Ottawa's guitar repair shop


Its fun to research old patents. It gives you an insight into who is pioneering what in the field. I was curious about pickups today, and stumbled upon this Seymour Duncan Patent (Carter Ducan Corp). It also shows you who is doing the inventing. This patent refers to the design of "Rails" series from Seymour. I recognize the Vintage Rails and Duckbucker in this patent. Enjoy!

The Devil is in the details

The golden age of guitars has arrived. The incredible popularity of the instrument and its music woke up a manufacturing monster almost a century ago. It took a long time to get to the point we're at today, but the combination of globalization, giant freighters, CNC machines, automated manufacturing techniques and the internet has thrust us into an age when a very good guitar does not have to be an expensive guitar. You can walk into most large music stores, try an instrument made in Indonesia and find yourself wondering why you would pay for a Western made instrument. To be honest, I sometimes wonder how the western guitar companies are going to survive.

This being said, there are instruments that will always feel, play and sound better than any guitar you can pick off a shelf at a store, in a factories custom shop or a techs bench. This is an instrument who has received a Luthiers touch. And we, Luthiers, will be around for centuries to come.

Let's use the example of a partscaster (a guitar, usually stratocaster or telecaster style, made from manufactured parts such as Warmoth or AllParts). If you order all of your parts, unpack everything and start assembling the puzzle, you can easily be playing the instrument within two to three hours if you've done it before, maybe half a day if it's your first The guitar will feel OK, but it won't feel magical. I can easily assemble an AllParts guitar in a matter of an hour and a half, but I can also pay attention to all the things that I feel matter in the end product. Pay attention to every screw, sharp edge, solder point, adjustment, piece of hardware, fret end, crown and slot. When I put together a parts guitar, I plan for 20 hours of work, because it matters. If a set screw is a hair to long, and I can see that the musician could feel it, I take it out, shorten it, remove the burrs and put it back in. The frets on these necks are usually perfectly level, but the fret ends and fretboard edges are machined to a nice clean edge. Even though this looks great, it feels terrible. Every fret end has to be shaped, with a small file, so that no straight edges are present. Then they have to be sanded and polished, and often levelled. The edges of the fretboard have to be broken, just enough to feel like they were worn in. The bone nut has to be not only shaped, but polished to a mirror finish.

And the details add up. Every washer and screw can be made better than when it left the factory. By the time the deed is done, the instrument truly feels magical.

New Mandolins

Latest electric mandolins!

Here are some pictures of my latest creations. I've changed the design a little to improve over the last ones. I moved the pickups towards the bridge to free up the picking area, I've increased the neck and headstock angle. I also went from a neck through maple with ash wings design to a deep set Spanish Cedar neck and Mahogany body design. The idea was to increase bass response far a smoother tone, and it worked!

electric mandolin cedar neck, Iron Gian electric mandolin cedar neck, Iron Giant

electric mandolin cedar neck, side shot  electric mandolin cedar neck, Weeping angel, side shot

electric mandolin cedar neck, face shot of Iron Giant  electric mandolin cedar neck

Serious Mods!

Transforming a Jaguar Bass into a Bass VI. Wait, what?

Sometimes, you can't get the instrument you need for your band project. So, you need someone like me to either make one, or transform one. This one is for a band project, I had to transform a Squier Jaguar Bass into a Bass VI. The work involved routing three pickup cavities, a control cavity, modifying the headstock, changing the bridge and, of course, making the whole thing work! I'll let the pictures do the talking.

guitar modification luthier ottawa 4 It all started with this dis-assembled Jaguar Bass. It's a short scale instrument with a narrow nut. Fitting six strings in there was going to be tricky.







So, here is the fun part:

guitar modification luthier pickup routing routing patern

guitar modification luthier ottawa pickup rout completed rout

guitar modification luthier ottawa headstock modification Headstock modification

guitar modification luthier ottawa custom electronics Custom electronics. The pickups are controled with three on/on switches and sent to the circuit.

guitar modification luthier ottawa And, the completed project.

guitar modification luthier ottawa 3

Electric Mandolin Review

Hello everyone,


                            Great news! Joseph Brent from New York City found himself interested in my electric mandolins. Joe is a world class mandolinist that has devoted his life and career to the art of music, and the Mandolin. He was kind enough to write an awesome review of my little glow in the dark beast and to make two videos of the instrument. His review can be read at the following link.

Here are the links to the videos:

Mandolin Review

Playing it with Jeff Litman at The Bitter End