In The Shop June 2017

Here you see some brace stock. I’m saving some time here by not showing the origin of a great piece of brace stock. The best braces and soundboards have minimal runout. Lot’s of folks say that term without an understanding of what it means. Run out is when the cellulose fibers that make up a soundboard or brace exit the plane of the board instead of being continuous from one end to the other. I take great care to eliminate runout from my guitars. To do that you start with a large Spruce log and a set of wedges. The idea is that the best way to minimize fiber runout is to allow the wood to cleave along its own structure. This assures as many whole, uninterrupted cellulose fibers from end to end.

Here are the rough and unshaped soundboard braces.

Here is a set of spruce back braces that were shaped from that stock. The braces are radiused(curved on the bottom) to hold the arc of the back. Why is the back arced? Dang Andrew why are you always talking about Arcs and Curves and what not?

Implementing without blueprinting doesn’t work. Next I’ll draw my bracing plan on the inside of the soundboard. This is one of my favorite parts of the entire process. This is an opportunity to apply what I’ve learned through years of custom builds. Very small variations in the bracing pattern can have a huge impact on the overall sound of the guitar.

Here you see the bridge plate and soundhole reinforcements being glued to the top.

Now the x brace, finger braces, and tone bars. The braces are far from their final shape here. I’ll start scalloping braces in the next step. I kind of think of that step as pre voicing the top.  I’ll get the braces to roughly the shapes and thicknesses that I know work.

Closing in on the final tap tuned top. Notice how much more delicate the braces are in certain areas. The idea in tap tuning is to get multiple regions of the top optimized to vibrate at different frequencies. Certain areas of the top will vibrate sympathetically with others. That’s important to keep in mind.  I think this is really the heart of the build right here. Adjusting these braces give the guitar much of its final tonality.

Gluing the soundboard to the rosewood ‘wedge’ shaped rim. Tap tuning is completed. Time to ‘close the box’ and work on the neck!