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Claro Walnut J-185
Author
Post
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 558
Below are some pictures I shot this afternoon of the claro walnut guitar built using Ken Cierp's J-185 template. Ken sized down a J-200, and the final dimensions are very similar to a Gibson J-185, but this one is about 1/2" wider in the waist. As it is a wee bit fuller, I am calling my version an FB-185 for Full Body:

Sitka top
Curly Koa bindings, back strip, and rosette purfling
Guaparillio rosette
Madagascar RW fingerboard and bridge
Grover Keystone tuning machines
Neck is from Chris at Hana Lei Moon
Target Coatings HSF5100 pore filler, Ultraseal amber shellec on all but top, followed by EM6000 topcoats

This one has been a lesson on humidity! Generally I am closing up boxes in January or February, but this one got closed up in November before the heater sucked the moisture out of the house. By the time I realized the humidity was too low, both the top and back had sunken in. I have struggled over the past few months to keep it properly humidified. Now it's done, I can store it in the case with a Humidipak.

I am debuting my new logo on this one! Fun to actually have the name in the headstock!

I'll record something on it in a couple of weeks after it has settled in a bit, and I have the action where I want it.

Ken







The new logo:


There is no gap at the neck joint, but it sure looks like it in this picture!

Just a slight hint of koa in the rosette purflings:

Bridge of my own design. We'll see how it works out over time:


Mar 07, 10 | 2:02 pm
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
Absolutely perfect Ken. Is this one a keeper or do you have someone lined up for it? I sure probably wouldn't let it go haha.

Any chance we'll hear an audio clip?

Mar 07, 10 | 2:38 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Ken, that detail is exquisite. Noticed the heel's purfling laying down exactly with the purfling on the back. That's a heck of a match. A sign of great work. And the bridge is a wonderful design.
Ya done good. Very good.

Mar 07, 10 | 3:37 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
I love this guitar! Great shape, lovely wood, perfect execution.


Mar 07, 10 | 4:00 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Outstanding!! I am attempting w/b/w purfling mitered around the end graft like you did...although I dont expect my results to be as good. What can be said about this one that has not? Its really beautiful Ken. 10 out of 10.
Can I have it? LOL

Mar 07, 10 | 6:45 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Ken,
She is one curvy girl. Beautiful indeed. The mark on the headstock is super classy too! Me thinks you nailed this one.
I hope you are keeping if for yourself?

Kevin

Mar 08, 10 | 5:50 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ken, now that you've mastered this art, and car building ... what's next? I hear you can get kit airplanes, though a beautiful finish in them isn't as valued as in guitars ...

That's a beautiful job in all respects.

Bill

Mar 08, 10 | 5:54 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Beautiful job, Ken. I wish I had your skill in the detail work! I love your wood choices too! I am usually one who really goes for high contrast in my woods, but you've proven that it is not always necessary.

Mar 08, 10 | 6:26 am
cwood8656

Total Topics: 12
Total Posts: 53
Wow Ken, that is just a beauty. Way to go. I hope my black walnut guitar comes out half as nice as this.

I've been fighting the exact same humidity battle as you here in the North East. I finally went to Lowe's and bought this big Rubbermaid tub, and made up this humidty chamber. The sponge stays damp for weeks at a time, I put a piece of foam window seal around the top of the tub to aid humidity integrity. It will hold a bouple of bodies and necks, or some stickered plates and parts. Been working very well for me. Sorry for the highjack.






Mar 08, 10 | 7:53 am
Herman

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 480
Ken, What can I add to all the guys already said. They are right. It's a really really beautiful guitar. Great finish. We can put this one in the directory "ART".

Herman

Mar 08, 10 | 8:52 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks Guys. Yes this one is a keeper and probably will be the last one for awhile. I already have the next three builds committed, and the guy that bought the mad rose OM is hounding me to build him another. I have some tonewoods stored for future builds for me, but may be awhile until I get to one again.

