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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:38 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:30 pm
Posts: 26
Hi all,

I just wanted to generate a topic where we are Able lean on the experience of those in the group who have experimented with improving the sound of their guitars with different things they tried. As a simple hobbyist there will be no way that I have the opportunity to try different methods as I may only ever build a few guitars in my time. So hopefully this will generate a discussion that we are able to take the benefit of others knowledge.

I just finished my first build A Martin HD28 kit. I have a D41 in my collection so I was able to remove the strings and go inside for a look at what Martin did with the bracing. I thought if I was able to emulate what was there that at the very least it would be a close representation in the way that it sounds. I shaped all the braces to the same size and dementions as what I found in the D41. In addition I have verified that the woods were the same thickness etc.

After playing my build I was so happy and impressed that it sounded so good! Incredible and it probably sounds better than most of the guitars that you would find in a run of the mill music store!

Having that said I have to say that my D41 does have more volume, sustain and indeed better tone.

So I suppose my end question is, what have you done with your building that has made your guitars sound better, resonate more and have more volume?

I appreciate that this can be a subjective topic but hopefully the experienced builders may be able to comment on some of the things they have been able to do and repeat to make their guitars sound fantastic.

Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:15 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Posts: 5420
Location: Hegins, Pa
the main things are
A control Humidity
B Precise joinery
C Brace placement

Once you learn the physics you can control it better. Kits are fine but as you see you learn process not finesse This all comes from experience. Keeping notes and learning the cause and effect relationship of the braces .

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John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
Board of Directors of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
http://www.bluescreekguitars.com


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:55 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm
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Making the parts as thin as I can without being reckless about it.

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Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
Posts: 425
Location: Chadds Ford, PA
Super72bb wrote:
...So I suppose my end question is, what have you done with your building that has made your guitars sound better, resonate more and have more volume?....


In addition to John's list, the quality of wood and wood prep matters. A rubbery student grade spruce top will never provide a concert instrument. I don't ascribe to the select tonewoods view so much anymore as the range of species and synthetic materials giving good quality is huge compared to when I started making. Wood prep matters IMHO; consistent thickness as given by drum sanders is part of getting volume and tone. That leaves bracing and joinery to round out elements necessary for a lively sound box. For an ELVAMLM (extra low volume amateur maker like me) it's been easy to kill sustain, volume and tonal quality by building heavy, using cheap wood, employing bad imprecise joinery and not following tried and true Martin-like bracing strategy & specifications. When I was building lutes the prevailing ethic had recently changed from heavy and overbuilt to very light construction almost to the point of self-destruction from string forces. The lutes that approached that lightness limit seemed to get that ethereal sound quality.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:58 pm
Posts: 189
Location: St. Louis area
My SO bought me a camping guitar at Goodwill, a Silvertone. It was unplayable:
Very back bowed neck, Lifted frets, Split bridge.

This one launched my repair hobby. Many weeks later, bone saddle and bridge, several CA glue and clamp sessions of bridge, neck radius, fret repair and neck fix later, when I finally strung it up to pitch, the sound was remarkable. I mean it raised the hair on my neck and watered my eyes. Blind folded comparisons between a Mexican Martin, a 1974 J45 Gibson, 700 Yamaha and vintage a Alvarez, the beater guitar was hands down the most resonant, sustaining and beautiful sounding instrument in my modest stable. Blind sound judging was done with a seasoned guitar player, and a non player, literally with blind fold. That old shit wood Silvertone sing like bird.

Consequently, I replaced all the saddles with bone and did the same Erlewine setup, but the Silvertone was hands down the most remarkable of my modest stable of instruments. It has "standard" bracing with scalloped braces. I've not studied the dimensions, or wood or construction but it's interesting that a very modest factory starter guitar could out perform all my other vintage and Mex Martin guitars. Wish I knew what made it so much better. Particularly the crisp yet rich tone and the remarkable sustain. With that experience, I decided to pull the trigger on my own build. I've done some little things during construction (brace mods, thinned the edges of the top plate south of the sound hole, tapered the little tone bars to nothing, and applied the top braces in a non-symmetrical manner) but am only half way finished. When sanding/ scraping/ and handling the box, it resonates like a bell. While sanding the top outside, my neighbor even commented that it sounded more like a bell than a wood box. Can't wait to report after it's finished.

Hope this thread catches fire so I can apply other best practices to my #2 build.

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Measure Twice,

Karl B


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:43 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 1318
I use the best materials I can afford, combined with design, and execution. I've had to create a second top a couple of times, because the first didn't produce the sound I wanted. I've even scrapped an entire build that wasn't working out. I keep a photographic journal of every build.

I had a "happy accident", which created a guitar with a sound that I'm trying to replicate. I've started 3 new builds, and I'm incorporating these elements into them.

I also think that you have to match the right woods. While Adirondack is the wood of choice for most luthiers, I think you have to keep playing style in mind, as well as the choice of back/side woods.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:23 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:30 pm
Posts: 26
What a great discussion thanks for the input all. So I am clear when you all refer to precise joinery you specifically mean precise figment of all bracing including inletting the kerfing for the braces as well as precise fitting dovetail joint etc?

I wanted to get your collective thoughts on properly shaped components. I have a theory on this and was hoping to see if anyone can substantiate the idea. If you have a top or back that has correctly shaped bracing so that it matches the radius on the sides when it is at rest, will it resonate more? I hope this makes sense. The theory is: if the top or back has to be sprung into shape when it is clamped during the gluing process it seems to me that it will always have that tension in it and resonate less. Equally if you have a set of sides that are not bent fully into their final body shape does it not make sense that this would cause a certain tension load in the body?

Has anyone experimented with the above?

As a side note I just did my final setup and put on a new set of strings. I am more than impressed with the sound. I might say that the D41 may still have an edge in volume and sustain but the kit guitar is running a very close second.

Cheers

Curtis


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Posts: 5420
Location: Hegins, Pa
this is a great subject
There are a few things I can say to help
A keep notes
I always check my plates after they are braced and looking at what notes they are tapping at
A strobo tuner is great for this so you can see the harmonic and fundamentals

B then check the body hermholtz frequency

learning to read this you can learn to get a consistent sounding guitar

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John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
Board of Directors of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
http://www.bluescreekguitars.com


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