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Met an interesting luthier today.....


Bluesape

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http://www.sankey.ws/guitars/

 

Long time members will recall that I periodically check out gear and report my findings here. I usually just convey my impressions, but I'm GASSIN' over these guitars.

 

Michael Sankey hand builds instruments locally from scratch. He is currently in possession of a large quantity of black walnut from the Ottawa Valley. This is gorgeous and toneful wood, of which he has built bodies and necks for acoustics and solid bodies.

 

We talked at length, and found we have some design philosophies in common, like stainless steel frets, ebony fingerboards, zero frets, and the freedom to spec out a guitar without the restrictions and limitations imposed by mass production. Being a one man operation, his overhead is very low, and he can pass on amazing savings. What separates his work from that of many better known luthiers is simple notoriety. These are very fine guitars, at insanely low prices.

 

I can say this: the feel, playability, workmanship, and tonal options are first rate, at a price commensurate with a MIA Strat, Tele, or a mid priced Ibanez, Music Man, Yammy....ya get the drift - boutique quality at mass production prices. I was really impressed by the tonal palette of the Maple Dip, with tapped mini-buckers accessed via a 5-way switch. I can't tell ya how that Robben Ford/Larry Carlton tone got in there, but it's there! BTW, each guitar in the site is a one-off! :thu:

 

The idea of commissioning a guitar made to my tastes and specs has until now been just a whimsical dream, beyond any fiscal justification. Now it's do-able for LP Studio money providing we don't get to lusting after exotic woods, inlays, purfling, etc. Stay tuned! :wave:

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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OK; now that I've had a chance to look over a few 'pages of his stuff, I can say- cool! :cool: Some very cool instruments there. (And I haven't seen a rebec- even just a pic of one- in a long time! The first and only other time was in the hands of Bernie Lehman, an outstanding luthier who had made that one. (You'd like Mr. Lehman, too; I'm sure Boggs MUST know him!) Thick top, surprisingly LOUD when bowed!)

 

He's not afraid to be an individual, huh? And I do mean that in a good way! Please pass that along! Maybe get him to post on some of these various forumses, too.

 

So... maybe ya gonna getcha a spanky Sankey BluesManky, with an ebony fretboard? Or perhaps a blue guitar, with a maple 'board? :thu::cool:

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Cool; got links? Pics?

 

EDIT: :freak: D'oh! Did I miss that link at the top of your post, or had you gone back and added it before I'd seen it there, Reif?

 

 

Ya missed the first time - too much Halloween candy!

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Wow, thanks for the compliments folks. Sometimes I feel like I'm building guitars in a vacuum here in Ottawa. Getting other guitar enthusiasts to try them out and be able to compare them with world-class instruments is a thrill.

 

I've got a few more very interesting pieces that I'll be putting up on the website shortly. Just working on the finishing touches.

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Welcome to the GPF, Mr. Sankey! Pleasure to (virtually, sort-of) meet you.

 

Wow, thanks for the compliments folks.

 

You're welcome, and they're well deserved; obviously lots of hard work, passion, and conviction there.

 

Check out Mr. Lehman via the link I posted above, you'll dig him and his works; also check out Eric Aceto at Ithaca Stringed Instruments; he lives near me, and has been making fine violin family, guitar family, and related instruments for decades now. I can only imagine that the three of yous guys would get on famously!

 

Sometimes I feel like I'm building guitars in a vacuum here in Ottawa.

 

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing guitars in a vacuum here in Watkins Glen! :D

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Awesome looking instruments!

 

I wish I could afford to support all the luthiers here and locally. All these beautiful instruments and they aren't in my hands!! :)

[Carvin] XB76WF - All Walnut 6-string fretless

[schecter] Stiletto Studio 5 Fretless | Stiletto Elite 5

[Ampeg] SVT3-Pro | SVT-410HLF

 

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Lovely! A friend (Drummer Paul, BluesApe!) had tried out the archtop and told me it was amazing. I'll drop by there tomorrow to try them out. Always love them custom guitars!

Nash-customized Gibson Les Paul, Godin Progression Plus

 

Quilter MicroPro Mach 2.0

 

 

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I've got some ideas.....that many luthiers would scoff at, but, as a one-off, it won't matter if the result is mass-marketable or not. Mike doesn't know I'm crazy yet, but he will....
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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I do now...

 

I think most luthiers actually relish the challenge of doing something totally unusual, but they won't list them as a standard model or anything. I simply have no standard models. At least not yet.

 

Jack, I record the electric guitars straight into Garageband via an M-audio firewire solo interface. I use the same amp model (british clean) for consistency (so one can compare different guitars side by side). You're right, the sound is far from ideal, but I make do with what I've got. I'll keep that in mind next time I mix a sound sample.

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So, Mr. Sankey, what prompted you to make the rebec? What did you base your rebec designs on? Does yours have a rather thick top? Top-bracing, or not?

 

What are some of your other favorite woods for instruments, and why? How do you select stock pieces of wood to work from?

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I made the rebec a while ago, just for fun really. They are quite simple to make. At least, they would be if you don't try and carve them out of purpleheart. I saw some at the lumberyard, and was so awstruck by the colour that I knew I had to make something out of it. What I didn't know was that it's tough as nails. Ugh.

 

I based the design on the few photos I could find. It has a single bass bar.

 

As far as selecting wood goes, I think I tend to do the reverse of most luthiers. Instead of choosing wood based on the guitar I want to make, I choose what guitar to make based on what the wood tells me. You can see that in "the fish". The grain of that piece of wood inspired me to create that shape.

 

I'm happiest working with local woods that I think are way underrated as tonewood. I have a great stash of black walnut that I bought as a whole freshly felled log. I've also got some flawless black cherry. Even local yellow birch can have a spectacular figure. It's a bit unstable, but it's even stiffer than rock maple. That's how I would describe it: like maple on steroids. Tough stuff, but hard to get along with. I also enjoyed working with macassar ebony to make the "black and tan". Despite its hardness it was quite easy to work, smells lovely, and has great tactile qualities.

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That's exactly it. You can support it relatively upright over the left knee, or standard-style over the right knee. Standing up with a strap it has two standard strap buttons as well as a dunlop strap-lock recessed into the back so you can have it rotate freely on a single mounting point.

 

I was aware of the Klein ergonomic electrics when I designed it, but I tried to start with a clean sheet of paper. It ended up quite a similar shape, which I suppose isn't a surprise given that humans are all variations on the same shape too.

 

For comfort, next time I will use a lighter wood for the body "wings" though; this lacewood is heavier than I like. Of course, my main playing guitar is all spruce, so YMMV.

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