Minotaur Guitars

Hey y’all, I’m James. I am a St. Louis-based builder of stringed instruments. I love beautiful wood and small things.

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The plan is to send out a biweekly (every two weeks) update with photos, what's on the bench, exclusives and more.

Starting work this week on the Great Guitar Build Off for 2022! Last year I went big. This year, back to small. 8-string electric mandolin. I’m looking at binding and staining as my new skills for the build and should have a lot of fun as I get rolling.

Finished cutting and routing the body clean this morning. Next up, I need to make neck templates and cut a neck. Or maybe cut the other body. Because I have the template for these. Hmm.

Between a router and a coping saw, this body is starting to look less like a block of wood. I really like this design. After the mando and it’s hook/scroll followed by the guitar and it’s even more badass hook/scroll and wicked offset design, this feels like I’m going back to the basics. Simple single-cutaway, flat headstock— no scarf joint—, single pickup and simple wiring.

Got to work on the first body. Weekend didn’t go as planned, so the bandsaw is still out of commission. Using the router to cut this body out. Yeah.

Working on tuner placement this morning. Using Graph Tech’s Tune-a-Lele tuners for these builds, which will reduce the headstock weight significantly.

Cut down the slab we cleaned up the other night into two blanks. One is gonna get so much figure from the crotch and the other is just gonna be beautiful walnut. I’ve got a special plan for both.

First of multiple templates has been made. I’ve got some fun things planned here.

Cricutted a template with center line, bridge line, neck pocket, and pickup route. Transferred that to MDF. Then the kiddos interrupted. So I’ll get back to making the template later.

Did some last chance measurements and found that my neck pocket size was off. Luckily I would have just botched the MDF templates. I think I just solidified my reasons for making templates first.

Milled up some walnut for a couple ukuleles. Beautiful crotch wood from Lumber Logs. The first one is gonna be total wow.

Go subscribe to the RSS on my website to follow the next builds.

Launched my website! Starting simple. Posting photos, comments from Disqus, RSS feed, and not much else. More to come.

The details: Powered by Jekyll. Hosted on Netlify. Can be updated from my phone with some Siri Shortcuts and Working Copy. Not much else.

One thing I noted hard from the Great Guitar Build-Off was that the hardest part was getting votes. Much of this was algorithms designed to encourage you to pay to access your own followers. I don’t have access to all 700 of you. And the friends and folks that shared my posts don’t have access to their followers and friends.

So this is the start to building my own following outside of social media. No worries, I’m not looking to charge for access to my content. I’m not an influencer. Though I will be selling a few instruments this year.

Think I’ll use this piece for the next two ukulele necks.

Can’t help but look at that wood in the sunlight. Just so much character.

Gotta get this slab milled down to 1.5 inches, but that crotch is gonna make for a beautiful single cutaway ukulele. Solid body, single pickup, four strings. Going maple of some flavor for the neck. Got a board of Birdseye and some ambrosia Birdseye.

Couple digital things in progress this afternoon. I’m pretty well where I wanna be with the ukulele design and will be going to paper templates shortly. And I’ve started work on a very simple website. More to come!

The streaking on the tail of the M6 guitar is awesome. Like black lightning.

Thank you to everyone that voted for Minotaur Guitars in the Great Guitar Build-Off! While I didn’t end in the top 10, heading onto a panel of judges, I did end in the top 30% of entrants. I’m new to guitar building and I am so grateful to have landed where I did.

What’s next? I gotta clean a couple bits of this guitar up and put it up for sale. Also, I’m working on a website— finally.

I’m considering launching a photo blog and email newsletter. The biggest pain of this competition has been getting votes. Not because people don’t want to vote, but because social media apps are designed to not let you have access to your fan base. Almost 700 followers here and a reach in the last week to what should have been a few thousand and all I could get was 466 votes. While I’m content and grateful with being in the top 30%, I realize the need to control my access to fans.

More info will be coming and I should be starting on a couple ukuleles within the next few weeks. Once again, thank you all for the votes and support on this awesome journey!