1998 C-2 16" Blackwood & Sitka Jumbo


More interesting visitors.... I first saw this guitar five or six years ago it belongs to a musician here in Melbourne who I bump into from time to time a bass player by trade but like some bass players they most likely came from a back ground of guitar so its an instrument that is essentially in there quiver ...

This particular guitar was bought in, in not so good condition it had at some stage taken a heavy blow to the left hand lower bout and split the top in two places along the grain from rim to rim and a break across the grain in between ...repaired at some stage although a little on the rough side ...but well enough for the next chapter in life .

I had been in contact with the owner about getting some photos of this one ... there was something about this guitar when I first saw it that was saying done a shit load of gigs travelled a bumpy road and life isn't over it had character all over it.

Like life you wear it on your face.... same with guitars to a large degree ... there are those that get looked after with a lot of care ...those that travel the middle road... those that fall into the hands of different owners over a long period that sort of tell it all really ... good times well used....cared for and finally if unlucky treated a bit roughly only to have a reprieve .... this is one of those guitars.


The mid 1990's was an interesting time .... I was just getting a handle on guitar making ...but not one at a time , I had bigger ideas driven by the practicalities of proccess time efficiency and the rigours of a touring musician ... you add all of that up and the mid to late 90's was time that most of my production was in this model.

I produced a C-2 in a Dreadnought a 16"Jumbo and a 00.... and later on an 0 size all in figured Blackwood back and sides from Lavers Hill South Western Victoria... a Sitka spruce top with solid 3.0mm Rock Maple Bindings and finally a beautifully quartered Honduras Mahogany Neck with Indian rosewood fingerboard finished off in no less than 4-5 coats of satin Nitro straight off the gun ...its still my favorite finish ...durable and sits close to the wood ... enough transparency to give depth to the material that lays beneath ... Humble in many ways.

The first C-2 guitars I produced were built in a batch 18 in total influence by Bob Taylor at that time for his understanding and in sight to the bolt on neck joint ...he knew what most makers were dealing with back then with the problem of collapse between body and neck over a long period of time ...or in some cases a short period of time depending on environmental fluctuations and other nuances ...

There is a lot that can happen ... I wanted more control it all made sense from a number of perspectives and it still does today ... so 18 guitars straight of the bat with Bolt on necks ... I had done all the design and pre production work ... assembly time was a breeze took the stress straight out of it ..

This guitar didnt need to have a neck reset just yet but after 15 years or so there was a very slight sign of probable collapse ... its nice when you can tell the owner ... bring it in in a years time lets look at it then ... if it needs to be reset the neck is out in 20 mins wont be painfull !  

I built quiet a few of these C-2 guitars ... they represented excellent value for money and still do if I could get hold of one ... good design and materials ... well made service able it goes along way ...history allways tells .. I look back and these guitars are still following me ... enough said for now .... hope you liked my post for this week



1985 C-2 Bell Hopper 

I have been lucky lately I dont often run into that many Bell Hoppers particularly from the early period of 1985, the first Bell Hopper was constructed in 1984 and the years between 84 and 87 was a period that I built this design .... my first original design amongst the two that I did ... the Bell Hopper was completely original although inspired by the OM and classical guitars this was drawn out entirely by hand with the aid of French Curves .

The pick guard on this one has popped and needs to be flattened out and refitted ... normally I would remake a new one but the pick guard on this one is a very beautiful dark tortoise shell well worth saving.


I set about work fairly quickly on this design it was the one that I sort of cut my teeth on and learnt a few things the reduction in body size from previous guitars I had built showed me that compression was a very usefull tool you just had to figure out how to  control and manipulate it ..... so really in a lot of ways the Bell Hopper was my first big learning Arc ...



I wasn't so concerned about the law of economics in those days ... its a hard one to live by even today standards considering the artisan approach most Luthiers are bound by ... life was a lot simpler then the world was a lot simpler so I built what was more a real extension of me ... remember mid 80's no internet no mobiles .... the things I knew were in comparison small to what people know now .... which makes these guitars more special to me than ever.



