Thursday, July 19, 2012

Starr Hill Bluesmaster (IW#42)

Well, I have been trying to build a resonator guitar for a while now, but the last serious attempt failed (which is okay, of course.  You gotta try new stuff).  I think I have landed on a good one, though.

I have been building tenor guitars for a while, now, and have a few under my belt.  I like having four strings to play with, and the 23" scale seems to fit nicely with the size of a cigar box.  I have been playing mostly tenors lately, since that is what I have been making, and since my friend St Wish (who is a real damn luthier and makes real damn instruments) made me a tenor a few months ago.  I tune them Chicago style, so I am not playing them like a true tenor guitar, but that is only because I don't know how to play tenor guitar.

Fork for a tailpiece and bottle cap buzzers
Anyway, what we have here is a flea market brownie tin with a pie tin on top of it.  the tension of the strings is deforming the pie tin a little which messes with the intonation, but that seems to have stabilised for the most part.  And on my recent travels I had some Starr Hill beer, which is a brewery in Charlottesville, Virgina.  I gotta tell you, they make damn fine beer.  They also have real nice bottle caps, which became the inspiration for the decoration.  Not having decorated any of my instruments so far, I have to say it was a lot of fun.  And that the beer was good.  And that the bottle caps make a nice swampy buzzing sound when you play.  Here is what it sounds like:

Good-sounding little box, I think, and it makes me want to play the blues a lot.


  1. Zeke -- It has exactly the sounds that I expected from all of the tin and screwed on bottle caps. I think I heard the amazing Bob Brozman say that in Africa the musicians liked a "dirtier" (less defined) sound and so they would nail bottle caps to their guitars.

    So are you using steel strings? I know you play Chicago tuning in DGBE -- Do you call it a tenor guitar because of steel strings? Do you have a photo of your Tenor Guitar that your luthier friend built for you posted?