Welcome to Xaver Guitars
My name is Gerry Gruber, and I hand-build guitars under the brand name "Xaver Guitars" (pronounced X-offer). I specialize in performance level steel-string acoustic guitars, in three models: dreadnought, mini-jumbo and grand concert. I have a limited selection of guitars in stock, available for immediate delivery, and also take custom orders. Click here to see the guitars currently available, or here to find out how to order a custom guitar.
Don Ross Demo'ing an Xaver Grand Concert Guitar
May 16, 2013
I would like to offer a big thanks to Don Ross for generously demo'ing my and other luthiers' guitars at the recent Elmira Guitar Show. Don is one of, if not the greatest fingerstylist today. You can check out Don's music and CDs at his gobyfish.com website. The guitar he is demo'ing is one of my Grand Concert models. You can read more about this guitar (which incidentally is still available) here. Enjoy.
Elmira Guitar Show - First Class
April 15, 2013
A big thanks to everyone who came out to the Elmira guitar show yesterday, and particularly to those who stopped by our table and checked out my guitars. All of the guitars I had at the show are described in detail on my site. For example, the grand concert that Don Ross demo-ed can be found here.
I would also like to thank Don for coming out to the show, and for gratiously demo-ing guitars. Wow, if you've never heard Don play before, you've got to give him a listen. One of the best fingerstylists in the world, and he's a proud Canadian.
Finally, I would also like to thank John Woods, the show organizer, and his army of helpers, who set up the hall before we arrived, who assisted with load-in, provided tasty food on-site, and simply ran a first-class show all around. I plan to be back next year, and would encourage those of you who've never been to the Elmira show to put it on your calendar for 2014.
Xaver Guitars Coming to a Show Near You
March 27, 2013
It won't be long now before we get back into high gear, showing guitars at farmers' markets and guitar shows. In fact, we just finished up a very enjoyable weekend at the Maple Sugar Festival here in Ottawa. Thank-you to everyone who came out and checked out the guitars.
Next up on the list is the 4th annual Elmira Vintage Guitar Show and Swap, to be held on Sunday, April 14th. Elmira is just north of Kitchener/Waterloo, and a relaxing drive from Toronto. So, we hope to see all you guitar aficionados from southern Ontario at this event.
For people in eastern Ontario, mark your calendar for Sunday, June 16th (yes, that's Father's Day), for the 2nd Annual Luthiers' Showcase. A great opportunity to meet some of the best luthiers and their creations, all under one roof. What better way to start off Father's Day. Check back to my website for details as the date approaches.
Finally, as in previous years, Xaver Guitars will be at the Cumberland Farmers' Market every Saturday throughout the summer, starting June 15th, and running through October 12th, from 8am to 1pm, in Cumberland, just a few minutes east of Orleans.
And if none of these dates works for you, drop by my workshop in Orleans. I'll give you a personal tour, show you the builds I am working on at the moment, and you'll have the opportunity to check out my newest guitars in a relaxing environment.
A Guitar is Born
January 4th, 2013
I had the opportunity to play Santa Claus in a special way a few weeks back. I completed a mini-jumbo - a custom build - and delivered it to the happy customer, Jack Stacey, just two days before Christmas. As you can see from the picture, this guitar was customized with pearl inlay on the ebony fingerboard (as well as custom inlay on the headstock).
The guitar not only looks nice, but it sounds very nice. It has a lively cedar soundboard, and figured walnut back and sides. The fingerboard, bridge, and headstock/backstrapping are ebony. This guitar also features a venetian cutaway, a side soundport, and a Laskin-style armrest. Add to that upgraded tuners (510 Golden Gotohs) as well as the industry leading K&K Pure Mini passive pickup.
I invite you to have a closer look at the guitar here and if you like the style and specs, give me a shout and I can work up an estimate for one like it for you.
Accomplished Songwriter Terry Fernihough Visits Xaver Guitars
October 29th, 2012
I had the pleasure recently of hosting Terry Fernihough at my guitar shop. Terry needs no introduction to Canadian country music fans. Not only is he a founding board member of the Country Music Association of Ontario, he has also collaborated with the likes of Sarah Beth Keeley, Rik Reese & Neon Highway, Anne Belliveau, Stephanie McIlroy, Codie Prevost, Kal Hourd, David Joseph, Denni-Lee Hayes, Shirley Albert, Melanie Morgan, Joanne Stacey, and Laura Ranieri in writing chart-climbing country hits. And in the coming weeks, Saskatchewan's own Donny Parenteau will be releasing his latest CD in retail stores across Canada, with a track entitled Sun Showers, co-written by Donny and Terry.
Terry has a flair for witty, engaging, and sometimes tearful lyrics. The Power of Positive Drinking is classic bar-room Nashville, and That Damn Kenny Chesney Song is flat out funny. If you are a country performer and are looking for some fresh and exciting material, or are looking to collaborate with someone in your songwriting efforts, I would highly recommend you get in touch with Terry at TerryFernihough.com
Compensated Nuts - Why Your Guitar Needs One
October 24th, 2012
A compensated nut is a nut that is moved closer to the first fret by a small amount, in order to remove the "flatness" when playing open (non-fretted) strings. (On an aside, we do have many "over-compensated nuts" here in Ottawa, we call politicians. But that's another matter.) On my mini-jumbo model, which has a scale length of 25.4", the theoretical distance between the nut and the first fret is 1 and 13.6/32nds of an inch. However, if you were to measure the actual distance it is 1 and 12.6/32nds, exactly 1/32 shorter. That is, the nut on my mini-jumbo model is 1/32 inch closer to the first fret than it theoretically should be. This shortening of the open-string is done to offset the flatness that is introduced by compensated saddles.
