Construction and Philosophy

My instruments represent a carefully and respectfully considered blend of traditional aesthetics and historic design principles with modern and innovative methods and techniques. I utilize modern production techniques where appropriate to reduce working time and increase accuracy of basic parts and joinery. This allows greater focus on selection of materials and design considerations - the decisions which affect the tonal character and quality of an instrument. Final shaping, thickening, fitting and finishing by hand keeps me attuned to each instrument by touch and feel.

I define my process in terms of three basic areas of thought: OBJECTIVES (the character, tone, touch and response of my instruments, both in general and for each individual instrument), DESIGN (the size, depth and action layout of the instrument, the selection of wood species according to visual and acoustic properties, thicknesses, bracing systems, and even the finish) and METHOD (the technical aspects of building including types of joints, methods of milling, bending, gluing and fine-tuning of components, control of working environment, varnish and more). The flow from objective through design and method is not always a straight path, as objectives, design notions and methods constantly evolve. However, the successful interrelation of these aspects of construction (the notion that design realizes objective and method supports the accurate execution of design) allows flexibility in the process and enables both repeatability of specific characteristics as well as continued development.

My construction design in general is based on traditional Spanish methods, including the simple scarfed neck/head joint and the "Spanish heel block", which consists of an integral assembly of neck, sides, top and back. The Spanish heel block method achieves an extremely stable construction even though it is perhaps more time-consuming than the alternative dovetailed neck attachment (known as the German method). Excellent guitars have historically been made with both methods, but my background is with the Spanish method and it appeals to my sense of the instrument.

I also selectively experiment with and incorporate various modern design and technological evolutions for acoustical performance, such as double-top soundboards (in which a Nomex honeycomb is sandwiched between thinner soundboard layers or skins). I have also experimented with lattice bracing systems, but I no longer produce such soundboards as they seem to require a long play-in time. Many of today's advancements in acoustic theory applied to guitars in the search for increased volume and balance, now considered standard by many high-end makers, were already in development several decades ago when I was beginning to formulate my own ideas. In the end, I find that as the depth of a maker's vision grows, along with his sense of musicality, knowledge of cause and effect and skill of execution, the more he can return to traditional references for ultimate improvement and evolution. While I continue to see merit in many modern evolutions such as double-top construction, double drilling of bridges, etc., my acoustic design thought leans ever closer to the simple rather than the complex, and the larger part of my production is in traditional manner with solid soundboards.

In the final analysis, all aspects of my design and technique, whether traditionally based or technologically innovative, support the objective of producing the lightest yet most accurate and stable components possible, thereby eliminating locked-in stress and unnecessary mass. The instrument as a whole then becomes responsive as well as repeatable, with a superior range of musicality.