photography by Grant Groberg
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Building a guitar at the Rick Turner Guitar Shop

It was December. The drive had been a wearing ordeal with crazy traffic over a wet, fog shrouded mountain highway. Finally at my destination, I let out a sigh of relief. I went 'round to the back of my truck to get my lighting gear. Taking off my coat I looked up into a clear blue sky. Ah Santa Cruz,it seems like it is 68 degrees and sunny all year round.

I was at the Rick Turner, Renaissance Guitar shop to take a photographic journey that followed one guitar from raw wood to completion. 7 weeks and over 4,000 frames later my mission was complete. A few of the images were used for an article in The Fretboard Journal. Here are some of my favorites from the series.

Guitar Backs
Guitar Backs
a selection of guitar backs with the bracing already attached.

Bending the Sides
Bending the Sides
Bending the sides of the Guitar. First the wood is wetted, heated, and them bent to shape in the forms.

Sanding the Sides
Sanding the Sides
Once the sides are bent, the insides should get a good sanding.

Carving the Neck
Carving the Neck
For these guitars the necks are shaped by hand. Here the luthier is carving it into shape with a series of rasps and files. it is finished with a fine scraper.

Guitar Form
Guitar Form
The sides firmly in the mold, the kerfing has been added to the top edge. The end blocks are in place. Matt, the luthier is about to glue in the side braces.

Clamping a Side Brace
Clamping a Side Brace
This model of Rick Turner guitars have truss braces that take the force of the neck and transfer it to the sides of the body via some truss rods. This is a very unique design and different from most guitars. Most guitars have the neck bolted or glued onto the body. Rick Turner thought otherwise and the neck for this model touches the body in only three places.

Scraping the binding
Scraping the binding
After the binding and purfling are in place, they are scraped smooth to the sides.

A View of the Trusses
A View of the Trusses
This is the interior truss assemble of the Rick Turner guitar. The carbon fiber trusses take the force of the strings on the neck and transfer the energy in a balanced way to the lower bout of the guitar body.

Production Line
Production Line
A small guitar company isn\'t a big production line. These guitars were being made in batches of four. Here are three of sets of sides with their kefting and trusses in place waiting for their next step.

Cutting Threads
Cutting Threads
The Rick Turner guitar also has a threaded truss rod in the neck. So threads have to be cut in the shaft for the customized piece.

Marking a Cut
Marking a Cut
Marking the kerfing where notches will be cut for the back braces to fit into.

Pearling the Rosette
Pearling the Rosette
The rosette is done in two stages. First the black and white fiber at the edges of the rosette. Then the Abalone is fit into the middle... it takes a fair amount of pressing.

Marking the Braces
Marking the Braces
Time to mark where the braces on the underside of the guitar top will be located. For consistent results, most luthiers have templates that mark these positions.

Cutting the Sound Holes
Cutting the Sound Holes
After the brace locations have been marked, a reenforcing plate is glued behind the sound hole. when that has set the sound hole is cut out.

Cross Brace in the Gobar Deck
X-Brace in the Gobar Deck
The first braces glued onto the inside of the top are the cross braces. They are clamped using a device called a Go-bar deck where you have two parallel surfaces with flexed rods generating the pressure to hold the braces into place while the glue dries.

Setting A Gobar
Setting  A Gobar
Putting in a Go-bar clamp for the next set of braces.

Placing a Fan Brace
Placing a Fan Brace
Placing one of the lower fan braces prior to clamping

Clamping a Fan Brace
Clamping a Fan Brace
Setting the go-bar clamp on the fan brace.

Braces in the Gobar Deck
Braces in the Gobar Deck
The fan braces clamped down

Shaping a Brace
Shaping a Brace
Once the braces are glued to the inside of the top, they are then carved. How they are carved effects how the top of the guitar moves & the way the guitar sounds.

Carving Curls
Carving Curls
Carving the Braces results in a pile of wood chips like these.

Top and Body
Front by Body
The top braces have been glued,carved and sanded. It\'s just about to be married to the body.

Sanding the Braces
Sanding the Braces
After the braces have been carved to the correct contours, the edges are sanded smooth.

Cutting the Sound Port
Cutting the Sound Port
These guitars have a feature known as a Sound port. It is a hole in the side that directs some of the guitars music directly to the player instead of out of the front of the guitar. Here Matthew is cutting it out with a coping saw

Production Line 2
Production Line 2
Here are the four guitar bodies further along the path to completion.

Glueing the Top
Glueing the Top
The guitar body is, once again, in the go-bar deck. This time the top of the guitar is being glued to the rest of the body.

Shop View
Shop View
Matthew is running a guitar fingerboard through the jointer while the camera takes an overview of the shop.

Jigs and Fixtures
Jigs and Fixtures
Tools of the trade. Fixtures, templates and jigs used for building guitars at the Rick Turner guitar shop.

Guitar Body
Guitar Body
The top is glued on, the luthier just finished sanding the outside of the guitar in preparation for the next step. You can see the bear claw figure of the wood beginning to show.

Four Bodies in Progress
Four Bodies in Progress
The next step is to route out the edges where the binding and purfle will go. Our production run is on its way!

Routed for Binding
Bind and Purfle Rout
Here is the the guitar, all routed & ready for binding.

Clearing the Truss Rod Slot
Clearing the Truss Rod Slot
Like most modern guitars, these Rick Turner guitars also have a truss rod in the neck. (these truss rods are slightly different than most, though) The truss rod fits into a slot that runs the length of the neck and can be accessed through a plate in the headstock. Our Luthier has just cut the slot through the face plate & is cleaning it up.

Glueing the Binding
Glueing the Binding
The wooden binding is glued to the routed out edges of the guitar and held in place with tape until the glue dries.

Setting the Abalone Purfle
Setting the Abalone Purfle
Now Matt is finishing up the edging of the guitar by placing the abalone inside the wood binding.

Sanding the Headstock
Sanding the Headstock
Sanding the neck of the guitar is done in a number of steps at different stages of the making and on different sanders. Here the lutheir is sanding the the curves of the headstock on an oscillating drum sander.

Binding The Headstock
Binding The Headstock
Just as the body of the guitar is bund and purfled, so is the headstock.

Cutting the Bridge
Cutting the Bridge
Rick Turner Guitars have a uniquely shaped bridge that takes a few steps to create. Here is Rick cutting the basic shape on a band saw with a plexiglass pattern on top of the blank to guide him.




   

anothercupoftea photography by Grant Groberg

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