Click on image to enlarge.
This guitar has a cedar front and a mahogany neck. The back and sides are laminated mahogany with a satinwood outer layer to give a bright figured finish.
The fret board and headstock cover are shaped from solid ebony, as is the small bridge that holds the brass pins supporting the strings.
I decided to make this particular guitar to test an idea I had for an alternative bracing system.
Unfortunately, the acoustic guitar is its’ own worst enemy in terms of producing the best sound whilst remaining strong enough to do just that. Ideally, the soundboard should be able to vibrate freely and evenly to produce a full range of tones from the strings.
On the majority of acoustic guitars the strings are supported by and anchored to the bridge which in turn puts a huge strain on the soundboard. This can be as much as 110 lbs (that’s 2 sacks of spuds) so with that amount of weight trying to twist the soundboard the ability to vibrate is very much restricted.
There is also the practical problem to address of making the soundboard strong enough to take the everyday knocks that such a portable instrument will attract. This is
where desire and necessity go head to head.
The usual method of bracing the soundboard incorporates wood struts
that traverse the underside of the soundboard to give it strength (see image to left). This effectively greatly reduces the board’s ability to vibrate.
My system (which will remain a closely guarded secret for now) maintains the strength through the bracing but still allows the board to vibrate freely and evenly with no ‘twist effect’ on the soundboard.
The end result is a very loud guitar with deep rich tones.
As for the playability of the guitar – well, for something truly hand carved and formed using the most basic of tools (pre-CNC days), I think it plays quite well. Of course it will never be a match for the Martins, Taylors or Lowdens in that respect.
The nameplate on the headstock is made from a length of copper wire shaped to form the letters of my name before being set in a black coloured resin. Once set, the face was sanded back to reveal and flatten the copper before being polished and lacquered to retain the shine.
The decorative disc set into the top of the headstock is made from 22mm copper plumbing pipe. Seven sections of brass bar (matching the pins on the bridge) were placed inside the copper tube before heating with a blow torch and filling with solder. Once cooled, it was levelled off, polished and set into the headstock for all to see.
A pentagon shaped soundhole was purely to offer a bit of aesthetic variety. The pentagon shape is set off by the inlaid decorative veneer whilst the circular (imitation) abalone was salvaged from an old broken guitar.
The video below was shot by my son, Carl and myself in Springbrook National Park, Australia (location of I’m a Celebrity…), the soundtrack on the video is me playing the Pentagon guitar but it’s not the best recording.