News and Current Projects

July 7, 2010

Life keeps evolving here at the Oriskany Guitars shop.  We just returned from a wonderful visit to Montreal, Quebec for our third showing at the Montreal Guitar Festival, which was run concurrently with the Montreal Jazz Festival.  What a show!  This being our third year, we saw some familiar faces in the crowd and were also pleased to meet many new musicians and instrument builders alike.  Two of our guitars were on display - a Sitka Spruce Model A with Pao Ferro for the back and sides, and a Sitka Spruce Model B with Indian Rosewood back and sides.  Both guitars feature our take on a lower bout rollover or comfort carve, and both feature bloodwood and maple purflings.  The Model A is also wedged from the treble to bass side to make it more comfortable to play.

Johanna and I are planning to keep these two guitars for our own personal use as we now go back to the workbench to complete our first A-style bouzouki and start work on a small bodied walnut and cedar guitar. 

June 22, 2010

With the Montreal Guitar Festival coming up in under two weeks (July 4th weekend), we are really looking forward to going! We will be wrapping up the two Sonic Sitka guitars here within the week to have them ready for the show. We will try to post more pictures before we leave.

April 26, 2010

More coming soon!
Sonic Sitka

March 2, 2010

Oriskany Guitars is pleased to be part of the Sonic Sitka Project! We will have two guitars for the project at the Montreal Guitar Show this summer!

For those who have not heard, the Sonic Sitka Project is Dennis Merrill's brain child. He purchased a section of Sitka Spruce trunk and had it milled into about 80 very nice soundboards. They have a bit of a reddish color and bearclaw figure. He them proceed to solicit luthiers to participate in a project where we all get to build guitars - to our own liking and specifications (any model, any style, any wood combinations for the back) and the final products have to be available for recording over a period of years (maybe even decades) to track the way the tone changes as the guitars age. You can read more on the 13thfret.com or a variety of other locations. Many of the instruments will be on display at the Newport Guitar Festival in Florida this April, however we are not able to attend this year.

Curtis and I are really thrilled to have two of these tops and are really enjoying working with them. Check back for some photos soon!

June 2, 2009

We are really pleased to announce a new alliance with Sutton Strings, an up and coming guitar shop in New Hampshire. We are quite pleased to have Adam representing our guitars. He will be carrying a range of instruments from luthiers as well as some factory built guitars. Check out the website for more information.

Curtis and Johanna will be assisting with the Beginning Builders Evaluations at the upcoming ASIA Symposium, June
11-13. The workshop is on Thursday afternoon and is for registered participants only.

Johanna was featured in a profile of artists in the spring 09 issue of the Westtownian, the alumni magazine for Westtown School, her high school alma mater.

April 17, 2009

Winter may be over at this point, but your guitar may still be living with the aftermath. At least here on the East Coast, we had a cold and dry winter. Unfortunately, this is a bad combination for guitars, especially when they live in a house with forced air or wood heat. We are seeing more guitars than usual with signs of badly drying out, including four Oriskanys that have come back to the shop in the last few months. Bil and Sarah at Guitar Parlor confirmed that they have seen more repairs for dried out guitars than usual as well.

Take a few minutes to look at your guitars (of any make, not just ours). Here are some things to look for signs that your guitar has dried out.

*Fret ends are sharp and sticking out. Hold your thumb and first finger parallel to one another on either side of the neck and run your fingers along the edge of the fingerboard.

*Tuning machine washers are loose and rattle. Reduce the tension on the strings to the point where they are floppy and the tuning machines are not under tension. Check to see if the nut and washer on the tuning machine string post are loose if you tighten them with your fingers.

*Cracks developing in the top, back and sides. Inspect the guitar carefully particularly along the binding, the center seem in the top, and along the fingerboard extension on the soundboard. Check for cracks in the wood and lacquer.

*Really low action and fret buzzing as you go up the neck. Did your guitar play cleanly last fall? Does it still? Fret on each strings from the first to the 14 fret to check for fret buzzing.

*Bridge is lifting. Visually inspect the back edge of the bridge. Take a crisp piece of paper (the non-sticky part of a Post-It note works well) and run it along the back edge of the bridge parallel with the top. If the paper fits under bridge, your bridge is lifting. If the paper can slide more than 1/2" under the bridge, reduce the string tension on the guitar until you can get it to a luthier.

If you see any of these signs, take your guitar to a luthier for an evaluation. Do not try to fix these problems at home!

January 31, 2009

Groundhog Day is a big deal here in Pennsylvania, home of Punxsutawney Phil, the official weather-predicting groundhog. For any one who is not familiar with the event, it occurs on February 2. Legend has it that the groundhog comes out of his hole on this day after his winter hibernation to look for his shadow. If he sees his shadow, it is a sign of six more weeks of winter, and the groundhog will return to his burrow. If he does not see his shadow (for instance if it is cloudy), than spring is just around the corner and the groundhog will stay above ground. So, in a few days we will know (theoretically) how much longer we have to keep the wood stoves cranking.

Either way, we are already making plans for the spring and summer. We have some stunning guitars in the works and are making our plans to head up to the Montreal Guitar Show again this summer over the July 4th weekend.

