My Latest Guitars

Brazilian OM made from Whatnot bought on eBayBack of Whatnot guitar...Lovely Brazilian!

Lately I have been making some guitars from wood reclaimed from antique furniture. It began when I bought a small piece of furniture from eBay called a whatnot. These are small shelves that people used to display their precious items on. The best ones were made from rare Brazilian Rosewood like the one I was able to purchase. That got me thinking that there is a resource of rare and fine woods out there idly sitting in antique pieces of furniture so I started to collect pieces that were available and not too expensive. I was able to find quite a few nice pieces on a recent trip to the UK. I enjoyed rummaging through auction houses and antique stores to find some donor pieces for future guitars. Here are some of the furniture I found and some of the guitars that I made from them.

Author John Buckham's haul of antique furnitureCuban Mahogany tableBrazilian Rosewood Table....Solid!

Shed Visit to MCW

This week I travelled up to Lismore to Micheal Connor’s place to saw up some Brazilian Mahogany into guitar sets. We had bought a couple of prime sticks from a local furniture maker who had it in his stash for about 30+ years.  Micheal makes ukuleles and guitars as well as wooden surfboards and work benches.

Here are the mahogany boards…deliberation took a long time as we wanted to get the most out of the material and keep the dust making to the bare minimum.

Once the decision making was over it was time to carefully slice these beautiful billets into guitar sets.  Micheal has some of the finest wood separating  devices on the planet….an old 1950′s Wadkin Bandsaw and a Hitachi CB75 Resaw!

We found this python skin in his workshop but we didn’t see its owner!     The skin measures about 10 ft 4 inches or about 3 meters! I’m glad that we didn’t run into him while I was there!

Building Luc’s Guitar

One of my current builds is for a friend of mine who is currently residing in Belgium. He wanted an OM with a venetian cutaway and was more interested in the sound than having a guitar with all the bling so we chose Sitka and Mahogany and a decoration scheme of herringbone to achieve a restrained but refined look. The making of the ribs with the asymmetrical cutaway was the first thing to tackle so I made a few modifications to my bending appartus to create the new shape of the soft cutaway. After the bending it was time to join the ribs to the blocks in the mold and start to add the reverse kerfed linings to continue building the structure.Next was the making of the top and back of the guitar. Because the top is literally the engine of the guitar a lot of attention to detail is needed to make it work. One area to pay close attention to when you make the top is to make sure that your top is not to stiff to start with so that the guitar is not overly bright and therefore will not have the bass response that you desire. I manipulate the stiffness by methodically testing with a weight and then planing by hand until the desire stiffness is achieved.

After the top has been braced and the rosette installed it is glued to the rims in the go bar deck.

The back is then put on in a similar way….

Then begins the process of binding the guitar with the wood binding and the herringbone purfling…

The box completely bound…

Luc's guitar bound along with another I was working on at the same time.

The Story So Far!

I live in a rural setting on the Hastings river, just a few kilometers from the town of Wauchope on the beautiful Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is an area that has long been in association with the timber industry, so much so that it is called the timber town.

I got interested in woodcraft when I was in my twenties and stumbled through a few tentative projects without much of a clue of the skills and methods involved. I started to buy woodworking magazines at the news agent, and in these I saw the level of work that I wanted to achieve. It was in an edition of the British magazine, “Woodworker” that I saw advertisements for courses on fine furniture making. I decided I would marry my desire to visit Britain with a quest to advance my practical skills as a woodworker. So in 1997, I spent several wonderful and absorbing months in rural North Devon at the workshop of teacher and author David Charlesworth. There I learnt an approach to woodworking that allowed me to attain the high level of craftsmanship I had longed to achieve. I also discovered real ale, but that is another story…

On returning to Australia I made furniture at first until a couple of things conspired to draw me into the wonderful world of lutherie;

I Finally got around to learning the guitar, and during a subsequent visit to the UK I had my first experience of picking up and playing a hand crafted instrument. It was in Manson’s Guitar Shop, Exeter that I had the opportunity to see and try the work of renowned British luthier Andy Manson. His guitars were truly breathtakingly beautiful, and sounded and played like nothing I had ever experienced before. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy one of Andy’s, but I was hooked. I had to make one ……but of course one is never enough… so a one off project turned into what is now a full time profession.

Making a hand crafted guitar is an enchanting project. A project where you can combine beautiful woods, to make beautiful sounds, and this is a wonderful thing to me. It is also a real pleasure to see somebody play a fine handcrafted guitar for the first time. Their eyes light up as they realise that a fine handcrafted instrument responds and delivers in a way that most factory made instruments cannot . That feeling is what continues to inspire me to make the instruments that I do.

John Buckham Guitars