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Autumn – Step 2: bracing and sound bars

It has been over two months since I finished the Autumn guitar, but I’ve been unable to make updates to the blog, or progress in any of my other projects. Y’now, work ‘n stuff. I hope to be more consistent from now :)

But let’s go it, shan’t we? This second step in the construction is almost immediate to conditioning the soundboard. Typically, you would have to cut and carve the braces before installing them, but the Madinter kit provided some of pretty good quality. In future projects, I will have the chance to do my own but in this case, I used them.

Braces are made almost exclusively of spruce, as they offer the best results, being a light wood that has fair rigidity and great resonance. After all, their role is to provide a supportive structure, without reducing the vibration of the top sound board, while increasing the overall strength.

In this case, as in most steel string acoustic guitars, I use a patter in ‘X’ (x bracing) and are partially scalloped. This is basically that in the part that is exposed, opposite to the side glued to the top, arches are carved, lightening parts and giving more flexibility and other properties that physics would probably explain better.

As seen in the pictures, cut and carve the braces to the appropriate size and shape, with flat tapered extremes. The grain should be along and parallel to the top. Tapered ends will connect with the sides only in a small area, allowing for better vibrating.

The method of gluing (with Titebond) is simple but effective. The lid has to stand on a flat surface clear of chips, so that there is no damage. Using battens and clamps to apply pressure points and secure onto the soundboard. Be careful to use the right amount of glue, and avoid burrs. Here is the process, with some bars already in place:

Gluing the sound bars and braces to the guitar top

Gluing the sound bars and braces to the guitar top (1)

Gluing the sound bars and braces to the guitar top

Gluing the sound bars and braces to the guitar top (2)

Gluing the sound bars and braces to the guitar top (3)

Gluing the sound bars and braces to the guitar top (3)

 

As you can see, there is a clear pattern in the form of ‘X’ in the longer strips, which are centered on the area where the bridge should be located. Therefore, besides the braces, a slat is glued. It is triangular and flat, about 3-4 mm thick of rosewood (or similar hard wood) to serve as reinforcement in this area, as it has to withstand much stress, and the string pins. But we’ll see.

The shape of the braces, can vary. As shown, the ends are tapered to reduce the thickness to a few millimeters. This will be the single supporting point with the sides of the guitar body. Of all the braces, only the main ones (in ‘X’) and the top nearest to the neck (and sound hole) touch the sides. The others, the tone-bars, stop before reaching the sides, carved to almost nothing.

In these pictures cannot really be seen (sorry), but once glued, the braces are carved with the chisel and gouges. When to stop carving is hard to say… you have to appreciate is “right” (by feeling). They should be light and let the top ring. This is one of the points where the talent of the luthier counts the most. Myself, I followed my instinct, my ear, lots of people’s photos and perhaps, prudence. The result, well, was not so bad.

Glued braces, ready for carving

Glued braces, ready for carving

Craved braces ready for installing on the body

Craved braces ready for installing on the body sides

Testing the vibration of the guitar top with a vibration-transmiting speaker

Testing the vibration of the guitar top with a vibration-transmiting speaker

 

Finally, intending to reassure my insecurities, I used a device to see how the top ‘sounded’… It is a curious speaker that uses the surface where it rests to transmit vibrations and cause them to produce sound. Nothing scientific, I’m afraid, but sounding pretty good, my conscience was somewhat reassured … :)

Quiz – For those interested, there is a technique that is based on spreading particles (graphite??) on the surface and applying sound waves to see the shapes that are created and so ‘refine’ the top better.

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Autumn dreadnought, my first acoustic guitar build

As I posted (in spanish) a few weeks ago, I’m alsmost done with one of the guitar building projects, whcih has required much more skill (so far). The results however are giving me encouragement to continue learning, building and growing in this world of instrument making (lutherie).

Autumn Dreadnought - my first acoustic build

Autumn Dreadnought – my first acoustic build

After building the Xantilectro (which I will be posting soon), doing some changes to various pick-ups on electric guitars of several friends, decorating and transforming an old Fender Jazz bass to a “fretless” 5 string and adapting a low budget type violin bass (like the Hofner used by legendary McCartney) to six strings as a baritone / Fender VI, I decided to move to a bigger challenge. I actually want to build a guitar “parlor”, a small-bodied acoustic, compact (my own portability obsession) in size, which would draw the end of the nineteenth century or those blues of the years 20s ‘n’ 30s.

While buying the materials and preparing the design, I read a lot about it, and there were parts like installing profiles, making the rosette or bending the wooden sides that simply escaped my knowledge. So I decided to add one more item in the shop to my shopping cart: an acoustic guitar kit that Madinter sells.

This type is for an steel acoustic guitar, a “Dreadnought” large body shape, quite popular and recognizable today. It would serve as the basis for learning, and  messing around on a guitar of lesser value (in more sense than money). That was the plan anyway… Over time however, I have done much more than assembling the kit, and it has become a guitar with personality, with details and parts of its own.

The result is a very inspired guitar model Gibson 60’s, the famous Hummingbird ®, but with some notable differences, not only aesthetic. Today I’ve just put the first string and has released its first notes. Still missing some settings but after 13 months, this baby has been ‘born’ :-)

Guitar Kit by Madinter

Guitar Kit by Madinter

Autumn - first strings

Autumn – first strings

Autumn - first chords

Autumn – first chords

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First post…

Well come to my first blog.

I’ve been thinking of starting a blog and post about my first baby steps on this lesser known side of musical instruments, Lutherie (or however you spell it), which is by all means an old work for violin making, and in general, for the craftsmanship of making (traditional) instruments. Maybe someone wants to enlighten me if this is wrong…

I am warning you, English is not my mother tongue, but as I have been more than a decade in England and that has messed with my brain. So English comes as almost my first language. I have a good rich mix of terms and vocabulary for certain things, which sometimes gets mixed, or I make up the words … :) .

Well, I will soon begin to upload images, ideas, photos and experiences in my current and future construction projects guitars.

Please stand by ….  S!