d28 #13 guitar blog:


dec 30th 2013

i am just starting my first possible commission, a east indian rosewood and sitka spruce martin style d28. i have not done all that much but i have worked with my potential customer to nail down the wood selection. this one will not have a bevel or be a cutaway, rather it will be a more straight forward guitar.

my plan right now besides the eir and sitka is to have curly maple bindings, herringbone prufling on the top, a zippered back strip. the rosette will harken to martin with a ring design the outside rings will be a bwbbwb pattern the inner ring will be a thin ring of walnut with black purflings inside and out. i have brw for the fretboard, headstock veneer and the bridge.

this is the third guitar that i will be documenting the wood's measured characteristics and building influenced on those measurements. john link asked in a previous post so i will provide the information as i go along. i am hesitant to include this information as it mostly has meaning with in the context of gore\gilet contemporary acoustic guitar design book. the authors spent a bunch of time and effort describing the theory and methodology; i am not sure i can do the work justice. but here goes ...

my purpose for doing this is two fold:
1 - documentation of the characteristics of the plates before i build
2 - a deterministic way to determine a target final thickness for the top and back. basically a methodical and repeatable way to do tap tuning.

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the method used is to combine a bunch of measurements of the wood and the guitar to be built with a user input of a target vibrational stiffness (really a target frequency). the book states that they found a set of values that they use for target vibrational stiffness by taking the information from a set of representative sounding guitars and back calculating a target frequency. this is important to note that they are not saying that there is a magical target frequency, rather they are saying that if you build to a consistent target frequency you will get more consistent results. a higher target will give a thicker plate and lower target will give a thinner plate. i started with their numbers. as i build more guitars and i want to change my sound i may deviate from where i started.

before doing anything i used my thickness sander to take them to 4 mm. at this time both sets of plates had even thickness as i sanded past the saw cuts. the 4 mm is not important it was a thickness where i ended up with clean plates.

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my first set of measurements were to record the height, width, thickness and weight of the top and back plates and to use that information first to calculate the woods density. ( just the weight divided by the product of the height, width and thickness.

with each of the plates i use a set of measurements to determine the long, cross and diagonal stiffness of the plates. i used a free product visual analyzer to sample and display a spectrum graph of the tap tones obtained by holding the plates at three different nodes and tapping on corresponding anti nodes of the plate. this gave 3 charts like the one i have below.

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this graph is for the long grain vibrational mode of the top. the first peak 73hz is a clear indication of the long grain frequency. one can also see the cross grain frequency with the peak around 113. i have another graph i used to determine the cross grain mode where i held and tapped in locations that suppressed the long grain vibrational mode.

i entered all of the above mentioned measurement and my target vibrational stiffness into a spread sheets that i made from the information in the book and ended up with a target thickness of 3 mm for the top and 2.7 for the back. you can see the two examples i have for the sitka top and the eir back.

january 5th 2014

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i made a bit more progress this weekend. both of my kids are back off to college so it is quiet in the house. i do miss them already.

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relative to my last guitar this is a fairly straight forward guitar build. after all of that highly figured wood i have been using the east indian rosewood is really easy to bend. i cycle the heat twice on each side and the sides came out with virtually no spring back. they just dropped into the mold.

i glued the end blocks on. i have had a long scale neck in my shop for awhile with a heel block so i am going to use it for this guitar. i cut the tail block out of 1/4 birch plywood.

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i profiled the top and the back (28' for the top and 15' for the back) with sanding disks both before and after i put the kerfed linings on.

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i did get new clamps for the kerfed linings. i have a variety of small wimpy clamps. on the last guitar while futzing with them to get the linings rims i decided to get a bunch of bigger clamps. these guys clamped the kerfed linings right down.

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i had some strips of koa trimmed off the sides of a previous project so i used it to reinforce the sides.

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for the first time i was able to use my shooting board and a plane to get a clean joint while jointing the plates. usually i need to clean up a little with sandpaper. i am not sure what happened, it may be the lack of figured wood or the fact that the plane is fairly well tuned. i was going to put in the zipper strip but the back was so nicely book matched that i am considering leaving it out. i will route a rebate if i decide to add it later.

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