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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Need some advice from TDPRI DIY Guys

Hi Everybody

I am very new to the hobby and had a failed attempt at last years Challenge before I realised that if I wanted to get serious with guitar building (and be successful) I have much to learn as well as many tools to purchase. So over the last 12 months I have been slowly accumulating new tools and buying different wood and storing it until I felt comfortable enough to organise a workspace and get busy...

In the meantime, I have been fortunate enough to plan a trip to the USA (I currently reside in Australia) with the Mrs for the month of March 2013, in which we plan on driving across the States starting in LA and finishing in Western New York. (I am originally from WNY and all my family still live there) I am very excited to see parts of my own country I was never able to visit while I lived there.

I am also looking to you guys for a little advice....

I want to visit as many places of interest as I can during the trip. Places of interest to me are places which I can learn something about building guitars , and with that in mind, I have planned to visit the Fender factory in California as well as the Gibson factory in Memphis, but that is all I can come up with.

What I wanted to know from the membership here, especially those who reside in the USA - what other places should I visit to get a good perspective on guitar building? Is there any place you would recommend? I can drive pretty much anywhere - we are already doing the LA/Vegas/Grand Canyon route (which the Mrs wanted to see) but from there I've got about 3 weeks before I have to be in NY.

I would really appreciate any advice/suggestions you may have! I think this forum is excellent and the talent here is boundless - and think highly of your opinions and experience. If anyone knows it's the forum members!

Thanks in advance (and happy to follow up with a thread and pics of where I went and what I learned)

Paul

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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I believe Martin in Pennsylvania gives tours.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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IMO, I think you would learn more about guitar building by reading the threads here and applying what you've learned in your own shop. Factory tours are great, but are not really designed to teach you how to build. They are very interesting and you might pick up a tip or two, but I would think you might be better off looking up a short luthiery class or repair shop that fits into your cross country plans, a couple intense days here or there in between the sites. Still not an easy task though.

As for the sites, I'm sure you know the must see spots in the states, and if not, Google is your friend. Try top ten things to see in whatever states you're going to be in.

Going back to guitar building, this site has some of the most experienced and helpful builders you will find anywhere. A lot of them don't mind the occasional PM to clarify techniques you've seen in posts.

Enjoy your vacation, I'm jealous, and keep us posted on your builds.

Good Luck, Mike
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:03 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I believe Martin in Pennsylvania gives tours.
The Martin Factory is in Nazareth Pa, here is a link to their visitor center LINK.
As long as your going through Tennessee, I'd go through Nashville and visit George Gruhn's. He sells vintage instruments and repairs them and is world famous for the old, priceless gems that go through his shop. Not a maker no, but to see that much living history in one place is not to be missed
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks guys - that is the type of advice I am looking for (George Gruhn) - this is also a great opportunity to beat a guy called "shipping" so I have an empty ice hockey equipment bag to fill up with wood, hardware, small tools, and anything else I can find to take back to the land of Oz with me. So wood places, part suppliers, anything you can think of!

Thanks Mike - I already know the rich resource this forum is after lurking behind the scenes for the last 18 months or so - but there is nothing like seeing it done in front of you - checking out techniques, jigs, and of course talking to others who share the same passion!
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Mkae sure you declare all your wood, make sure it's certified and all hunky dory. I've watched Border Security, your border protections in Oz are very strict on wood products and so on, much like ours are here.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 06:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Certainly Wood in East Aurora for Veneer, House of Guitars in Rochester, Pittsford Lumber in Pittsford has lots of exotics and domestic lumber. HipShot is in Interlaken in the finger lakes.... those come to mnd at 5 AM.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 11:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Put a ROSS in your hockey bag and take it back with you. I hear those are unavailable in Australia.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Put a ROSS in your hockey bag and take it back with you. I hear those are unavailable in Australia.
I'd do that too! We have a Ridgid agent here, but they only bring in plumbing equipment, of all things.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Since the Ross would still be in its OEM packaging you may have some questions with the customs on the flight home and get stuck paying the tax on it anyhow.

When I went to London I came back with a few old Beer Pumps as "checked baggage." I got some funny looks from the agent and then they checked them through. Saved me a LOAD in shipping. I told customs they were old memoribilia with no market value. (Unless your a homebrewer with kegs of beer to drink.) :-)
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Old February 1st, 2013, 07:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Some good advice there - I always declare everything and never have an issue - we are allowed to bring back $1000 of merchandise without paying any duty and no limit on used stuff. I have brought back a guitar every visit (Strat and LP) and nothing was said.

