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015 Mahogany nylon string one-of-a-kind guitar.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been able to (and I really never plan to) make guitars that anyone can buy in a big box music store. Factories spit out instruments on such a level that there are literally millions of guitars in stores right now that are pretty, decent playing, and cheap. If you’re shopping for a first time guitar but somehow have landed on my website, just Google search or go to any Guitar Center with $300 and you’ll find a guitar to be satisfied with and most likely with a case or a gig bag. You might even go home with some change in your pocket. I cannot compete with that. Why would I even try to make a factory guitar clone when I have none of the tooling, infrastructure, or skilled labor they have? It’s not even remotely possible nor even close to desirable for me.

What sort of guitars do I make? The only kind of guitar I will ever make is one that has no equal anywhere else in the world. Am I saying that I’m the best luthier in the world? No, not even close! My focus and my passion is making a single-production, unique, inimitable artstruments. When not being payed, my goal is that this guitar (and any other guitar I make) will be one of the most elegant conversational pieces hanging in your home. My ideal client is the discriminating buyer looking for something undeniably special to add to their most cherished possessions. I’m only making guitars for the eccentric collector, the curator of the uncommon. If you’re looking for a truly unique guitar for yourself, your special someone, or for your impeccable collection, then I may have something available for you. If I don’t have exactly what you want, I am open to doing custom builds specifically for your needs (as long as your needs don’t include replicating a factory made that’s already been done).


On to the topic at hand

This particular guitar (number 015) is perhaps the pure embodiment of my building philosophy. It is the intersection of art and science. Under the hood, traditional building techniques are the strong motor and chasis of this machine. The exterior form is shaped asymmetrically using the Golden ratio as much/wherever as possible. It’s a design I’ve created myself using straight edge, compass, and french curve templates. I’m obviously a fan of Victorian voluptuous design. This guitar will cuddle with you.

  • Back, top, sides: Mahogany
  • Binding: flaming Maple
  • Fretboard: Padauk

There is no other guitar in the world that could be confused with this one. Just sayin.’

The Sound

Not exactly a studio recording here, but it can paint a picture of the beautiful music you’ll make with this instrument.

This guitar has a clear, warm, and full tone. It’s malleable to many playing styles and thus suitable for singer-songwriters, couch to porch guitarists, jazz musicians, and classical players wanting a non-traditional classical (nylon string) guitar. Let’s dive in a little….

Volume.

The loudest guitars are steel-string dreadnoughts with spruce tops and those are the best if you’re going down to the campfire kegger hootenanny to play with 17 other pickers (who also have loud spruce-top dreadnoughts or banjos which are even louder). This guitar has been adorned with all mahogany and nylon strings, giving the instrument a completely unique tone and use case, well-suited for use by solo players/singers or with smaller numbers of more finessed playing. Of course, you can have a pickup installed later and then it could be suitable for playing loudly at your first MerleFest or Bonaroo performance.

Sustain.

This guitar has lovely, balanced sustain, meaning that the decay time for a given note or chord held is lengthy. I attribute this to the thicker than normal mahogany top plate and taller bracing underneath.

Evenness.

Sometimes instruments will produce more volume at different fret ranges on the neck or sometimes one or two open strings might produce louder volumes even when these notes are given the same force when played. This guitar has a decidedly even output all up and down the fretboard and with all open notes as well. This is because of the thick top and tall bracing that also produce the sustain mentioned above.

Balance.

Does an instrument produce more output in the bass, in the treble, the bass and treble, midrange only, or is there a broad tonal balance? Some of my favorite guitars that I’ve made have a lot of emphasis in the bass range. That’s because, personally, I do love a heavy bass tone because I like to play jazz chords while using my thumb to mimic walking notes a bass player might play. While this guitar does produce a very nice bass range, it is not stronger than the other ranges. This one has a demonstrably even distribution making it great for singing strummers and finger-pick blues and jazz players alike: appropriate lows, even mids, and crisp highs.


The Wood

I acquired this wood from Carlton McClendon’s Rare Woods and Veneers right here in Atlanta. If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to check them out if you have any need for top-shelf wood for your home or woodworking projects. Plan on staying a couple of hours! You will.

I. Love. Mahogany.

Mahogany has been used in instruments for quite some time. Normally, it is used for backs, sides, and necks for guitars. I’ve only seen five or six all-mahogany guitars in my life and four of them are ones that I’ve made right here at Hart’s Guitars. I love the tone of mahogany and the bass-y well-roundedness of those instruments. I have three guitars I cherish and adore….. and every single one of them is an all-mahogany guitar.

Kasha-style bracing? what the…..?

