Hello Huss & Dalton Friends,
The temperatures are rising here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia but Spring was lush and beautiful. As we head into the "good ole Summertime", let's reflect back a couple of months and fill you in on an exciting project here at the H&D shop!
We've experienced some pretty intense thunderstorms...even a "confirmed" F1 tornado touched down just 9 miles West of Staunton early on April 28, nothing in comparison to what the folks down South had to endure. Seems like our weather has gotten more fierce Nation wide.
We send our best to all of those facing devastation caused by severe weather.
Pictured here are tulip poplars, about 8 total, felled by high winds during those April storms. These are on the Dalton Farm located in Central Virginia.
And speaking of Tulip Poplar...read on!
We hope you enjoy the news from the shop...thanks for listening.
Field trip photo journal
by Kimberly Lanier Dalton
Most likely, you've heard a little buzz about the upcoming guitar that is making it's way through our production, and which is being built with wood we procured from Monticello, home of our third US President, Thomas Jefferson. Mark wrote a condensed version about this in our last e-news which was also submitted to Premier Guitar Magazine for their "Acoustic Soundboard" section that Mark and Jeff have been contributing to for the past couple of years. I thought it would be interesting to put photos to the story and create a photo journal of our adventure!
In September 2010, after having met our new friend, Betsy Baten, an H&D owner and a very knowledgeable docent at Monticello, Betsy informed us of the possibility of procuring some wood from a renowned tree for the purpose of building a guitar or two. She arranged for Jeff Huss, Mark and myself to tour the beautiful grounds and home of past President Jefferson and to meet several folks influential in releasing the wood to us.
Early one cool October day last Fall, the three of us traveled over the mountain to Monticello for a little 'wood-seeking' field trip. The wood, once part of a 115-foot-tall tulip poplar and most likely planted by Jefferson himself some years earlier around 1807, was in several locations; there on the grounds of Monticello; on a farm in a barn located a short mile or two away; and at the home/shop of renowned bowl turner, Fred Williamson. The tree had been felled in June 2008 due to health issues and despite a number of failed preservation efforts that had been taken over the years.
Read Fred's story about this marvelous wood.
Business first! Upon arrival we were introduced to Sharon McElroy, Director of Retail Sales at the Visitor Center. The magnificent guitar(s) we build will be displayed and sold through the retail shop at the Visitor Center. So, Sharon presented us with the artisan contract stating a portion of the retail revenue will go to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, a non-profit corporation. We agreed.
Below, Sharon shares with us potential back and side pieces that we begin loading in the car. We all thought this wood beautiful, but not quite "it"...we wanted to see more!
After Betsy gave us the grand tour of the house, including upstairs and the famous Dome Room, (pictured below) we felt jazzed with new and refreshed historical data on one of the most interesting, near-genius men in American history, our first 19th Century President, Thomas Jefferson. Make sure you put Monticello on your "must-visit" list!
We moved on to a short grounds tour. The landscaped grounds are spectacular. We headed down to the shop of Gabriele Rausse,
Assistant Director of Garden and Grounds. In addition to plant propagation at Monticello, Gabriele makes superb wines at his nearby farm winery
Betsy, Mark, and Jeff peer into the huge lower stump of the tree. Let me state clearly...this was a huge tree! There were quite a few of these big hunk-of-trunks lying around and we understand that all of this wood will be preserved by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello for use by various artisans and projects.
The remains of the majestic tree. (below)
Our next stop, back West of Monticello about 20 miles on the Eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains...Crozet, Virginia. Home of Fred Williamson. Fred was gracious enough to take time out of his busy day turning beautiful bowls, to greet us at his shop and share some of this fantastic wood with us. Here is where 'spectacular' comes in! Below the guys select some very handsome wood.
Photo at right, courtesy of Fred Williamson.
And below, one of Fred's beautiful creations from the Monticello tulip poplar. It retails for $2,000.00 at Monticello's Visitor Center. Simply stunning! Meet Fred.
While at Fred's, he suggested we contact Bob Self back at Monticello. Bob is the Architectural Conservator there who also has a 'stash' of this wood on a small farm close to Monticello. So, back we went! And here we found more spectacular wood. The boys were definitely jazzed! Bob, thank you for your time and expertise!
Bob Self stands between Jeff Huss, left and Mark Dalton, right.
Fine prospects for back and sides loaded up and ready to head to our shop!
Fast forward to late January/early February 2011 when production begins on the Model OO-SP Custom, known around the shop simply as the "TJ" guitar. It's specs include: Jefferson's tulip poplar for back and sides, Red Spruce top from Virginia's White Top Mountain, native Virginia black walnut neck, body bindings, and peghead, native Virginia Persimmon fretboard, this wood acquired from Ricky Van Shelton's Virginia farm, and Jefferson's tulip poplar bridge and peghead veneer. Thomas Jefferson's signature will reside on the fretboard and the to-be-determined fretboard inlay is currently underway.
Here are a few more in-production photos.
Above, Dean Jones preps the sides for bending.
Above, the Red Spruce bracing from White Top Mountain, Southwest, Virginia.
Above, Jeff Huss taps a tone or two!
Above, the gorgeous, unfinished body after John Calkin's magical touch.
Above, the unfinished neck...native Virginia Walnut neck with native Virginia Persimmon fretboard.
So, our journey continues with the build process of this first H&D Custom OO-SP "Monticello" Model.
We are most thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with such historical wood and the fine folks behind the scenes that made it possible for us to do so!
As of June 21, 2011, we await artwork from an engraver that will become the fretboard inlay. We'll have photos of the finished project late summer and will keep you informed.
In this photo, taken by Betsy Baten, the towering tree can be seen just out from the right corner of the house. Betsy snapped this photo the day before the tree was felled by a crew of arborists from Charlottesville, Virginia, June 2008.
This viewpoint is from the South Lawn.
If you've not traveled to "the Valley", put it on your list of places to visit. Staunton is a lovely town full of great shops, lovely restaurants, beautiful vineyards, and talented artisans. And Huss & Dalton!
Thank you for being part of our extended e-family!
Drop us a note with your H&D questions or comments at our Editor email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Huss & Dalton Guitar Co., Inc.www.hussanddalton.com
420 Bridge Street
Staunton, Virginia 24401 USA
Items of note:
- Read the latest articles by Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton in Premier Guitar's Acoustic Soundboard.
"refined" H&D peg head logo.
We've tweaked our logo via CNC technology and now have a more defined, clean, sleek looking peg head logo in Mother of Pearl (standard) and Abalone (custom).
In January 2010, we were pleased to join forces with Mockingbird's Roots Music Hall located in downtown, historic Staunton, VA.
One Thursday night each month, we sponsor a
"Huss & Dalton presents..."
Join us, we'd love to see you there!
June 30, 2011 ~ 8PM
July 21, 2011 ~ 8PM
August 19, 2011 ~ 8:30PM