began to notice walnut trees are last to develop leaves in spring...and first to lose them in fall. The walnut a few feet from my shop followed this pattern consistently. I speculate it is a survival mechanism. Ice and snow arriving unseasonably late (or early) often shatters limbs and trunks of other hardwood species, like oak for example. Combined weight of freezing precipitation clinging to leaves creates many thousands of pounds of excess force. Add wind.
Maples leaf early and hold late. Maple is resilient and flexible as a material. Oak is not. Oak holds its form then splits, suffering catastrophic failure across all fibers. Both of these strategies are consistent (and opposite) strategies for early/late leafed trees.
Walnut as a material shares traits of both. Stiffness like oak but resilience like maple. Consistent with a conservative survivor that opts for a shorter but safer growing season. Tight dense grain added year after year in slim concentric rings.
It takes a long time to grow a large walnut tree.
Bob ~ I'm excited for you to have this guitar!
I think this is a GREAT choice. I've played both Old Growth Walnut Skele and Modern Archtop extensively, they really work together as a pair. I love them both equally for different reasons: contrasting attitude and sounds.
Old Growth Walnut Skele will take you further out there...deeper into some of the soundscapes I've been striving to make possible. For some reason, playing it inspires me to think about Autumn...the leaves turning and those damp mysterious nights around Halloween. The tree is ancient...the walnut. It has a voice...and a spirit.
Thank you for everything. It is an honor to know you. I appreciate how you value my lutherie.
I am also excited about having the Old Growth Walnut Skele in my hands so I can be inspired to create new and interesting pieces. What is so special about your instruments to me, is that they connect with the intangible inside spiritual source which is that special place where the most profound and best music comes from. They are, in a way, spiritual guides.
I feel blessed to be able to have the ability to bring out the best in what you create.
VIDEO: Sculptural aspects of this guitar are possibly best presented by video. I didn't add sound, allowing you to use your imagination. The music in your head is more beautiful than anything I could create.