I sprayed 12 thin layers of a water-based lacquer called KTM-9. It cured for 10 days before I buffed out the finish to a nice gloss.
The Routens have been very busy recently; an amazing Jars of Clay concert and VIP meeting, a superb house concert featuring Muriel Anderson, the amazing and award-winning finger-style guitarist and harp player, and much more to come.
Here are a couple of pictures from the two concerts, and if you know of any cool or exciting concerts/shows in the Tampa Bay area, please let us know in the comments below!
The body and neck are completed and sealed and ready for pore filling and finishing.
The body is almost finished. Binding and purfling will be the next step.
I am making great progress on Gino’s guitar. More time in the woodshop means less time for posts but I will be catching up. Enjoy the recent pictures.
The top and neck are the first steps in building Gino’s guitar.
I had requests/orders for three custom tenor ukes so I agreed to build them and have just finished. They are actually a lot of fun to play and sound great!
The uke on the left has a Western Red Cedar top and Mahogany back and sides. The middle uke has a Redwood top and Ovangkol back and sides with a 5-piece neck. The uke on the right has a Western Red Cedar and Ziricote back and sides.
The guitar I just started building is truly the most exciting project I have ever done. It’s for someone who is one of the biggest musical influences in my life. To understand this, you need to know a little bit about me.
I have a passion for music. Born into a family of non-musical parents and siblings, I started singing in public at age five with my parents’ urging and support. I spent years studying violin, clarinet and guitar, including jazz guitar with session player Andy Roemer. In college I studied piano with Kathleen Vadala, a gifted pianist and wife of Chris Vadala, woodwind player in the Chuck Mangione Quartet at the time.
Since the age of 14, I have played in duos, ensembles and bands. I have performed on television, radio and in many other venues. I have a song published and a self-produced CD of original music.
Did I mention my eclectic taste in music? Back in high school, family and friends were as likely to hear a Beethoven concerto on my stereo as a jazz standard from Grover Washington Jr. or a 15-minute tone poem by Kansas. My musical interest ranges from Bach to Beatles, Liszt to Led Zeppelin, and Joe Sample to Keb’ Mo’. I can’t go a week without hearing pieces by David Benoit or Jars of Clay. If the song is great or performed well, I am likely to count it among my pleasures, regardless of genre. My wife and I attend dozens of concerts a year.
One sunny day while I was in college in 1974, I turned the FM tuner to my favorite underground college station in Virginia. I heard a song that had an everlasting impact on my musical life: Powerful People by Gino Vannelli. I grabbed my car keys and rushed down to Korvettes to buy this amazing song, but the record department clerk didn’t know anything about it or the artist. He reluctantly agreed to try to order it. Not finding it listed in his binder of printed pages, he wrote it in on the order form.
In the meantime, the radio station played several more cuts from the album: People Gotta Move and Felicia – both equally fantastic songs. When the album did come in, I played it continuously and for anyone I could get to listen. It became the anthem of my musical family.
Over the years I have seen Gino in concert many times. I have travelled great distances to see his shows. I have also read his book, Stardust in the Sand, twice. I own everything he has ever recorded.
In February 2013, Gino gave a concert at the House of Blues in Orlando. I was lucky enough to get meet-and-greet tickets. I was finally going to get to meet my musical inspiration! I practiced what I was going to say so as not to sound like a crazed fan. My son David suggested that I offer to build him a custom guitar.
The concert was simply incredible. My wife commented (several times) on just how good Gino still looks.
When we were in line to meet him, I rehearsed one last time, and I wrote out a note on my business card. Gino was very cordial, but I had only about a minute for a handshake, picture and to say, “Thank you for giving us decades of outstanding music.” I did not have time to talk about guitars or give him my business card. Nonetheless, the evening was magical and one I will always remember.
After the concert, and at David’s urging, I emailed Gino through his website and told him I would be honored to build him a custom guitar in the hope that he will continue to compose wonderful music.
I truly did not expect to ever hear back from him, but to my surprise, the very next day I received an email from his brother and manager, Ross Vannelli (who wrote Gino’s hit, “I Just Wanna Stop”). Ross told me Gino has a good guitar but it is not really ideal for studio recording; could I build him one for recording?
Over the next several weeks, we discussed the sound, action, appearance and application of a custom, studio guitar, which I am building to Gino’s specifications. He prefers a bright and balanced sound with low action for his finger-style technique.
Based on Gino’s responses, I suggested two guitar shapes and two combinations of wood. To my delight, since Gino lives in the Pacific Northwest, he selected local, domestic woods: Oregon Myrtle for the back and sides and master-grade Sitka Spruce for the top in a Grand Concert model.
And so the adventure begins….