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True Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is defined as

“the quality of design and work shown in something made by hand”, which might be considered a little antiquated. The often used “hand made” vignette can be a bit of a misnomer. Although I use a lot of hand tools in my work, probably more so than most contemporary guitar makers I don’t consider the use of these hand tools to be imperative to the outcome. It’s supposed to be the person wielding the tool in use that makes the difference.

Whether the tool is an antique plow plane or a Computer Numerical Control cutting tool doesn’t seem that important to me. I happen to prefer using hand tools as much as possible because that’s the experience that made the craft of guitar making attractive to me, even though a number of the contemporary acoustic and electric guitars I admire most do not have as much hand work in them as their quality of workmanship and sound suggests.

As long as I can remember there has always existed a whiff of snobbery in guitar making with the use of “only the finest materials”, as if the use of materials derived from trees and animals close to extinction will make for a better sounding guitar. I try to build guitars with woods that have been properly aged so they will remain stable as time goes by, but I’ve never insisted on only using these “finest materials” since some of my favorite guitars have been made from inexpensive woods.

I have a three pickup 1960 Danelectro guitar fabricated from pine, poplar and masonite, that is an irreplaceable part of my vocabulary, whether it’s in my guitar making or my guitar playing dictionary. Wood is a mysterious thing in some ways: really plain woods can produce a beautiful sound whereas some of the most spectacular flamed woods can be quite disappointing, in sharp contrast to what our eyes may suggest. But it’s the ears that I’m most concerned with: what makes me fall for a guitar is usually in the first thirty seconds I pick it up and play it; the appearance usually is secondary to me in that instance. I try to have my workmanship the best I can do, and one of the more satisfactory character traits of making a guitar is the ever present possibility of improvement, whether it is in the guitars design, or it’s execution.

Flip is like a Renaissance craftsman — every single line and curve of his work is executed with the most elegant attention to the tiniest detail.
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