The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Posts 1 to 25 of 68
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Hello,

    I’m starting to build right now my first archtop guitar. I’ve made several instruments like an amateur luthier. I’m a music teacher and guitar player based in Málaga (Spain).

    I’ve some experience building lutes (Renaissance, Barroque, theorbos) and classical guitars but this will be my first instrument with a truss rod and of course with carved plates.

    At this moment I have decided to use European spruce for the top and maple for back, sides and neck. I will go with 17”. Ebony fingerboard (I think without dots or any inlay, I have my doubts at respect.

    I think the scale will be 25,5”, and I prefer a wide nut (my more confortable acoustic is a Larrivée OM-03, nut 1 3/4”).

    I also like a small fingerboard radious, not the usual 12” but something like my Larrivée (compound radious 17”-21”).

    Respect to de binding and purfling, I prefer wood to plastic but I doubt if the f holes in the top will be or not with binding.

    I would apprecite any tip, advice or comment that contribute to affront more easily and/or secure my new project.

    Thank you in advanced.

    Juan Carlos

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    There is a lot I could say, but I would start with the obvious:

    Why an archtop?

    I ask because you said this is your first guita “with a truss rod”. There are many construction differences between a classical guitar and a truss rod. The truss rod is the least of it.

    Also, I assume you will be playing it yourself? How do you imagine using it? As a primarily electric guitar with unique overtones or as an acoustic? This will also very much affect how and what you build.

    Like any project, it is good to have your goals clear at the outset. If you share them with us you will undoubtedly get better advice.

    Looking forward to following your project!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    There is a lot I could say, but I would start with the obvious:

    Why an archtop?

    I ask because you said this is your first guita “with a truss rod”. There are many construction differences between a classical guitar and a truss rod. The truss rod is the least of it.

    Also, I assume you will be playing it yourself? How do you imagine using it? As a primarily electric guitar with unique overtones or as an acoustic? This will also very much affect how and what you build.

    Like any project, it is good to have your goals clear at the outset. If you share them with us you will undoubtedly get better advice.

    Looking forward to following your project!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Thank you for your reply.

    I love the archtop guitar sound from years ago. And I love its design too. I’m a left handed player semi professional who is starting to learn jazz harmony and how to improvise on the guitar.

    I will use the guitar for play and practise at home (acoustic and electric) and gigs (electric). I play gigs regularly with a singer, we have some jazz standards in our repertoire. In the gigs I play a Godin 5th Avenue with a p90 and I’m very satisfied with this guitar. We also play for dancing (swing).

    The project is more an illusion than a necessity, it is part of my evolution in the field of music. A part of the way.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    What plans or “how to” book are you following if any? IMO you are going to want to have a design on which to base yours beyond what you’ve described in the OP. I followed the Benedetto book and plans. You can find my thread in the forum entitled “Another newbie archtop build”. I can’t tell you how many times I used the plans (purchased from Stewmac) and/or the book to guide me along with the endless resources available through the internet.

    Straight away there are templates to make for the arch of the top (both sides). You’ll want those to help you understand what done looks like. Also thicknesses are really important.

    Good luck.
    Mike

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Travelrock View Post
    I’ve some experience building lutes (Renaissance, Barroque, theorbos) and classical guitars but this will be my first instrument with a truss rod and of course with carved plates.
    ¡Hola!
    Juan Carlos, have you ever made a bandurria ?
    You were talking about lutes, do you include "el laúd" ?
    I think they've got steel strings, I'm pretty sure of that, maybe some have got a truss rod.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax View Post
    ¡Hola!
    Juan Carlos, have you ever made a bandurria ?
    You were talking about lutes, do you include "el laúd" ?
    I think they've got steel strings, I'm pretty sure of that, maybe some have got a truss rod.
    Hola!

    No, never tried to build a bandurria. I’ve an old laúd of my father! This lutes doesn’t have truss rod, just wood, usually spruce for the neck.

    Bandurria and Spanish laúd are both very similar but different size, being the laud bigger. Flat back and top in both instruments.

