Around 1991 I began making guitars. As a master carpenter and cabinet/furniture maker as well as a musician it seemed a natural. Though I had dabbled with instrument making and repair it was all pure whimsey. I had picked up several books about guitar makers and had seen the flat topped acoustic versions of both teles and strats sold by Kramer and market as "Ferringtons". One of those books was about Ferrington himself and featured many great musicians including Rye Cooder and Richard Thompson. Many of these guitars were very inlaid. I was inspired.
One thing his cool acoustic guitars had was bolt on necks. I am a Gibson man preferring set necks, tipped back necks and so forth BUT...the exploded diagramitic views of guitar construction showed a split brace under the fingrerboard "extension" that lays over the top. The guitar I made was a flat topped offset double cutaway maple topped, big leafed flamed maple backed and flamed claro walnut sided specimen with a one piece neck cut from the same billet that was used for the back. The neck joint had a horizontal tennon like a Les Paul or SG. The wood was all harvested by me in Mendocino county on the family land. The fingerboard markers were "oakish" leaves cut from red abalone caught by me and inlaid into the claro walnut fingerboard. They were about a quarter inch thick. I took lots of photos and after a long time it was finally finished. I used no how-to manuels or books such as are available today nor attended any classes and so on. It sounded and played like a dream but began to fold up like a book after a week. Using Ferrington as a reference I split that brace and also built a very wide elipticle sound hole which functioned as a sort of hinge weakening the top[. The action became so high its was unplayable. I was rather disallusioned. I persevered and that guitar was rebuilt with a new top and other changes. Why do I recount this? Well...listen up!
Being interested in lutes, viols and citterns I began making these instruments after a few other instruments were completed. Fasinated by the once ubiquitous cittern I did an online search for "cittern" and joined a list called the "cittern list" and discovered the world of modern Irish style citterns, bouzoukis and octave mandolins. I soon got a comission to make one and then another and a few more. The first instruments were shaped like the Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol cittern made around 1585. These instruments are still out there but I discovered that all my clients wanted different things. Thick bodies. Thin bodies. Wide and narrow bodies and fingerboards. Long scales and short scales. 8 strings, 10 strings, 12 strings. Aftwe making 20 or so in the shop I had made dozens if not hundreds of patterns and templates in bristol board, matt board, plywood, plex and metal. I got so tired of keeping track of all these patterns that I began making multi-use versions out of harder materials and labeling them CBOM for Cittern, Bouzouki and Octave Mandolin. THATS the humble or should I say ignoble origin of this acronymn. Many hated it but it seemed to catch on. This all happened around 1996.
I have since made over a hundred instruments including about 50 zooks which is what I call them. They even show up at Elderly, Mandolin Bros, Dusty Strings, Ebay and even Mandolin Cafe. I then moved from N. Cakifornia to Kansas City after attending the first two Zoukfests. I had to work a lot of window and door work as well as tile setting. I am a tile contractor as well as a licensed general contractor. I continued to build a few instruments here and there as well as finishing up comissions taken in California.
Then I had a series of heart attacks from 2005 to 2007 with the final one resulting in a pulminary embolism thanksgiving day 2007. Four days later I was in the ICU where I stayed for 21 straight days. I left with congestive heart failure and lived in a chair at home for two years, all orders and repair work on hold and a new shop I'd begun in oct 2006 sitting half built. I have almost finished the shop and have recovered my health enough to begin work again. I have professional spanish and flemenco clients in Kansas City and will be back in business in a new KC shop spring 2011! Yeah!!
Dave Bucher, The Golden Wood