Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 39 of 39
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    I have commissioned a custom 16” Monarch archtop from North Carolina luthier John Buscarino. John builds archtops, flatops, nylon string and solid-body electric guitars. He originally apprenticed for both Augustino LoPrinzi (classical guitars) and Bob Benedetto (archtop guitars) and has been making guitars for about 40-years now.

    John built me his carved back nylon hybrid model (‘015 Carpathian Spruce/Carved Honduran Rosewood Cabaret Model) about 5-years ago and a carved back steel string flattop (‘018 Carpathian Spruce/Carved East Indian Rosewood Rhapsody Model) about 2-years ago. Instead of his standard 3” rim depth, John recommended utilizing tapered rims (3” to 3-1/2”) for enhanced acoustics. This has a body volume similar to a 3-1/4” constant rim depth instrument.

    The guitar will be very much a “Johnny Smith” like guitar (e.g. 25.0” scale, 1-3/4” nut, wider string spacing etc.), but with a smaller 16” body. Again, John will add a small sound port to the upper bout for an enhanced acoustic player experience.

    Dimensions:
    Lower Bout Width: 16”
    Body Depth: 3” to 3-1/2”
    Scale Length: 25”
    Nut Width: 1-3/4”
    String Spacing: 2-3/16”
    Fretboard Radius: 12”
    Number of Frets: 22
    Cutaway: Venetian
    Side Port: Fleur De Lis

    John being a builder for many decades has amassed a large wood locker of aged tonewoods. Typically, John won’t build with anything that has not been stabilized in his shop for > 5-years. For this guitar John chose a Master Grade Carpathian Spruce top from Romania (Old World Tonewoods). For the body, a 17 year old Master Grade European Fiddleback Sycamore Maple from Andreas Gleissner from Austria. John is fortunate to still have quartersawn flamed Rock Maple neck blanks which are harder to find these days.

    Materials:
    Top Wood: Master Grade Carpathian Spruce
    Body Wood: Master Grade European Fiddleback Sycamore Maple
    Neck Wood: 3-Piece Neck, Master Grade Highly Figured Rock Flame Maple
    Fretboard: Gaboon Ebony
    Bridge & Saddle: Gaboon Ebony with Thumb Wheels

    Tailpiece: Gaboon Ebony
    Pickguard: Gaboon Ebony

    We are still looking at spruce top sets at the moment, but here are three Carpathian Spruce sets that John shared with me. John actually is still going through some Italian and Sitka Spruce top sets as well.



    Here is a photo of the Fiddleback Sycamore Maple set. It was from Austria and resawn in 2003 by Andreas Gleisner.




    This guitar will have a very traditional aesthetic with split block position markers and a lighter almond sunburst set off by lighter birdseye Rock Maple bindings.


    Decoration:
    Body Binding/Purflings:Bird's Eye Maple with b/w/b/w/b for top and back and b/w/b top and side
    Fretboard Binding/Purflings: Bird's Eye Maple and b/w/b top/side Purflings with Ebony Side Dots
    F-Hole Binding/Purflings: Style A, Bird's Eye Maple Scrolls with b/w/b
    Pickguard Binding/Purflings: Bird's Eye Maple Binding with b/w/b Purflings
    Fretboard Inlay: Split Block MOP Inlays with Abalone Stripes
    Headstock Veneer: Ebony with Birdseye Maple Binding
    Headstock Veneer Inlay: New “Buscarino” Logo
    Rear Headstock Veneer: Ebony Laminated with Ebony/Maple/Ebony
    Truss Rod Cover: Gaboon Ebony
    Finish: Custom Almond Sunburst (Nitrocellulose Lacquer)

    I have been very happy using Jescar EVO fretwire on all of my guitars. John will use one of his custom humbuckers made for him by Kent Armstrong. Because these use bar magnets, John can use wider 2-3/16” string spacing vs. the typical 2-1/16” string spacing typically used with his 12-pole piece humbuckers.

