Here are some photos and words on my most recent guitars. For the last five I have introduce a new system for strutting the back which I describe below. Everything else hasn’t really change apart from a few tweaks to the soundboard resulting from the changes to the back.

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Above is guitar no.101. Made from spruce and cherry. Cherry is one of my favourite woods for the back and sides. It is lightweight, has a bright tap tone and a beautiful colour.

 

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This photo of guitar no. 103 shows a new back before it goes on. For a while I had been thinking of changing things. The traditional three transverse struts, which I was using, could be improved I thought.

This strutting was copied from the steel string makers in the American west. Their aim was to add longitudinal strength to the back, preventing the sides from buckling and the neck from coming forward. For this they added the spinal looking strut down the centre of the back. This strong strut is raised, being housed in the transverse bars, and so minimises dampening. The four transverse struts are highly tapered, allowing the back to move in and out as a whole. It’s this movement which is the key thing for me, as the lower modes of vibration are enhanced in the back. Subsequently the guitars resonant frequency drops by a tone or so, increasing bass response and without affecting the trebles.

 

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Rosette of no.101 with view of spinal strut.

 

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The back is formed in the dish mould, and when complete it holds a nice smooth curve before being fitted to the sides.

 

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Guitar no.101 was the second with this change of back design. The guitars resonance is E,  a tone lower than before. Air res is lower, about D sharpish and the soundboard was on A as per usual for I hadn’t changed anything with this.

With these lower resonances I found the sound to be much more open, and the guitars more responsive. The bass is richer but still with plenty of definition by which I was pleasantly surprised. The trebles seem, to me, unaffected by the new back.

A good friend, and a very good guitar maker, thought this guitar sounded like a Smallman! It does have a linear quality, and is bright sounding but I was surprised by this.

 

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Above is guitar no.102. My aim with this guitar was to lower my soundboard resonance, so that it was nearer in pitch to the guitars overall resonance. The last guitar being E – A roughly. By making the soundboard a tad more flexible in the lower bout, I now had E – G, homogenising all the resonant frequencies.

 

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Inside no.102

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Pointy heal

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Guitar no.102 is made from walnut, another favourite of mine. It’s very lightweight and has a tap tone similar to maple. I have been using it for bridges a while now for its lightness. Bridges are now about 16 grams.

 

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Walnut bridge

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Rose of 102

 

Below are pics of no.103, made from Honduras rosewood and an old piece of spruce. Honduras is really dense so I thickness it to about 1.8mm to try and keep the weight down. It has a very bright ring to it. A rich farmer near me imported a barn load of the stuff about 50 years ago and I bought a couple of chunks. The spruce came from a violin maker who had been given the collection of wood of a maker who had died. I was offered it, and using this old wood has been fascinating. I reckon some of it must be nearing 60 or 70 years old. The maple I use is from him as well. Unfortunately the worm has been at it. I cut a lovely looking plank, which had one hole in it. Inside was a labyrinth. Dammit!

 

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Last up here is guitar no.104, made from spruce and maple. If some designer had a plan in the beginning, spruce and maple trees were a very good one.

Having used these woods (cherry, walnut, Honduras and maple) for the back and sides over the last few years, and considering the back more closely in the guitars, has been rewarding. Each guitar has a particular quality and individuality, while at the same time exhibiting the right response I am aiming for. For a more in depth look at my views on making, go to the “My Approach” page.

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