(Confused yet? I was, when I first started learning about compensated saddles and nuts. But, it does make sense... eventually.)
To understand why one should compensate the nut, one must also understand why one compensates the saddle. Saddle compensation is the lengthening of the string by a small amount to offset (or compensate for) the increased tension that is applied to strings when they are fretted. You see, there are only three things that determine the frequency of the note we hear on a guitar: the length of the string, the thickness (mass) of the string, and the tension or how tight the string is wound around the manchine posts. Problem is that when we fret a string, we are not only changing its length but also its tension by a small amount. The tension is increased because of the downwards force applied to the string to get it to touch the fret. This increased tension is not a lot, but enough to make strings sound sharp, that is, if we didn't do something to counteract this increased tension. Fortunately, almost all guitars have some system that lengthens the strings by a small amount to offset the increased tension from fretting a string.
If you look at a typical guitar, the saddle is not perpendicular to the strings, but rather is slanted slightly, and also moved back (away from the fingerboard) by a small amount. All strings are lenthened. The low E string is lengthened the most (because of its greater mass) and the high E string is lengthened the least. The other four strings fall somewhere in between. Therefore, whenever a string is fretted, the increased tension is offset by the increased length, and you hear the note at the frequency that it should be. However, what happens when you don't fret the string?
With a correctly compensated saddle, fretted strings will play in tune, but non-fretted strings (open strings) will play a tiny bit flat, unless the guitar has a compensated nut as well. The compensated nut shortens the string by virtue of the nut being located closer to the first fret than it theoretically should be. In this way, open strings are "sharpened" to get rid of the flatness that otherwise would be heard.
So, in summary, the increased tension from fretted strings is compensated by the saddle being moved back (away) by a small amount (more for the low E; less for the high E). The increased length that results from compensated saddles is counter-compensated by the nut being moved forward - toward the first fret.
As I said earlier, almost all guitars have compensated saddles. But, not all guitars have compensated nuts. One of the ways guitar manufacturers cut corners and save money is to skip on the compensated nut. The difference in frequency between a correctly compensated nut and a nut that is not compensated is small. Some people can't hear the difference. However, for many discerning guitar players the difference is noticeable. So, if you are one of those people who is hearing your open strings playing a bit flat, chances are your guitar does not have a compensated nut.
All Xaver Guitars have compensated nuts. I am often told that my guitars play perfectly in tune all the way up the fingerboard. I would like to think it is because of the attention I pay to properly compensating both the saddle and the nut. If you've never played a guitar with a compensated nut before, I invite you to try one of my guitars, and see whether it makes a difference. You may never go back to an uncompensated nut again.
The Twelfth Fret Now Carrying Xaver Guitars
October 12, 2012
I am very happy to announce that The Twelfth Fret is now carrying Xaver Guitars. The Twelfth Fret is an institution in the Toronto music scene, having been repairing and selling guitars for the past 35 years. It's reputation for great instruments and great client service is renowned. Musicians from all over the world make a point to visit The Twelfth Fret when their tour stops in Toronto. So, if you live in the GTA or next time you visit Toronto, drop by The Twelfth Fret, 2132 Danforth Avenue, and ask to see an Xaver guitar.
Jack Stacey Performing Jailbreak with an Xaver Guitar
September 30, 2012
Jack Stacey has quickly evolved from a customer to a close friend. His good nature, broad smile, and encyclopaedic knowledge of all things guitars makes collaborating with him to create a custom Xaver Guitar very enjoyable. (I'm building a mini-jumbo for him, featuring an incredible cedar soundboard and figured walnut sides and back. The guitar is scheduled to be finished near Christmas, and I'll be posting pictures here as soon as it is completed.) Jack is a prolific songwriter, a guitar instructor, and also a very funny man. You can check out all of Jack's videos on his Youtube channel: Jack1946
Here's his latest, entitled, "Jailbreak", during which he is showing off one of my dreadnoughts. Enjoy.
Juno-Award-Winning Teddy Leonard Enjoying an Xaver Guitar
May 14th, 2012
One of the rewards of building guitars is to hear accomplished guitarists play them. I had that opportunity recently at the Ontario Guitar Show. Teddy Leonard performed a few pieces with my grand concert model guitar for those in attendance at the show. Leonard was honoured in 1999 with a Juno Award for Best Blues Recording. His masterful riffs can be heard on numerous CDs as he has performed over the years with bands including Fathead, Handy, Juno nominee Paul Reddick, Colin Linden, Morgan Davis and Pork Belly Futures. Leonard has shared the stage with legends no less than B.B. King. So, you will forgive me if I had a broad grin on my face as one of my guitars came to life under the spellbinding artistry of one of Canada's greatest guitarists. Thanks Teddy. I owe you one.
Samantha Mouchet and Xaver Guitars
May 2nd, 2012
I am delighted to announce that Samantha Mouchet, singer-songwriter and recording artist, will be featuring my grand concert guitar on her upcoming CD Strange Dreams. Samantha's soulful folk sound and lilting lyrics accompanied by her silky smooth vocals makes you just want to sit back and enjoy. Fresh off an appearance at Gulliver's, Samantha is quickly establishing a name as a talented songwriter and performer, reminiscent of the classic sound of Cassandra Vasik. Check back here for updates on her pending CD release. And in the meantime check out Samantha's site SamathaMouchet.com and have a listen to some of the tracks that will be featured on the CD.
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