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Visit to a Luthier
Author
Post
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 261
I'm not sure if this should go in this part of the forum, but it seemed as good as any.
Tomorrow I'm going to visit Stephen Kinniard of Stephen Kinniard Guitars. He looks like a very interesting luthier, and I had asked him earlier about coming out and visiting his shop and asking questions about building. He's training a younger guy in his shop, and from what I understand, they only work afternoons. Must be nice.
Anyway, I thought I'd post this and see if there were any questions that members might have for him concerning building. I haven't even really formulated any of my own yet. You can look at his web page by googling his name. He seems to work with exotic woods a good bit. Also, his brother lives in North Carolina, and is also a Luthier. Steve shows at Healdsburg and other places, and seems well regarded in the industry.
I'm pretty excited about the visit, so if there's anything you want to know, please post it, and I'll try to get answers.

Jan 21, 10 | 3:56 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Sounds fun. Your homework assignment is to write a trip report.


Jan 22, 10 | 5:47 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Hopefully I remember to go get my camera and take pictures.
A problem at my house last night might get in the way. For some reason, our water heater is in the attic. Last night I heard water running, and on investigating, I found the drip pan flooded to the very top. After shutting all water down, and turning off the gas, I noticed that my first and only kit guitar body was directly below the water heater. WHEW!
Anyways, I'm waiting for a plumber today, and hope he gets here in time for me to make my field trip. Otherwise, maybe I can get one of my kids to house sit in the pm.
By the way, the guitar is now in another room well away from the heater.
Bob

Jan 22, 10 | 7:17 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Have to chuckle Bob, I read "For some reason, our water heater is in the attic..." made it sound like that it hadn't always been there and decided to change its view. I'm tired.....

Jan 22, 10 | 9:11 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
LOL. Ya never know in East Texas. I'm glad you posted that, it's made my day. Always good to turn a bad situation into something funny.
Much appreciated.
They haven't shown yet, by the way, the plumbers. So one of my kids is gonna have to come over, 'cause I'm not skipping my meet with Steve.

Jan 22, 10 | 10:08 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
I just got back from Stephen Kinnaird's shop. WOW!
What a great visit. First, Steve and Ryan Middlebrook, who works with him, are genuine, friendly, helpful, all around nice people to be around. I know Ryan's parents as it turns out, and he gets it honest.
They spent about an hour up in the shop with me answering questions, showing me their different tools, molds, jigs, backs, tops, etc. Steve had looked at my thread on my 1st kit and was so complimentary about it. He even liked my fix for the gouge in the back, and came up with a great idea for covering it even more, which I might try out. I had concerns about the neck setting for my build, but explained what I had, and they thought it was ok. I was treated as a contemporary as opposed to a newbie. I've probably got enough knowledge right now to be dangerous. However, they fed the fire. My only crime is that I forgot my camera. But there will be another visit too.

Now, to the good part. Steve pulled out 4 of his guitars. The first was a Engelmann Spruce/Bubinga CS model, and he handed it to me. I'd seen pictures before, but to have it in my hands, just WOW! The top was lightly golden, the sides and back so exquisite, the bindings melded the front to the rest so smoothly, the waterfall effect on the back. The finish so deep. It's in his gallery on the web site. Such a rich sound, even to my feeble playing. Then Steve played it and I could hear what people talk about when they speak of quality in a guitar. I'm not an accomplished enough listener with guitars that I can define differences very well, but I do know when something sounds very good, and this does. Then he and I played the other 3. Each different in size, sound, looks. Each really masterfully done, distinct, original. Maybe one has more bass, another maybe more pronounced treble, kinda like kids, each one different with different qualities, but you love them all. I did. His sense of color coordination (for lack of a better phrase) really impressed me. Things made sense artistically. Both he and Ryan told me to not hesitate to call if I get stuck on something, or just want to visit again, which brings up a point I'd like to make to everyone at this forum.

From day one, I've been astounded by the friendliness, helpfulness, and camaraderie of the kitmakers and the professional luthiers on this site. Steve's and Ryan's acceptance of me today reinforced the feeling that I get from everyone here. Every question has been answered. Every comment has been positive. If this could be bottled, there'd be some rich folks here on this site. As a matter of fact, there are some very rich folks here already, and I'm richer for being here too. Thanks all.

Can you tell I've had a really good day? Even my plumbing problem is fixed.

Bob

Jan 22, 10 | 4:33 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Bob,
That sounds like a wonderfully great time, and so cool that you were accepted like that. I can imagine that a little bit of time with a Pro can go a long way for understanding some of the "mysteries" of lutherie. I'm so glad you were able to make that connection.
There is a guy who is a friend of a friend who has been making and repairing guitars I guess for a long long time, who lives just a short distance away in a near town, who I've tried to call him just once. I need to get on the wagon and make contact with this guy. I'm not sure how old he is, but his friend is 75.
I don't think he is famous either but I don't care about that. I'm told he is a super friendly helpful guy so I better get busy and get to know him.

Kevin

Jan 22, 10 | 9:04 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Bob -- Thanks for the report. Glad your visit and your traveling water heater fix were both good!

What is it about building guitars that makes people friendly? Or, do only friendly people decide to build? Maybe it's just the satisfaction of it all. Which reminds me I've got to get back in the shop soon!

Bill

Jan 23, 10 | 5:01 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Kevin, please do. I guarantee you will thoroughly enjoy it. I wish I lived close to John Hall. Bet it'd be a real treat to visit him. Just from his help here and his videos, it'd be great fun and good learning. Let us know if you get to go there.

Jan 23, 10 | 1:49 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
That's fantastic, Bob. Good to hear!

Jan 23, 10 | 2:14 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Thanks Bob, great report

Jan 24, 10 | 7:25 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Bob, you are right......Steve is amazing at selecting woods that compliment each other. He really has an artistic eye.

Jan 24, 10 | 5:07 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Its like it says in "Clapton's Guitar"-- Nicer people make nicer guitars!
He does build some pretty guitars.
I wish I could find a local builder in Brooklyn or within 30-45 minutes of me. I would be there constantly!!

Jan 27, 10 | 5:21 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Just a heads up for you folks on the west coast, particularly the PNW. The GAL conference is every two years in Tacoma - I went in 2008 and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my guitar building. A chance to sit at the feet of some legendary builders - and actually hold and play some of their guitars. It is coming up this June again. I wrote a little piece for the forum

http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/forum/threads.php?id=3072_0_2_0_C

and I do agree that luthiers seem to be some of the friendliest and most willing to share people I can imagine. If you guys and gals aren't members of the Musical Instrument Makers Forum I highly recommend that you start hanging out there. www.mimf.com

Jan 27, 10 | 5:37 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
I asked Steve and he's allowed me to show these pictures. It's a guitar he took to Healdsburg last year, and awed everyone. I told him my 4th would be very similar to that, gulp, I hope. No's 2 & 3 will be for my kids, even they don't play at all, but the 4th will be for me, and hopefully will be much better than No 1 will turn out. At any rate, he said Bubinga was hard to bend, that it resists the bend, and sometimes once it does, it folds. My intention is to have LMI or someone else bend it for me. I'm not sure I want to invest in bending forms, equipment, etc. I'd be glad for suggestions for binding woods, purfling material, rosette styles, and all that, if anyone has any thoughts. The kids' guitars will have bearclaw if I can get it, too. I'm in love with that stuff.




Jan 27, 10 | 2:17 pm



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