    I’ve some experience with Renaissance and Baroque lutes, very different instruments, with ribs in the back, very hight angle peghead and wood pegs. Other world. [emoji4]

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by mbar65 View Post
    What plans or “how to” book are you following if any? IMO you are going to want to have a design on which to base yours beyond what you’ve described in the OP. I followed the Benedetto book and plans. You can find my thread in the forum entitled “Another newbie archtop build”. I can’t tell you how many times I used the plans (purchased from Stewmac) and/or the book to guide me along with the endless resources available through the internet.

    Straight away there are templates to make for the arch of the top (both sides). You’ll want those to help you understand what done looks like. Also thicknesses are really important.

    Good luck.
    Mike
    Thank you!

    I’m following Benedetto’s book plans. I like draw the plans because. I think is a way to contact with the curved lines and the body shape for after make the mould and bend the ribs.

    I’ve ready the mould and the templates for the arch of the top, and the top is glued and ready to start to carving.

    The neck is glued and ready to plane and start to shape and make the joint to the body and after the fingerboard.

    I’ve changed the scale of Benedetto (25”) for 25 1/2”, the same that my Larrivée OM-03, the more comfortable flaptop that I own. I will copy all the fingerboard measures from this guitar, that I love.

    I’ll visit you thread, I’m shure I will found a lot o interenting info in it. Thank you!

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    JC,

    You can find my 1st timer build thread on here and I've been on a pause on my 2nd archtop build, which I'll be resuming work on shortly.

    There are so many variables with archtop building, esp with the plates! IMO, I dunno if "arch templates" are really THAT essential as opposed to having some contour idea and getting to that point freehand and by eye. Meaning, they're not a bad idea to have on your first one to guide you along; however, I made them and didn't even use them much on my first build IIRC. Thickness is probably more important, esp depending on what bracing you'll be using (thinner with parallel and thicker top with X-braced).

    Happy to help answer any questions from another amateur builder standpoint.

    Sam

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by sbeishline View Post
    JC,

    You can find my 1st timer build thread on here and I've been on a pause on my 2nd archtop build, which I'll be resuming work on shortly.

    There are so many variables with archtop building, esp with the plates! IMO, I dunno if "arch templates" are really THAT essential as opposed to having some contour idea and getting to that point freehand and by eye. Meaning, they're not a bad idea to have on your first one to guide you along; however, I made them and didn't even use them much on my first build IIRC. Thickness is probably more important, esp depending on what bracing you'll be using (thinner with parallel and thicker top with X-braced).

    Happy to help answer any questions from another amateur builder standpoint.

    Sam
    Thank you! Good information in your reply!

    I think the plates templates are necessary for the first time builder. A good eye can supply this templares, but I think is necessary to do at last a first attemp before.

    I have serious doubts in the plates tuning. I have a idea of what to listen when I tap a flattop sounboard. But recurving and taping is a mistery for me. The same with the back plate…

    Also, I think in the finish. I’m familiar with the French polish and violin varnish, but never used a spray gun and a compressor. This is another challege for me.

    But this will occur after some time… I have time for think the best options [emoji1360][emoji4]

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    If you are going to play it mostly acoustically at home, carve it thinner than you think. Yes, you sacrifice some electric guitar performance but it is not very satisfying to play a thin and brash sounding acoustic guitar.

    Absolute starting point is you tap for a deep drum sound and get about 3mm deflection when you firmly press on the top of the arch.

    Also, you can actually place the top without glueing it to the rims and string it up. Unlike a flat top the bridge is pressed into the top rather than pulled off.

    I didn’t do that on my first one because it is a hassle and I just wanted to get it made so I could play it. But I did later, and was surprised how over built I was for how I wanted it to sound and play.

    Archtops are a compromise between acoustic and electric. Most people want great electric guitars, so plans tend to be skewed in that direction.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    If you are going to play it mostly acoustically at home, carve it thinner than you think. Yes, you sacrifice some electric guitar performance but it is not very satisfying to play a thin and brash sounding acoustic guitar.

    Absolute starting point is you tap for a deep drum sound and get about 3mm deflection when you firmly press on the top of the arch.