    Hardware:
    Fret Wire: Jescar EVO .047” x .095”
    Tuners: Gotoh SG510 (21:1) with Ebony Buttons
    Truss Rod: Double Action
    Nut: Bone
    Strings: TI BeBop .013” - .053”
    Pickup: Buscarino Signature Floating Humbucker
    Volume and Tone Controls: Concealed Underneath Pickguard
    Jack: @ End pin
    Strap Pin: @ Heel Plate
    Case: Hiscox Lite Flite

    John will begin to build the guitar in this month and as he builds the guitar if he forwards me some shots I will post them here.


  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    As usual - a very detail oriented description of your commission. Excellent choices throughout this build - it will be a visual and sonic masterpiece for sure. I recently spoke with John for the first time in over 20 years. He made 3 guitars for me in the early nineties when he was just starting out. His recent builds with the carved mahogany backs have been outstanding and very tempting. The sound port is a must for any new build that I would commission as well. It really makes a profound difference for the player.

    Do enjoy the process and I look forward to the updates.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by QAman
    As usual - a very detail oriented description of your commission. Excellent choices throughout this build - it will be a visual and sonic masterpiece for sure. I recently spoke with John for the first time in over 20 years. He made 3 guitars for me in the early nineties when he was just starting out. His recent builds with the carved mahogany backs have been outstanding and very tempting. The sound port is a must for any new build that I would commission as well. It really makes a profound difference for the player.

    Do enjoy the process and I look forward to the updates.
    Thanks for your kind remarks...

    I have found that sometimes folks mistakenly view the body of a luthier’s work as homogeneous (e.g. a. Buscarino is a Buscarino, a Comins is a Comins etc.). Lutherie, like other artisan crafts by definition is a journey in enlightened empiricism where best ones are constantly learning and evolving their work. I remember visiting a well known luthier’s shop (not John) and seeing a guitar on a stand in his set up room and I asked if I could try it? He said, no! It is one of my early guitars that is back for a repair and is not reflective of my current work.

    After spending his two internships with Augie LoPrinzi (‘79-‘80) and later Bob Benedetto (‘81-‘83) John set up his own solid body electric guitar company which he ran successfully for almost a decade (which later sold with his neck joint patent) before establishing Buscarino Guitars in the early 1990s. At that point when he put out his own shingle, he had spent two years with Bob building archtops (years prior), but was still fairly new as an archtop luthier (a better background than most putting out their own shingles today!).

    Today, after nearly 30 years of making hundreds and hundreds of archtop guitars, John’s instruments are at a different level (and have been for some time in my opinion). John has made more guitars at this point than Bob had when he retired from solo building in ‘99. John has made me two other custom guitars over the last five years (a nylon string and a flattop) and both are superlative instruments. So this will be my third Buscarino.

    My ’015 Buscarino Cabaret (Carpathian Spruce / Honduran Rosewood)











    My ‘018 Buscarino Rhapsody (Carpathian Spruce / East Indian Rosewood)






  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Iim,
    That is a cut above, a cut above!
    I am excited for your build and it’s really cool for you to share the experience with those of us that will never be able to play in that league.
    Looking forward to the progress.
    Joe D

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Congrats on the new Monarch order! What is a tapered rim again?

    I own a Cabaret but yours looks like it has some nice wood upgrades.

    And as I have said before, that flat top is truly something else. Love the back, the rear of the headstock etc. A rare beauty indeed.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Gorgeous instruments- thanks for sharing. I too have purchased many guitars from private builders over the last 40 years. I have found the experience to be very exciting , and sometimes a bit disappointing , but always worth the venture. These builders gain so much knowledge from each build - that after a few decades they gain the consistency and profound knowledge of knowing what outcomes can be produced with numerous varables.

    Our expectations on these builds are always so high - that its very difficult for the maker to satisfy every visual and sonic desire - but your detailed approach , knowledge of material choices and selection of John as the builder will certainly provide a fabuluos result.




