Linen guitars, trimmed on a CNC, look and sound good as wood
May 10, 2016 | 1:57 pm CDT
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Blackbird Guitars was formed in 2005 when founders and designers Joe Luttwak and Kyle Wolfe gave-up searching for a compact guitar worth bringing along for the ride. The only 'travel' models available were thin-sounding and fragile. Armed with experience in high tech products, the quest started innocently enough with the tried-and-true design mantra to generate as many concepts as possible and prototype the winners.


Automated steam bending for hardwood and millwork

With the introduction of the MagPi wood forming machine, SD Machinery says it has created an entirely new category of manufacturing equipment.

The two say it helped to have access to the latest advanced manufacturing early in the process, including three-dimensional CAD (computer-aided design), automated manufacturing including a Freedom Patriot CNC, as well as carbon-fiber composites. 
Blackbird builds guitars and ukuleles in its San Francisco facility using advanced composites and machining techniques blended with traditional instrument craft. All its instruments share unibody, hollow neck composite construction for enhanced tone and durability.
The team benefited greatly from the tutelage and encouragement of several Bay Area guitar-making luminaries. After two years of development, the resulting Rider model is a harmonious blend of technology and traditional craftsmanship. "Part mountain dulcimer, part F1 race car, Blackbird guitars are high performance instruments built for the road in our shop in San Francisco's Mission district," says the company.


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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.