Introduction to the Roberts Minstrel!
The "Minstrel" guitar project started as a very unique approach to individual
artisan building. The concept was that if I could come up with a model that is
popular enough to where minimal consultation was necessary, if there could be
only a couple possible options that the builder needs to attend to, and if the
market for that one instrument was big enough to where I could really dial in
that model, I would be able to build enough guitars efficiently enough to where
I could market the guitar at a price almost unheard of from independent
luthier's with my experience and skill set. Furthermore, by building more
guitars, waiting lists of 3 to 10 years needn’t exist. A musician can't always
wait that long after the need for an instrument is perceived.
As it turned out looking back 3 + years, the market for the Minstrel was large and strong, but it turned out that by and large my customers were musicians who highly valued my experience as a long time custom builder and in most cases they wanted and needed to consult with me extensively and it was worth a bit more in cost in order to build the custom guitar that would truly fulfill all their needs. For my part I didn't have the heart to say, "No, You decided on the Minstrel-V so that is what you are getting and I can't spend a lot of time with you." I love the consultation and custom design that goes into matching the guitar build to the musician as much as any aspect of the building process, so after much thought and discussions with many of my clients I have determined that the custom build price structure is working fine and is priced reasonably. However the guitars at the low end of my pricing structure generally required nearly the same level of customization and special attention as the higher end did and they were often poised right on the edge of unprofitability or worse! As a result I've decided to raise the minimum base price to $4500.00 for instruments falling into the rough category of a Musician Series Minstrel or Troubadour. For other models that have been roughly established as models, the $4500.00 will serve as a base price. Custom Guitars will start at $5500.00 base price. This new pricing structure will go into effect January 1st 2013.
Another unique distinction you will find with Roberts Stringworks is that many of the costly wood upgrades guitar buyers have become accustomed to, you won't find when you design and place your order for a fine Roberts Stringed Instrument. My early tenure in logging, as a Licensed Timber Scaler, and as a Planerman and Millworker before being trained as a Luthier, places me in a unique position to be able to grade and judge woods based on a structural and tonal basis rather than just taking the word of the Wood Broker who in most cases is not a Luthier and isn't in a position to grade tonewoods based on any qualities other than cosmetics. This grading of tonewoods based only on cosmetic properties has become a real concern as woods quickly become more and more scarce. Too much tonally superior wood has been burned and a multitude of high end guitars have been built with perfectly spaced, tight grained wood with way too much runout or wood severely lacking in stiffness in one dimension or the other. ROberts Stringworks pricing structure Includes the use of tonally superior luthier select grade Carpathian and Adirondack Red Spruces. Luthier's select wood is wood chosen with tonal superiority and appropriate cosmetics as it's first concern. Woods with defect that will structurally, tonally or cosmetically negatively impact a guitar will never be used. Nor will so-called "Master Grade" wood which doesn't meet my strict tonal and structural standards. The whole concept of Luthiers buying "Master" grade wood, graded by someone who has never built a guitar and therefore cannot be considered a Master in any stretch of the imagination is just wrong yet it's what happens all too often. If you want wood with a special history, such as half a century old Sitka Spruce from an old Logging bridge on Vancouver Island or "to die for" stiff, Bearclaw German I've had for 25 years, or 100 year old sinker Larch and Cedar, salvaged from Flathead Lake in Northwestern Montana, well I've got that and I've selected it as carefully as any of the other woods I use but it's additional cost may result in a reasonable upcharge. I also have "MAster Select" woods available if you prefer. To understand Roberts Stringworks grading and upgrade policies please read the Top Woods section on the Option page. It will explain the difference between Luthier's Select and Master Select grade woods.
The prototype Minstrel, was built with a tonally superior Luthier's select Adirondack Red Spruce top with some slight red stain around the edges where the burst would be. It was built with Adirondack bracing as well... throughout the guitar, top bracing AND back bracing. It is built out of very high grade mahogany back, sides, and top. The finish on the neck, back and sides is rich and beautiful. The top has a gorgeous sunburst and in this context, the luthier's select grade red spruce actually made it MORE beautiful and interesting. It was built entirely with high clarity luthier grade hot hide glue. It is built in the spirit of the best of the 30's Gibson L-00 and 40’s LG models. It's top has been hand voiced, and tuned in the masterly fashion only possible after over a quarter century of experience.
The basic “Minstrel” sells for $4500.00 for the basic Minstrel-M (modern) and $4875.00 for the Minstrel-V. This includes a choice of mahogany or unflamed eastern maple back and sides, Adirondack or Carpathian spruce top, Adirondack bracing, and old world hot hide glue construction. The finish starts with an oxidation process and then is sealed with old-world shellac to enhance the Chatoyance, then finished with nitrocellulose lacquer. The Minstrel is a early 40’s vintage Gibson LG inspired guitar with a neck reaching even further back to it’s inspiration in the mid 30’s L-00. The Minstrel comes standard with a sunburst top and light tobacco sprayed over a cherry tinted understain which creates a magnificent reddish translucent underglow tobacco finish, which looks darker in low light situations but with a rich light glow in the light. Options also include natural top.
After studying Sculpture in College and woodworking most of my life, I began working professionally in the stringed instrument industry over 25 years ago, first at Flatiron Banjo and Mandolin Company, later at Gibson Guitars Montana Division where I became and served as rear plant production manager, and finally for Santa Cruz Guitar Company for almost 18 years. I work with high quality hand tools extensively from carving necks with the hand stitched French rasps made by the same artisans who made rasps for Rodin and the french scultors, to the Japanese hand planes, chisels and hand wrapped horsehair glue brushes, shellac brushes, and heavy copper hide glue pot. These details help me to infuse my work with passion and soul and allow me to connect to the traditions of the past that have created the incredible Stringed instruments that have set the bar so high for us today! Of course I use hand tools where hand tools are superior but utilize technology where it is appropriate and doesn't derail the process.
The Minstrel-M features a modern profile modified V neck at .835" thick at the nut, 1 3/4" nut width, and 2 3/16" wide at the 14th fret and bridge spacing. The thickness of the modern neck at the 8th fret is .920". The Minstrel-M has Ebony fingerboard and bridge.
The Minstrel-V will have bridge and fingerboard made of Brazilian Rosewood. It will have the same 1 3/4” width at the nut and will have a .890” neck thickness at the 1st fret and .920” at the 8th fret. The 14th fret and Bridge string spacing will be wider, at 2 5/16”. This neck will be designated by Minstrel-V for Vintage. Both will have a modified V neck.
Custom features will be available on the Minstrel line as well such as premium upgrades to Brazilian Rosewood, Flamed Eastern Red Maple, Flamed or Quilted Mahogany, etc. If there is something you would like to have just ask!