    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    Iim,
    That is a cut above, a cut above!
    I am excited for your build and it’s really cool for you to share the experience with those of us that will never be able to play in that league.
    Looking forward to the progress.
    Joe D
    Joe, we live so close. I am happy swing by and let you play any of these whenever you’d like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Congrats on the new Monarch order! What is a tapered rim again?

    I own a Cabaret but yours looks like it has some nice wood upgrades.

    And as I have said before, that flat top is truly something else. Love the back, the rear of the headstock etc. A rare beauty indeed.
    Archtop guitars, typically have a set depth of their rims (sides). Most archtops have 3” deep rims, but I have seen them range between 2-1/4” to 3-3/8” in depth. By tapered rims, John will adjust the depth from 3” at the neck to 3-1/2” at the end block. This is equal to a 3-1/4” set depth rim. Going too deep can have its own consequences. This provides the body with extra volume to enhance acoustics. This is only a 16” body so the extra depth should still be comfortable.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Bob, Do you have the pickup described above on other guitars? The reason I ask is that I'm having an archtop built that will have a wide fretboard and getting a pickup to deal with the string spacing either results in either F-Spaced big box e.g. Duncan, DiMarzio, which doesn't quite work or a custom pickup. How does this pickup sound compared to the 12 pole KA floater? I own a few guitars with the KA handwound 12 pole both set in and floater.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    Bob, Do you have the pickup described above on other guitars? The reason I ask is that I'm having an archtop built that will have a wide fretboard and getting a pickup to deal with the string spacing either results in either F-Spaced big box e.g. Duncan, DiMarzio, which doesn't quite work or a custom pickup. How does this pickup sound compared to the 12 pole KA floater? I own a few guitars with the KA handwound 12 pole both set in and floater.
    No, I do not. It is a custom PU that Kent makes for John. My other two archtops have a KA 12-pole piece humbucker (Comins) and a 6-pole piece single coil (Trenier).

    Rob, I suggest that you reach out to Kent at (armstrong@vermontel.net).

    Guitar pickups - Handmade pickups by Kent Armstrong

    I believe that if you have a target tone in mind, a known string spacing at the pickup location, a pickup size (X, Y, Z), aesthetic preferences, wiring and mounting method (pickguard, fretboard etc.), he will make you a custom pickup. It usually his best to communicate with a mechanical drawing to reduce installation challenges.

    Hope that helps...

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    One of the best guitars I ever played was a Buscarino Artisan. And I've tried D'Aquisto, D'Angelico, and many of the the other luthier builds as well.
    Congratulations on a great guitar !

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Bob, Thanks for your reply. I was interested to see if you had compared the two pickup designs.

    PS: You and Big Mike should open up a boutique guitar store. I live vicariously through you guys.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Rob, no I specified it based on John’s recommendation. I have had excellent luck with John’s recommendations (he is a player and knows tone). This pickup uses bar magnets and is more flexible to differing string spacing than fixed pole piece designs. If it turns out that I don’t like it, I live near enough to luthier Bill Comins (I’m a friend and client and he and John are good friends) so I am sure that he would help me out with a replacement.

    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    Bob, Thanks for your reply. I was interested to see if you had compared the two pickup designs.

    PS: You and Big Mike should open up a boutique guitar store. I live vicariously through you guys.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    John added CNC to his operation many years ago. He uses it for a number of labor intensive operations including the rough carving of archtop top and back plates. Here are two Carpathian Spruce tops (Sets A and B) where the outer rough carve has been executed. The tops are located on the CNC with registration pins and are held in place with a. vacuum assist. We will wait to decide between these two until the inside rough carve is executed on these two sets so John can better assess the acoustic potential of each set. In their raw state, it is difficult to assess beyond the quality of their cut, density, some indication of figure and % moisture content on 1” thick archtop sets. The one that we don’t select will not go to waste, but will be used for a spec. guitar.

    Top Set A:



    Top Set B:


  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Instead of traditional f-holes, we opted for simpler s-holes on this archtop. Here is John’s CNC drawing showing their position within a 16” top.



