Walnut Classical - Chuck Tweedy

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Gilbert Fredrickson
Posts: 252
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:07 pm

Re: Walnut Classical - Chuck Tweedy

Post by Gilbert Fredrickson »

That is a beautiful set of Walnut. Beautiful rosette, too. As I have taken a vow of Rosewood and Maple only, I must look away. Great job.

Randy Roberts
Posts: 452
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:11 pm
Location: Omaha, NE (a suburb of Iowa)

Re: Walnut Classical - Chuck Tweedy

Post by Randy Roberts »

Beautiful guitar Chuck!
And thanks for the memories…
A local mill here is one of the largest processors of black walnut in the country, running some 1.3 to 1.5 million board feet of walnut a year. By chance, I got to know the head sawyer pretty well and after explaining in detail what was needed for guitars, when he would run into a dramatically flamed tree 24 inch diameter or wider, he would pull the middle (perfectly quartersawn) cut from the tree before it went into the steamer and then the kiln, and he would hide it in a corner of one of the sheds until I could get over and take a look at it. If I wanted it, I bought it (and left a bottle of scotch behind), if not, it went back into the production line.
As good flame in other than crotch-wood only occurred in about 1 out of 300 trees, and finding it in a straight trunk wide enough for a guitar was even rarer, I got to thinking, here’s a great chance for us builders to beat out the gunstock guys and get first pick out of a million and a half board feet of walnut.
My plan was to grab the boards before they were steamed and the color was turned into the much more uniform and much less interesting color that produces, and before they hit the kiln, so they could be air dried.
Even though these were ultimate “pick of the litter” boards, the mill figured since they didn’t have the cost of steaming and drying, their regular price ( I believe it was 3 or 4 bucks a bf at the time) was fair to them (and the sawyer seemed fine with a bottle of scotch found in his Jeep after each visit to keep to the choicest of boards ).
I would then cut the boards into 36 - 40 inch long, 3” thick, 9 - 14 inch wide billets, sell them green so the buyer could cut them how they preferred and dry them themselves. It would cost me around 35-50 bucks a billet, plus scotch, and they’d sell for around 150 apiece plus shipping), and it would get a builder easily 3 guitars worth of spectacularly flamed, perfectly quarter-sawn, air-dried, deep rich colored walnut for about 50 bucks a guitar. Everybody would win.
So I tried a trial run and sent free billets around to a few top builders (of course including Chuck) to see what they thought of the wood and the business model, only keeping one billet for myself. I think I even paid for the shipping.

The wood got great reviews, the sawyer got health problems and retired, the new sawyer said no way, and I got one billet of wood out of it.

Cherish that board Chuck, it’s what dreams were made of.

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Mark Swanson
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Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan USA
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Re: Walnut Classical - Chuck Tweedy

Post by Mark Swanson »

Jumping in here to say hello, and say that looks like a great guitar and great wood too! Good to see you all!
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

Chuck Tweedy
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:25 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Walnut Classical - Chuck Tweedy

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Oh my, i need to pop by here more often!
Randy, I knew the first part of that story, but I didn't know that your scotch put the sawyer in the hospital!!! :lol:
I do cherish that wood - still have a couple sets to go. Thanks so much for including me in the trial run.

Mark!! Long time no talk my friend. We need to touch base again.

Anybody up for a post-COVID GAL convention? Man, I could use to rub elbows with a big crowd of grumpy old luthiers. I need a hug man!! :lol:
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

Randy Roberts
Posts: 452
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:11 pm
Location: Omaha, NE (a suburb of Iowa)

Re: Walnut Classical - Chuck Tweedy

Post by Randy Roberts »

I'd give my eyeteeth (or a bottle of scotch) to be at the next GAL. I'll certainly be trying to be there, it's been far too long. Us old farts can test out each other's walkers.

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