Rosettes

The festive season is a time for decorations, The most decorative part of a guitar is the rosette, where the maker gets to express his or her personality. In the shop we specialize in rosettes, so this issue features some by my students who are currently working on their guitars. These are not traditional Persian inlay end-grain rosettes that you see on classical guitars. All our wood rosettes are side-grain inlay. But we do tend to borrow the larger dimensions, compared to standard steel string rosettes, from the classical guitar look. Here I am proud to share a number of unique rosettes, designed and executed by my students.

First, here is Dick Baglio’s extraordinary rosette, designed by his wife, Linda. Dick is here tap-tone testing his top which is reclaimed redwood from an 1800′s California rail road trestle bridge.

Dick is here tap-tone testing his top which is reclaimed redwood from an 1800's California rail road trestle bridge.

Next is Eugenio Burgos’ rosette. It is deceptively simple – three bands of bent ebony. But what sets it apart and makes it striking is that the bands are of different widths.

Next is Eugenio Burgos' rosette. It is deceptively simple - three bands of bent ebony.

Here is another rosette of rings, designed and made by Liam Stone. Liam has used the different woods, all appearing elsewhere in his guitar, to make the rings: Indian rosewood, cherry, ebony, and spruce. The spruce is the same wood as in the soundboard, but instead of simply cutting a cavity and leaving a ring of soundboard wood, Liam has chosen to bend a spruce ring so that if you look closely, you see that the grain goes parallel to the circumference.

Here is another rosette of rings, designed and made by Liam Stone.

Finally, John Wyatt chose to do a side-grain inlay rosette, using the same jig-based methods as my Greek Key rosette. Here you see John inlaying the individual pieces.

Here you see John inlaying the individual pieces.

A close up view shows the detail. The rosette is pieces of walnut and maple. The maple is precisely quarter sawn so that the medulary rays show, as you can see. When John finished, we realized the effect is reminiscent of a piano keyboard!

The maple is precisely quarter sawn so that the medulary rays show, as you can see.

Gigs and Demos
I’ve been doing a lot of appearances, especially at the League of NH Craftsmen stores. These are generally informal mini-concerts and guitar-making demos. The next scheduled one is Saturday, April 21st 2012 at the new League of New Hampshire Craftsmen headquarters in Concord, NH. It’s well worth a visit, not necessarily to see me, but to see the astonishing range of work done by New Hampshire craftsmen. You’ll find details here.

Anyway, all of this has put me in mind to become a star. My wife, Holly, chuckles, but I figure if you have a roadie (I have one, but he’s kind of unreliable), groupies (still working on that one), and riders, you’ve arrived. Riders are when you get to request special refreshments in your dressing room. The kind folks at the League store in Littleton let me choose a delicious Thai lunch when I played there! So there you are, the road to stardom!

Shop Notes – Repair Service
Former student Gordon Greenway now works in the shop and is accepting guitar repairs. These include solving action problems, fret dressing, setups, neck resets, saddle and nut upgrades (from plastic to bone, for example), bridge replacement, and more severe problems such as bellied out tops and loose or broken braces. Contact Gordon at xenolith59@comcast.net

In Closing
For years, I started practicing seasonal carols a few days before the holidays. That’s not sufficient! One needs to start months in advance. Even though it may seem odd to play carols in June, try it next year. You’ll be glad you did once December rolls around.

Happy Holidays,
© 2011, John Whiteside