Dan, I'll get a clip up within a week or two after the guitar has settled in a bit.

Bill, you might have me confused with Chris, he's the car guy! I plan to stick with guitars though I have built some very cool remote controlled planes with nice finishes, but I won't bore you with pictures here.

Ken, I usually go for a little more contrast too and had debated about using ebony bindings on this one. This combination works well, though, especially in person. I have another claro walnut to build, and I haven't decided what bindings to use on that one yet. I may go for darker and more contrast.

Chris, I found a closet in my house that ran about 45% humidity if the door was kept closed, so I always put the guitar in there when I was through working on it for the day.

Ken


Mar 08, 10 | 10:46 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ken -- Oops. You're right. Must be my age.

All else aside, that's a beautifully built guitar in anyone's league.

Bill

Mar 08, 10 | 10:56 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I had to look again. Its still sweet!

Mar 11, 10 | 7:33 pm
John S.

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 94
Another beauty, Ken. It looks like it could put out enough sound to shake the windows, so I'll be interested to hear how it sounds.
Seems like you incorporate a new technique with each guitar. I really like the way the side purfling ties into the neck lamination. Did you hand cut the Casper logo? If so, high kudos!

From another thread I see that you lived in NorCal prior to Michigan. What part? I grew up in San Jose before all the fruit orchards turned to silicon.

John

Mar 12, 10 | 5:51 am
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332

Mar 12, 10 | 7:25 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks again Tony.

John, We lived in Pleasant Hill along the Lafayette border, just up the 680 corridor from San Jose. I worked in downtown SF for about 20 years. Michigan is a big change. I love the summers, but winters are too long. Thanks for calling out the purfling around the heel cap and neck laminations. That took way more time than it should have. But the result is very cool. I did not hand cut the logo. I designed it and worked with Tom Ellis at Precision Pearl, who cut it on their CNC setup. I didn't even route the cavity--Tom did that too! But, I did route the cavities for the Fleur de lis and the fingerboard inlays, so I get a wee bit of credit! The sound is coming along nicely. I had been playing the FB-185 for the past week and picked up my mahogany OMC last night and thought the OMC sounded very closed and boxy. I didn't do a side by side comparison, but the fact that the OMC sounded small means I had gotten used to a bigger sound from the claro walnut. I have a 30 year old Ibanez dreadnaught that I haven't played for 2 years. That guitar is very loud. I'll have to dig it out and compare it to the FB-185.

Martin :)

Saw Ray Davies play last night at the Michigan. Wow! What a great show! He had Bill Shanley laying down the heavy guitar chops. I wasn't aware of Bill prior to this tour and had never heard him play prior to the show, but I left very impressed! Looked like Bill was using a Lowden. It had a huge sound, and he really gave it a workout.

Ken

Mar 12, 10 | 8:11 am
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
Oh man, the Michigan winter is pretty much responsible for me getting into guitar building when I did. The winter of 07-08 was rough. I had to come up with a long project for 08-09, or I knew I was going to sink into a deep depression. Then I found Bill's site and the rest is history!

Mar 12, 10 | 8:48 am
FredB

Total Topics: 11
Total Posts: 94
I am with Martin. What a beautiful guitar!

Mar 13, 10 | 6:56 am
Terry

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
Among the best I've seen ... ANYWHERE!

Mar 24, 10 | 3:02 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Ken,
The art of inlay has bitten me like a bug recently. Did you make your own or buy them? If bought, where?
Thanks,
Bob

Mar 24, 10 | 5:32 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Bob, I dont know if Ken made his or not, but have you been to Andy DePaule's site? He has some great stuff, is great to work with, and can even make any custom design you want. I have him making an inlay of an 8 point buck head silhouette for my current project. And, like Bob Barker said, the price is right.
Here is a link:http://www.luthiersupply.com/

Mar 25, 10 | 4:55 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks Fred and Terry.

