Until recently I have not been that impressed with lattice braced guitars. The Australian versions just seemed to shout, and didn't really sound like guitars. The principle that the back shouldn't vibrate and be quite heavy were concepts that I disagree with and I don't like heavy guitars. I see that they fit some players well though, but it wasn't for me as a design concept.
Recently though, I played a Humphrey owned by one of my friends that is lattice braced - all the way to the top of the box - as Tom did in his last years. I really like that guitar and it inspired me to try an all-wood lattice version of my own. After completing 5 I feel that I've made some of my best guitars to date and will continue to use this system instead of the radial bracing pattern I've used for the past 8 years. While the interconnecting braces take longer to make I do not miss using the graphite that made the radial pattern work for me. These guitars are loud, in fact, some of the loudest I have made, but they still have a nice organic sound that I find missing in some of the lattice and double top guitars by some contemporary makers. I'll have a couple at GFA in Denver this year, and I hope to have one left to take to the guitar workshop at East Carolina University this summer too. If you are planning to attend either of these great programs please come check them out!
It is a little surrealistic to be back where I was born and raised after almost 35 years of living in Rock Island, IL, Boston, Tallahassee and Henderson county, NC. The house we bought is across the street from the house of my high school friend in whose basement I made my first guitar back in 1978.
The shop is still in progress, being half of the basement of our new house. It will be an interesting adjustment having the shop "in" the house rather than in a separate building as has been the case for the last 18 years, but I am working diligently to keep the dust out of the living areas and out of my lungs as well! I should have additional electrical capacity by the end of September and be up and running by the beginning of October.
Having less space will affect the way I build. For the past 20 years I have been making guitars 4 at a time (because I got the best deal on cases buying 4 at a time - sort of like the answer Tom Humphrey used to give for building 7 at once - "because I have 7 hooks on the wall."). Now I will be making 2 at a time, which will be a nice rest for my hands when it comes to French polishing at the end of the process.
While I am waiting for the electrician I will be making one trip at the end of the month to the "Guitarra California" festival in San Luis Opisbo, CA (www.laguitarracalifornia.com). Featured artists include the Romeros quartet, Ana Vidovic, and Roland Dyens, who has called me "the best guitar builder who is also a player, and the best player who is also a guitar builder." Such a gracious person and wonderful character. The vendor fair there seems to be the biggest affair next to the annual GFA festival, boasting 40 guitar makers. Please stop by to see me if you are in the area. Although I don't have anything to sell I will bring one of my personal guitars to show. Attending with me will be guitar legend Roger Allen Cope, a longtime patron and great friend. Our side "research project" will be seeking out a bottle or two of the legendary "Pliny the Elder" from the Russian River brewery. I'll report on facebook if we succeed!
Steven Walter Guitars