    John creates b/w/b purfled birdseye maple bindings for each of the s-holes. Here is a close up shot below of one of them. The Birdseye Sugar Maple bindings will really “pop” when the top gets its subtle burst.



    Here is the rough contoured Carpathian Spruce top with both bound/purfled s-holes installed.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    I received these two videos today from John.

    The first video shows the rough carving process for the Austrian Sycamore Maple using his CNC.

    The second video shows the perimeter shaping of the plantilla of the back plate.

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Out of the many luthiers that I have interacted with over the years, only a minority of them have utilized CNC in the creation of their instruments. Some of that is driven by their philosophy, or the cost of entry (computer, software, CNC, tools, jigs and fixtures etc.), and others a reluctance to learn new methods (e.g, learn CAD, CAM and shop methods).

    Archop luthiers in general have been early adapters of the technology because it is a far more physically labor-intensive process than the creation of a classical or steel string flat top guitar. The rough carving of maple and spruce plates using manual methods over decades takes a physical toll on a luthier. Many older archtop (also cello and violin) luthiers in the later decades of their careers suffer from permanent repetitive stress injuries.

    John started hand carving archtops in Bob Benedetto’s shop in the early 1980s. Like many builders, he moved on to using a router duplicator for rough carving his plates for decades. It wasn’t until John was in his 60s when he added a CNC into his building process. The refinement and acoustic tuning of the plates and braces are still accomplished through traditional methods guided by the mastery of the luthier.

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    John has installed and tuned a Carpathian Spruce x-brace for the Carpathian Spruce top. John add a tone bar to his x-brace to fatten the treble response in his instruments.'



    Here is the rough carved the Fiddleback Austrian Alpine Maple (European Sycamore) and attached it to the Basswood kerfed lined, Sitka Spruce reinforced rims. You can also see the Honduran Mahogany neck and end blocks. Even without finish, you can see that the figure in this set is going to be something special.





    John is tapering rims on this 16” archtop for some enhanced acoustic response. The taper will go from 3” to 3-1/2” on this instrument.


  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    John has installed and tuned a Carpathian Spruce x-brace for the Carpathian Spruce top. John add a tone bar to his x-brace to fatten the treble response in his instruments.'
    That's very interesting. Love to hear more about this design feature.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Great post. Do you play anything over a 16" guitar? Just curious...

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    Great post. Do you play anything over a 16" guitar? Just curious...
    Yes, my Trenier Artifex is 17” x 3-1/8”....


  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    Yes, my Trenier Artifex is 17” x 3-1/8”....

    Wow, beautiful guitar! Thanks for the pics!

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    John began to rough carve the fleur de lis shaped sound port into the rim in the upper bout.

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    John began to rough carve the fleur de lis shaped sound port into the rim in the upper bout.
    That is such a classy side port. I’ve always liked that design on John’s guitars

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    John has glued the rough carved Carpathian Spruce top and European Sycamore back plates to the reinforced, lied rims. He has now moved on to constructing the Birdseye Sugar Maple bindings and purflings.

    The carved Carpathian Spruce top has a bunch of distinct winter growth similar to what we see in some Red Spruce sets.



    The carved fiddleback European Sycamore back under John’s rough carve is beginning to reveal itself and should fully show under finish.



    John’s Fleur di Lis shaped side port can be seen in the upper bout of the figured maple rims.


    Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 04-14-2020 at 06:21 PM.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    That's very interesting. Love to hear more about this design feature.
    Stephen, sorry to be delayed in responding to your query.

    John learned to x-brace archtops from Bob in the 1980s and his for the first two plus decades or so of his work he utilized his approach. Like many builders on their journey towards mastery at the bench; they eventually deviate from their master’s approach, evolve and develop their own approaches.


