Sunday, July 23, 2006

The custom multiscale steelstring guitar bug

So I finally bit the bullet and ordered a custom steelstring guitar. I've been thinking about it for the last three years (which is sometimes how long it takes to get one made! I could have had it by now! ) and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. It was capped off by going to see a builder I've been emailing for quite some time at the Canadian Guitar festival and finally getting to see his work up close, as well as talk to some working guitarists who own guitars made by him and getting their feedback, all of it positive.

I'm going with a Sitka Spruce top (soundboard) with the darker cocobolo on the back and sides. I'm getting a Laskin armrest and ribrest (ok, gut rest) and have to choose some type of figuery wood like maple or something for the wood there. Getting a Side sound hole too.

The biggest reason I'm going custom is for the multiscale neck. It's hard to see in the pictures, because it can be subtle (here's a nice pic that shows a multiscale neck) but the top of the neck closest to the player is about 26 and a half inches while the lower end is only 25 and a half. The frets 'fan' out to give you better intonation between the lower, wound strings and the higher ones and even a more comfortable feel as your hands naturally seem to go that way. At the 9th fret, it's pretty much straight, but on either side the frets fan away. In playing a neck like that, there is not that much in the way of transition, except for doing an F Barre chord, which you get used to pretty fast. Plus, it looks kewl!

I'm clueless as to what to do about the purfling , rosette around the sound hole and any inlay stuff but I have a few months to figure that out. The decision was made fairly easy because the builder just happened to have a new model at the show based on one of his others I was looking at which pretty much has everything I'm looking for. It's a deep multiscale with a florentine cutaway in the woods I like. So if it turns out anything like that, I'll be quite happy!

The builder's name is Tony Karol. It must be something in the water. Canada is like the place to be if you're a guitar luthier.

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