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Scalloping an existing guitar
Author
Post
jeff

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 8
I'm fairly new to this site, but I appreciate all the great posts. I plan to build a guitar in the near future, but recently I have been wondering about trying to scallop the braces on a built guitar that I own. Has anyone here tried that? Is it a worthwhile effort?

Jul 15, 09 | 10:00 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Jeff,
I was just looking last night at a website of a luthier who does this on his classical guitars after they are built and strung up, using pieces of sandpaper glued to his finger tip, reaching in through the sound hole and taking off small amounts to change tone. Sounds tricky, but I guess if you want perfection.
You are probably thinking of carving braces and that may be a bit harder to accomplish, but I think there are some on the forum who might have some experience with this.
Good luck. Get to building, you won't regret it.

Kevin

Jul 15, 09 | 11:10 am
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
There's a long tradition of "adjusting" braces on existing instruments. Folks like Matty Umanov, Ivon Schmuckler, et al. were hacking away on Martins back in the Sixties ... And now there are people, including Scott van Linge, who make significant claims for their ability to retro-tune guitars.

I don't like it. It's hard to do well, it completely de-values older instruments, and it risks destroying what tone and structure was built into the guitar. If you want to make changes to a largely worthless instrument for practice, make a new top from scratch and replace the original. If the guitar has any value, sell it and get (or make!) something you like more. Just my opinion, of course.

Jul 15, 09 | 11:58 am
jeremy3220

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 242
"I don't like it. It's hard to do well, it completely de-values older instruments, and it risks destroying what tone and structure was built into the guitar. If you want to make changes to a largely worthless instrument for practice, make a new top from scratch and replace the original. If the guitar has any value, sell it and get (or make!) something you like more. Just my opinion, of course."


Amen. Carving and sanding braces on a finished guitar is a PITA.

Jul 15, 09 | 12:45 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Jeff, my 1974 D-18 has been "Kimseyfied" and there was a dramatic difference. When I had Bryan Kimsey reset the neck a couple of years ago he also did some of his hot rodding - replaced the heavy rosewood bridgeplate with maple and did some light scalloping. He did not remove the popsicle (one of his other mods). When the git came home there was a little baggie of sawdust and chips in the case LOL.

My wifes comment was "you are playing louder tonight" and this git has stood up nicely to a D18GE and even a 1939 D-18. I was so pleased that when he reset my D12-28 I asked Bryan to replace the bridgeplate on it also (but I did not have it scalloped). Bryan has a lot of info and his thoughts on his web site (google) and is a frequent contributor at UMGF where his ideas are frequently debated.

There is also the wonderful story about Leo Kottke doing a little work on his first Taylor 12 string (basically a 555) with a pocket knife - Bob is said to have tried to duplicate that on the LKSM (which is much more deeply scalloped than a standard Taylor 12).

I'll add that (1) it will void warranty, (2) you might make things worse (some builders feel that modern guitars are underbuilt to get immediate response), and (3) it would be a real pain in the hind end to do working thru the sound hole.

Jul 16, 09 | 6:16 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Don Teeter has some how to's regarding brace shape adjustment and top thinning in one or both of his "great -- must have" repair manuals.

Its not simple but can be done. It may be a PITA, but many of the Martins built in the 1970's have been modified in this fashion --- many would say that the improvements were expotential! Now --- it is a know fact that that era of guitars were overbuilt. Merely tweaking around in hopes for a better sounding guitar is something I would persoanally avoid and I believe Rick has hit the nail -- sell, than build or find something you like is a better option.

Ken

Jul 16, 09 | 8:35 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
I would be afraid to try doing much on any guitar of value. With that said, I tweaed the braces on a Art & Simon Luthrie dreadnaught I own. All the bracing was squared off on the top of the braces. I cut a semi-parabolic/rounded countour in a hardwood block and placed PSA backed sandpaper in it and sanded that profile in all the braces (top and back). Of course I didn't touch the X-brace for a little ways either side of the intersection. I then scalloped the tone bars as best I could using a round file and then re-profiled with my hardwood block and sandpaper.

Between doing this and switching to medium gauge strings, this guitar sounds much, much better! I need to work on the action now.

It was a pain in the but to do this and my forearm was bruised and cramped for 3 days afterward. But I'm glad I tried as it sounds much better. I wouldn't try this with a good guitar. Per chance you have a nice guitar, chaeck out Bryan Kimsey's website on the services he offers. I'm thinking of sending him my mandolin for setup work.

http://www.bryankimsey.com/

Jul 16, 09 | 8:24 pm
jeff

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 8
Thanks much guys. I have a 1971 vintage Framus Jumbo 12 string that is built like a tank. It has a very nice tone, but could use some volume. It is played as a 6 string until I build my first git, then I'll put 12 back on it. While keeping an eye on ebay I've noticed that the values for Vintage Framus' are inching up. So, I'll take the advise of leaving it alone and building another one. I may go buy a cheap guitar and just experiment. I appreciate everyone's interest in this subject.

Jul 18, 09 | 5:10 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
A twelve string guitar is usually built a little stronger to resist the pull of 12 strings.......so it probably is considerably overbuilt for use with only 6 strings.

Jul 19, 09 | 11:26 am



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