Saturday, 8 December 2007

The life of a Luthier

Friday night Debs and I took the train out to Bayswater to see our friend Baz in action, making guitars at the Cole Clark factory. I had been looking forward to this for ages, and it didn't disappoint.

Cole Clark guitars are played by the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Ben Harper, Architecture in Helsinki and The Dears, plus some other bands that I don't really like so I won't mention them here.

Baz gave us the red carpet treatment and showed us round the whole operation. He demonstrated his bending press, ran his hands over a Fat Lady's curves, gave an Angel a bit of TLC and even dallied briefly with his latest Mistress.

As you might imagine, the place was absolutely full of wood, with the humidity on the shop floor carefully controlled so none of it started swelling or shriveling at an inopportune moment. And then, of course, there were racks and racks of newborn guitars, serried in ranks like a naked musical army.

The best piece of kit was an amazing Cosmic 6200 5-axis CNC machine - a huge beast with a moving head unit which danced around, swapping cutting bits, shaping and shaving up to 8 guitar necks in a single run. Impressive computer controlled manufacturing process!

After about an hour of breathing in sawdust and perving on the instruments, Baz chauffeured us back to Melbourne in the General Lee.

I would have loved to have picked up an armful of these little beauties to take away with me, but they're slightly beyond my means at the moment... also pretty impractical to carry around when you've got a 15 kilo pack on your back. Plus, I don't really know any songs suitable for playing on an acoustic.

I'll probably just buy myself a new effects pedal when I get home instead. I rather fancy a tremelo.


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