Chrysós: new beginnings
As an aspiring guitarist, the adage “perfect practice makes perfect” was one of the best mantras I came across. As a guitar maker, Michael Jordan’s quote on fundamentals really rings true for me. In a world where skilled manual labour has largely been overpowered by skilled programming and mass-manufacture, it is all too easy to become lost in the trap of trying to do things faster just to keep up.
For those of you who arrived at this blog entry via my Facebook post, the gleaming hand-plane blade could be considered symbolic of my understanding of the space that Lucas Guitar occupies, its modus operandi and raison d’être. It takes years of practice to master the sharpening of a hand-plane blade. You probably have equivalent skills that have taken you years to master: cooking the perfect stir-fry, writing a weekly board report or making a good hook-turn (sorry, Melbourne driving reference there). Reading a good guide or having a good instructor will take you part of the way there, but there really is no substitute for experiencing the trials and tribulations of actually doing the task, adjusting your technique in the aim of achieving perfection.
So the new beginnings bound up in my latest custom guitar really has everything to do with recognising that there are fundamentals there that are time-suckers in the process, but to get great results they have to be adhered to.
Most guitars take me a few months (at least) to get done. There are seasonal reasons for this – Melbourne’s climatic variations, for example – but the main reason my guitars take a while to come to fruition is because there is a lot of thought that goes into each one. I always ask myself: will this timber, this component, this finish give my customer what they truly want or need? While I always have a fairly detailed plan, I find that the most rewarding, unique and emotive instruments are the result of thinking about them over a period of time. For example in my last build Delta Queen I added Jarrah inserts into the body after an experience repairing stripped threads in another customer’s guitar. This will now become a feature of many of my instruments from now-on. Perhaps I’m doing myself out of repair work by doing this, but what I really want is for the customer to enjoy it in its primary state for as many years or generations as possible.
Sharpening a hand-plane from scratch is many hours work, but experience has taught me that using a hand-plane gives the most invisible of joints, and if it takes a few extra hours well that’s the way it has to be. This is the first action of many required to create one of my uncompromising guitars. Stay tuned and enjoy the journey.
By the way, Chrysós is my latest build, and is Greek for gold.