Thanks for the local heads up guitar builder - I know the area like the back of my hand and will be visiting someone in Pittsford! I wasn't interested in this 30 years ago so never looked around for wood stuff previously. I do have a spindle sander but not like a ROSS and they also don't sell the Bosch Colt with variable speeds so I had already thought of putting that in the bag. Being a "yank"( term of endearment here) I have several 240v to 110v converters to take care of the power mismatch.... I better get a second bag! :)
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Old February 1st, 2013, 07:42 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Put a ROSS in your hockey bag and take it back with you. I hear those are unavailable in Australia.
Too right! I'll have one. I'm busy compiling my extensive shopping list now Paul.
I think I would try to visit Taylor Guitars too if I could. While they won't be giving guitar builing lessons, the inspiration would be invaluable.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 08:31 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'd do that too! We have a Ridgid agent here, but they only bring in plumbing equipment, of all things.
That is SOOOOOOOO frustrating!!!

I've spent last night and this morning looking at new router options too - and chasing my tail. The two everyone go on about here are the Porter Cable and Bosch and neither of which is available locally. Bosch seems to only have a laminate trimmer on their local site ...WTF? I really like the look of the Bosch 1617 particularly with the router table base.

I looked at the step-down transformer option but that seems to undermine the cost argument ...so Paul can I ask what transformers you use, how much they cost and where you got them from?

I guess I'll otherwise be saving for a Triton which looks like a good local option.

sorry for the rant, and enjoy your shopping trip
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Old February 1st, 2013, 09:03 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The Martin Factory is in Nazareth Pa, here is a link to their visitor center LINK.
As long as your going through Tennessee, I'd go through Nashville and visit George Gruhn's. He sells vintage instruments and repairs them and is world famous for the old, priceless gems that go through his shop. Not a maker no, but to see that much living history in one place is not to be missed
+1 on nashville

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Old February 1st, 2013, 09:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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While you are still in the LA area, I would highly recommend taking in the G&L factory in Fullerton. They still do more the old fashion way than most.



And you can see Leo's office which hasn't been touched since the last time he sat in it.....
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 12:30 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Probably heresy to say it here, but if you can get to Kalamazoo, Michigan, the old Gibson factory still stands, complete with the tilting old brick chimney that says "Gibson" on it.

Heritage Guitars occupies part of the factory now, but I don't know if they give tours. You could probably Google that if you're interested. Not too far a drive from WNY, comparatively, anyway. I was walking around the outside of the plant taking pictures and bumped into the guy who shoots lacquer for them. Fascinating conversation, wish I had recorded it.!
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Old March 10th, 2013, 02:15 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Well I thought I might share my trip with you all - and first stop was the Fender Factory in Corona, California .... You know the song parody "Born in East LA"? I can say the area was an eye opener for us from Australia - nobody could direct us to the location (or even knew what I was talking about) but we made it just in time for the factory tour



Well worth the $10 admission fee I can tell you and I learned more than I thought I would! I took around 100 photos which I will post the best when I get home but here are just a few...

Our tour guide's name was Dave and quite knowledgable in all areas including building guitars at home - happy to answer any questions I had - here he shows us a Tele with a flame maple top - no veneer here - 3/16 sanded to a 1/4 inch final thickness



Sparklecasters must be all the rage now



Here was a real special "brick" Tele which custom carving right into the body on both sides - looked even better up close



All sorts of neck examples on display



A unique drying/curing method - Dave reckons they hang up there for several weeks before finishing/polishing and I thought an excellent use of space (Tele heaven?)



Dave took us into the custom shop to hang out for awhile and showed us a $15k guitar which was very labour intensive



As I said - I've got about 100 photos of the various processes and had an in depth discussion regarding pickup creation and USA vs Mexico made guitars - a lot more the same than you would have thought - cant wait for the next stop on the journey! I was treated like royalty the whole time I was there - glad we stopped!
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Old March 10th, 2013, 02:40 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I would love to see ALL of the photos! Upload them onto imgur, and make an album!
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Old March 10th, 2013, 02:57 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Bringing wood into Australia is fine as long as you declare it and it doesn't have any bark, or insect damage on it - you'll waltz through.

Best to have reciepts saying where it was bought and what species it is too.
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Old March 10th, 2013, 03:00 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Pretty awesome stuff in the Custom Shop.
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