The Making of "Luis Arceo" Guitar

The Luis Arceo Guitar
Model: 000 No. 3 Ano: December 9, 2015
Luthier: Robert Vrijenhoek, Monterey, California

It all started with seeing a beautiful guitar that Bob Vrijenhoek had made himself. I said to Bob I always wanted a guitar made for me, to fit my hands and I asked Bob would he make me a guitar to my specifications. Bob is a teacher at heart and said he would only make it if I made it with him. I was ecstatic! To be invited to learn how to build my own guitar.

We started this labor of love in September of 2014. At that time my father Luis Arceo was battling cancer. I wanted to share this process with him so I started taking progress pictures of the guitar building. Bob and I would try to work on the guitar 2-3 hours once a week when possible. I would go to Fresno every other weekend and share the photos with my dad. He was so excited for me to tell him about the selection of the woods I was using, the design I had in mind, and the process of hand making the guitar. His eyes would light up when I would share with him about the building process.

My dad knew that I always named my instruments. The day he asked me what I was going to name this one and I told him that that the guitar was named Luis. His eyes got big and he laughed “Oh yeah?” He was quietly proud. Unforgettable moment.

My father passed away December 27, 2014. He never saw the finished product but this one of a kind guitar carries on his legacy of music. He had taught me how to play the guitar when I was 13. Him, my mom, and I would sit on the front porch or in the living room of our home and play
and sing their favorite Spanish songs. The house was always filled with music. He gave me his prized Martin guitar when I was 15 and showed that I was taking this guitar playing serious by writing music and performing. He was my biggest supporter and believed in my music and of my life choices.

The first thing to pick was the woods. The front of the guitar has a “flaw/blemish” in the wood. This would normally not be selected to use. I saw an image/symbol of stretched out open arm/wings on the wood that spoke to me and I said to Bob “This is the one”. I felt that I was on a new musical path, fearless, and free and this symbol on this wood was meant for me. I believed this guitar would have character, heart, and would resonate my soul and my father’s when I played it.

Every step of the way in making this guitar and when I would present a design idea, Bob would say “Sure. Whatever you want. It’s your guitar” and he would smile. I definitely “challenged his skills” as he would say. It made us both very happy when the designs would work out.

Everything on this guitar was carefully hand selected or handmade. My vision was to make a one of a kind instrument that was unique, has an art deco design, warm color tones, contoured to my hands, and an overall big warm pleasing sound.

This guitar has so many hands and hearts that went into building him and it can definitely be heard the moment its played. Endless thanks to Bob Vrijenhoek, Chris Preston, Linda Vrijenhoek, Sean Ryan, and Mark Geiger for making this guitar come alive.

Luis is still making music with me
Thank you dad for gifting me your legacy of music – Linda

Luis Arceo Guitar

1. Top: Sitka Spruce
2. Back & Sides: East Indian Redwood
3.Backstripe: Martin Style Checkered Back stripe
4. Neck: Honduran Mahogany
5. Fret Inlays: Mother Of Pearl White and Gold
6. Tress Rod Cover: Mother of Pearl White and Gold
7. Pyramid Bridge: Hand Carved Ebony
8. Peg Head Veneer: Ebony
9. Bindings: Antique Cream Ivoroid
10. Rosette: Mother Of Pearl Zebra Wood, Figured Maple
11. Nut & Bridge Saddle: Natural Bone
12. Bridge Pins: Bone With Ebony Dots
13. Tuners: Sperzel 3×3 Gold Plated Locking Machine Heads
14. Pickup: Anthem Stage Pro Spc56682
15. Top Bracings: Sitka Spruce (to match the density of the soundboard)
16. Frets: Evo gold fretwire copper alloy (elemental composition: CUSN15FE1TI0.1) that has been used for years in the optical industry. It contains no nickel and meets the”nickel free” European standard.
17. Finish Pore Filler: SystemThree, 2 part Epoxy
18. Finish: TM-9 Gloss, water based finish
19. TRSD Truss rod: Steel sting, 14 1/2″ x 3/8 (overall length 15 1/2″)
20. Martin case: Martin 00 12-fret “535 Geib style”

Other Details: The body style is a Martin 000-28VS 12-fret. Traditional headstock rather than a slotted headstock. We customized the rosette, the end piece inlay, the top inlay style, and the fingerboard inlay. The fingerboard width at the nut was customized to a Gibson size at 1-11/16 rather than the typical Martin 1 13/16. Also the fingerboard and saddle radius have a customized Gibson 12′ radius rather than the standard Martin 16’ radius. The nut and saddle materials are bone from LMI . Saddles, bone, wide, 7/32″ x 15/32″ x 3 1/4″. Nuts, bone, 1/4″ x 13/32″ x 1/4″. The binding material is : Cream colored ABS bindings 49” long

22. Strings
String Now* Recommended†
1 0.011 0.012
2 0.015 0.016
3 0.023 0.024
4 0.032 0.032
5 0.042 0.042
6 0.052 0.053
* Martin Lifespan Sp Custom Light, 0.011–0.052″
† Elixer Nanoweb Light, 0.012–0.053″