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Maple Andamento Guitar

Some of you may know that I made a rosewood Andamento guitar about two years ago; it's a wonder of design and craftsmanship if I do say so myself. The cutting, the inlaying, and the design itself took a long time to execute; and the work also included the design and making of eleven separate rosette logs. It's the most fancily inlaid thing I've ever produced.

I initially thought of making something like this because I liked the design. The idea came from my dropping a spoon while having dinner at a Mexican restaurant; when I leaned over to retrieve it I noticed this same pattern in the floor tiles and was captivated by it. What a lovely pattern! I've since learned that this is a fairly common pattern that is used in both floor tiles and textiles. There's even a picture of Michelle Obama, on the front page of the New York Times, wearing a dress with this print pattern on it! If the first lady is sporting the Andamento pattern, it's got to be a winner, no?

Of course, the pattern isn't called the Andamento; that's a word that my associate Lewis Santer came up with after some research into inlay patterns. It turns out that inlay artists in the Renaissance gave that name to certain of their decorative patterns. Andamento refers to the movement (the going or traveling across) of a decorative pattern, through a material, or across one's visual field. My guitar's mosaic pattern has a lot of movement in it, so the name Andamento, invented by Italian craftsmen centuries ago, seemed to fit.



After completing the rosewood Andamento, I then embarked on a second one, in maple. I seemed to have a vague idea of making a matching pair of dark and light wood instruments.

It's gorgeous, of course, but I learned that doing this kind of work in maple is MUCH more difficult than it is in any dark wood. You can hide mistakes in dark woods; you cannot in maple: any miscut, any splintering, any irregularity, any breakage or tear-out, any subsequent repair . . . all will be forever visible. If the parts don't fit perfectly, of if there's the slightest gap, a glue line that would have been invisible in a dark wood will stand out. White wood is simply unforgiving.


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