Happy New Year!

I think that I have written a “new year” post almost every year since I started blogging about my guitars back in 2013. Often these posts have included my plans for the coming year, unfinished projects, goals, lists of wanted tools and other new-years-y planning content. What follows will probably be something like that. I’m not really that good about following up or through with these plans (in fact, my unfinished projects are still largely unfinished to this day), but it does help me to reflect on where I have been and where I might want to go, and what you might expect as a reader of these posts.

So, first off, Happy New Year! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season, despite whatever restrictions and conditions you are facing in your corner of the world, and I wish you all the best for the coming year.

2020: a retrospective

In 2020, I built 4 guitars, which is about what I say that I set out to do each year in my part-time building career. I always aim for more, but realistically expect myself to hit about 4 guitars. These guitars were all nylon-string classicals, although each was rather unique in design.

I am happy with how each of these turned out—the Fleta/Torres featured the most finicky inlay work I had attempted to date, and overall it looked pretty good! Nos. 024 and 026 were completed simultaneously, and both sounded pretty fantastic—I think that No. 026 with the ebony back and sides, cedar top, 630mm scale length, and fun golden ombre rosette was my best sounding guitar to date. And then, of course, there is the guitar that I built (or am building) for myself with all of the wacky possibilities of interchangeable fingerboards, removable neck, etc. This one is actually currently in pieces on my bench as I am making a few modifications—changes to the bracing to improve sound, adding a pickup, and messing around with the possibilities of making a bow to play this guitar like a cello. It is all a big experiment, really—probably not that useful in the end, but lots of fun for me anyway!

Despite the pandemic, I still managed a couple of performances this year—a virtual concert for the Atlantic Guitar Society in the summer, and a virtual concert for the Ottawa New Music Creators in December (you can still view the concert here), as well as a couple of other short appearances.

I have also been working on my second CD project, which should be released this coming spring.

2021: what’s next?

This next year is going to be full of unknowns for me, as I’m sure it will be for many of you. I have my CD to record, as well as one or two other recording projects that I will be a part of. I will probably be building a few instruments, and I will hopefully be doing some performing. For some reason, this year feels more uncertain than any other I have approached—I am honestly not sure what I will be doing beyond March, which is unusual for the super-planner type that I am. Nevertheless, here are a few projects that are in the works:

CD No. 2 (In the Night)

As previously mentioned, I will be recording and releasing my second full-length album this year. Recording is scheduled to happen at the end of January and into the beginning of February, and the whole thing should be released in physical and virtual forms by the beginning of May. I’ll provide a more accurate release date once that is possible. This CD will be featuring three new commissions by Canadian composers Anya Gowan, Amy Brandon, and Elissar Hanna, as well as an existing work by the Hamilton-based composer Christina Volpini, and three new arrangements of older pieces. I will be recording these pieces on my newly built experimental guitar, so you can expect a variety of traditional and strange sounds to come.

Ukulele build course

I am working on a student portal for my website so that I can provide more materials for my guitar/piano students, as well as more detailed instrument building instruction. I am starting by building a ukulele, and, if all goes to plan, I should have a course available on how to build this ukulele available this spring full of detailed plans and written and video instruction. I have lots to learn about my camera before this becomes a reality, but it should be a fun project for me!

Other builds and repairs

I’ll also be tackling a few building and repair projects this year, so you can expect some fairly standard blog content coming your way. I have a bit more to do on that experimental classical guitar, there is an old Brazilian classical guitar awaiting restoration in my shop, and I have plans to build another romantic guitar and possibly a steel-string guitar in the next while. I just treated myself to a few new tools for the workshop, so I should have many hours of entertainment ahead of me as I play around with chisels, routing set-ups, files, and everything else.


So, thank you for following along with this blog, and I’d love to hear from you if you have ideas of things that you would like to see me ramble on about. Feel free to leave a comment below, or send me an email (emilyshawguitar@gmail.com).

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