What attracted you to the Sonic Sitka Project?
Denis Merrill did. At the 2008 GAL fest, and he showed me the wood. I said let’s do it. Sounds like a cool idea.
Has this project changed/challenged your approach to guitar building?
Not really, no.
Should people care about this project?
Yes, indeed. There are not many organized efforts to experiment / learn, such as this, in the guitar builder’s world…if there are any at all.
What are you learning from your participation in the Sonic Sitka Project?
I hope to learn about the aging of many different styles and types of guitars that use the same wood for the soundboards.
What do you hope to learn from looking at the data collected over the next couple of years?
If there is any particular style of guitar construction or bracing system that ages faster than others, and why.
Do you anticipate collaborating more with other project participants on new designs or refinements?
I hope so.
How important do you think using “alternative” or “sustainable” woods is going to be within the next ten years?
It may become essential.
How do you see guitar building evolving in the 21st century?
New materials will enable new designs.
Do you believe that we are holding back the evolution of music?
I would not say so. Hey, we can only do much, ya know?!
Should we be deconstructing old instruments for their valuable hardwoods and build new instruments that are completely original?
Not habitually, but if the instrument is shot out, beyond repair, and wood is usable, why not?
Should player’s techniques and needs be the driving force behind design and innovation?
Absolutely. Players make the music. We make the tools.
Do you think that luthiers need to keep making guitars based on well-established designs or should they expand the sonic possibilities of the instrument?
Some must continue building on well established designs, as there are needs for the instruments that are considered “calibration standards”. I have never made a guitar based on a well established design. When my mentor, Thomas Humphrey, began teaching me how to make guitars, 10 years ago, the idea was to have me apply classical guitar innovations to steel strings, ie: lattice bracing, raised fingerboards, etc. I was shown the need to expand the sonic possibilities, for the players and listeners. Go forward I say!
Should players’ technique and needs be driving design and innovation or should luthiers simply strive for innovation?
Sure, player’s needs and wants are foremost in my mind. Of course, their needs intersect with my desire to make instruments with the playability and sound we all desire, hence, innovation comes about.
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