Finished Project: Union Station Heart Pine Guitar
We recently completed a very special project thanks to our very own Daren Gallman, who is not only one of our head builders, but also a skilled luthier. We built a guitar. With vintage tuners, ties to famous bluegrass musician Doc Watson and built with reclaimed heart pine lumber from Nashville’s Union Station, this guitar is jam-packed with historical significance.
At Woodstock Vintage Lumber, we’re all about preserving pieces of history. In 2001, we purchased 600 beams of historic wood from the demolition-bound Union Station Train Shed. This structure (built in 1890) was considered an "engineering masterpiece" as the largest single-span gable roof structure in the US. We restored the wood from this historic landmark, and the lumber has been used as wide plank flooring, decorative beams, and reclaimed furniture for some of the most beautiful homes in the Nashville area.
This time around, we decided to use the rustic rough-hewn beams to make an instrument. “The idea just kind of came to us one day,” says Daren, who graduated from the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. “I’ve been building guitars for over 20 years, but I’ve never heard of anyone building one entirely from heart pine.”
Heart pine is stronger and stiffer than most wood types used in guitar making. The tops of guitars are usually spruce or cedar; backs are typically crafted with mahogany or rosewood. For those that are wondering, guitars are made by carefully shaping wood using a combination of heat and water. “You get the wood really wet, then really hot, then bend it. When it cools, you build the guitar inside of a mold so that it holds its shape,” notes Daren.
Before joining the Woodstock team, Daren spent 6 years building guitars for Gallagher Guitar Company, where he honed his craft. Here’s Daren shaping the bracing of the back of the guitar’s body by hand.
Attention to detail was important to us during the building process: the bridge, rosette, headstock and binding pieces were made using wood from Tennessee tobacco barns. “I also had an old set of vintage tuners from the 60s that that I’d been saving,” shares Daren. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally use them.”
The vintage character of the guitar doesn’t stop there; American music enthusiasts may find this instrument interesting for a whole ‘nother reason. “This guitar has Doc Watson’s nut and saddle on it,” admits Daren, who scored the pieces during his time at Gallagher. The late Grammy Award-winning guitarist and songwriter brought his instrument to Gallagher to be worked on at one point, and Daren was given the task of re-fretting and touching up the guitar. “I pulled the nut and saddle (where the strings rest on) out while overhauling the guitar and asked the Gallagher owner if he wanted them. He said no, so I asked if I could have them.”
Aside from it’s incredible historical significance, the guitar is also, of course, fully functional. “As far as sound goes, the guitar has a nice mid-range sound with a strong tone,” Daren - a guitar player himself - describes. “For me, guitar building satisfies a love for both creating things with my hands and making music.”
What’s next for the guitar? We’re not sure. It’s currently here in our office and truly goes to show that here at Woodstock, if you can dream it- we can build it. Thanks for all your hard work, Daren!
For more information on what we do here at Woodstock, get in touch.