Synonymous with 'Smallman' must be 'lattice'. A balsa wood lattice has very little strength...
...until overlaid with fibres of carbon....
The "Rosette Log". Only the size of a pencil, but probably the most difficult part to make
Cutting slices from the log. Carefully.
Fitting the slices and outer bands of wood into the soundboard.
...before glue is applied to hold it all together.
The finished rosette. Inaccuracy has nowhere to hide.
Steam-bending a set of ribs in Rio Rosewood.
Internal frame prevents sting tension from distorting the body and allows soundboard to vibrate without hindrance. Birch ply / carbon tube system (left) is now superseded with a balsa / carbon cloth variant (right)
The age-old method of holding the back in place whilst the glue dries.
Who knows how much time the Almighty has spent creating these beautiful patterns only to hide them inside trees. I know that I've spent a lot of time just gawping at them.
Shaping the neck with a rasp.
Measuring thickness of the neck with a caliper guage. At 25mm it's still too tubby - so back to the rasp!
Voluptuously shaped heels seek appreciative fingers. All enquiries treated in strict confidence.
A batch of necks shows the Ebony splice running from the inner heel to the headstock.
A batch of necks shows the ebony splice running from the inner heel block to the headblock.
Swiss bank account? Secret coded message? Winning lottery number?
Cutting the 'ramp' in the headstock. Ebony will blunt this chisel even before the other ramp is cut.
Blending the headstock into the neck..
The traditional method of installing frets...
...is to bash them in with a hammer.
Guitar back before glueing to body. Multiple laminations of carbon cloth and balsawood create an immensely stiff bracing structure
A wide, flat brush varnishes the body...
...whilst a smaller one does the head
Everything stops for a tea break.
Two timbers from Mexico. Cocobolo (top) is an extremely dense rosewood, even heavier than Ebony. Although not a rosewood, Ziracote (bottom) is easily as beautiful.
Cleverly designed Schaller machineheads are fitted as standard.
As a soundboard becomes more responsive, so damping from the forearm becomes more noticeable. The Smallman solution is an arm rest. An arm rest in Brazilian Rosewood gets a coat of linseed oil...
... before being fitted to the body. Carbon fibre rods locate into massive carbon fibre frame. This frame is responsible for much of the instruments weight.
In use the armrest is smooth and comfortable, making the conventional guitars feel quite unpleasant.
Joep travelled from Austria to play this guitar. I've promised to make him one that sounds even better. I hope I can do it Joep!
Can't reach me on the telephone? I'm probably cruising on the family yacht. But... I'll be back....