Underneath the soundboard, I have used a bracing style invented by Dr. Michael Kasha in the 1970s. Here is a link to this unusual approach at soundboard bracing. There are very, very few guitars around with this style of bracing because it adds a lot of extra time to the process. But, it produces an evenness in the soundboard and an overall unique quality, adding one more detail to this instrument which makes it rare. I’ve attached a “deep dive” .pdf at the end of this article for anyone wanting more info on classical guitar bracing styles.

I just love to chose ways to make guitar building more difficult, esoteric, and time-consuming. Totally worth it!

It almost looks like a city in there

See those bridges, underpasses, shipping containers, and off-ramp exits east?

If you seek an out of the ordinary instrument that has no equal anywhere in the world, a one-off artisan guitar sculpted and refined by a single pair of hands over 9 months using only top-shelf tonewood, then please add this one to your list of things to see on your quest of curating the uncommon.

$3600

A Deep dive into classical guitar bracing styles


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Art pieces for sale

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Paintings $130 – $420 some with and some without frames. If interested please e-mail me.

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011. The Classikulele.

Using the same techniques as the ones employed in building classical guitars, Hart’s Guitars is excited to introduce its debut Classikulele!

I’ve dabbled in ukulele playing before when I bought one for $50 fresh off a beach trip, wanting my life to have a little bit more tropical je ne sais quois. There was a songbook as well, Crazy Jim’s Ukulele Songbook, or something to that effect. I learned a song called Chasing Rainbows and it was a lot of fun to play and probably the first jazz-standard feeling song I ever learned. Typical as with most obsessive impulsive hobbies, the ukulele ends up collecting dust and I later loaned it out with the book to a girlfriend and then never saw it again.

Since beginning the study of lutherie, I’ve wanted to build many types of instruments (like the Oud, for example) and on top of that list or near so has been the uke. After finishing up with a recent student and with a few days of downtime to recover from a Guitar Building Intensive, I decided to build one.

I got online to order some plans. Then, I thought. Do I need any plans? I don’t need any plans! So, as with my first guitar build, 001, I decided to simply design my own. I did not need to spend $30 on any plans from the Guild of American Luthiers! So, I sketched my idea for this classikulele in the morning of Thursday, July 2nd and started working on it. A week later I was finished except for the frets, which were somewhere in the USPS backlog.

Do you wanna build your own ukulele? Hart’s Guitars will be offering workshops soon. In the meantime, there is a book you must have if you’re seriously contemplating the idea of taking the plunge into the world of building a ukulele. Here is my book review of The Uke Book Illustrated: Design and Build the World’s Coolest Ukulele. I have to contain myself from a tendency to overhype things I love. But, this book is the sh!+! Let me explain….

Worth the price simply for all of the watercolour paintings in its pages.

Sarah Greenbaum is an artist. John Weissenrieder is a luthier. His shop is in the historic part of Florence, Italy! Sarah went to spend time with John, to observe him working, and paint illustrations of all the steps of the process and over cappuccinos they collaborated in this way to make the coolest book of lutherie you’ll ever see. Don’t be fooled by the picture book feel of the cover because this little tome is full of incredible information including: how to make jigs and tools of various sorts, Pythagorean math as a way to create the perfectly radiused arch in the instrument’s cross struts, and how to flush fret endings to the fingerboard and give them a 60° bevel, what!!?. There are paintings, watercolour paintings, that illustrate these things!

I’ve owned this book for nearly two years. I’ve consulted it often as it is an invaluable resource of information and inspiration for guitar builders. I loved it from the moment I opened it. It was only a couple of weeks ago when I decided to build a ukulele that I decided to read everything in the book, beginning on the cover, reacquainting myself with the author’s and illustrator’s name, and then flipping over and starting with the introduction to the book and that’s when I learned something that cemented a perpetual top 5 spot in my favourites for this little textbook.

Before The Uke Book Illustrated was finished, John Weissenreider passed away from pancreatic cancer. In 2015 he received the diagnosis. At the time, he and Sarah Greenbaum were a year and a half into the project. From the moment of his diagnosis until his passing, Sarah Greenbaum writes that he spent countless hours devoted to this book, “making sure there were no gaps left unfilled.” He wanted to pass on to the world, through this book, all of his knowledge. This is the sort of learning one gets through apprenticeships. This book is his legacy, a key into seeing the beauty and details in the handmade. I imagine they were more than collaborators while they worked together on this. The art of watercolour and the secret teachings of lutherie come together. Who new. Even if you have no inclination to get into the world of lutherie, this is a book you could fall in love with.

My first ukulele build.

Thanks for stopping by to read my post.

Coming soon, an article about my experience building Guitar 012….a little bit of tragedy but with a happy ending?