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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:55 pm 
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Location: Visalia, CA
I wanted to open a discussion on the idea of using 3 or 4 pieced tops. I have done some looking on the web and see that it is not totally uncommon, and in fact Jose Romanillo's famous spanish classical guitar builder says it can make a better top.
The reason I'm asking all your opinions and experiences is; I love redwood tops. I've used them on both steel string and a classical guitar paired with EIR. I think it gives excellent tone and I really like the color/look.
Anyway, I have access to some awesome, perfectly quarter sawn totally clear, 100 year old redwood boards that are 5 1/2" wide, 1" thick and 9 feet long. The grain on this stuff is amazing, like 20 lines or more to the inch. I bought one board and tonight I'm going to cut a 2 ft piece, resaw it and glue up a 4 piece section.
In the morning I will clean it up and cut out a classical top and see how it looks. This will be a test to see how it turns out. I am guessing I should be able to do this with no joints showing. That is my hope. I use Titebond at this point for my plate joining.
I will let you all know how it goes and post some pictures of how it turns out.

So what do you guys think? Thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:20 pm 
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Location: Hegins, Pa
Martin used a 4 piece top for a short time . I have no problem with them . I would rather a 4 piece top of good stuff than a 2 piece top of bad stuff

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:36 pm 
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Location: Visalia, CA
John that is encouraging. This is definitely good stuff. I wish the boards were 8" wide, but then there might be so of the board going off quarter.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:41 pm 
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Location: Visalia, CA
First top plate glue up. I took 3 slices from the board, glued 2 bookman bed and split the third in half and glued the halves to the outside pieces. A bit of dark streaking in this board, but my joints are tight and the do not show.
What do you think?
Some of the boards I got are clear of the heavy dark streaks and should have a more homogenous look.
Picture to follow.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:27 am 
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Location: Chadds Ford, PA
Sounds great (or at least probably will). If the material is reasonably uniform in density/stiffness and the joints are well-executed, the 3 and 4 pc tops should be every bit as good as 2 pc tops. I've done 'wings' on spruce lute tops with no discernible deficit, though they were noticeable visually because of wider annular rings.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:53 am 
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Location: Visalia, CA
So here is the first top I pieced together. It actually uses 3 slices of the 5 1/2" wide board. This was almost perfect 90 degree grain across the board, but as you can see quite a bit of dark streaks. I bookmatched in the center, then took the third slice, cut it down the middle and put each half on either side.


You can not see the seams, and the grains come together pretty well. I don't mind the streaky look, especially on a steel string guitar.
This top plate is very stiff and I think will make a very good sounding top.


I cut the rest of the board into tops and on the other end, there was almost no dark streaking so it should produce a much cleaner looking top. I also adjusted my saw to take a little thinner cut at about .170" and I was able to get 4 cuts, sanded down to about .150" ready to glue up.
I bought a few more boards that looked pretty good, but got them home and they are less quarter sawn, about 80 down to 50 degrees. I was sad about that but at $10 a board its okay. I'm going to rip some strips and see if how they will bend in my fox bender. If the bend fine, then I'm going to use what I can't use for tops for solid linings, and I'll be very happy.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:02 pm 
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Location: Saint Paul, MN
I think they look excellent. The streaks just add character.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 8:03 am
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Location: Chestertown Maryland
Kevin

I have a 1933 Gibson L-0 with a 3 piece top and it is among the best sounding instruments I haver ever heard. Gibson did a lot of that, but used them on Sunburst and painted guitars. Yours looks really nice and with the nice grain the seams can;t be seen easily

Ed


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:59 pm 
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Location: Visalia, CA
I just wanted to share and this goes along with the redwood that I got for these tops. Some of the boards are less quartered, not as desireable for tops, so I thought I might be able to use some for solid linings. I cuts 6 strips, 5/8" tall by 1/8" thick and put them in the bender the other night. Taped them together in 3's.
They came out great. One did break at the waist, but the others are fine. I put too much pressure on the waist before the heat was up, and I heard the crack.
Anyway, I will use them on the next guitar and see how it goes. They may be a bit soft, but will be plenty strong two glued to each other.
I have enough for a lot of guitars, and it comes out about one 10th the cost to buy pre-made kerfed linings. I can do 6 guitars linings for $10.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:32 pm 
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It looks good Kevin. I cant wait to see how it comes out.

This brings up an interesting idea. It seems to me that 3-4 piece tops would work especially well for top material that doesn't have the stiffness that one would prefer for a premium top. The added stiffness from piecing could yield a nice top out of lackluster material.

It would be an interesting experiment to make 2 guitars out of the same material, using identical lower quality top wood. A direct comparison can be made between the two and a third guitar using premium wood.

Of course one would have to be willing to make a guitar out of mediocre wood, which is counter intuitive. I may play around with this idea. I make guitars for vets. I don't have the funds to make many guitars out of premium wood and I won't make a guitar that's not worth playing. If this works out, I may able to make more guitars for the Vets.

Thank you for the idea Kevin!


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