BUZZ (BOB) ROBERTS
LUTHIER




     A little over three years ago, Buzz was contemplating buying a Larivée guitar but then thought that maybe he should build himself a guitar instead.  Deciding to go that route, he started looking into what that would entail.  After a lot of in-depth research online and talking to a couple of experienced luthiers, he set up a workshop in the basement of his home in Crystal Beach and went about procuring the tools of the trade, clamps, saws, drills, etc.  Then he got into the labourious process of crafting jigs and forms necessary to the building of his first guitar.



     Next came the selection and acquisition of the materials, woods, fretwire, glues, etc., that would be used in the building of that instrument.  Over the course of the next few weeks (by his own admission making some mistakes along the way) he managed to fashion this fine dreadnaught-style guitar.  It has a spruce top, Indian rosewood sides and back, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard, bone bridge and nut, Grover (tm) tuners, scalloped bracing and wood binding.  Buzz even designed his own logo, a stylized "heart" which incorporates a bass clef and an inverted treble clef.   Beautiful!

                   
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     Getting into the swing of things, Buzz then built another dreadnaught of similar construction for his brother.  Doing more research on the net, he then decided to build his wife a copy of the venerable 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar.  Gibson put this guitar into production in 1931 until it was discontinued in 1945.  It has a smaller body than a dreadnaught but larger than the "parlour" guitars that had been popular in the early 1900s.  This model was well received by guitarists, especially those who finger-picked blues and country-blues.

     For this project, Buzz chose to use Adirondack spruce for the top and mahogany for the sides, back and neck.  When the guitar was completed, he brought it to the Lost Chord coffeehouse in Port Colborne.  That's when I got the chance to play it.  I fell in love with that beautiful instrument right off!  Wow!!!  Its sound projection belies its small size, retaining great clarity of tone as well.  Further, it is a very comfortable instrument to play.  The string spacing, the shape of the neck, the light weight, in short, everything about this fine little guitar just fit!  And the high-gloss finish, not lacquer as you'd expect but instead, the painstaking process of French polishing!  I was blown away with it and with the caring loving workmanship that went into its making.  I told Buzz's wife, Bernie, how fortunate she was to have such a fine guitar.

     A few months later, at the Lost Chord coffeehouse, Buzz asked me what I looked for in a guitar, what tone woods, body woods, neck config etc., I preferred.   I answered best I could and then inquired why he was asking.  That's when he informed me that he was going to build me a guitar!  Knock me over with a feather!  When I finally regained my wits, I told him that a guitar exactly like Bernie's, except maybe black walnut for sides and back instead of mahogany, would do me just fine!  I also suggested a bit of a "V" shape to the neck because I've found that to work well for me.  Just to be sure, I asked him to bring Bernie's guitar to the next coffeehouse and to let me play it there on stage.  Well, if anything, I was even more amazed the second time around!  I may be old and foolish but fortunately I still have the wit to recognize true love!


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     A few weeks later, Buzz sent me photos of the work in progress.

   
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     He then asked if I had any other suggestions/preferences.  I replied that I was particularly fond of a "chainlink" logo that I'd been using on miniature canoe paddles I'd carved for family and friends.  I sent him a digitized sketch of the logo and Buzz said that he'd see what he could do with that.  A couple more weeks went by and then Buzz asked me to come to his shop to check out the "fit" of the guitar before he went any further.  So now I was really starting to get excited!  Like I told Buzz, I was often pinching myself to make sure I was awake and that this wasn't just a dream!

           

   
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     And then finally on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, Buzz and Bernie showed up at my door with this beautiful work of art, this fine guitar, this dream come true.   I am a happy man.  Like I told Buzz, I just wish I'd had this guitar in my hands 40 years ago!  But, as the saying goes, better late than never.  Amen to that!

           


           


           
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      *** Through popular demand, Gibson has recently re-issued the venerable L-00.  Nice, but no thanks, I'll keep mine!

      The "perfect" guitar...  In the immortal words of the Bard, "a consummation devoutly to be wish'd!"  In the real world, musicians come in all shapes and sizes and their tastes in music are as widely varied as the fishes in the sea.  To expect one instrument to be able to satisfy all the needs, wants, quirks, physical limitations, foibles, expectations etc., of all these different musicians, well, one might as well be looking for that mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  But occasionally, rarely, a musician will pick up an instrument that just "speaks" to him/her, an instrument which comes alive at his/her touch, an instrument that gives him/her voice and is not only a joy to play but actually encourages the player to play it.  And if perchance the instrument happens to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, well, that's just a bonus!  And furthermore, if the instrument happens to be a one-of-a-kind work of art, wrought by the caring skillful hands of an artist as opposed to something mass-manufactured by machinery, well, now we're talking about something which transcends the ordinary, a chef-d'oeuvre akin to an Amati or a Stradivarius.  For me, that's exactly what this guitar is.  A master-work wrought by an individual who put his heart and soul into its making. And to think that I "own" this fine instrument, well, truly I am humbled.



     Playing it all by ear,
             André.

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