Bob, got the inlays for this one from Andy Depaule.

Ken

Mar 26, 10 | 12:50 pm
cwood8656

Total Topics: 12
Total Posts: 53
Ken,

How did you rout the inlay reliefs in the fingerboard? Something I've been struggling with.

Thanks,

Chris.

Mar 31, 10 | 6:36 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Chris,

Lot's of ways to go about routing for inlays. I use a pneumatic grinder I bought from Dave Nichols (It is the same one John Hall sells). I hold the inlays in place with the tiniest drop of CA. I then trace the inlay with a .03MM pencil. The inlays can be removed with a hobby blade or razor blade. I like to glue the piece down because if the piece moves at all while tracing, the gaps will be bigger than they otherwise would have been. When routing, I have adopted the sewing machine approach. I plunge the bit in along the line, lift, leave about a bit width and plunge again. I work my way around the perimeter this way. I then just go back and connect the dots and clean out the center. I like the plunge approach as it doesn't fuzz the lines. I found even with a down cut spiral, the edge will still be fuzzy, making cutting right next to the line difficult. I don't have that problem with the sewing machine approach, which speeds up the time needed to cut relief.

Ken

Apr 02, 10 | 12:30 pm
DonB

Total Topics: 20
Total Posts: 240
Ken,
You set the standard for us all.
Absolutely beautiful!

Apr 17, 10 | 11:11 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Ken, when you bind a fretboard, do you allow for the width of the binding when you dimension the fretboard itself? Is it thinner?

Apr 28, 10 | 4:39 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Bob,

I start with my usual 1/4" f/b. I'll slot it, radius it, and lastly taper it. If my finished f/b is to be 1.75" at the nut and 2.25" at the 14th fret and my binding is .08" thick, I'll taper the f/b such that I have 1.59" at the nut and 2.09" at the 14th fret. That way when I glue on the bindings, I have the correct finished width. To bind, I cut and dry fit my miters at the sound hole end, leaving the side strips about an eighth inch long or so. I use CA to glue as noted elsewhere. I simply hold the binding against the f/b where I want it and wick in CA. Make sure the fret slots are clean and try not to wick in CA too close to the slots or you could fill them up with CA. A squirt or two of CA along the way sets the binding in place. Make sure the binding is a touch proud with the bottom. Also hold that binding as tight as possible against the f/b and only wick in CA only near where you are holding. CA can travel a fair distance and if you have a 1/64" gap two inches up from where you wick in CA, you may never get that joint closed tight when you get there. Once the bindings are on, I turn it over and wick in CA along the bottom seam. I use a flat sanding block to clean up the bottom. For the top side, I shave the bindings down close with a block plane then clean up with my radiused sanding block.

Alternatively, I guess you could glue the bindings on before radiusing the f/b. I haven't done it that way, but I see no reason not to use that approach. In fact, it may be better as if one isn't careful radiusing the f/b, the edge could be rolled a bit, causing issues when gluing on the f/b binding. I have radiused first as I usually do my inlays before I have the guitar ready for the neck. I like to cut the soundhole end of the f/b off when I can bolt on the neck and slide the f/b around to where I like it. I'll then pin, the f/b to the neck and mark where I want the f/b to end by the soundhole.

Binding a f/b may seem a bit complicated, but it really is quick and easy if using CA. You can have it bound and sanded in an hour.

Hope this helps.

Ken

Apr 28, 10 | 5:21 pm
PJ

Total Topics: 12
Total Posts: 90
Ken - have to agree with all the rest. You certainly set the standard. The guitar is stunningly beautiful! I'm sure it will sound as good.

Apr 28, 10 | 11:45 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
It helped a ton. Thanks Ken, that's everything I need. Hot dang, can't wait.
Ken Cierp is sending me a kit within the next couple of weeks, and I'll be binding the f/b on it.
Bob

Apr 29, 10 | 6:27 am



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