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In the Works
December 20, 2017

My how time flies. I see that it has been nine months since my last update. Fortunately I've been less lackadaisical in guitar building than in website updating.

Looks like I built 4 guitars since last posting an update. I finished up the Mystic line with the Autumn, built in April 2017. I then veered slightly with an unofficial, sort of Mystic, but not really guitar, Lil Marge, that was completed in May 2017.

Then after several months of thinking, planning, tweaking previously built guitars, and doing all sorts of non-guitar-building things, I recently finished up and posted the first two of my new Orley Six (O6) -- Magnus -- styled guitar. The first, appropriately named Magnus Alpha, was built in September 2017 and the second, Magnus Arizona, was completed in November 2017. The Magnus is a straight up semi-hollow body, with duo f-holes comparable to standard 335-style guitars. But bucking convention, I had to add my own little twist to this style. Check out the Alpha and Arizona for details.

I have at least two and probably three more guitars in the Magnus line planned out. The first, which I intend to name Ambrose, is currently a 5 foot slab of mahogany sitting in my workshop. As is my penchant to build an all mahogany guitar in each style, so it will be with the Ambrose. This will be a continuation of the line that includes Mahogany Red, Golden Boy, Margie, and Lil Marge.

Another Magnus percolating in my brain that will be constructed from padauk for the top, maple for the back and sides, and mahogany for the neck. This is actually a reboot of my first attempt at an unnamed semi-hollow body built from those components. It had been parked for a few years with a relative (out of sight out of mind), but regaining possession prompted me to do a similar version in the Magnus line. I plan to name it Aries.

A third bouncing around my head has not yet taken precise form, it might involve some sort of arch inlay in the top and or back -- Magnus Arch. Or it might include inlaying common playing card symbols -- heart, club, spade, diamond -- Magnus Ace. Or perhaps I will do both. The wood to be used in either or both is still to be determined.

Perhaps you've noticed a trend. Both Magnus guitars built and the others in the planning stage all begin with the letter "A". Why? Who knows? This might be one of life's great unsolved mysteries.

Stay tuned.

For nice demo of the Mystic line, let me direct you to a couple of Youtube videos made using the Mystic Ghost (https://youtu.be/ZY_BvZXHQV0 and https://youtu.be/HsngMD-O4Ss) by Richard santos Mallia.


March 25, 2017

I've just posted my two most recent guitar builds. The Mystic Ghost was completed in November of 2016 and the Mystic Yerple was finalized this past February 2017.

On the workshop bench, I have the components remaining for the last two Orley Five body shapes. One is a scrappy little number made with strips of mahogany, maple, cherry, walnut, and padauk of varying widths. I haven't come with a catchy name yet, other than it reminds me of a butcher block. The other is an all mahogany semi-hollow body, with a double f-hole body and arch top.

Still pondering my newest style. I have not yet finalized anything. But I am leaning toward a semi-hollow body model that leans more heavily toward acoustic features than my most recent semi-hollow body guitars. I'll let you know when I have something more concrete.

Stay tuned.

I'm also working on selling off some of my current inventory, primarily through eBay. But I have a couple on display at our local guitar store.


November 15, 2016

Well, it has been a while since I updated the website and reported on progress. While this was partly due to a full-time job and, well, life, but mostly it was time spent working up a new line of guitars. Starting with the Sunny Ray (O5) shape and size, then making a few small modifications, I came with the Orley Five Mystic guitar. Inspired by the Les Paul, I incorporated many Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster features and construction techniques. In particular, I employed the Fender method of using a pickguard to cover assorted electronic component cavities. And rather than glued-on necks I employed the bolt-on variety. In both cases, I'm confident that the Mystic guitar style will be significantly easier to adjust, tweak, and maintain down the road. Then to spice things up a bit, I decided to make two versions -- one solid body and the other semi-hollow body, the former picking up contouring found in the Stratocaster and the latter emulating the Telecaster thinline style.

I also spent a significant amount of time and effort obtaining tools and developing techniques to improve fretboards and ensure absolutely level frets. Further effort was devoted to guitar set up, neck bow, string action, and intonation. Admittedly I was a bit lax with my early guitars, given that set up tends vary with the player, I passed this responsibility largely onto buyers. But no longer. When my guitars leave the shop, they are set up and ready to play.