    Also, you can actually place the top without glueing it to the rims and string it up. Unlike a flat top the bridge is pressed into the top rather than pulled off.

    I didn’t do that on my first one because it is a hassle and I just wanted to get it made so I could play it. But I did later, and was surprised how over built I was for how I wanted it to sound and play.

    Archtops are a compromise between acoustic and electric. Most people want great electric guitars, so plans tend to be skewed in that direction.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Your comments are very interesting, thank you.

    You say that we can make the guitar more “acoustic” oriented with a thinner soundboard and more “electric” with a thick soundboard. And yoy say the archtop plans are usually more “electric” oriented. This is a very good information.
    What is for you the difference of sound between this two posibilities?
    And what is the difference in inches or milimeters?
    Are Benedetto’s book measurements electric or acoustic oriented?

    Benedetto says in his book that a thinner soundboard doesnt make a better sound.

    Where is the balance?

    I will play the guitar in gigs but I practise a lot at home!!!

  13. #12
    Juan, I am absolutely new to the forum, I joined to ask a question, but saw your thread. I recently built a carved topped acoustic archtop and while I am still sorting things out, I am reasonably satisfied with the guitar. Mine is a 16 inch non cutaway L5 inspired instrument, Alpine spruce over mahogany. I more or less followed Benedetto's arching but scaled it down a bit for the smaller size. I did go with X bracing, I'm not looking for power and wanted a little more complexity in the sound. I did a long build thread for a different forum and would be happy to point you to it, for now I'll just post a couple of pictures

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7073-1-jpg

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7367-1-jpg

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7382-1-jpg

    µMy first archtop (new project)-img_7383-1-jpg

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7384-1-jpg

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Freeman Keller View Post
    Juan, I am absolutely new to the forum, I joined to ask a question, but saw your thread. I recently built a carved topped acoustic archtop and while I am still sorting things out, I am reasonably satisfied with the guitar. Mine is a 16 inch non cutaway L5 inspired instrument, Alpine spruce over mahogany. I more or less followed Benedetto's arching but scaled it down a bit for the smaller size. I did go with X bracing, I'm not looking for power and wanted a little more complexity in the sound. I did a long build thread for a different forum and would be happy to point you to it, for now I'll just post a couple of pictures

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7073-1-jpg

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7367-1-jpg

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7382-1-jpg

    µMy first archtop (new project)-img_7383-1-jpg

    My first archtop (new project)-img_7384-1-jpg
    Beautiful guitar, congratulations.

    I think we've talked before in another forum. I am curious to know what finish you have used and if you have reduced the thickness of the soundboard with respect to the measurements of Benedetto's book

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Travelrock View Post
    Beautiful guitar, congratulations.

    I think we've talked before in another forum. I am curious to know what finish you have used and if you have reduced the thickness of the soundboard with respect to the measurements of Benedetto's book
    I'm quite sure we talked at MIMF or one of the other lutherie forums. Its pretty hard to find people who have built one of these, not a whole lot of information or discussions.

    My finish is lacquer, that is all I ever use. I was originally planning to do a dark L5 burst but my experimenting just didn't look right so its more of an ice tea burst. I pretty much followed Benedettos arching and thickness, the plates are one inch smaller across the lower bout so I had to kind of squish the contour lines slightly. I made a dial indicator for measuring plate thickness and just kept working down to Bob's numbers - 0.250 in the center and about 0.125 at the recurve.

    I want to be very caution here, I am not totally happy with this guitar. I don't know if I made a bad one or if its just the sound of acoustic archtops that I'm not familiar with but this guitar is very loud and very shrill. The strings have a ton of separation, notes are really well defined but they just aren't pleasant. I've experiment with several compositions of strings which seems to make a difference. Also the guitar is about 9 months old now and is definitely improving with age. I just want to warn you that I may not be the best source of information and I'm reaching out to other archtop builders for help.

