Last day – 6 November

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So the last day, I took some time to play and compare the Three leonardo guitars that where made in Lorenzo’s shop. They all have a nice sound, however they are all three completely different. The sound, in a way, corresponds with the personality of the makers.

Thanks to everyone at the CMB who made this possible for me to go to Italy.

And a very big thanks to Lorenzo. It was very inspiring to learn some new methodes. He made me thing of the guitar in another way then I did before. Every time he asked me witch method I prefer, he made me do the opposite. Your hands can do much more then you think, it is only the mind that needs to be convinced!

Mille grazie Lorenzo!

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Some more visits – 2 November

 

Fair Verona! What a beautiful city!
Fair Verona! What a beautiful city!
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I went to Carpi to visit the workshop of Maurizio & Gabriele Lodi. Here I had the opportunity to play on some nice old guitars among witch a Torres, Garcia, Simplicio, Esteso and a Lacote. They learned me a lot about the good old makers. And they showed how they work them selfs.
Then I went to the magical city Firenze.
Then I went to the magical city Firenze…
... to meet Andrea Tacci. A very inspirational encounter.
… to meet Andrea Tacci. A very inspirational encounter.

 

Dying of the wood – 25 November

As I wrote before, Lorenzo’s attitude to dye wood, is that it is better to not apply color, but to treat the wood that you get the effect of color. In this method you don’t cover the ‘mirrors’ in the wood but you support them so it becomes even more ‘shiny’.

First we make an solution of E250 (10%) and water.
With cotton we apply it to the wood.
With cotton we apply it to the wood.
Then we put the guitar for 30 minutes in a cupboard with UVB light. The combination of the solution and the UVB does only affects spruce and maple.
Then we put the guitar for 30 minutes in a cupboard with UVB light. The combination of the solution and the UVB does only affects spruce and maple.
After 30 minutes you you take the guitar out of the cupboard and you have to stop the chemical reaction. Otherwise, during time, the guitar will get a bizar color. You stop the proses by applying some regular vinegar to the guitar. Then you expose it again to the UVB for another 30 minutes
After 30 minutes you you take the guitar out of the cupboard and you have to stop the chemical reaction. Otherwise, during time, the guitar will get a bizar color. You stop the proses by applying some regular vinegar to the guitar. Then you expose it again to the UVB for another 30 minutes
The result. On the sides you see the untreated wood. No color is used!
The result. On the sides you see the untreated wood. No color is used!
Sinds the light therapy doesn't affect the pear, we dit some tests to dye it in a more traditional way.
Sinds the light therapy doesn’t affect the pear, we dit some tests to dye it in a more traditional way. When we found something acceptable, we colored the bridge and the fretboard.

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Then we start with the French polishing proses. Lorenzo puts 10 layers of shellac with a brush (2 layers a day). Then he finishes with a pad. Unfortunately we don't have time to compleet this.
Then we start with the French polishing process. Lorenzo puts 10 layers of shellac with a brush (2 layers a day). Then he finishes with a pad. Unfortunately we don’t have time to compleet this.

 

 

Cremona, Parma, … – 21 November

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In the weekend I visited Ennio Giovannetti is his workshop in the mountains near Piacenza. Nice to see his work, his shop, and to exchange some ideas about guitar making!
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It was a blake november evening but Ennio recommended a visit to the medieval village Castell’Arquato. A bit spooky by night, but beautiful as well!

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I visited some museums in Cremona. To much people there cause of the big turron fair.
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And Parma by night…

Fret works – 20 November

However I am not hundred procent awake, this fretboard is ready to be glued!
However I am not hundred procent awake, this fretboard is ready to be glued!
After heat is applied directly to the wood, a little amount of hot glue is
After heating the fretboard, a little amount of hot glue is applied to both surfaces.
Nothing was used to keep it at its place. Just some clamps, and handcontrole. Job done!
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Lorenzo showed me how he sharpens a chisel. He hold the blad still and moves the stone.
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The fretboard is planed in a wedge. We want a projection of 4,5mm at the place of the bridge, measured at the outside of the fretboard. Both sides alike.
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Putting a little radius to the fingerboard. is done with a scraper.

