Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project - June 2008 Update

Andy Rathgeber creates some smooth melodies on 'Stars and Stripes' All six Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project guitars were completed on schedule and were unveiled at the Festival hosted by Emory and Charlene Knode at the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe in Catonsville on May 17. The event was a huge success, with a number of great performers playing the guitars, singing, and entertaining the festival attendees.  First up were Bob Walters, Mike Walls and Deb Peitavino, who performed a selection of songs, including “Chesapeake," an original song that that Bob composed specifically for this event. They were followed by Andy Rathgeber (pictured), Charles Roe, Michael Cassidy and his wife Joie Frye, and Pat MacCubbin, all very talented performers.

Rick Landers and photographer Mike Davis were present from Modern Guitars Magazine. Rick conducted an interview with myself and Emory, while Mike took some great shots of the guitars, the store, and the event happenings. The interview and photos have been published on the Modern Guitars website.

All in all, this was a great day, with live music and refreshments, the Chesapeake Bay guitars, and staff from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation providing information about their efforts to preserve the Bay. There are guitars still available for purchase, and they are on display at Appalachian Bluegrass. To inquire, please contact Emory Knode at Appalachian Bluegrass either by phone (410-744-1144) or Internet website (

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this project and event a success. A special thanks to Craig Lavin for his beautiful and inspired inlay artwork on the guitars. He is a true artist.

Photo courtesy Claire MacCubbin

Dave MacCubbin

Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project - April 2008 Update

click on images to enlarge

Now that March has come and gone and we’re into April, there’s quite a bit of progress to report. The first three guitars are now finished, and work is well underway on the other three.

Ladies’ Night: inlayed onto the Peruvian Walnut backed guitar, depicts female crabs foraging through eelgrass.

Ladies_100_2597Ladies_100_2598_3Ladies_100_2613_4 Ladies_100_2627    

Heron Sunset: inlayed onto the Brazilian Kingwood backed guitar, depicts a setting sun silhouetting a great blue heron, with a close-up on the neck of another heron among the cattails.

Heron_100_2659Heron_100_2660_5 Heron_100_2661_2 Heron_100_2666    

The Fisherman: inlayed onto the Quilted Sapele backed guitar, depicts an osprey coming in to capture a fish for its dinner.


Stars and Stripers: the fourth guitar underway, places the viewer within a school of striped bass and has a starfish sitting at the bottom. All this sits below the Francis Scott Key nun buoy on the headstock. This buoy is located in the Patapsco river mouth and commemorates the location of the British ship that held Francis Scott Key when he composed the Star Spangled Banner.


The Duke and Duchess:  the fifth guitar underway, shows a pair of woodland ducks in marsh grass.


I should have the artwork for the sixth guitar shortly.

The first three guitars headed to the Newport Miami Guitar Festival to be displayed with many other custom guitars from April 11 to 13. They will be coming back after the show and all six will be displayed at Appalachian Bluegrass in Catonsville as completed until the Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project Festival there on May 17. This local festival will not only have the guitars on display for sale, but there will be staff from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation present, supporting the event, as well as live music (we’re hoping for some original works that speak to the Bay) and refreshments. More information can be obtained from Emory at Appalachian Bluegrass (410-744-1144) or on his website (

Dave MacCubbin

Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project - February 2008 Update





February is well under way, and we’ve made quite a bit of progress on the Chesapeake Bay guitars. Craig has been working on the inlays for the first two necks. The first inlay, just completed, is titled “Ladies' Night” (left) and depicts several mature female crabs, or ‘sooks,’ swimming through eelgrass.  The second inlay, still under construction, (right) is titled “Heron Sunset.” This inlay shows a silhouette of a heron at sunset on the headstock and has a close-up of a heron among the cattails on the fingerboard.

The guitar bodies are coming along as well. I’ve completed construction of the first two guitar bodies, and am just waiting on the completed necks to finish the guitars. The “Ladies' Night” guitar has Peruvian Walnut back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top. The guitar bindings are flamed Western maple. The “Heron Sunset” guitar has Brazilian kingwood back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top. The guitar bindings are ebony.

Craig has designed the inlays for the next two guitar necks. The first is titled “The Fisherman” and depicts an osprey catching a fish. The other, titled “Future Matters,” shows a male seahorse, indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay, giving birth to baby seahorses. We should have some photos of these in the next month.

We have set the date for the guitar festival for May 17, 2008. It will be held at Emory’s store, the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe, in Catonsville, from 12-4pm. There will be a number of guitarists featured at the festival, and we’re hoping for some original songs related to the Chesapeake Bay to be performed. More information about the event will be included in the Spring 2008 edition of CBF’s “Save the Bay” magazine.

If anyone has any questions about the project or the guitars, please contact Emory at Appalachian Bluegrass. His contact information can be found on his website

It’s back to building, but I’ll continue to post the project progress, passing on our status and any news.


