MICHAEL BASHKIN | LUCKY STRIKE SERIES | “COLLABORATION”
*Important Note: MP3s are arriving very soon*
From the forward-thinking David Young dreadnoughts (redwood/indian rosewood) to modern jumbo/small jumbos usually redwood/walnut or /ziricote, redwood tops have proven to be durable in use. The Young Dreadnoughts have been in use since the 80s with no signs of playing out! Although slightly more brittle than spruce, I have had no issues working with and playing on straight grained redwood tops. Curly redwood tops can be a little more temperamental but with careful selection and bridge placement, can be just as stable and as enjoyable as any other guitar.
Last year I was extremely fortunate and excited to obtain a stash of high grade Lucky Strike redwood tops from the Carters’ stash. This was an extremely rare find as the wood is highly sought after. Harvested from a naturally storm downed redwood in California, these tops are reknown for their tonal excellence and aesthetic properties.
Craig and Alica Carter, a remarkable husband and wife team were reknown for salvaging naturally fallen redwood trees. Often they would salvage logs from inhospitable terrain and private land to resaw into some of the finest redwood sets ever seen in the lutherie community. ‘Lucky Strike’ is the name Craig gave to a log he thought of as almost, if not truly perfect for guitar tops.
Craig found the Lucky Strike log in north-facing easement in a redwood forest. It fell over a small depression, suspending a segment of the log, allowing it to naturally ‘air dry’. In Autumn of 1993, Craig started to salvage a portion approximately 60 feet long, 3 feet in diameter and the final harvesting was completed by Alicia carter and neighbours in 1997. Craig cut soundboards from the segments as early as 1994.
Hank Mauel, luthier and friend of the Carters says: “Soundboards from this log have been made into fine steel string (including arch top) and classical guitars. Smaller billets have produced mandolins, as well. Stiffness to weight ratio is said to be excellent; grain pattern and coloration generally even, very straight, with lots of “silk.” Sound characteristics combine the warmth of cedar with the clarity and color of spruce with an added “sparkle”. This log set very high standards for redwood soundboards – ones almost impossible to match. Craig cut into over 100 downed logs before he found one – the LS — that met his exacting standards.”
Almost every LS topped guitar I have played has exhibited astounding EQ and efficiency. The trebles in every model are spetacular with a liquid-silver like property.
I started to speak with a variety of luthiers about a short run of guitars based around these tops and reached a special arrangement with Michael Bashkin. Having worked with Michael before was a great bonus, but his technical expertise and experience with redwood also have allowed this project to progress. These tops are best paired with dense back and sides exhibiting deep bell like tap tones: I have found Brazilian & Madagascar rosewood and Cocobolo amongst some of the best matches for Redwood, although it combines equally wonderfully with Walnut and Mrytle.
We designed (well, I did the preliminary specs and Michael did the hard work) a new body shape to take advantage of the natural efficiency and EQ of the LS tops based around a OO dimensions and work soon started on the protoype…. which we are extremely pleased with and would like to share with you. Michael describes the guitar as “Horribly efficient and very powerful. The mids and trebles are strong and clear. If I had to use one word to sum up the guitar it is “present”.”
Michael and myself are not the only folks who have discovered the magic of redwood tops, Hank Mauel, Tim Mcknight and George Lowden are just some of the few builders who have built with various redwood tops with great success
The final guitar and the proposed model: whilst dimensionally very similar, Michael has injected his own aesthetic and design sensibilities into the final product which will also be offered as a new model in his line up.
- Michael Bashkin
- 12 fret
- Back/Sides : Various
- Top: Lucky Strike Redwood
- Neck: Laminated Mahogany
- Fingerboard: Ebony
- Bridge: Kasha style
- Tuners: Waverlies
- Nut: Bone
- Saddle: Bone
- Upper Bout: 10.3”
- Lower Bout: 14.25”
- Depth at Tailblock: 4.15″
- Depth at neckblock- 3.5″
- Body Length: 19.65″
- Scale Length: 24.5″
- Nut Width: 1 ¾”
Craig & Alicia Carter
I am particularly indebted to my friend Hank Mauel who taught me so much about the redwood tops!
©2008 Terence Tan.
Pictures courtesy of Michael Bashkin- ©2008. Used with permission.