So far this year, I have built five Mystic guitars -- 2 solid body and 3 thinline semi-hollow body. I have the components for three more on the workbench -- 1 thinline and 2 solid bodies. I also have the components for a O4/O5 hybrid -- the size and shape of an O5 but the semi-hollow body design of Margie, Barbie and others of the O4 style. Once these are complete, I plan to develop a brand new style for 2017. Stay tuned.


December 23, 2015

The holidays are upon us and Christmas is almost here. To treat myself, I finished up my latest guitar build, Margie. I've enjoyed building guitars with mahogany -- I like the sound and I like how the wood works. I've done one solid body (Golden Boy) and a couple of acoustics (Mahogany White and Mahogany Red). It seemed logical to build an Orley Four design using mahogany body and neck. And so I did. I went with rosewood fretboard, then decided to use rosewood for the pickup brackets and f-hole binding. I had always planned on using gold hardware -- I really like the mahogany and gold combination. The mahogany, rosewood, and gold is where the name Margie came from.

With this build complete (a build that I actually started back in September when I cut out the body and neck blanks along with those for Marilyn and Grand Cheri, then took a detour to build Sunny Ray and a ukulele), I will likely take a step back to evaluate my next build.

What might that be? Where will I go next? I just don't know. Stay tuned.


November 30, 2015

My latest guitar is the Grand Cheri, so name for the cherry body, Brazilian cherry arch top and grandillo neck. This is the fourth of the Orley Four semi-hollow body designs. The Brazilian cherry is the same wood used for the arch top on the Lion. This is the first time using cherry and I am inclined to use it in later builds. I was extremely pleased with the grandillo use for the neck. It works great for necks, but I might try some for a body. I plan to do at least one more O4, with mahogany body, top and neck, before moving on to other styles. I like the O4, but time will tell if I build others with this design. It might be time to move on to other challenges.

Before the Grand Cheri, I also finished up a little ukulele, with padauk top; mahogany back, sides, and neck; and rosewood fretboard and bridge. It turned out really good, but even though less wood was involved, the time and effort was almost the same as an acoustic guitar. I'm not sure it it is worth the effort.

I hope to have the as yet unnamed mahogany O4 finished within the next two weeks. Check back for further progress.


October 9, 2015

I just finished up my latest guitar, Sunny Ray, posting the details to this website. When starting this design, I had more than a few doubts. Precisely cutting, then gluing a couple of dozen oddly shaped pieces of wood around a circular center was a daunting proposition. But with a great deal of patience and a whole lot of sanding, it eventually came together -- literally.

Yesterday, I started playing around with ukulele construction. After making body shape template and putting together a form for shaping the bent sides, I rough cut a few tops/bottoms, then using my bending iron to shape the sides for two ukes. Sure ukuleles are smaller, but the effort involved is about the same as a regular acoustic. I'll likely take one instrument through to completion, just to see how it goes. Time will tell if I need to add Ukulele to the name of this operation. Stay tuned.


September 1, 2015

While I have the components for two additional Orley Four semi-hollow body guitars, I've been toying around with a new design for a solid body electric, what will become the Orley Five model. The tentative name for this is "Sunny Ray." The name reflects a somewhat unique design based on my desire to make use of leftover scraps from other guitars. Emerging from a five inch center circle of maple are "rays" of assorted woods, including padauk, mahogany, maple, cherry, and ash. I'm planning on a maple neck and in all likelihood a rosewood fretboard.

One of the two Orley Four semi-hollow body guitars awaiting my attention has a cherry body, Brazilian cherry arch top, grandillo neck, and ebony fretboard. The other contains mahogany body, top, and neck, with a rosewood fretboard.

Additional instruments are percolating inside the design studio of my head, which may or may not come to fruition in the near future, including a '72 style Telecaster constructed of mahogany body and neck. I'm also pondering a ukelele or two. There's also a jazz style hollow body guitar and perhaps one or two acoustics with an alternative body shape.

Check back to the website for photos and further developments. I can't wait to see what I do next.


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