SS PEGU GUITAR BUILD (part 5 – complete)




The 8th July 2017 marked the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the SS PEGU and the guitar was assembled for the first time on this day and complete (in build anyway). See where it started here.

The bridge is a temporary component and is not actually fastened to the guitar. As the bracing system is quite radically different to traditional acoustic guitar construction, the traditional bridge does not interact sufficiently to get the most from the bracing. I now need to experiment with numerous alternatives before I can settle on the best design to compliment the bracing.

This has been a project with a strong sense of salvage and marine theme. All the woods used have been gathered from stock that has been sidelined for many years. The Cedar front was abandoned long ago due to it being too thin in places. The Honduras Mahogany neck and back and Ebony fret board were gathering dust on the shelves of a retired local Luthier. The aluminium parts were salvaged from the stand of my old fish tank (which appropriately housed marine fish) and of course, the Teak sides were salvaged from the SS Pegu after spending 94 years on the sea bed.

The initial reason to build a guitar was to use the Cedar that had been sitting at the back of a cupboard for over 20 years. Although not the perfect example, I thought it a shame if this wood did not get used. This led me to think about using it for an experiment or two which in turn led me to consider an alternative method of guitar side construction – hence the ship’s decking idea.

As the tone of the guitar was not likely to be its’ best feature, the Teak from the Pegu proved to be ideal as it was authentic decking timber and had such a rich history behind it. This also allowed me to experiment with my idea for the alternative bracing which I’d originally tried in the past with the Pentagon guitar. As the Pentagon guitar is now over 20 years old and has stood the full tension of strings throughout its’ life, it provided a lot of information as to the longevity of the system.

Together with the Pentagon guitar, I also made a guitar body with the bracing system which was left incomplete and has gathered dust ever since. These two provided invaluable information regarding the effect of full tension and no tension.

As a result, I have been able to modify the bracing to overcome slight problems discovered from the originals.

Woods used in the construction include: –

  • Cedar
  • Honduras Mahogany
  • Oak
  • Wenge
  • Purple Heart
  • Walnut

Plus an amount of aluminium and a small strip of copper.

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