Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On the Bench: Western White Spruce/African Rosewood Concert Guitar

...the art of knowing and working with Mother Nature's wood is one of the noblest occupations created for the development and enjoyment of human beings.

Manuel Rodriguez, The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitars, 2003


We've had a cold snap here in our neck of the woods, thankfully the temperature hasn't dropped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit at the house, but daytime temperatures haven't gotten about 25 degrees F. The relative humidity has dropped and my little humidifier is having a hard time keeping moisture in the air of my new little upstairs workshop, which means I have to watch the hygrometer and the wood very carefully. I doubt I will be doing much glueing until the temps get above 30 degrees.

That said, I have parts for another guitar ready for the bench, a spruce and African rosewood (bubinga).

I bought two white spruce tops from Stew-Mac several years ago, it was a limited time offering, the wood sold out quickly and Stewmac no longer offers this wonderful tone wood.

White spruce - aka, cat spruce, skunk spruce, western white spruce, picea glauca - is very similar to Sitka spruce and even smells like it when you work it. I have found one source for it on the internet, I am sure there are others, but I am not looking too hard.


This five strut bracing pattern is adapted from ones used by Marcelo Barbero, Hernandez y Aguado, and Antonio Torres. It's a experiment for me, I want a looser top with a quick response and perhaps a few more overtones.

Click here for Juan F. Fernandez's wonderful page full of computer simulations of vibration modes of different guitar bracing patterns.




I used a beautiful rosette handcrafted in Russia by a father and son team.

Notice the medullary rays present in this guitar top.




This guitar will have a three piece back - bubinga with a Macassar ebony insert.



Bubinga is harder than East Indian rosewood and has a brilliant, glassy tap tone to it.

I think the Macassar ebony really compliments the bubinga.




The headstock overlay for this guitar echoes the three piece back...


The Guitar Foundation of America 2016 convention is just six months away. I already registered for a table at the vendor expo, I have so much work to do to get ready for the show!




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Today’s Work

  A new East Indian rosewood bridge for a “Brahms” eight string classical guitar and some of the tools needed to create it.