After retiring, I had a chance to pursue a long elusive whim of building my own guitar. I had always wanted to do this and voiced that wish to my barber, Don O’Neil. Don knows a lot about music and said to check out Dave Nichols website – So I did, and wound up taking two courses; the first in inlaying pearl and the second in building an acoustic guitar. The guitar you see here is the result of those courses.

GWND guitar

I must say that Dave’s courses were excellent. There’s a wealth of information and expertise in Dave’s shop in Malone, New York.



To be honest, although I cut the abalone and pearl for the hummingbird that’s inlayed in the headstock, Dave did the routing of the cavity to accept it. It was a bit beyond my skill set at the time. Just cutting the seven interlocking pieces that make up the hummingbird accurately enough so that they would fit together decently made me quite happy.

Headstock with Hummingbird

The back and sides of the guitar are Indian Rosewood and the top is Sitka spruce. The headstock overlay, the fretboard, and the bridge are ebony.


Ebony is the inlayer’s choice of wood, because the glue that holds the pearl in place can be tinted black and virtually disappears into the background. It took several weeks to build the guitar, although some of that time was just waiting for the lacquer to harden.

Are you wondering what the GWND stands for – It’s “Grateful We’re Not Dead”. There’s all sorts of references to the band on this site, and a link to more information.