Olive wood from Zambia, back of guitar

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James Romeyn

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Olive wood from Zambia, back of guitar
« on: 19 May 2009, 09:39 pm »


Posting here since the "sports bar" passed on...Pic is of the back of my custom flat top guitar being built by Ryan Thorell Guitars in Logan UT.  Olive wood from Zambia is pictured, sides will match; this wood is intended to rival the best rosewood (top will be Adirondack/red spruce).  Finish will increase contrast of the grain, especially that of the white "flames" flanking the center shooting upward at 45-degree diagonal.  The grain showed incredible depth & color when oil was rubbed on a small spot; it was pure goosebumps. 

The guitar size will be just between Martin's Dreadnaught & Grand Orchestra (AKA "0000") series.  To my best knowledge Taylor was the first to make something of this size, called a "Grand Symphony" under the Taylor brand or "Style 1" at the R Taylor custom/signature shop.  (I'm thankful R Taylor does not offer the special bridge width required; if they did I might never have auditioned a Thorell.)

This will be Thorell's first of this size/shape, blending the best qualities of smaller & larger flat tops.  Beyond Thorell's other unique identifiers such as the rosette & headpiece, Gibson's J-45 "round shoulder" line will be copied (Taylor's shoulder directly mimics that of the smaller Grand Orchestra). 

Other than the shoulder my Thorell will follow the Grand Orchestra/0000 shape.  A full-size outline of the body depicted one of the most naturally pleasing & attractive flat top shapes ever (I've played $25k Kleins & $15k Schoenbergs).   

The fact that Ryan is one of the most accomplished builders, his guitars rivaling the best, is more shocking considering his tender age of 29 (maybe 30 now) & the fact that his skill extends to f-hole jazz electric, solid body electric, electric bass & classical-a rosewood classical had incredible sustain.  Ryan told me one of the most sought after classical builders now has a twelve year (IIRC) backlog for new orders...get in line soon!   
« Last Edit: 20 May 2009, 05:08 am by ro7939 »

funkmonkey

Re: Olive wood from Zambia, back of guitar
« Reply #1 on: 20 May 2009, 01:59 am »
very nice hunk o' wood there.  I hope to see pics when it's done, I'm sure it will be beautiful.

Cheers

James Romeyn

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Re: Olive wood from Zambia, back of guitar
« Reply #2 on: 20 May 2009, 04:59 am »
A few months ago R Taylor quoted $12k just to upgrade to Brazilian rosewood back & sides.  The olive wood from Zambia set (back & sides) for my guitar is some of the most beautiful wood I've seen.  To say I'm anxious is an understatement.

I prefer rosewood over the particular "smokey" sound of mahogany (though I'd never kick a vintage D-18 out of bed).  I played a mahogony Thorell minutes after it was stringed for the first time ever, when a guitar sounds its worst.  Even at that stage it had attractive qualities & the distinct vintage richness for which mahogony is known & loved. 

Ryan took the above picture today upon my request; higher resolution would have been appreciated but I'm thankful for the shot.  Hopefully I can stop by at a later date & take high-resolution pictures further into construction.

He already has eighteen years guitar building experience.  For anyone interested in a flat top guitar of the highest caliber, I'd recommend playing the Kleins (Sonoma CA) & Schoenbergs (Tiburon CA), note prices, then fly out to Salt Lake City to visit Thorell's shop in Logan or visit one of Thorell's dealers.  When price is part of the equation the shopping experiment is over. 

The importance of proper nut & bridge width can not be overemphasized, something I unfortunately did not discover till a few years ago.  To R Taylor's credit they offer four nut widths; unfortunately only one bridge width is offerred.  Eric Schoenberg deserves great credit for championing wider bridges, esp important for larger finger widths & esp when wider than average nuts are employed.