I havent built a Bell Hopper since the early 90's .... mid 90's I embarked on a career push that saw me side line my original designs and bench mark my range of guitars .

It was is essence a good move it was another learning curve not just about guitar making but how to make money in the game and stay alive .....However things can come a full circle sometimes and I know for the past two years I have had my hands on a few Bell Hoppers and I am in the process of remaking them again ... all my heat moulds and inside moulds no longer exist ... thats easily dealt with ...

The interesting thing is that The Bell Hopper will be improved on again .... is not so much about going back but rather taking what was a good original idea and rebuilding it better and moving it forward ... that really appeals to me ... what else can you do with 33 years up your sleave ... keep posted  hope you enjoyed my posts .









1995 Palaise de Danse 16.5 inch Arch Top

This is number 2 of the first two Archtops that I ever built... they were started in late 93 but signed of in 95 so there 21 years old now .. the first one resides here in Melbourne somewhere , it came into the workshop a few years ago and it was converted to a left handed guitar ...

Its great to see this one come in to the workshop I know the two owners that have had this guitar over the years, its in great condition and really has been looked after and played ...

One of the first things I noticed is how nicely the German Spruce top and Maple back and sides have aged ... also that there Full bout guitars ... asthetically there balanced and acoustically it really has a voice ...

I got to the end of the day and pulled up a chair when every one had gone and sat around playing this guitar for some time acoustically it displayed a beautiful direct open tone that could be compressed with lots of dynamics i was having alot of fun on it ...

When the photos came back I could see the out line of the Gibson L-5 that these guitars were originally designed from ... I had a 1947 L-5  in the workshop for a re fret... I took all the templates I needed and scaled it down to 16 3/8 inch for more comfort and accessability it was a great bench mark to launch into my first Arch tops ....

The back on this Guitar was a good example of  the German Maple and Spruce I had access to in the 80's and 90's from Lamberti Bros here in Melbourne alot of it had been in there possession from the late 60's early 70's seeing this guitar and others built around that time reminds me of how lucky I was to have access to these materials and at prices that were by todays standards very affordable. 


The Neck has a lovely proportion and profile slightly more refined than I have been doing over the years ... a three piece Maple neck with Ebony stringers and Brazilian Rosewood back plate veeneer on the headstock.

The head stock was inspired by 1929 Loyd Loar designed L-5 I love the simplicity of this instrument less is more it sparked my first interest in the Arch top 10 years before I built these ... of course getting my hands on a 1929 L-5 was going to be a long wait ... I looked at the head stock and did my best not for an exact copy but to keep it in the family ...I still use the same template from time to time ...



It has a Benedetto small floating Humbucker attached to the pickguard with a volume contol only ...its tasty and warm and enhances those extended chords with lots of colour and tone ... there not much more that I can say about this guitar other than I love to see them after many years ... old friends who have been out and about developed some character ...and made a few people smile ... 




1997 16.5" Palais de Danse Archtop.

Its been a little while since my last and work are all consuming ... its nice to be able to have old friends and great players coming through the workshop now and then .. it refreshes your perspective gives you a new energy that comes with seeing what you created some time ago... I thought  would share this one with you.

This is one of those Guitars that I hit the sweet spot with ... constructed in April 1997 one of four Archtops I made in a batch for various people in that time  ... I guess the reason this one stands out is because it was made during a time when I was climbing a verical tradjectory in my building ... I had been exposed to some great builders and there work previously and I had a shift in my understanding and focus was a poinient time a major shift in my conciousness.... this guitar was one of the first produced in that time .

The guitar belongs to Sam Lemann a fabulous player well known here in Melbourne Australia and nationally and abroad.... as a player he is always in demand accompanying the best of the best respected and admired for his sense of melodic structure and solid playing technique and uncomplicated professional approach... Sam travels a lot around town nationally and abroad .... and this guitar has been his main player for 17 years.

