Daniel Joseph Betsill, luthier, et al
Saturday, March 15, 2014
A spalted sweetgum bowl. One of a pair made from a client's homesite in Serenbe, Georgia.
Monday, March 3, 2014
An end table design with arts-and-crafts and chinese mashup style.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Turning a coat rack base. See furniture page for more process photos
Monday, January 27, 2014
The Kay Kraft is "restored". I'll call this a refurbishment since the aim was not to take it back to factory but celebrate the years of use and make it playable again. I'm still going to replace the missing bits of purfling on the soundhole and horn. Hanging with my Kay Kraft mandolin.
My pickguard is mahogany but ebonized and then rubbed out a bit. Hides the worst of the damage easily.
The frets were so badly indented on the second string 1st and 3rd position that the recrowning didn't help. But this shot shows an experiment filling in the indentation with superglue. Worked pretty good. Sure beats pulling the frets. Looks so natural, only my luthier knows!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
New year's resolution: fix this Kay Kraft. I have had this instrument for 20 years. I saw a big ol' picutre of Patterson Hood from Drive-By-Truckers in this month's Garden and Gun sporting a Kay Kraft just like mine. . except his clearly is playable. Looks pretty cool! Wish I had one! Wait, I do have one. I got this for probably about $75 from Lark in the Morning when I was in college just on sight of the tiny black and white picture in their catalog. Never seen a body shape like that before. Had to have it. It was listed in 'fair' condition. What it had was a completely shot fingerboard, a freaking BULLET hole and a hack wood-putty patch job. On top of that the top was worn through TO THE LININGS on about 2 inches of the upper bout. I discovered this only after peeling back about ten layers of dark varnish. Long story short, it went on the wall.
It was missing most of the fretboard binding which I replaced easily enough and am now - 20 years later - trimming. This shot also shows the sorry state of the frets. I think I'm going to leave the finger grooves in the rosewood and just recrown the frets. That wood is so brittle that pulling the frets I might as well replace the entire fingerboard. It's worth trying to keep for the playing history and historic frets.
The body. . .well. . .not attractive. There was a time when I though, my God, how am I going to cut out that damage and patch in a new square? It appears stable though - thanks to all the gloop inside the body - so I think a nice big pick guard is what is needed here. I may even leave the partial stripping look to tell the story. Just need to replace that soundhole binding. Note wing nut and sliding dovetail neck attachment that facilitated easy neck angle adjustment on these instruments.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
A couple of items finally photographed form earlier this year: a painting of Florence and a dining table for my Cousin's new house. Which is now 2 years old.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
My first resonator banjo is complete. See this page for project log and scroll down to "From Start to Finish: A Bluegrass Banjo".
Monday, December 16, 2013
Parts of the banjo are finished with a faded blonde shellac finish.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Trimming the peghead of the banjo with kinfe and files. See this page for project log.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Turning the back of the bluegrass banjo. See this page for project log.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Having to lower the rails on my un-treadle lathe to accommodate the 13" diameter backplate for the banjo commission.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
A set of Stockhausen slit drums ares complete.
Monday, October 28, 2013
The tenor cittern is complete.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Progress on the Stockhausen slit drums. The top plate is routed, shaped, then the slot sawn to create the two 'tongues'.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The beginnings of a set of Stockhausen slit drums: planks of 4/4 sapele. The top board is planed.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Attaching the fingerboard of the tenor cittern.
Pegs in the making for the tenor cittern. I've learned to avoid tailstock pressure whenever possible. So I rough turn only between centers then cut the top waste off to hold the head end in a chuck while I turn the shaft, then flip it around to turn the head. Complicated, but less split pegs.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The lyre is complete. See this page for build log.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Fret dressing on the cittern in progress. The nearest fret is finished with a domed polish. The next frets still have a bur from leveling. On citterns, the lower the fret , the better the intonation. Especially when the fingerboard is not scalloped.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Beginning a commission for a closed-back banjo. See this page for build log. Scroll down to 'A Bluegrass Banjo'.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Progress on the Sutton Hoo lyre. See this page for build log
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Where cittern fretboards come from: a block of Swiss Pearwood.
I've finally made a little miter box for my fretwork.
The tenor cittern has the top on and the fretgoard is resting in place, fretting in progress.
The lyre yoke is attached and trimmed. A block of wood awaits to be turned into a bridge
Attaching the facing pieces to the yoke in plane with the soundboard
The table spars are attached to the tenor cittern. This is the highest tension I have put on one of these instruments: an octave mandolin tuning in 5ths, so these are some beefy bars.
Monday, August 5, 2013
I bought this tool to draw entasis on column shafts for my day job. But it works great for cittern brace arch drawing too!
The lyre gets the yoke attached with a slotted joint. The cut of the wood is not very attractive so I think I'm going to laminate some quartersawn facing in the opposite direction in the same plane as the soundboard grain.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The DeGive dulcimer fretboard is glued to the top with staple frets in place.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Work in progress: The lyre is ready to have the yoke attached; The tenor cittern has the top rough cut and is waiting on the top spar to be shaped and set in place; The DeGive dulcimer is ready for its top and fretboard.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
The current DeGive Dulcimer: a detail of the end block showing a couple of vestigial nail holes.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Work commences on my replica of the Sutton Hoo Lyre, made from the DeGive House wood. See this page for build log.