    About a decade ago, John positionally shifted his x-brace toward the neck block and at the same time also opened up (wider spread) the inclusion angle of the x so the x-brace while still under the bridge was outbound of the two saddle posts (see the photo below). This wider spread created a more flexible top. At the same time that he made the change to the x-brace, he also added the treble bar to add some structure the lower bout and alter its acoustics. This resulted in a stronger treble response in his guitars that he liked. He has used this in all of his x-braced guitars for the last decade or so.

    Hope that makes sense...


  27. #26

    User Info Menu

    Here is a shot of the Carpathian Spruce top now with both the rims and f-holes bound and purfled in Birdseye Sugar Maple.



    The beautiful fiddleback Sycamore Maple back is showing its figure.



    Looking at this side view of the body, you can see the 3” to 3-1/2” tapered rims.


  28. #27

    User Info Menu

    Peghead Design....


  29. #28

    User Info Menu

    Looking great!! Thanks for sharing these. I have never commissioned a guitar before and I enjoy seeing how this is all coming together.

  30. #29

    User Info Menu

    Wowza that’s gonna be gorgeous.

  31. #30

    User Info Menu

    John has completed the MOP and Green Abalone inlays for both the Ebony headstock veneer as well as the fretboard split block inlays. The veneer is just placed into the headstock pocket so some of the miters will be cleaned up. The peghead binding is Birdseye Sugar Maple.



    A hint at the flame can be seen in the roughed 3-piece Sugar Maple neck and you can see how the choice of shell used in the peghead and fretboard match beautifully.



  32. #31

    User Info Menu

    Choosing a Black Walnut veneer for the rear peghead veneer...

    Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 05-14-2020 at 07:32 PM.

  33. #32

    User Info Menu

    John has attached the neck and nearly has the instrument done in white. The MOP/Green Abalone split blocks & peghead inlays and the Birdseye Sugar Maple bindings create a classic, yet elegant aesthetic.



    Some details of the fleur de lis sound port and the Birdseye Sugar Maple bound peghead veneer.


  34. #33

    User Info Menu

    Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Stunningly Beautiful Archtop!

  36. #35

    User Info Menu

    Great design... the Maple binding will be striking!

  37. #36

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by lukmanohnz View Post
    Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.
    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    Stunningly Beautiful Archtop!
    Quote Originally Posted by AlohaJoe View Post
    Great design... the Maple binding will be striking!
    Thanks very much. I am happy to share John's work as it progresses.

    The finish that we chose should bring out the bindings beautifully...stay tuned. I am uncertain why the moderators chose to move my post chronicling John's build to this sub forum but have decided to leave Mark Campellone build threads in the main gear forum.

  38. #37

    User Info Menu

    Bob, Looking great. What does that almond sunburst finish look like? As far as the location of your post, the moderators probably responded to some disgruntled member as there are a number of posts in the Guitar/Amp section that don't belong but stay, otherwise who knows.

  39. #38

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft View Post
    Bob, Looking great. What does that almond sunburst finish look like? As far as the location of your post, the moderators probably responded to some disgruntled member as there are a number of posts in the Guitar/Amp section that don't belong but stay, otherwise who knows.
    Rob, thanks.... What John calls an “almond sunburst” is a pale golden hue in the center darkening towards a lighter ochre/brown hue towards the rims. It should go into finish soon and I will be able to show you.

    Like others, I started this post in Guitars, Amps & Gizmos. This forum is relatively new and not as widely viewed. I was surprised when the moderators moved my post here without explanation. I wrote to ask and never received a response.

    I can understand why they did if they create a new forum and are categorically curating posts. That said, it seems that their curation is inconsistent and heterogeneous. There are numerous build threads that continue to be posted in G,A & G from other custom luthiers. If they move them all, I could understand. But this is not the case. In the interim, this forum receives 50x less views. I am glad that YOU stopped by to look.

  40. #39

    User Info Menu

    Bob, Thanks. I look forward to the finish pictures. By the way, I check out your posts on this website and the Acoustic Guitar forum. You always provide great photos of builds or shows and you buy some interesting guitars.