Friday, November 25, 2005

Godin Glissentar w/Custom Ed Reynolds Fretted Neck

WOW! After many years of wishing I had some sort of twelve-string nylon string guitar, all of my wishes and dreams have been wildly exceeded.

When I first learned of the Godin Glissentar, I pretty much freaked out. Since I play Godin's exclusively in my performing career, I wanted one in the worst POSSIBLE way. The problem, of course, is that the Glissentar only comes as as... a fretless instrument (What were they thinking?!). Godin would not custom make one with frets for me, but I bought it anyway. The thing about Godin's lineup of electric nylon string guitars that made this possible is that they have bolt-on necks (The only time in my life I've ever been thankful for that feature).

My original idea was to have someone add frets to the stock neck. I told my friend Mark Pollock of Transpecos Guitars what I wanted to do, and he graciously hooked me up with Eric Johnson's luthier Ed Reynolds (No website) in Austin.

Now, Ed is an old school perfectionist (And quite a character, as well as an all around hilarious human being), so we spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone working all of this out. The Glissentar's stock neck has a 1 7/8" nut width, and a standard classical guitar has a 2" nut, so we quickly went from fretting the stock neck to making a whole new one. Then, as a bonus, I got the neck cross section and profile I've always wanted, but have never had (This evolved over the course of several months).

The results are stunning.

Above is the Glissentar to the right of my Godin Multiac Grand Concert Synth Access guitar for comparison, with the stock fretless neck in between. The glissentar has a slightly smaller body, and the neck joins the body at the fifteenth fret versus the SA's twelveth fret (Which is standard for acoustic classical's as well). Since I have decades of playing electric steel string guitars under my belt, this is easy enough to adapt to. The Glissentar also has twenty-two frets as opposed to the SA's ninteen (Also standard for acoustic classicals), which is a little weirder to come to grips with, but it obviously offers some new possibilities.

Above is a rear view of the two guitars, and now you can see a little of Ed's amazing work: The new neck is a five-piece laminate, and the gold anodized tuning machines are by Sperzel, and are custom ordered lower profile versions of those used on the Parker Nylon Fly guitar. Ed is so forward-thinking that he ordered two extras in case one ever gets broken.

Here's a pic of just the Glissentar.

And here's a closer look at the neck. Unfortunately, my ancient PowerShot A10 won't get the details of Ed's amazing craftsmanship, or even the beautiful grain of the rosewood overlay on the headstock. Let it suffice to say that there are no worthy superlatives.

I had agonized over how much time it might take me to adapt my technique to it, but - stupifyingly - I picked it up and started playing it right away! I'll probably work it into my set gradually - and I do want to do some experimentation with strings (The Glissentar uses ball-end strings and has wound G's, which are great for fretless, but have very thin windings and will wear through quickly with frets under them) - but I was amazed that it was not more difficult to adapt to.

It sounds like an electric lute through my large venue rig, which is exactly what I wanted.

It feels awesome, it looks awesome, and it sounds awesome: It's AWESOME!!!

And yes, the new neck cost much more than the Glissentar did originally. So what. It was worth it. It's the sexiest thing in the world... er... well... almost.


Blogger Dr. Lee Allen said...

Why didn't you have the luthier complete the job by making it a TWELVE-string nylon...? It seems the only additional item would have been a bridge modification.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Hi Lee.

That is exactly what I intend to do next. I've already got the extra tuner. The bass is weak without the doubled low E, which is the last "snag" to get around.


3:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a comment.Ed rebuilt a new neck on my 1976 Les Paul Custom.Feels and plays actually better than new.Ed is a true craftsman and quite a good character.Excellent work!

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know Ed from his Chicago days (actually Oak Park) and he was the top guy in town, until Eric Johnson lured him south. I had Ed build a strat-type guitar and it is, without a doubt, the finest instrument I own. I have a vintage pre-CBS 63 strat white w/rosewood fingerboard and the reynolds-built guitar just smokes!

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed's work is superb, and he's a funny, funny guy to boot. I no longer live in the Austin area, but whenever I take one of guitars that he refretted in for work to some other guy, they always ask who did the frets.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Agree with all of you Anon posters. Ed comes out to Alpine to visit Mark Pollock and Mike Stevens (Another awesome luthier) several times a year, and when we all get together it is a laugh riot with Ed telling the funniest stories. Wish I was more "in" with that crowd, but when we do all happen to come together, it is good times and tall tales.



11:36 PM  

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