We also plan to attend the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans biannual symposium June 10-14. This year it is being held in East Stroudsburg, PA. For any of you out their who are instrument builders yourselves (part time or full time at any skill level), this is a great opportunity to learn new techniques, interact with other luthiers and pick each others brains for ideas and information. Registration information is available on their web page.

Think Spring!

December 9, 2008

As we all prepare for the holidays and the perpetual search for that perfect gift, we wanted to share this treasure from Curtis' childhood (best estimates are that he was about 3-4 years old).

Dear Santa Claus

I want a Guitar
Love Curt

Santa did not oblige that year, in fact Curtis did not get his first guitar until he was in college. Music in all forms make great Christmas presents (to yourself, too). Consider giving the gift of music to someone special this year - a CD, concert tickets, or even a guitar!

October 23, 2008

Despite the fact we have not posted anything here recently, we are still here! We have been taking a bit of a break from building for a while here to do some much needed rearranging. For any of you who have visited us here at our shop, you are familiar with the space we work in. We are currently in the middle of a rather large effort to rearrange and improve some of that space. It will not so much effect our main work area, but should help with some of our storage problems and make the use of the larger tools like the table saw much easier.

May 12, 2008

We have three more guitars to show off! One of them ships out today and the rest will be on their way by early next week.

This Indian Rosewood and Cedar Model B is a great fingerstyle guitar, but also has enough head room to allow for some nice strumming. The lines on this guitar are very simple with ebony binding and red/black purfling on the top. It may be the most visually understated for these three new guitars, but don't assume that holds true for how it sounds!

Although the pictures I have posted don't really show the back and side wood of this guitar, it is some really fine Claro Walnut. With a Cedar top, this is one of our favorite wood combinations. The flame maple binding and rollover are set off nicely from the the darker wood tones with red/black purfling. Other custom features on this guitar are the headstock inlay Crown of Thorns, with a initial "V" at the 12th fret.

Not to be out done by the other two, this Model B is figured Cherry for the back and sides with a Redwood top. The flame koa binding gives a subtle richness to the edges, with bloodwood/maple purfling. The headstock inlay of a celtic knot is paua abalone.

April 23, 2008

We are back from the Newport Guitar Festival in Miami Beach, FL. We had a great time at the show. We are back at it in the shop now, with many exciting projects to work on and lots to do before the Montreal Show in June.

March 5, 2008

Announcing a New Parlor Guitar Model!

We are thrilled to introduce our new parlor guitar model! Our prototype is shown with an Engelmann Spruce top and Pau Ferro back and sides with a koa rosette and binding.

The guitar has surprisingly good projection and full tone for an instrument of it's size. The parlor guitar model features a 17" long body, with a 13" wide lower bout and 7 3/4" wide waist. The neck is 12 frets to the body with a 23.9" scale. Other features include mini Gotoh 510 tuners and a the guitar comes with a custom padded taupe and wine colored Ameritage Case.

This particular guitar also happens to bare the serial number of #50 out of the Oriskany shop! What better way to celebrate than unraveling a new model! Thanks to our friend Jenny for her help with this project.

Also coming out of the shop is a very special Model A. This guitar features black walnut back and sides from a source local to us. We have several more sets of this special Spruce Creek black walnut.

In addition to the local black walnut back and sides, the neck is local PA cherry. This is paired this an Italian Spruce top, giving the guitar a wonderful rich tone. And as if that weren't enough, this guitar also has our first ever rollover out of koa.

February 6 , 2008

Check out our newly redesigned web page. We have rearranged some of the information to make it easier to find and have added some new features, especially new photos. We will continue making small changes over the next couple of weeks. Oh, and soon we will have some some news to share about the guitars we are working on too!

November 21, 2007

It has been a while since we posted anything here. We do have some exciting guitars to present. We shipped them out last week and from what we hear, they are getting a lot of playing time already. Take a look:

We built this short scale Model B with Mahogany top, back and sides for Lauryn Shapter of the acoustic roots / americana duo Truckstop Souvenir. Try to catch Lauryn and "Daisy May" at a show sometime! We think you will be impressed with the sound.

This one is a Model A 12 fret. The wood combination is Honduran Rosewood with an Adirondack Spruce top. Maple binding with bloodwood and maple purflings really compliment the color tones of this set of wood for a very elegant look. A sweet sounding little guitar with a clear and articulate tone. Great for fingerstlye playing!

Although this Model C is technically the same tone wood combination as the Model A above, the visuals of this guitar are very different. Rosewood binding with rust, maple and black purflings pick up on the more amber hues of this set of Honduran Rosewood. A custom cherry neck with a custom inlay and gold frets add to the mix. This is a big guitar with a deep rich tone.

August 31, 2007

In between the acts here this week we were delighted to meet up with Skip Jones and deliver his new guitar. This is his second guitar from the shop (the labels reads #4 on his first and #44 on the new one).

The new guitar is a Model A ergonomic (both the wedge body and the rollover arm rest) with Hawaiian Koa back and sides and a Western Red Cedar top. The binding is Ebony with bloodwood and maple purflings. The custom inlay in the headstock is a hummingbird. We were able to incorporate some pipestone that Skip provided into he hummingbird for the red throat and also used the pipestone for the truss rod cap.



7951 Oriskany Lane
Huntingdon, PA. 16652
(814) 643-3588

last updated 7/13/2010
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