PHOTO: Acoustic 6-string guitar. Cherry, ebony, spruce, stainless steel. Personal archives. Built 2007.

Archives | Starfish

PHOTOS: Starfish 6-string guitar, built in 1993.

Imagine if you will, an internet epoch before Facebook. Before Meta, even. MySpace was dying. Blogs and forums dominated the web. Tribes of kindred souls clustered around comments and responded to threads. Preppers shared weed-infused hot pepper pickling recipes and cork-sniffers waxed endlessly poetic about vintage guitar pickup winding methods.

Anarchist’s Cookbook collected dust without irony on your gf’s bookshelf. She was probably the only person you knew on an FBI watchlist.

Humans communicated using words.

So long ago, yesterday.

This website was originally built on TypePad software, sometime around 2005. In internet pre-history, TypePad was host to marketing expert Seth Godin as well as high-volume/rapid-update global blogs including BBC News. All of the hosting details and software updates were managed by TypePad, plus they offered excellent customer service support. I could focus on creating content.

A decade later the internet had become increasingly mobile and TypePad was unable to provide commercial site performance. I transferred key content from to Squarespace™ in 2018 and started over.

This lesson was expensive and dangerous.

Essentially ten years of content and link traffic was erased in the transition. I also quickly realized Squarespace™ is not optimized for blogging. Problem. Because. Self-publishing is my direct connection to you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An emerging additional concern is the increasing censorship by providers, as many who have built content on proprietary platforms are discovering. WordPress seems most protective of First Amendment rights, therefore is now hosted by WP.

Let’s bring the past into the present.

As an ongoing new feature, I will be revisiting some key builds from the original archived website. Doing so will provide continuity to the timeline. Provenance for these instruments will increase the financial value for their current and future owners.

The first is: Starfish 6-string guitar.

Built in 1993.

As a newly graduated English major, my first full-time professional employment was (naturally) as an apprentice cabinetmaker. If one intends to put ink to paper, perhaps begin by first milling trees?

Cabinetmaker Robert Schultz (Cinnaminson, NJ) kindly allowed me to use his professional tools after hours for the claro walnut neck. Most importantly, I am grateful to Robert for helping instill discipline to machine material consistently no matter what the environmental conditions. Apprenticeship with him taught me how to be precise, even with difficult wood species. Thank you, Robert.

Furniture maker George Nakashima (New Hope, PA) provided aesthetic inspiration. I met his widow a few months after he died. His shop was gathering dust…a quiet door in a magical back alley of the riverside town. I had discovered his work via a table he’d created for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

VIDEO: Starfish recorded via SM57 against the grille of a Mesa MK IV (2001).

Starfish was my fifth instrument build, a personal build, completed almost fifteen years before entering lutherie as a profession. I knew I wanted a guitar to be comfortable — before ‘ergonomics’ was a term. Every contour was shaped to fit a lean 25-year old rock climber’s body.

In the future if one were to x-ray the guitar’s neck, a surprise discovery might be two pieces of aircraft grade aluminum in an epoxy matrix forming the truss structure. Another first foray into alternative design concepts. There are several other identifying characteristics but those details will remain confidential until Sotheby’s.

Frustration with the Floyd Rose caused me to eventually stop playing this guitar. I switched to hardtails and never looked back. Recently that attitude changed however — the year ahead in 2022 will introduce my new tremolo system.

I should mention Starfish was sold to a buyer in Sweden in 2005-2006.

PHOTOS: Documentation photos sent to the client in Sweden prior to the sale.