Guitar 49 “River Journey”

    “River Journey”

    Body 15″ across the lower bout.  Sitka spruce top.  Bubinga back and sides.  Mahogany neck with an ebony fingerboard.  This guitar was made for my friend Mary Pagel, who is a Bluegrass player in Fairbanks.  Pagel, as she likes to be called, is an avid whitewater paddler.  She’s had shoulder issues, so we designed a smaller guitar with a wedged box to make it easy for her to play without pain. 

    The bubinga back and sides have what is called a waterfall figure in the grain.  Bubinga is a hardwood from Africa.  It is not a rosewood, but it has similar physical and acoustical properties.  The binding is curly maple.  The theme of the guitar is flowing water.  The inlay is a portrait of Pagel in her canoe, maneuvering around rocks and through the rapids.  The inlay is made from stained glass, mother of pearl, and antler.  The current line is Sterling silver and the boulders at the position markers are abalone. 

    The rosette is inspired by the braided channels that occur in the glacial rivers here in Alaska.  I started with an asymmetrical design.  It was interesting, but it didn’t look quite right.  I kept playing with sections of it until I arrived at trilateral symmetry.  The pattern repeats three times as it goes around the soundhole.  It has a feeling of randomness, but it is also balanced.