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Side Ports
Author
Post
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 452
Hey all, I did a search for side ports but came up empty handed. Has anyone added a side port to their guitar and if so, would you recommend one and why, or would you leave it out on your next build and why? I have yet to come across a guitar that I was able to listen to or play to hear for myself what the pros and cons might be to having one.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Aug 12, 09 | 5:12 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
One more thing, any word on the strength of the instrument being compromised by the side port? Not that I use my guitars to drive nails or anything as it is, but I was curios to know if there was any discernible strength loss caused by adding another hole on the side of the guitar.

Aug 12, 09 | 5:21 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Tim McKnight and Charles Fox are two of the big side port guys and there have been a number of discussions at MIMF about them. Most builders do reinforce the area around the port (McKnight does his laminated double side thing). If you are going to do some sort of fancy decorative hole you will definitely want to reinforce it.

I played a couple of guitars at the GAL conference with side ports and listened while Mark Swanson played some for the audience. From the player's standpoint, you do get to hear more of the air chamber sound (but it was noisy enough in the conference room that I really couldn't hear it that well) and obviously I was not A/B'ing with a non-soundport guitar. From the audience standpoint I didn't hear anything one way or another.

There was an interesting experiment by Al Carruth a while back published in the GAL literature - you might want to read before you start poking holes in the sides of your guitar

http://www.luth.org/backissues/al93-96/al94.htm

Personally, I have enough trouble building traditional guitars without taking forays into strange areas like soundports, bevels and all the other cool things - but if you decide to do it please keep us informed.

Aug 12, 09 | 6:16 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Thanks Freeman. I have not started my build yet but when I do I will keep everyone informed of how it goes. Also, thanks for the link. I will check it out.

Aug 12, 09 | 9:54 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Tony -- I've put two in. One is described in my Martin Manual I did it before finishing. The other was added to a Martin Jumbo kit after finishing. They are difficult to do, but somewhat daunting to cut into the side of your guitar for the first time.

If you search here for "sound port" and "port" as well as "side port" you'll get more results.

Here's my first.


HEre's the second:


Neither is beautiful, but we gotta start somewhere. I'm definite proof that there is an undeniable gap between knowing how to do something and being able to do it well.

Bill

Aug 12, 09 | 11:00 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
As far as loss of strength -- if you plan it right, it shouldn't be a problem. In the Martin Jumbo (second pic above), when I built the guitar, I glued in a veneer of mahogany with grain perpendicular to the side right at that spot. It took me almost 3 years to get around to cutting the holes after finishing the guitar, but the extra bracing made sure it was okay.

It dependson the size of the hole(s), their shape, the thickness of the side, the exact location, etc, etc. I just figure the safest thing would be to put the reinforcement in, then have no worries about it at all.

Bill

Aug 12, 09 | 11:04 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Thanks Bill. I appreciate the info.

Aug 12, 09 | 12:25 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I did one on the lion and the lamb (find it at www.nocturnalguitars.com), and because of the design, the cross was very week. Look at the Curly Mango I am building on the same site....I added a second layer in the areas I would be putting a port, which greatly adds strength.

Aug 13, 09 | 12:39 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Ken, you have helped me twice in one day. Thanks!

Aug 13, 09 | 12:53 pm
Ed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 41
I added one to a Seagull folk model as an experiment and think it was beneficial to the player without affecting the audience sound much. I did one on an OM I finished in June and am planning to do one on the parlor I'm working on now. On the OM and seagull I kept them small, about 1 inch in diameter, since the soundholes were already cut. On the parlor I'm going with a larger oval soundport and decreased the size of the sound hole slightly. From what I've read it seems that it's optimal to adjust the size of the sound hole so that the combined surface area of the sound port and sound hole are the same as the surface area of a sound hole in a nonported guitar. To reinforce the side where the port goes I glued on 4 alternating layers of light and dark veneer. After cutting the port I bevel sanded the edge to expose the veneers a bit. I'll try to post pictures of the OM soon if you'd like.
Regards,
Ed

Aug 13, 09 | 3:37 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Sounds nice Ed. I would like to see it.

Aug 13, 09 | 4:13 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Veneer........never thought of using that! I never thought I could cut it thin enough to bend it properly, but this is a great idea.

Aug 14, 09 | 12:11 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Oh, and not a problem, Tony, it's what I love about this place too.

Aug 14, 09 | 12:17 pm
Ed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 41
Here are a few pictures.

This is the sound port on the OM and this shows the layers

This one

is a shot of the layered veneers on the parlor I'm working on. I picked up some packets of different wood veneers at Woodcraft and have been using them for making these.
Regards,
Ed

Aug 15, 09 | 3:11 am
Ed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 41
Ken & Tony,
The veneers bend along the grain very easily which lets me bend and glue them cross-grain to the sides which I think gives a stronger reinforcement. I glue all the layers in at the same time using hot hide glue. They are added to the sides before I glue on the kerfed lining. When I rout the port I tape over the inside of the veneer layers to reduce tear out.
Regards,
Ed

Aug 15, 09 | 3:27 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ed is correct -- since the veneers' grain is perpendicular to the bend, they bend easily even if 1/16" thick. At that point of the body, they do not in any way inhibit sound or transmission of vibration; in fact, they may improve it.

Aug 15, 09 | 8:16 am
JimmyF

Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 8
Ed....
Wonderful technique.
And thanks for the photo.
I've been wondering about how to approach this.


Aug 19, 09 | 9:12 pm



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