I've just turned on the Etsy store. Items will be trickling in over the next couple days, and I'll make annoucements on FB and Twitter when new listings are added. This is a stop-gap until the web site get's it's shopping cart upgrade.
There is a listing for 'Private Listing - Kickstarter Tuning Machine Upgrade' This is a kit with all the components needed to replace the Steinberger tuners with the new Pull tuners. It also includes the protective Booties.
Fall has definitely arrived with crips air and thoughts of snow. The days are getting shorter and evenings are spent raking fallen leaves.
Production is running at full tilt and aside from a weeks stoppage for building upgrades the month of September produced some wonderful guitars.
Building upgrades – For those of you keeping track of our shop activities, we've partitioned off the cutting, routing, and sanding machines to an isolated section so we could contain the dust. In addition, we added 3 new 1100 cfm air cleaners and expanded the vacuum cleaning system. Still to come is a heat exchange system for the deep winter months. We're already liking the improvements and have begun thinking of our next upgrades, isolating the machine noise.
Production upgrades - The phasing out of old molds and upgrade to a new high temperature molding system is underway. We are about 50% complete with the swap out. This, combined with a new high-temp oven, means we will be able to produce double the parts each day. We're on track for complete transition by mid October.
What's in a name? You may have noticed that each guitar is labeled with a name on the plaque. This started out as an organizational tool to help us reference and keep track of each individual guitar, and has evolved into a daily shop game. Here are the rules: we progress in order, alphabetically, A-Z. There is a theme for each series through the alphabet. For example, the theme this series is “Girls names mentioned in songs.” So for example, “Sally” from "Lay Down Sally," by Eric Clapton. We rotate through the shop staff so everyone has a chance to choose. The truly terrible choices are heckled and then rejected. In the event of a stale mate we reference the all-mighty baby names book.
Shipping for October – I've left it the same quantity as September to give us room for the molding updates, but (cross your fingers) the new process will past this list.
If you are uber anxious for your guitar, and are willing to accept a small level of cosmetic blemishes, you can sign up for our B-guitar program. Because we are human, and we hand mold each guitar, often there are small cosmetic blemishes that pop up. They are strictly cosmetic, and I e-mail photos so you can approve the look.
Some very good feedback has been coming back to me this week. It is a good opportunity for me to reflect on what we've built, and give some explanation for ongoing changes and modifications to the Alpaca. In particular, as we have settled on a finish, customers are surprised that we have settled on a satin finish instead of a high gloss, shiny finish.
Surface Finish - The Alpaca is an adventure guitar, and I intended it to be traveled with without concern of blemishes. We changed the surface finish from an A-2 down to a B-1 satin a few months ago to help speed up production, as well as encourage folks to use the guitar as intended, and not be concerned about scratches and dings. Normally, a composite guitar would spend a week or 2 in the paint booth being sanded, painted, sanded, painted, etc. This is how a thick, high-shine finish is achieved. This process adds substantial time and money to the guitar, as well as 4-6 oz of additional weight. The second reason composite guitars go with this shined up finish is to hide blemishes. The process of sanding and re-coating fills and hides the voids and pin-holes, allowing an otherwise pin holed guitar to show as an 'A'.
Blemishes - Carbon fiber is an extremely finicky material to work with, and although the finish might seem less than perfect, in the carbon production world, the Alpaca is now coming out with a very high finish quality. The B-grade blemishes that I talked about were actual sections of pock-marks and pin-holes. Because these carbon fiber imperfections are so hard to get rid of, the boat building industry, as an example, accepts a certain number per square foot. We are shooting for zero and honing in on that goal. Although we continually strive for repeatability and accuracy, the Alpaca is a hand made guitar, and as such, there are still variations between guitars. I allow very small level of pin holing to leave the shop on a 'A' grade guitar, but I try to limit it to locations that are not readily visible.