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Bench notes 1/30/14

Here in the Northeast we are in the midst of the coldest and driest time of the year. Humidity outside is as low as it gets, and if you aren't adding a LOT of moisture to the air inside your house then it is bone dry there too. And as most guitar owners know, extremes of humidity (particularly low humidity) and cause problems for your guitar.  Common problems that arise when your guitar dries out include sinkage of the top, protruding fret ends (as the fretboard shrinks), set up issues and body cracks. It is important to remember to humidify your guitar during these dry months to avoid these problems. In order to maintain good hydration the guitar should be in it's case with a humidifier, with the lid of the case closed and latched. Case humidifiers are commercially available from a number of manufacturers but the most economical way to humidify the case is with a travel soap dish that has a couple of holes drilled in the lid, and keep a small piece of damp kitchen sponge in the dish. Make sure the sponge is damp enough to last a few days without having to be recharged, but not so wet that it leaks water. The humidifier can be placed behind the headstock or in any other sufficient void in the case, including in the accessory box. Doing so will go a long way to keep your guitar happy through the dry months and will help you avoid potentially costly repairs that come with under hyrdration.

The shop is very busy as usual, lots of repairs and several build projects going on. I'm currently building a Jumbo style 40 koa guitar (back, sides and top) for a customer, a spec build of a pre-war D-28 style guitar in solid Brazilian and Adirondack for the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival this summer, and a 1968 spec D-45 reproduction for Blue-G Guitars in Tokyo.  I'm doing a running thread on the new Kovacik Guitars Facebook page  that covers nearly every step of the J-40 Koa build, feel free to check in there periodically for updates on that guitar as well as all kinds of other stuff of interest to guitar players. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently host an exhibit entitled "Early American Guitars:  The Instruments of CF Martin." The exhibit came about as a result of the publication of "Inventing the American Guitar: The pre-civil war innovations of CF Martin and his contemporaries." The book has multiple authors (David LaPlante, Arian Sheets, James Westbrook, Richard Johnston and David Ganz, Edited by Peter Szego and Robert Shaw) and chronicles Martin's early years building guitars in the US, starting with an Austro-German design to incorporating Spanish influence, and eventually evolving into the "American guitar." The museum exhibit includes 35 early guitars, mostly Martins, but several early Cadiz school Spanish guitars (built by Riecio and Delorca), guitars by Schatz, Schmidt and Maul, and James Ashborn. The exhibit will be in place through December 2014.  I attended the opening of the exhibit in mid-January, and will be attending the Martin-sponsored opening even on Feb. 1 and will report back with photos and more exhibit info (most likely on my facebook page). The exhibit is well worth seeing Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin—January 14–December 7, 2014.

Kovacik Guitars will be at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Framingham MA on Feb. 14-16th.  I'll be there doing on-site repair work as well as offering vintage guitars and accessories for sale. If you are going to Joe Val make sure and drop by the booth to say hello. See you then.