 

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Frets are glued in with titebond.
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Because we sawed the slots with a regular saw, the tang of the fret was to slim. We hit it with a file to make an extra blur.
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We hammered the frets is with a regular hammer. Afterwards we put a piece of wood and some clamps to prevent the frets of popping out.
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Meanwhile, I made a bridge. Completely with handtools. Not easy but the result is fine. And surprisingly enough it doesn’t take longer than doing is with al machine.
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Ok, the wholes are drilled with a machine, with a remarkable clamping system.

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Bindings – 19 November

First job in the morning: I sawed the fretslots. Again an ordinary saw was used. Works perfectly! dixit Lorenzo!
First job in the morning: I sawed the fretslots. Again an ordinary saw was used. Works perfectly! dixit Lorenzo The depth was done by sight because we have to plane afterwords anyway.
First we opened 'the behind' of the guitar. No guide was used! Only Hand, saw en eyes. Best tools in the world!
First we opened ‘the behind’ of the guitar. No guide was used! Only Hand, saw en eyes. Best tools in the world!
No ingenious clamping techniques either...
No ingenious clamping techniques either…
Glueing the joint piece.
Glueing the joint piece.
With a router the rebate is realized. With a chisel and a knife, the connection with the purflings.
With a router the rebate is realized. With a chisel and a knife, the connection with the purflings.
Torres style.
Torres style.
Ready to glue
Ready to glue
We used some tape to keep the bindings where they should be.
We used some tape to keep the bindings where they should be.
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Hot glue is applied, then the bindings are taped. In the end hammer is used to ‘hit’ them in there places.
One of the advantages of tape is that you can do all 4 sides in one time. For the  disadvantages you have to try it once! :-)
One of the advantages of tape is that you can do all 4 sides in one time. For the disadvantages you have to try it once! :-)
Lorenzo also taught me dat making a call doesn't exclude making a bridge...
Lorenzo also taught me dat making a phone call doesn’t exclude making a bridge…

 

 

Assembly – 13 November

Lorenzo finished a new guitar which sounded very nice. He also told me that guitars intend to sound better if you tune them to 432hz in stead of 440hz. We tried it and it is true. So lets tune down all the guitars to 432z!

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We bended the sides with an normal bending iron. The pear is a bit 'floppy' so it bended so fast that I was to late for a picture of this process.
We bended the sides with an normal bending iron. The pear is a bit ‘floppy’ so it bended so fast that I was to late for a picture of this process.
Peones are sawn on the band saw.
Peones are sawn on the band saw.
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The burrs are removed with sandpaper. Gonna take a long time …

Assembly goes very fast. You glue the neck to the top. Then you instal the sides which are glued with two wedges. Then you glue the endblock.

I also still have to mention that humidity never is controlled during the making of this guitar so far.  The relative humidity is around 65%. Lorenzo doesn’t see a big problem in this fact.

In this mold the guitar will be assembled!
In this mold the guitar will be assembled! No solera is used.

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A little drip of glue is applied to the end of every bar as extra support
A little drip of glue is applied to the end of every bar as extra support
preparing the consoles to support the transversal bars.
preparing the consoles to support the transversal bars.
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“It is a handmade guitar!” Lorenzo stated

 

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The curve of the back is more or less spheric and is realized by hand and eyes. Not to easy!
The curve of the back is more or less spheric and is realized by hand and eyes. Not to easy!
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The linings are glued with hot glue. They are interrupted on the places of the back bars. This makes it more easy to make sure that they are everywhere attached to the side.