    Here is the top during carving, those are not final thickness


    My first archtop (new project)-img_7034-jpg

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Hello,

    I'm following your thread. By summer 2021, I've started an archtop project. My goal was to build an L-7C gibson archtop, so mainly an acoustic guitar, parallel braced, with a dearmond repro floater. I'm actually finishing that guitar.
    I've followed step by step Robert Benedetto book, unless for carving the top and back.

    While I was looking for different options, I've followed an advice of a forum member. As it was my first build, I've ordered solid pressed (yet massive) top and back at Kollitz Toneholz in Germany. Kollitz Tonewood - Tonewood for acoustic guitars

    The top and back plates I've bought were great german solid pressed spruce top (with bear claws) and solid pressed european maple. It can also be an option to begin with an archtop building, without carving.
    best regard from France
    Last edited by arno_byr; 12-04-2022 at 02:42 AM.

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    My first archtop (new project)-img_20221102_131526-jpg[

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    My first archtop (new project)-img_20221102_131157-jpg

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    My first archtop (new project)-img_20220425_192042-jpg
    Here you can see the grain of the wood.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    My first archtop (new project)-img_20210713_101230-jpgMy first archtop (new project)-img_20210713_184750-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images My first archtop (new project)-img_20210714_161312-jpg 

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Travelrock View Post
    Your comments are very interesting, thank you.

    You say that we can make the guitar more “acoustic” oriented with a thinner soundboard and more “electric” with a thick soundboard. And yoy say the archtop plans are usually more “electric” oriented. This is a very good information.
    What is for you the difference of sound between this two posibilities?
    And what is the difference in inches or milimeters?
    Are Benedetto’s book measurements electric or acoustic oriented?

    Benedetto says in his book that a thinner soundboard doesnt make a better sound.

    Where is the balance?

    I will play the guitar in gigs but I practise a lot at home!!!
    Benedetto's plans are more in the style of Pasquale Grasso's Trenier than Kenny Burrell's Super 400. That said, every piece of wood is different. That is why you need to LISTEN to the wood, and flex it in your hands. Start with a relatively thick carve (say an even 5mm) and tap it. You don't have to know anything fancy about tap tuning. Just hold it around the rim in several places and give it a rap with your knuckles. You want a deep resonant tone like a conga, not a sharp dry tone like a djembe. Gibson plates sound like djembes or even bongos. You will also likely thin in the recurve area rather than under the bridge. If you are afraid you are going too light, put the plate on a surface and press with your thumb at the place of the bridge. It should yield under moderate pressure (the bridge exerts about 15kg of down force) but not feel like you can break it with your full weight. If it gets scary, stop thinning.

    Beyond that, it will take dozens of guitars before you get a real feel for what you like; so don't waste too much time on it and enjoy the build.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Freeman Keller View Post
    I'm quite sure we talked at MIMF or one of the other lutherie forums. Its pretty hard to find people who have built one of these, not a whole lot of information or discussions.

    My finish is lacquer, that is all I ever use. I was originally planning to do a dark L5 burst but my experimenting just didn't look right so its more of an ice tea burst. I pretty much followed Benedettos arching and thickness, the plates are one inch smaller across the lower bout so I had to kind of squish the contour lines slightly. I made a dial indicator for measuring plate thickness and just kept working down to Bob's numbers - 0.250 in the center and about 0.125 at the recurve.

    I want to be very caution here, I am not totally happy with this guitar. I don't know if I made a bad one or if its just the sound of acoustic archtops that I'm not familiar with but this guitar is very loud and very shrill. The strings have a ton of separation, notes are really well defined but they just aren't pleasant. I've experiment with several compositions of strings which seems to make a difference. Also the guitar is about 9 months old now and is definitely improving with age. I just want to warn you that I may not be the best source of information and I'm reaching out to other archtop builders for help.

    Here is the top during carving, those are not final thickness


    My first archtop (new project)-img_7034-jpg
    Thanks for the information about the measurements, it is an interesting reference, although in the end the ear will have the last word in the calibration of the soundboard!

    You comment that you are not completely convinced with the sound of your guitar, a beautiful instrument by the way. Have you thought about trying a one-piece maple bridge? now that you have the current bridge height adjusted it can be a relatively easy test.

