Work on this project took a back seat to a commission I had received from the UK. I completed the construction during the first week in November and I strung the guitar up unfinished. By the following day, the guitar was showing signs of promise despite my misgivings about the top bracing. Both the basses and trebles were strong and firm, balance and clarity were good and I was surprised by the volume. I found the trebles quite exciting in terms of their tonality and especially the sustain which seemed quite exceptional. I needed to get back to work on the commissioned guitar so I removed the strings so that I could start work on french polishing the Friederich replica between work sessions on the commission. I didn't finish the polishing until early this month at which time I strung it up again. I had a few of my friends play it and they commented favourably so I posted it for sale on my web site. I have to confess, I didn't pay as much attention to it as I might have without the other pressing work.
On January 13, a good friend and client who heads up the guitar program at the Mount Royal University in Calgary contacted me to ask if I could send the BRW/Spruce guitar I'd built to show at a luthier's fair to him for a student to look at. A mutual friend was driving to Calgary and would pick the guitar up from me and deliver it to him. I asked him about the student and he advised that it was a 17 year old female who was an exceptional player. She was playing a Marin Montero guitar and having recently formed a duo with another gifted Calgary player found that her guitar could not match the volume of her partner's. So, I decided to drive to Calgary myself and bring both the Friederich copy and the other guitar. There would be several hours available for both the girl and the teacher to work them over, compare, assess and so on. I could be there in person and make my own assessments.
As it turned out, the girl is a truly exceptional player. The guitars were played both extensively and critically by both with each having opportunities to both play and listen. First they commented about the similarities remarking that they both sounded like they were made by the same luthier. While i sort of agreed, that seemed strange given that the designs were completely different. Then as they got into the nuances they discovered differences in the nature of tone colours, response to different kinds of attack and so forth. The girl commented that the sound seemed to "float" out of the Friederich while it "popped" out of the BRW/spruce. Preference for one over the other moved back and forth several times.
The girl's mother was there as well and we both kept out thoughts more or less to ourselves. But, by this time I was starting to conclude that my "experiment" was definitely worth the time and effort regardless of anything else.
After about three hours, it was time for me to leave and the girl remained undecided saying she loved both. So, I told her to take them both home for a week. She could play them with her duo partner and also to compare them with her Montero Marin. Maybe after a few days, the "novelty" would wear off and a different reality might emerge in which case neither guitar would be right for her. I told her she could bring one or both instruments back to my friend after she had made her decision and I would arrange to get them back on my own.
After four days a got an email from the mother telling me that the girl "loved the Friederich copy and that were keeping it. I since got the cheque in the mail.
I hope some of you find this all as interesting as I did. Certainly I have, for the umpteenth time learned how little I know and how much there is to learn. Guitars truly are amazing in their endless possibilities.