Take a look at this:
We had a guest on this morning. Stuart Flack, a jazz guitar player and long time friend, came along to watch Bruce in action. The minute Bruce heard what Flack was about, he went into his house and brought out an arched top jazz guitar he had built so Stuart could sit and play while Bruce was working and I was watching. Here's a contented Stuart and Bruce's fine guitar, which isn't made out of anything very special but sounds and looks very, very good.
Looking at this again, I'm thinking you would all be very happy to hear Stuart play, too, but I'm not facile enough to get all that stuff working at once. Stills I can do, but stills and a sound track and even one other little thing and my head will explode. So enjoy the picture. Enjoy it as much as we enjoyed having Stuart in the studios. Lots of big, full jazzy chords and little leads and progressions, all of them very smooth, very much on target. Someone into jazz should buy this guitar, which has a great heart and voice. But whoops! I digress.
Bruce is using a small Japanese pull saw to cut into the braces, which he has lined up beside one another in a little clamp on his workbench. You do it that way because it guarantees that the cuts are going to be the same size, which is just short of the drawn lines on the spruce braces. If Bruce cuts on the outside of the line, the joint will be loose and not worth much when all that pressure hits the guitar top. Just inside gives him a chance to use a fine file to cut away what remains so he can prepare a very tight joint. Cut, size, try it and cut again. Then he moves down to a set of files used to take off any remaining wood. This is how you cut a joint that is going to be tight.
Now that he is just about done with the stakes, you can see how the "x" sits on the inside of the top of the guitar just south of the hole. there will be perhaps three other braces on the inside of the top before Bruce is ready to sculpt the braces. One will cut across the bottom on an angle, another across the top will hold the surface flat so the guitar neck fits properly. A couple of other ones sit in random places that need reenforcement. When its done, it will include a place just below the "x" that will sit beneath the guitar bridge and be tied into the whole structure. That's why the placing of the "x" is important. The bridge is glued to the top side, but it sits directly above the legs of the "x", which makes it very strong once its all glued together.
Everyone was under some time constraints on this particular morning so we just stopped with the "x" brace once it was placed and glued down. We had a little conversation after that about what we want to do with the headstock on the guitar. That's a pretty distinctive place for decoration, and neither of us is interested in getting too fancy with it. But Bruce has come up with a very nice touch that will make this headstock unique.
Here is how it looks on paper. Bruce says the various parts of the top cut form the initials "CM" for Charles Madigan, which is cool enough to take my breath away. You will be able to see right through it and it will be topped with a copper cap. Down at the bottom of the neck Bruce will affix something in white with all thee of my initials, "CMM" to make sure everyone knows its mine. But that is coming down the road.
Next, Bruce is going to bend the sides the old fashioned way. That will be something to see. Then it will be time for some glueing up that will make it all look at lot like a guitar. I can't wait! Come back and watch!