Patch Rubin makes art that inspires others to make their art. He makes sculptures that sing.
For Patch Rubin, guitar building is such a hands on experience that he develops an attachment to every instrument he builds - so much so that they are hard to let go of. Patch doesn't think that will ever change and he doesn't want it to. He feels it is a high honor to be asked to build a guitar that is an outlet for another's artistic voice and he takes it very seriously.
Patch also takes the materials that he is able to use seriously and wants to use them with the utmost respect. He tries to be as aware as he can about where the materials he's using come from and how they are harvested.
At the heart of the sound is the box. The top and back plates vibrate and pump sound out and away from the guitar in the same way that a speaker does, how the top and back plates relate to one another is really the defining characteristic of how the guitar will sound. Patch's absolute favorite part of the building process is carving and tuning the top and back plates, making them musical and getting them to sing together. He likes to build the sides as stiff as he can get away with so that very little energy is absorbed and lost in them. After he has glued the top to the sides, he carves the top and back plates so that they relate to each other musically when tapped. Then, after he has glued the back on he'll tap again. He'll tap again when the guitar is completed. Throughout the process he records all these taps and looks at them through a spectrum analyzer so he can get an accurate read of what frequencies (notes) they are producing. He logs this information along with how much the bridge weighs, what woods he's using at what thickness, flex, etc. He does this because every aspect of the guitar's construction affects the end result and he is continually trying to understand what affects what and why. Even the most revered luthiers will say that they are still learning the whats and the whys; this is what keeps building fresh and exciting. According to Patch "The more I learn the more I keep wanting to know and understand."
Patch Rubin has been playing guitar for almost 30 years now and he's been lucky to have been a tech on some legendary instruments. Because of this, he's really conscious about making a comfy guitar to play. He wants the neck to shape and taper just right; he wants the transitions between the neck and the body as well as the neck and the headstock feel as natural and seamless as possible. The body, no matter what size, ought to feel natural. The goal is that while you are holding the instrument nothing detracts from getting what is in your head out of the guitar.
Patch likes to end with a hand done French polish shellac finish. Sonically, it is a much better way to go than a nitro finish. It also repairs relatively easily. Maybe most important, it is very mild compared to a lot of the toxic alternatives available. Patch says "It really seems to me that a hand made guitar just ought to have a hand done finish."
According to Patch "Every day I get to go out to my shop and work on a guitar is a good day; I'm enjoying this journey."
Named after one of Patch Rubin's favorite Radiohead songs, the Reckoner is a bit different than the other guitars he has built. Looking through Patch's lineup you might notice that he leans toward the Gibson aesthetic, however, as he was drawing guitar shapes he kept coming back to this one...