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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:16 pm 
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A friend of mine was playing one of my earlier builds, an OM 14-fret, and said that he wished that I'd built it with a cutaway. Well, I thought that since the guitar was no beauty queen, I wouldn't feel bad about adapting it.

I got out my back issues of American Lutherie to get a feel for what the cutaway should look like, and I noticed to my surprise that the vast majority of the acoustic guitars pictured there had no cutaway. That got me wondering if cutaways are something that players want, but builders don't want to build except on demand.

They obviously present an extra step in building, and the extra bends in the rib can be challenging, but do the top luthiers also think that the cutaway subtracts from the sound in a fundamental way?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:41 pm 
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I do not think it fundamentally lessens the sound. The looks are subjective. If a player is going to play a bunch on the high frets it sure helps. Most players do not. I make a bunch of 12 fret join guitars so the cutaway really helps. It is harder in a bunch of steps of building a guitar.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:05 am 
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IMHO cutaways sound as good as traditional guitars. I have one and while it has its own sound personality it isn't substantially different. I only play one thing on it, Bill Frisell's version of Surfer Girl which goes into the high registers. I only make stuff for my own consumption, so I have no plans for any cutaways in the future.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:06 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA, USA
I've talked to a luthier who has built over 1000 instruments, both cutaway and non-cutaway. He said he believed that in a blindfolded test people could not hear the difference between cutaway and non-cutaway

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:53 pm 
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I play up the neck, but I don't care for cutaways. I had one cutaway that didn't project. It may have been the materials used, bracing, or any number of reasons.

However, from what I understand, the volume of air also contributes to projection, so I would have to believe that cutting away some of the air volume has an effect, even if most people don't notice. The problem is supporting or disproving it. No two guitars are identical. Even if the same luthier makes 2 guitars, using the same materials, no two sets of wood are the same and, short of using a CNC for the bracing, it won't be identical.

So, it comes down to what an individual likes. Sometimes looking at the guitars from major manufacturers, it's hard to find guitars WITHOUT a cutaway. So, I'm sure they sell quite well.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:21 pm 
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Having built exactly one cutaway...I'm in no hurry to do another one. The side cracked at the cutaway bend and it was more work generally. Now, the wood I was using had really wild grain, which no doubt contributed to the bending problems. Even so, a cutaway is inherently more work to build.

As far as sound goes, it's probably the best-sounding guitar of the three I've made, but there is really no way to compare them. They are different designs and different woods.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:03 pm 
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Thanks for your responses, folks. I think I'll proceed with the modification ... it'll be interesting to compare "before and after" using the same guitar.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:18 am 
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Location: UK
Quote:
I do not think it fundamentally lessens the sound. The looks are subjective. If a player is going to play a bunch on the high frets it sure helps.


This thread is old enough, but hope it is still actual.
I agree with johnnparchem. Cutaways does not spoil the sound, first of all it depends on the build quality, but not on the form. I had the opportunity to play two similar Taylor guitars: one with a cutaway, the other without. I did not hear a difference in sound, both guitars were amazing.

So, I guess cutaway can give you more comfort when you are playing on the high frets, that's all.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:20 pm 
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JLT wrote:
Thanks for your responses, folks. I think I'll proceed with the modification ... it'll be interesting to compare "before and after" using the same guitar.


And I've done it. The cutaway did nothing to detract from the tone of this 14-fret OM that I built from one of John Hall's kits. I did have to lower the action a bit so that playing above the 14th fret was easier.

And while I was in the throes of all this experimentation, I converted the guitar from a conventional nut arrangement to a zero-fret. Again, no difference that I could detect in the tone or playability, although the intonation definitely improved ... I can throw a capo on the third and fourth frets without having to re-tune.

This makes instrument #3 of mine that has a zero fret. I'm beginning to like this...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:35 am 
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A picture, maybe?

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