The headstock -10 November

One of the nice things in the workshop of Lorenzo is that he has a very interesting collection of guitars. Some are old, others new and some still need to be restored. Among others, I had the opportunity to play on next guitars: Daniel Friedrich (Paris 1964), Ignacio Fleta (Barcelona, 2008), Manuel Ramirez (Madrid, 1932), Julian Gomez Ramirez (Paris, 1932), Domingo Ernesto (Madrid, 1932) and a very rare G.B. Fabricatore lyra guitar (museum modena, 1797). Guitars that I could see, that still need to be restored: Lacote, Panormo, Fabricatore, Marconcini, Guadagnini …

Today we finished the headstock.

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The braces – 9 November

Today we will glue the fan strut. We will base our braces on the Manuel Ramirez system. We want to create a little arch in the top, but we are not going to use a Spanish solera. Lorenzo has a piece of hardboard with a natural deformation that we will use to create the arch.

As clampsystem we will use a regular go-bar deck however Lorenzo made the go-bars from drape supports. No Stewmac, works very well!

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To clean the acces glue, we use a little bit water and a brush

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Then the three transversal braces are glued. The first one comes with two arches.

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Weekend – 6 & 7 November

Some impressions of this nice city

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These two gentleman are still pretty famous around Modena. Enzo Ferrari and Luciano Pavarotti.

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Saturday evening Lorenzo organized a guitar concert in Modena. First the Harumaki trio played. Three young and talented guitar players. Two of them played on Lorenzo’s guitars. Sounded very nice! Then Duo Internationale played. The duo consist of Enea Leone and Christian El Khouri.


 

The neck – 5 & 6 November

First we roughly cut out the neck with the bandsaw.
First we roughly cut out the neck with the bandsaw.
Then Lorenzo showed me how to make the slots for the neck. He does this without any template. (!) Surprisingly enough the result is perfect!

 

The contour of the head is prepared with a router. Later we finish by hand
The contour of the head is prepared with a router. Later we finish by hand.
The holes for the machine heads. No template, just exact measuring. Not easy, but the machines fitted perfectly!
The holes for the machine heads. No template, just exact measuring. Not easy, but the machines fitted perfectly!

 

We used the pillar drill to make little holes as a guide for the bigger drillbit.
We used the pillar drill to make little holes as a guide for the bigger drillbit.
We drilled halfway...
We drilled halfway…
... and then again from the other side halfway. This method prevent tearout.
… and then again from the other side halfway. This method prevents tearout.
Then we had to glue the soundhole reinforcement.
Then we had to glue the soundhole reinforcement.
Just some hot glue and a few clamps. Nothing was used to prevent slipping. It stayed at its place!
Just some hot glue and a few clamps. Nothing was used to prevent slipping. It stayed at its place!
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voila, ready to receive the bracings!

 

In the evening Lorenzo invited me to a classical guitar concert in Reggio Emilia in the Galleria Parmegiano. The player of that evening was Lorenzo Micheli. A very talented Italian player. I have to admit that I did’ knew him, but it is worth checking him out! http://www.lorenzomicheli.com

 

The mandoline – 4 November 2015

For the restoration of the mandoline I have to remove the frets. Therefore I have also to remove the mother of pearl. There are a few (3) ribs cracked, so they need to be glued again.

After the frets where removed, I cleaned the fretboard with wallpaper glue. Yes indeed wallpaper glue. Lorenzo taught me that wallpaper glue dissolves lots of other glue. Funny but true!

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the fretslots where almost 1mm wide. It would be impossible to put frets in it, so we decided to glue a piece of wood in the old slots so we could start over. Here you see some pictures of the Lorenzo’s home-brewed scraper. It works very nice!
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“closing” the fret slots

"closing" the fretslots

 

Then we put the pearl back. We used titebond. Made a very strong connection!

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preparing the parts – 3 November

I started the day with the glueing of the blocks
I started the day with the glueing of the blocks. Hot glue and a lot of pressure was used
then we glued the headstock veneer. Nothing was used to prevent it from slipping away. Hot glue sticks real soon, so Lorenzo didn't see any problems.
then we glued the headstock veneer. Nothing was used to prevent it from slipping away. Hot glue sticks real soon, so Lorenzo didn’t see any problems.
Preparation of the back-bracings. We use exact the same arch of an original Hauser.
Preparation of the back-bracings. We use exact the same arch of an original Ramirez.

