CHARIS SJ S/N 436 Build Thread
European Swiss Spruce top with African Blackwood back and sides
We had the pleasure of working with Bill in the month of October 2015 with the aim of curating two Charis guitars which will offer the richest of tones decked in the finest aesthetic appointments without having to break the bank.
 
A fully quartered African Blackwood with gorgeous sap became our choice of canvas on this occasion. Such pieces this size are rare to come by due to the smaller nature of these trees and we were thrilled when Bill found a piece.
 

European swiss spruce was chosen for the top as they have been prized by luthiers for its quick response and great headroom. This light weight top projects harmonic complexity and offers unparallelled fullness at the lower end of the dynamic range, allowing for rich bell-like tones across a wide tonal spectrum. Aesthetically, It enjoys the added advantage of a gorgeous colour and uniformity in grain over adirondack red spruce tops, another Holy Grail of topwoods for steel-string guitars.

 

African blackwood was chosen for the back and sides as they are known to provide for outstanding volume and power. It's tonal richness has also been compared well to Brazilian rosewood, besting it in some ways.

 

A generally heavier and more stable wood than the more widely known brazilian rosewood, african blackwood offers clarity, sustain, orchestral weightiness, sweetness, and plenty of reverberating overtones. It is black and sometimes found with gorgeous sap, but in the right light you will often be treated to faceted grains and variations of black, brown, purple, and red.

 

African blackwood is also amongst the densest woods in the world (and also one of the most expensive). The trees grow in isolated areas of the west african deserts and the trunks of these trees are twisted and small, making it rare to find fully quartered two piece sets that are aesthetically pleasing.

African Blackwood back and sides, neck block and other build parts prior to assembly.

African Blackwood hand-braced and tuned by master builder Bill Wise.

The insides of a Charis soundbox with Bill’s insignia etched into the neck joint.

European swiss spruce top with koa / pearl abalone / koa triple ring abalone rosette prior to buffing.

A rare fully quartered African Blackwood back with gorgeous sap running down the center prior to buffing.

Ebony headstock and fingerboard inlayed with pearl abalone and paired with a gorgeous 5-piece neck prior to assembly.

Apart from looking aesthetically pleasing, a 5 piece neck in mahogany / maple / rosewood / maple / mahogany allows for increased neck stability.

Ebony headstock outlined in pearl abalone purfling with a koa Charis logo outlined in pearl.

Ebony backplate with a “ducktail” neck joint outlined in pearl abalone. Besides being aesthetically elegant, this carefully carved raised edge adds to strength and mass without trespassing into the playing section of the neck joint.

Near complete Charis guitar body prior to fixing on the neck.

A gorgeous African Blackwood back showing through on this near complete Charis guitar.

Bill buffing out the sides of the guitar.

A thin coat of pore filler is meticulously applied to the guitar to allow for the natural wood rains to show.

A thin coat of pore filler is meticulously applied to the guitar to allow for the natural wood rains to show.

A thin layer of polyeurethane is applied to the guitar for a great finish and tone.

A thin layer of polyeurethane is applied to the guitar for a great finish and tone.

Bill buffing the almost complete guitar to a perfect shine. The colour and grains in the wood starts to visually "pop" at this point.

Bill buffing the almost complete guitar to a perfect shine. The colour and grains in the wood starts to visually "pop" at this point.

Another masterpiece by Bill - Charis SJ in European Swiss Spruce and African Blackwood.

Bill added a final touch to the headstock with matching tuning buttons built from the same piece of hawaiian koa used for the binding on this guitar.

© 2015 Bernard Godfrey Guitars. All rights reserved.

A thin layer of polyeurethane is applied to the guitar for a great finish and tone.

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