Welcome to Part 2 of the new web based version of my Archtop Guitar book, “The Creation Of the Natura Elite Archtop Guitar“. To Preview the book in its entirety, Purchase a hard cover or soft cover copy of the book, or Download a free high res PDF eBook version, Click The Button Below:
Selecting Tone Woods
Selecting the right tone woods for a guitar is an intuitive process. I usually go for balance as I intentionally select pieces of wood that have opposite characteristics. I may choose a warm and woody sounding top paired with a back that is harder and more resonant – with more ring to it. This creates a dynamic sort of balance that gives complexity to the finished guitar’s tone and response. Factored into this equation are the final goals of my customer: what sound do they want, what look, what feel? There are no rules; it’s just something you get a sense of in your gut and just “know” when you have the right woods for a certain guitar.
After much discussion, Roberto and I settled on the target sound for this special guitar. It was to be a very dynamic, sensitive acoustic instrument, with a warm, thick, lyrical voice. I chose a warmer sounding top of aged, master grade Sitka Spruce from Alaska, which was light weight and stiff, with perfectly quartered grain. For the back I used a special piece of master grade Big Leaf Maple, with beautiful figuring, that I had been saving for many years. This wood had just the right balance of ring to its tone. Still, it was light weight and with a certain warmth to the notes – which was the key to getting this guitar right. I only have master grade tone woods in my private collection, so the intensity of the flamed Maple figure, grain orientation, stiffness to weight ratios, and other similar criteria are not something I have to worry about. I know for sure that these woods are some of the best tone woods on the planet. With that assurance of quality in mind, I can focus on the finer points of selecting the woods that will produce the warm, responsive acoustic tone we are aiming for.
The bindings and appointments on this guitar are all crafted from jet black ebony, and there’s quite a bit of Paua shell too – over 47 feet of it – which adds brightness to the guitar’s sound due to its high density. With this in mind, I’m keeping my top and back a little more on the warm side, tonally, by my wood choices and building treatment.
Since we do not live in a perfect world, I may often choose a top, and after carving it for several days, discover a flaw. Even if it is minor and wouldn’t be considered a problem in most guitars, I will immediately go back to my wood supply to choose another and carve it. I will do this over and over until I get the perfect top and back for the guitar I’m working on. Oftentimes, I’ll carve several tops and backs for just one guitar, as I did on this guitar before I found what I considered to be the perfect set to accurately bring the vision to life.
Read More From:”The Creation Of the Natura Elite Archtop Guitar“
Part 1: Preface
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 5:07 pm
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