The Art of the Guitar

I am a traditionalist. My guitars are built after well-established designs and builders such as C.F. Martin, Bruno and Santos Hernandez, with some modern improvements. All my guitars share some characteristics:

Isle of Skye Guitars

They are built with bolt-on necks in place of the traditional dovetail. This method has several advantages: primarily ease of construction and the simplicity of neck reset.

Neck rods are 2-way adjustable, accessible through the sound hole and adjustable without removing tension from the strings.

The frets are glued in rather than hammered in. This method results in frets which need less leveling and, when re-fretted, the fingerboard will not chip.

All six-strings have ebony fingerboards and bridges and maple bridge plates. I build classical guitars with ebony fingerboards and rosewood bridges.

Necks are of Honduran mahogany. This wood has become scarce and is on its way, like Brazilian rosewood, to CITES certification. When that happens all luthiers will have to find suitable substitutes. Until then I will continue to use mahogany, FSC certified when I can get it. For these reasons as well as those of strength I usually build my necks in the Spanish fashion, with glued-up headstock and stacked heel.

All my instruments are finished with French polish. Though laborious, this finish is beautiful, acoustically almost transparent, and infinitely repairable.

My guitars, with the exception of classical and 12-string, are all built with scalloped bracing. Classicals are braced appropriately for their use, and 12-strings are built with slightly heavier tapered bracing.

—Dan McCrimmon, Luthier