Monday, December 31, 2007

California Laurel Guitar


It's a cold and windy today here in Northern California, there's snow on the ground and it would be impossible for me to warm up my shop so I am using the kitchen table as a work bench. This is the top for the experimental Lacote guitar, it is redwood that is from a salvaged board off a redwood water tank that we once had here on the property. The top is made out of four pieces, the board was only 5 inches wide, the edges of the lower bout are where the narrowest pieces are. This redwood is fairly hard and has a great tap tone. After I glued on the bracing the tap tone became even louder! Remember that this is a small guitar, smaller than the Martin "parlor" guitars. This is the style of bracing that many luthiers used in the 18-19th centuries, it's called  "ladder bracing" and many players today are under the delusion that this is an inferior style of bracing compared to the "X" bracing of Martin and the fan bracing of Spanish classical guitars. This bracing system worked for luthiers back then, the professional players bought and used the guitars to high acclaim.



I admit that I am using some modern concepts on this guitar, the upper graft that you see between the 2 upper braces I put in to help prevent the top of the soundboard from cracking. On the lower bout, I added a graft underneath the bridge, again to prevent splitting and support the bridge. Restoration photos of period guitars almost always so the guitar had problems at the bridge and I want to help this guitar as much as I can. It is impossible to make an exact copy of a period instrument anyway, the quality of wood the luthiers used back then no longer exists, my workshop is different from the maker back then and I don't live in 1840, I live in 2007 with all the baggage of my life and society. I'll get off the soapbox now.


The back and sides are California laurel (umbellaria californica), the folks in Oregon call it Oregon myrtle, but the scientific name is the same. A friend gave me a wonderfully figured board from his wood stash just so I could have the experience of making several guitars out of this wonderful wood.

I need to make some more cam clamps, I was a little short for gluing the back seam graft on. Maybe tomorrow or Wednesday I can steal a little time to make the back braces for this little guitar. I'll glue those on next.

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