Good progress is being made on The Crow guitar. The top and interior templates have been made from baltic birch based on full scale drawings refined from my sketches—now they’re ready to go. Here are the steps below: the drawings, the templates and the interior of the rim, which in this case was routed from Honduras mahogany.
The center block still has to be routed with the three different size tone chambers that I want to put directly under the bridge and tailpiece. Each chamber is a specific volume which relates to a different frequency range. This breaks up the spectrum and evens out the response when played at high volume. It reduces the tendency of the guitar to howl on a single note.
This is the rough rim placed on the spruce top which was being routed in the last post. The next task is to carve the interior of the top, then bond it to the rim. When the top and back are glued up, then the outside can be finalized and the top and back carved. Traditional archtop builders carve the entire top before attaching it to the rim—tapping as they carve to determine the thickness needed from each individual piece. In my case, I like to carve the interior, then carve the outside—tapping the entire assembly as one.
Jack Kerouac grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, on the banks of the Merrimack—not too far from where we are right now. Apparently, he was a pretty good high school football player and went on to Columbia on an athletic scholarship. As much as the young Kerouac wanted to be a football star, what he wanted most was to just get the hell out of Lowell. It was a typical New England mill town that had seen its best days a half-century before Kerouac was born, and to him, New York city seemed like a better place for an aspiring writer to be. Of course, the rest is history, and the genesis of the “Beat Generation” (a term that Kerouac neither coined nor endorsed) began.
I’d been through two “Beat” phases myself. The first was in my late teens, naturally. It was right around the time I’d discovered Ornette, Parker, Miles and Monk. I was devouring Ginsberg, Burroughs and the like; while staying up way too late with my friends; drinking and discussing life, love and the nature of existence. On the Road and The Dharma Bums were required reading. I think every kid with a dream goes through this phase. Well, unless your dream is to be an accountant.
Lately, I’d noticed that my apprentice Jim had been setting the Pandora in the shop to a channel called “On the Road Again” which at first I thought was a Willie Nelson thing. Jim has done his share of changing addresses. He and I have talked about the strange urge to ramble on, that comes from an addiction created by moving households often. But then I noticed that a little library was growing in one of the shop’s cubbies.
I’d failed to make the connection between the Kerouac biography on my desk and the subtle musical program in the shop space. Once apparent that the hint wasn’t sinking in, the library began to grow. I smiled as I realized that the slow, solitude of a workshop in the woods is a million miles away from the hustle of NYC. Our space is antithesis of what Kerouac initially wanted for himself. Yet, at the same time it is the lost Americana that he spent his life seeking.
Jim in the shop doorway, with more books.