 

 

 

 

Here we used titebond
Here we used titebond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a side project I will restore a mandoline. I is an old Sicilian model that was made for export. They used only mother of pearl on the fretboards of instruments for export.

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The frets are completely worn out, so they have to be replaced. The drama is that is is impossible to get them out. Lots of methods where tried (pushing, pulling, warming them up, vague chemicals)
Then we removed the mother of pearl with heath, al lot of heath!
Then we removed the mother of pearl with heath, al lot of heath!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the help of a spatula, slowly the started to yield
With the help of a spatula, slowly the started to yield
Great country!
Great country!

First day in the shop – 2 November

The first day in the shop, I first got the opportunity te see and play the guitars that my predecessors Lorenzo Frignani, Toon Dockx and Hans Van Velzen made. Nice work!

The First guitar, made by Toon and Lorenzo (cherry side and back, pine neck) is very licht and responsive. Is has a unique sound that you wouldn’t expect from a classical guitar. The second guitar, made by Toon, Hans and Lorenzo (walnut back an sides, maple neck) has a nice, more typical classical guitar sound. Both guitars where in the case for three months and they where perfectly in tune. The necks are perfectly stable. (will add some pics later)

Then we spend some time on playing at some historical instrument of important makers. Lorenzo has a very nice collection of old guitars (and violins and bows). Among them: Hauser, Lacote (in the original case, with original strings), Fleta, Garcia and last but not least a nice Lorenzo Frignani guitar. (will add some pics later

IMG_3897Then we will start the real work. We will be making a non tropical guitar and do
some restorations. First we choose the wood for the non-trop guitar. We will use paer for the back and sides, pear for the neck, pear for the fretboard and pear for the bridge. A lot of pear. And some nice Italian spruce for the top.

To prevent that it will be to boring, we will ‘dye’ the wood. Lorenzo is very skilled at that. He explains that the main problem with coloring the wood is, that you try to color the wood. In these way you ‘ll never have a good result. You need to treat the wood that in that way that you get the effect of color without applying color. more on these subject later.

The top was already jointed the rosas was glued in, and the thickness was 2mm. The sides were already 1,8mm and the back was also jointed and brought to the thickness of 2mm. A good starting point

Lorenzo showing how to cut sides with a knife. A remarkable method but it words fine
Lorenzo showing how to cut sides with a knife. A remarkable method but it words fine
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Me, cutting out the top the the exact size
soundhole is cut out with a fret-saw
soundhole is cut out with a fret-saw
Cleaning the cut with a knife
Cleaning the cut with a knife
the result ...
the result …
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joint reinforcement of the back, glued with good old titebond
The glueing of the headstock veneer in a remarkable placing. easy does it!
The glueing of the headstock veneer in a remarkable placing. easy does it!

Arrival in Modena, Italy – 1 November 2015

IMG_3883During the month November I ‘ll be working in the workshop of Lorenzo Frignani. I arrived in the evening and Lorenzo picked me up at the airport of Bologna. In the car he explained me that they have have two kind of pizza’s: sicilian pizza with a thick crust and a Neapolitan pizza with a thin crust. We also talked about guitar making and the Italian lifestyle.

IMG_3887In Modena we went for a Pizza and after diner I took a little time to explore the city a bit. Modena is a lively, plezant province town. The atmosphere is tranquillo, the people are nice, the wether is good and the food excellent!

As we all know, the region has a lot nice things to offer: Prosciutto di parma, parmigiano, Ragu alla bolognese, Romeo and Julia, Lambrusco, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bulgati, Pavarotti and many more things. To much to explore in one month.

The may goal of my stay in la dolce Italia is of course to work in the workshop of mr Lorenzo Frignani. I will be making a guitar in non tropical woods, do some restorations, and have the opportunity to inspect some (old) guitars of great importance.