From Tail Wedge To Binding
Now that the frame has been spun, it is almost ready to have the top and back glued on. First we apply a solid wood "wedge" to the bottom of the guitar. The wedge is purely decorative and serves no other purpose than to hide the join of the two sides of the instrument. First we route the wedge into the frame:
Routing the cavity for the tail-wedge.
The cavity is now routed and we glue in either an Indian Rosewood, Brazilian Rosewood, Maple, or Ebony wedge into the guitar depending on the model. Once glued in, we are ready to "grind" the frame. This procedure is done on a high speed belt sander and requires enormous skill to do properly. Right now only Jean and Matthew do this task at the California plant. The goal of this task is to grind out any minor "cupping" in the guitar sides created during the bending process.
Jean Larrivee "Grinding" the first fully American Made Larrivee Serial# 80000.
This guitar is a everyday model L-09
A close up of grinding the first Fully American made Larrivee #80000.
Currently this guitar is in the Larrivee Archive.
With the frame sanded, it now heads to the climate room to be acclimatized for a minimum of 3 days prior to being body-built. While the frame is acclimatizing, we begin the process of bracing the soundboard and back. Our braces are currently made at our Canadian shop, and are shipped to us here. We start by selecting/matching the braces and laying them out on the soundboard. We then apply a bead of glue to each brace, and place them in the exact right spot on the soundboard. The soundboard is placed inside a special vacuum table and the air is removed. Below you can see this process:
Wendy Larrivee Bracing the back of an L-09
The soundboard for the same guitar in the vacuum clamp
After only 15 minutes in the vacuum clamp, the top and back are removed and cleaned of all excess glue. We then leave the glue to cure for a minimum of 24 hours. Both the top and back are then sanded with three different grits of sand paper until the surfaces are smooth and clean. Many guitar makers don't touch the inside of the guitar, but to us it exceptionally important. Once the top and back are sanded, we load the frame into a body mold and route cavities for the braces to "locate" in. This is done with a small hand router as seen in the picture below.
Carlos (One of our two body-builders) routes the channels for the braces on an L-09
The top and back are then glued into place by the traditional "go-bar" method. Both the top and back are glued on at the same time. The soundboard is flat, and is placed "face-down" on the table. The back is then "face-up" with the go bars placed along the perimeter of the back - ergo putting pressure on the soundboard and back at the same time.
Caesar go-bars the body together.
The newly made body is left to dry overnight, and the next day is moved on the the routing / binding department. The routing of the body is done in two stages: Rough cut and Final Cut. The rough cut is done on a stationary router which is fixed to a surface, and the final cut is done with a hand-held laminate router set at particular depths. We have 4 final cut Laminate Routers for different purlfings: 05-09 Maple Bindings, -10 Rosewood Bindings, -50 & -60 Herringbone, and -10 series Maple & Koa bindings.
Matthew Larrivee routes the binding channel on an L-09
... and then finishes the final cut on the soundboard.
Once the guitar is routed, our two binders go to work putting the solid wood strips along the body. The strips are bent in side bending exactly as the guitar sides were. These strips are glued into place with standard carpenters glue and held in place with masking tape while they dry. The reason we use masking tape is that it allows us to get a very tight seal at every inch of the perimeter. If you look closely at any Larrivee Guitar, you can see the quality of this work. The fit-and-finish of the binding is impeccable.