David MacCubbin






Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project - January 2008 Update

Cattails Well, the Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project has been underway for a little over two months now, and we’ve made quite a bit of progress (even with the holidays).  We kicked off the project the weekend of November 4, 2007, when Craig flew up to Baltimore and he and I spent some time kayaking down at Blackwater Refuge in Cambridge, taking photos of the wildlife and wetland scenery, including the one on the left. Craig plans to use the photos as the basis for some of the inlay art on the guitar necks and fingerboards.

Since then I’ve spent a good bit of the time building the guitar necks for the first 6 guitars, preparing them for Craig to inlay with the Chesapeake Bay scenes.  I’ve also started on two guitar tops; cutting the wood to size, inlaying the rosettes, and bracing the tops. Shown below are several photos of the work in progress.

Braced top Neck front view Neck side view Rosette    

Craig has been busy designing and storyboarding the scenes for the first two guitars, and has completed the concept art on paper, shown below. One is a scene of a great blue heron, silhouetted in a sunset. The other is a montage of Maryland blue crabs in the water. I just shipped the first two necks to Craig, so the actual inlay work is about to commence.

Heron design for neck head Heron design for neck board Crab design for neck head Crab design for neck board

Emory has been very busy beating the bushes and drumming up support for this project from his customer base. There is already significant interest in the first guitars, and we expect them to be a hot commodity, once the word is out there.

On December 10, 2007, Emory and I appeared on the Steve Rouse morning show on WLIF Lite FM 101.9 to talk about the project. A synopsis of the interview and the audio can be found on my MacCubbin Guitars website, under the Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project link.

If anyone has any questions about the project, they may contact Emory at Appalachian Bluegrass. His contact information can be found on his website.

I’ll keep posting as the project progresses, passing on our status and any news.

David MacCubbin

Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project--A Marriage of Music and Beauty for a Great Cause

TriofixedThe Chesapeake Bay's nautical and watermen's cultures have long been an inspiration for local musicians. Now they are inspiring a few other members of the music business. Soon, thanks to the vision of three talented men and their Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project, you won't just be able to sing about the Bay, you'll be able to make music with it.

(Photo, left to right: Craig Lavin, Emory Knode, and David MacCubbin.)

Here's their story.

David MacCubbin is a Maryland native with a lifelong love of woodworking, music, and the Chesapeake Bay. A singer and guitarist, David built his first guitar in 2001, learning the craft from renowned luthiers (guitar makers) William Cumpiano and Ervin Somogyi. Early this year he switched his career path from software engineering to building guitars full time, and has completed a number of commissioned instruments.

Born in Pennsylva, Craig Lavin's love of sea life and music took him to Florida and to a degree in marine biology and a side-job as a guitarist in a South Florida band. He and his marine biologist and musician wife Emily Schmitt, PhD (who participated in CBF's skipjack summer programs as a youngster) are both involved in marine ecology and education. When Craig wanted a coral reef inlay for the neck of his guitar he became so enthralled with the art that he started doing his own inlays. Today, he is a full-time inlay artist with a special emphasis on marine life. His inlays have been commissioned by individual art collectors, guitarists, and luthiers around the world.

Emory Knode's father opened Nelson Knode's Music Centre in Catonsville, MD when Emory was two years old. Emory assumed full control of the business in 1981. Today, the store is the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe, reflecting the acoustic and bluegrass music Emory enjoys most. He has also spent countless hours on the Chesapeake Bay boating, fishing, diving, and exploring wetlands.

"For a long time, I envisioned some sort of project that would showcase the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed," Emory says. "It was not until I shared my vision with David and Craig that the idea of bringing the beauty of the acoustic guitar and its voice together to raise awareness of the  stewardship we all have responsibility for came together."

The three men have teamed up to form the Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project. "Our mission is to offer a very limited number of hand-made and hand-inlayed guitars that showcase the splendor of our bay and how we can help to preserve it," Emory says.

Proceeds from the sale of these unique guitars will go to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

"I am very humbled by this opportunity to be able to share my talents in helping the Chesapeake Bay Foundation preserve the beauty and goodness of the Bay," says David.

Craig and his wife have been on the lookout for an environmental cause to support. "When Dave called me, I immediately knew supporting the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was invaluable. Saving biodiversity through high-end guitar building is wholly unique, I believe," says Craig. "There's way too much riding on this body of water for it to be ignored. I am honored to be part of a project along with Dave and Emory, two other very committed individuals who have so much passion and hope for the Bay's future."

But the story doesn't end there. David MacCubbin will be a guest blogger here on CBF's blog over the coming months and will chronicle the project as it, and its guitars, come together.

(Photo below: an example of Craig Lavin's inlay work on the neck of a guitar from a previous project.)