The neck and back are attached to the rib and I can do the final shaping of the heel of the tenor cittern. This shot helps to show the scale of the instrument against the baroque guitar body to the right. The baroque guitar body which will someday be an instrument but for the past five years has been a filing cabinet.
Tuesday, July 2,2013
Carving the heel of the tenor cittern
Thursday, June 27, 2013
The Heaven's Door is back in my workshop to correct some damage done by the great GSU Music School Flood of 2011 and I'm taking the opportunity to revisit the panel hanging method. This is now the third iteration of the system to hold the heavy plates at the nodes without dampening the resonance. The first method was with swaged wire rope that proved to be overengineered and warped the frame when the instrument contracted in a dry interior. The second method was a less elegant tensioned fiber rope setup which was difficult to adjust and relied on twine to hold the plates back to the frame at each seam. This new idea is much simpler, with sticks running along the nodes of the plates and screws tapped through them directly into the plates. The Door has really come full circle; because the original German Door used bolts at the back of the plates to hold them to the frame. The German design, however, fixed the bolts at the four corners of the plates and ignored the acoustic advantage of holding the plate at the fundamental node. My fix points tap into dowels, which I filled in at the previous rope holes at the node locations. Just two screws set about 2 1/2" down from the top of each plate lets them 'hang' and resonate freely, separated from the stick by felt pads. This system means no tensioning of a 'through rope' and holds the plates in place without the need for adjustment. If only I had thought of this in 2005.
Don't cross the streams, Ray! ! ! On a cittern it's possible to have a continuous rib rather than two that's typical on a guitar. The disadvantage is you wind up having to warp it in the process. Which then gets creativly corrected. Venkman, shorten your stream, I don't want my face burned off. See this page for more images
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Laying up the cherry and maple staves of the back of the tenor cittern.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Work on a tenor cittern commences. I'm making the neck shorter for an octave mandolin tuning.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
A celtic mandola I slipped in for myself between commissions. It's walnut with Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and peghead veneer. I wanted an instrument that would be at home in the 19th c. so I used friction pegs and brass frets.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
The symphonia is complete! See here for project log.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
A day off for bowlturning. See here for project log and scroll down to 'A Beechwood Bowl.'
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Progress on the symphonia. See here for project log.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Some recent activity with Stockhausen's Heaven's Door. See the Instruments page for project description. The Door was set to be performed at Lincoln Center in NYC yesterday, but unfortunatly Hurricane Sandy put the skids on and the door is headed back to Atlanta unplayed. A reschedule is in the works. In the mean time, WABE did this article on the piece:
Saturday, July 21, 2012
I am beginning my research on the 16th c. vihuela de mano for a commission. I've always wanted to make one of these instruments, having danced around them chronologically with my study of the pre-renaissance vielles, the chitarra battente and the baroque guitar. On the page I have created I will compile my research of the three surviving documented examples, a survey of the iconography and of the revival instruments. Click here.
Workshop in a closet.
Online Chap Book:
did the Countenance Divine
Live with the gods. And he does live with the gods who constantly shows to them that his own soul is satisfied with its daimon, that portion of himself that Zeus has given to every man to be his guardian and guide and that his soul does all that the daimon wishes. And this is every man's understanding and reason.
And there the sunset skies unseald, Like lands he never knew, /Beyond to-morrows battle-field /Lay open out of view /To ride into.
-D.G. Rossetti, from The Staff and Script
from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,/ Their sober wishes never learn'd
Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"
He slept thus until late morning, while the pillows arranged themselves into a large flat plain on which his now quieter sleep would wander. On these white roads, he slowly returned to his senses, to daylight, to reality - and at last he opened his eyes as does a sleeping passenger when the train stops at a station.
-Bruno Schultz, from The Cinnamon Shops
Deus Mysterium tremendum et fascinans.
Are you angry with him whose armpits stink? Are you angry with him whose mouth smells foul? What good does this anger do you? He has such a mouth, he has such armpits: it is necessary that such an emination must come from such things. But the man has reason, it will be said, and he is able, if he takes pains, to discover wherein he offends. . .there is no need of anger, the stuff of tragic actors and whores.
Green aisles of Pullman cars/ Soothe me like trees/ Woven in old tapestries/ I love to watch the stars/ Remote above the earth/ In watery light,/ while in the lower berth./ I whirl through the night.
-William Rose Benet
With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.
full streams feed on flower of rushes, /Ripe grasses trammel a traveling
foot, /The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes/
Both music and dance are voices of the way.
The richest of men is not more fortunate than he that has enough for the day, unless his good fortune attend him to the grave and he finish his life in honour. Many wealthy men are fortunate, whilst many of only moderate riches are blessed by fortune. The wealthier but less fortunate man is indeed better furnished with means to gratify his passions and to bear the blow of a great calamity. But if the other is less able to do these two things, his happy life saves him from the need to do them.
-Solon to Croesus, Herodotus (I, 32)
For the dulcimer rhimes are grace place and the like.