Stringed Instrument Makers of Southern California

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General Interest

Meeting 10/28/17


Other Stringed Instrument events

Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival
September 30, 2017 – Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, CA

2017 Annual Meeting Recap

On January 28, twenty-three SIMSCal members convened at Rockler in Orange. Here's what happened.


Club memberships for 2017 were paid for, and all dues-paying members received a raffle ticket for the end-of-meeting drawing for the...

Just for kicks, and to satisfy our curiosity, the club ordered a laser-cut, tenor ukulele in a kit, with 3mm plywood top and back. The relatively simple assembly was completed in stages throughout the meeting, using hot hide glue, a hand plane, sandpaper, a screwdriver, a stack of books from the SIMSCal library as clamps, and scissors to cut the strings.

Dan Greene read the instructions while Art Prangley did the dirty work. Dan strummed a few chords on the finished product, which indeed sounded like a ukulele.


A selection of Sitka, Engelmann and Adirondack Spruce shipped down from LMI for the Steel String guitarmaking class was on display for all members, offering the club an opportunity to examine the differences between species, and grade levels (AA, AAA, etc.) within species. Despite being offered at LMI's best price + 10% for tax, shipping, and handling, there were no takers at the meeting.


Members who attended the NAMM Show in Anaheim the previous weekend were given the floor to comment on anything of interest from the show. While the NAMM Show is, first and foremost, a trade show for music retailers, it can be interesting from a luthier's standpoint to see what some of the smaller manufacturers and custom builders are doing, as far as instrument designs and building materials are concerned.

Larry McCutcheon reported on the market for
McPherson Guitars (you may know them from their "offset soundhole" design and use of carbon fiber bodies), learning that their distribution&& line is full and they are only making custom guitars now; a possible indicator of market saturation?

Dan Greene found the Boutique Luthiers Showcase to be the most eye-catching part of the show, featuring a blend of both domestic and European custom luthiers (mostly electric) whose instruments ranged from fairly traditional to "modern art."

Eric Nichols and Dale Terrien were impressed with some of the new guitar setup & repair tools from
Music Nomad, including their new Cradle Cube (a soft, multi-height neck cradle), GRIP Guards (fret polishing fingerboard guards with built-in handles), and GRIP Winder (a very solid, smooth-operating peg winder).

There was also a novel acoustic guitar pickup design on display from
Gopher Wood Guitars out of South Korea, the SoundPillar. It was a spring-loaded sound post that picks up the vibrations of the top and back plates, and features interchangeable tips made of various types of wood and metal, which supposedly alters the tone of the amplified acoustic signal. Not a mainstraim pickup design, for sure, but an interesting curiosity nonetheless.


Another great turnout for Show & Tell at this meeting! Dan Greene showed how he assembled new Dreadnought molds for the Steel String guitarmaking class, using his and Greg Merkle's CNC machine to cut out the layered "ribs" of the mold and make an alignment template to assemble them.                       

Sheri Peterson shared her first classical guitar made "without adult supervision." It was a beauty, and Sheri really wowed the crowd with her execution of the Spanish V-joint at the neck-peghead junction.

Art Prangley showed off his newly designed logo via a few peghead inlays that were carved with a 1/64" bit in a CNC router, and filled with metallic and stone powders. Examples of copper and turquoise were passed around.

Jim McWilliam made us all green with envy by showing off his new toy, the premium-priced Rotary Tool Plunge Assembly from LMI (more or less a souped-up version of StewMac's Precision Router Base for Dremel/Foredom tools). Can I borrow that sometime, Jim?

Bruce Ray White showed us his latest acoustic guitar build, which marks the first time he has carved a neck from scratch. He also pointed out the really nice pearl inlay in the headstock, and informed us that he got a sweet deal by having the pearl carved by an artisan on the streets of Tijuana!

Ed Glass demonstrated a method for accurate, repeatable shaping of violin tops, and other arched-top instruments, using a set of stacked templates and a drill press.

Carl Bernhardt brought in his latest repair project-to-be, a hurdy-gurdy! (The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument in which sound is produced by the friction of a rosined wheel turned by a crank against the strings, and the pitches are varied by keys.) Good luck, Carl!

Hot on Carl's heels, our new buddy Scott showed up after a looong drive down from Burbank with a car full of hurdy-gurdies, including this beautiful, lute-backed one. After providing some historical and technical information on the instrument, he strapped in and treated us (and everyone at Rockler, for that matter) to an impromptu hurdy-gurdy concert!

And finally, Larry McCutcheon demonstrated our new silicone heating blanket and temperature controller for side bending, which will be used in SIMSCal's guitarmaking classes, and will be available for dues-paying members to use when not in use by the classes.


JoolTool powered sharpening station offered: no takers.


Members voted for our new officers for the year. The results are in! Meet your new(-ish) Board for 2017:

President – Art Prangley (unopposed)

Secretary/Treasurer – Dale Terrien (returning, unopposed)

Director of Communications – Dan Greene (returning, unopposed)

Director of Guitarmaking Operations – Larry McCutcheon (unopposed)

Welcome to our new, and first-time president, Art Prangley! Art is already busy working up ideas for potential meeting topics, demos, and field trips for the year (a visit to Kirk Sand's workshop; a demo of different side-bending methods; a demo of various finishing methods & materials; etc.), but as always, let us know what you want to see and do! Your participation is key to our club's continued growth and relevance, and Art would definitely appreciate the help – he's already pulling double duty as the president of his fly fishing club, too!


And the winner is... Eric Nichols! Congratulations to the proud, new owner of a Wolfelele tenor ukulele. Feel free to paint or otherwise decorate it as you see fit, Eric.

And with that, the meeting was adjourned.

Our next meeting will take place:

Saturday, October 28, 2017
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
at Rockler (1955 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92865)


Whether you love or loathe this step in the building process, as we all know, an instrument isn't truly done until it's finished. (Insert uproarious laughter.) Let's try to demystify the subject and get some straight talk on finishing.

And, of course, we invite all of YOU to share your finishing experiences with the group! What works for you?

Also on the agenda this time:

We look forward to seeing you there!