Thursday, July 17, 2008
These are two of Leif's four guitars. The blue bass guitar was in the photo of him playing it in 1992 that I posted earlier today. He also had a blue standard guitar, the one he gave to his nephew, Marcus.
The green guitar was originally his pride and joy. It is a signed Kramer Floyd Rose that he bought in about 1988. The brown one is the one he designed and made in about the fall of 1991 when we were living at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The body is made of mahogany and is his original design. Note how deep the curve is by the horn where your hand would need to get to the strings for the top notes. It was tricky to attach the neck of the guitar to this and make it strong enough to hold and last.
When Leif first made it, he had a purple stain on it, but he later removed it because he had envisioned a high-gloss finish like the green one on the Kramer, but that wasn't something he could achieve at his high school shop. He talked on and off for years about putting another finish on the body but never did.
He put a lot of labor, hours, and expense into that guitar, and enjoyed playing it. He researched good components, pickups, etc. for it, and purchased them in various places from a huge music store in San Juan to ordering from the Musician's Friend catalog.
Like any project of Leif's, once he got started, there was no stopping him, and he would work for hours without a break. Sanding the wood on the body was a particularly long and tedious task, but he kept at it for 5 hours at a stretch. The other students at Antilles High School could not believe he was making his own guitar, and his shop teacher initially didn't approve the project, feeling it was too complex, but as usual, Leif proved he could do it and do it well.
At the time, he did the wood finishing on a mahogany body for a second guitar he wanted to make, but he never did it. That design is very different from the one in the photo. He still had that guitar body among his possessions when he died, and we have it now. I wish he had completed it.
When Leif lived in Puerto Rico, he took guitar lessons from Edwin Santiago and very much enjoyed that association. We lost contact with Edwin some time after we moved away from Puerto Rico, but if someone who reads this blog knows him, I hope they will let him know about Leif and how much he learned from Ed.