I catch up with Sam from time to time always thought full to let me know if he is playing a gig close by ... one night after a show we worked out that he used the guitar on an average three times a week ... we did the maths it worked out 2652 shows later ... I think it breaks a record  there are others that tour with my guitars but 17 years is a lenghty time and says a few things about the guitar.

Firstly its not just luck it is an excellent guitar sound wise and for its playability , its well constructed and robust but still sensitive the instrument has been played in, in every register its even and well balanced and has warm focused tonal response... I think most working musicians sort this stuff out quickly ... you make friends or you dont ... no hard feelings but if its not working you part company ...

Every player being professional or amatuer has a story about one favorite guitar they wished they hung on to including myself , to own one instrument for 17 years and not be tempted says alot .... Sam owns other guitars a few others of mine that are very good instruments but they dont quiet fall into this catagory ... its the relationship thats been developed over that time ... he's worked it in ... its worked him out .. they meet in the middle nicely and when you hear these two make music ... you know that something good is happening . 

I dare say Sam is playing this Arch top guitar at some gig as I am writting this entry its known amongst his peers out of all the guitars I have built a few of them have managed to get some good exposure ... this is one of them ...well played and recorded on many CD's its had a charmed life ...

The interesting thing is that when you come up close to it you can see the wear and tear ... no breakages  just wear and bruising here and there ...a accumulation of lifes knocks its aged beautifuly better looking than when it was new a road map of its life imprinted on every inch of the guitar .. 

I hope you enjoyed this blog ... I have been waiting to get the chance to put this one up ... hope you enjoyed my entry ... until next time.



Carson Crickmore 1992 C-2 Bell Hopper Cutaway

More from the past, this 92 Bellhopper is well known to me....some guitars you remember better than others when you built them it may have something to do with that it was the first attempt at an original design that goes back to 1983.

The very first Bell hopper is still being used regulary and was recently in my workshop for some maintenance work , soon to return for a re fret, my first serious attempt at a guitar that would stradle the world of the Dreadnought and the 00 I built quiet a few of these in the 80's and early 90's it paved a small road for me with the help of a retailer who knew I was onto something.

I think the one above could be one of the last that I built.

If I remember rightly its had a few owners its been looked after well enough and has had an interesting life ... stolen at some point from the back of a vehicle whilst on the road ... guitars like this  dont go easy under the radar... I remember the owner telling me about it ... all ended well it came back with the help of a few good people .


Some of the things I notice about my earlier Guitars is the quality of the German Spruce I using back then.... my supplier who happened to be just around the corner from my workshop at that time an old Italian Family who brought in Cello Violin Double bass and Guitar wood was sitting on stock from the early 60's.... I still have a small quantity of spruce and cedar from that lot .... if I only had the money and forsight back then , just like the 86 C-2 in my last blog  the rosewood is very good but the Spruce superb ...



The maple neck was the procedes from a Bowling alley that was demolished in Melbourne back in the 80's a five piece neck with a stacked heel , some one said to me is this stuff any good to you... dry as a bone most of it on the quarter I couldnt refuse not all of them were built like this , the first Bell Hoppers were constructed in German Maple back and sides, German Spruce Tops , Mahogany necks , this one above was a slight departure from the original, I hope to get some good photos in the next few months of the first one ... keep posted.

The Rosewood Body's and Maple Necks seemed to have travelled well over the years , its hardy material it can take the rigours of constant gigging and traveling , something I have learnt about over the years , for touring musicians I build there guitars with strength and durability in mind ...this just happens to be a good example.

The Head stock on this guitar was broken at some stage .. it took a heavy blow , it actually happened when the so called thief was discovered that his cover was blown and headed full speed out the door with the guitar taking the door jamb with it ... they caught up with him retrieved the guitar ...the owner very gratefull and repaired at some stage .... guitars have lives , you got to look at them for a while hang around them .... not every thing they say comes out the sound hole , a manifesto of time travelled well if you are in there company , be gratefull.

Hope you enjoyed my entry, until next time .