Danny Brown D-18 build

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mdrs
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Danny Brown D-18 build

Post by mdrs » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:08 pm

I am very fortunate to have a good friend by the name of Danny Brown.

Danny grew up in Bethlehem, PA, and out of high school had a successful, if fairly brief career in a rock band. It was hair metal days, and his band ROCKED. Danny can play, and has a GREAT voice too. Interestingly, right at the point where his career could have gone into "the big time", he quit! I won't go into details, but he decided that he wanted to build guitars. Many thought he was crazy. I'm sure glad he made that choice!

Danny got a job at C.F. Martin & Co., at first cleaning out the garbage, and cleaning up the machines in the factory. Over the course of almost 30 years at Martin, Danny has worked in a number of different jobs. He spent over a decade in their repair shop, before CNC machines. He worked under some of the old guard guys, who know so much about the old Martin instruments that constantly came in for repair. He used that time well, not only learning the secrets of what made those vintage Martins the best acoutic guitars ever made, but also lots about how to repair them......and, also how NOT to repair them! Danny put his all into learning the art of luthery....building guitars. He also spent time running the shop at Martin where they sell off "surplus" stuff; old tuners, wood sets that might have been rejected for one reason of another, etc.. He currently is one of the key design luthiers in Martin's "Custom Shop". When someone orders a custom Martin, Danny goes through the specs, and does the actual design of how the guitar should be built. He is also involved in producing prototype instruments, etc..

Over they years, Danny has amassed a respectable stash of wood sets for guitar builds that he personally builds in his basement shop, at home. He doesn't build a lot at home. But, of the close to 10 I've had the chance to play, they are nothing short of amazing. I'd put his personal builds up against any small builder of acoustic guitars, anywhere. You "congenital" String Network guys have seen the amazing D-45 type that Danny built for me, as well as a 12 fret 00-28. He's also built me a "Jumbo". All of these guitars were built with "old growth" Brazillian rosewood he'd gotten years ago, along with Adirondack spruce tops. He has also converted a damaged 1950's 000-28G (a classical instrument with a Brazillian rosewood box) into an "OM" type, and a D12-35 (Brazillian) into a 12 fret D-35 for me, again both with Adirondack spruce tops. Danny hasn't disappointed me yet!

Close to 2 years ago, I went to Danny's house, and he showed me some Mahogany sets he'd been telling me he had for years. He'd been telling me that they were really cool, figured mahogany, that he'd been saving for just the right guitar. Well, I chose a set for a D-18 type I wanted him to build. I'd wanted a very lightly built D-18 type, and the set I picked was very light, as well as beautiful.

Well, sometimes life gets in the way. My Dad was sick, and kept me pretty busy for a while, and then Danny's Dad was also sick, and kept him very busy. So, he'd not had a chance to start on the project.......

Then, about 2 weeks ago, I gave Danny a call, and he said he'd been meaning to call me, because "I STARTED YOUR GUITAR"..........those words, coming out of Mr. Danny Brown's mouth, are music to my ears!!

I've gotten some photos of this current DB D-18 project to post, and thought I'd start this thread to allow us all to follow along with the project.

Here are links to a couple of older threads about guitars Danny has made for me, in case you'd like to see them;

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6424&hilit=danny+brown

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7940&p=102895&hilit ... wn#p102895
Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296

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mdrs
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Re: Here we go again! Danny Brown D-18 build

Post by mdrs » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:11 pm

Here is a photo Danny texted me after telling me he'd begun the build;

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Here's a photo Danny sent me after he'd applied naptha to the back of the guitar. It brings out the grain figuring in this lovely old mahogany;

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296

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mdrs
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Re: Here we go again! Danny Brown D-18 build

Post by mdrs » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:20 pm

As you can see, this is an Adirondack spruce top that was originally in the running to be a top for a custom shop D-28 "Golden Era" (look for the pencil markings near the slot for the neck). There is one "fleck" near the bass side edge on the lower bout, which is why this top wasn't used. Danny says that this spot will be gone by the time this guitar is finished! Love the fine grain pattern on this top!

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Here is the body, already glued together. Note that you can see what I'll call "water marks" (that's probably not what they are really called, but I'm not even a apprentice luthier!) at the waist of the mahogany side. That is a residual from the steaming that is done to properly bend the sides before the side goes into the mould that you can see in my previous posting on this thread. Check out the cool figuring through out the mahogany sides, and especially on the back. Also, check out the Brazillian end piece that Danny used. I have been on Danny to make this build as light as possible, of course without risking structural stability. So, he used some beautiful cedar for the back bracing.....it's a shame it's inside the box, because it's beautiful wood! The bracing for the top is Adirondack spruce. Danny uses bracing on any one guitar that is sourced from the same billet (same tree), and did the same for the back bracing. The theory is that the wood is so similiar, coming from adjacent areas in the same tree, that they will vibrate well together......kinda like keeping two amps in phase, so they don't cancel each other out.

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Normally, a D-18 would have a very thin strip inserted between the two pieces that make up the back of the guitar. Danny felt that this wood was so striking, that he left that strip out, in order to keep the visual focus on the beautifully figured mahogany.

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296

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Craig
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Re: Here we go again! Danny Brown D-18 build

Post by Craig » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:55 pm

Beautiful!
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mdrs
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Re: Here we go again! Danny Brown D-18 build

Post by mdrs » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:56 pm

I headed down to Danny's house yesterday, in order to drop off a '38 000-18 I own, who's neck Danny will emulate when he is carving the neck for the new D-18. It's a 1.75" nut width (actually a tad under that), which is the wider neck width Martin's that date from early 1939 and earlier, had. I also dropped off another of my old Martins for some set up work. I expected to maybe spend a half an hour, and be on my way. Danny and I ended up shooting the shit for over 3 hours! Playing the two guitars, finishing out plans for the rest of the build of the D-18, and just talking.

After extensive discussion, I decided to go with ebony for both fretboard, and the bridge, as would have been on an old D-18. Danny showed me how he picks out the wood for a neck and matches it with a particular ebony fretboard. He holds it between two fingers, and sharply taps the fretboard wood. If you listen carefully, you can hear that piece of wood's resonant tone. He then quickly picked up the old '000-18, and found that resonant tone to be "E". He then explained that he will find a neck blank that is one of the fundamental tones that match and "E", namely either an "A", or a "G". I could be remembering this wrong, as I am not a trained music theory guy. I understand it, but may have the notes wrong....sorry. Anyhow, the point I'm trying to make is that Danny is a maniac with his personal builds!!

Another thing about Danny, and how he builds his personal "builds", is that he does not build a copy of, say, a late 1938 Martin D-18. He'll build you something close. But, he alters all of his builds, depending of the actual wood he is using. Certain characteristics of the wood he is using will lead to him customize the build.....alter the bracing, make it thinner, or scalloping more, or less, etc., etc..

I love asking him questions about all these minute details. I always learn something from Danny......usually many things! It is very clear to me that to be a consumate guitar builder, there is no substitute for experience. Also, Danny has had some great teachers........I continue to be "wowed" to find out that well known luthiers that I read about, are often old friends, and mentors of Danny's.
Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296

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mdrs
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Re: Here we go again! Danny Brown D-18 build

Post by mdrs » Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:18 pm

Craig wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:55 pm
Beautiful!
Thanks, and thank you for the help with the photo hosting, partner!! :horns: :horns: :horns:
Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296

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