Leigh Keno Auctions Guitar

Leigh Keno examines guitar.The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen held a high-end auction to raise money for their planned new building in the state capitol, and asked members to donate their crafts. The auctioneer was PBS (Antiques Roadshow) celebrity Leigh Keno. I donated a guitar, and also provided entertainment for the champagne reception and silent auction portion of the program.

Here is Leigh before the auction examining my guitar, the twin of the one I donated. He seems especially interested in the side-grain-inlay, ebony and cherry rosette. Note my custom-designed formal gig outfit. Also note the set list taped to the side of the guitar!

The guitar auctioned well and it was gratifying to have made a contribution to a worthy cause.

Shop News
Cutaway guitar profile. The big news this season is cutaways. A cutaway allows the player easier access to the frets high up the fingerboard, while not affecting tone. Here is a profile shot of my new Florentine (pointy) design. It seems to work well visually with dark wood, in this case Indian Rosewood, accentuated by light binding. This guitar has no back-stripe, the idea being to show an “ocean of rosewood”. On the next similar model, there will be a holly center stripe. Still not sure which I prefer.

However, for Venetian (rounded) cutaways which I am thinking would look better with lighter-colored woods, I have a new design which includes an innovation – so as to continue the curve, the cutaway actually cuts slightly under the fingerboard, which is slightly cantilevered over the body. There will be photos in the next newsletter.

To design the new curve, I asked my woodturning friends in the Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers for advice. They said, “Forget circles and elipses and throw away the french curves. Design a pleasing curve by eye”, which is of course what they do on the lathe. It is instructive to look up “cutaways” on the web. There is a wide variety of shapes. And pay attention to which work well with the curvier-bodied 12 fret models as opposed to the flattened 14 fret models.

Three students are working on guitars in the shop at the moment, and I have three instruments underway and bespoke. That leaves only one slot open for lessons or a commission during 2011.

Playing Tip
If you are learning a song using sheet music, tab, or written chord names, try memorizing it as quickly as possible. Many people report that if they refer constantly to the written version, they become dependent on it and the piece never seems to develop the swing or flow that happens when you play from memory alone. It seems that when using written notes, chords, or lyrics you involve a different part of the brain (left hemisphere) that tends to be more analytic and judgemental. Switch to right brain (no notes) as soon as you can. Not only will the song flow better, but you will discover yourself focusing on the expressiveness of the song, not the mechanics of playing.

Hope you enjoyed this newsletter. Suggestions welcome. Wishing you a tuneful and peaceful holiday season!

Best regards,
© 2010, John Whiteside