    I also plan to finish my guitar with lacquer, but I don't have any experience painting with gun and compressor, I'll have to learn. A new challenge!

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by arno_byr View Post
    My first archtop (new project)-img_20210713_101230-jpgMy first archtop (new project)-img_20210713_184750-jpg
    Thank you for the pictures and the info on tonewoods. Congratullations, is a beautitul instrument!!!!

    I’m working now the soundboard thickness, I have select European Spruce for this part.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    Benedetto's plans are more in the style of Pasquale Grasso's Trenier than Kenny Burrell's Super 400. That said, every piece of wood is different. That is why you need to LISTEN to the wood, and flex it in your hands. Start with a relatively thick carve (say an even 5mm) and tap it. You don't have to know anything fancy about tap tuning. Just hold it around the rim in several places and give it a rap with your knuckles. You want a deep resonant tone like a conga, not a sharp dry tone like a djembe. Gibson plates sound like djembes or even bongos. You will also likely thin in the recurve area rather than under the bridge. If you are afraid you are going too light, put the plate on a surface and press with your thumb at the place of the bridge. It should yield under moderate pressure (the bridge exerts about 15kg of down force) but not feel like you can break it with your full weight. If it gets scary, stop thinning.

    Beyond that, it will take dozens of guitars before you get a real feel for what you like; so don't waste too much time on it and enjoy the build.
    Thanks to your message, I have been able to discover the impressive work of luthier Pasquale Grasso. I understand the difference between both instrument designs.

    Precisely now that I have visited the Grasso's website I am more confused about the design of the instrument, I really like the design of the New Yorker style, but also I love the more “simple” finish design like its “Calore” model, whith no enlays in the fingerboard and no binding in the f holes. But this is about design not about sound…

    I think that I know what to expect to hear when I tap a classical guitar sound board, and after your comments I think that is the same in the archtops, is this bass “round” sound than get all the wood in a resonating vibration. When this point is reached, the top is ready for glueing the bars.

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Travelrock View Post
    Thanks to your message, I have been able to discover the impressive work of luthier Pasquale Grasso. I understand the difference between both instrument designs.

    Precisely now that I have visited the Grasso's website I am more confused about the design of the instrument, I really like the design of the New Yorker style, but also I love the more “simple” finish design like its “Calore” model, whith no enlays in the fingerboard and no binding in the f holes. But this is about design not about sound…

    I think that I know what to expect to hear when I tap a classical guitar sound board, and after your comments I think that is the same in the archtops, is this bass “round” sound than get all the wood in a resonating vibration. When this point is reached, the top is ready for glueing the bars.
    The luthier is Trenier, I mention P Grasso as a well known artist who is known for using Trenier guitars because there are many recordings of him on YouTube with his Trenier. Other than that, yes Trenier has several styles (although from a very narrow pallete of designs). Still, although he credits D'Angelico his design is very close to Bob Benedetto's. If you are following Benedetto's book, you will end up with something closer to this than a guitar in the style of a big Gibson. Sounds like that is what you want, so you should be on the right track.

    The level of trim, the staining of the wood, the design of the f-holes (within limits), cutaway or no cutaway, etc., are all open to your interpretation without changing the basic sound and playability of the instrument. This is where your creativity can shine and be fairly confident that you will have a good sounding instrument.

    As for "tuning" the top, you will want to do that twice, once without bracing and once with the braces in. You will want that classical top resonance without bracing (which I would call more of a floor tom or even bass drum than a conga), then glue the bracing in. It won't sound the same. Shave the braces down and loosen the recurve to get back some of the richness in bass until you hear a conga.

    Sorry, it is hard to describe tap tones. Using familiar drums as a reference is the best I was able to do when I was helping to teach an arch top lutherie course at my local community college. I hope the description makes sense to you.

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    The luthier is Trenier, I mention P Grasso as a well known artist who is known for using Trenier guitars because there are many recordings of him on YouTube with his Trenier. Other than that, yes Trenier has several styles (although from a very narrow pallete of designs). Still, although he credits D'Angelico his design is very close to Bob Benedetto's. If you are following Benedetto's book, you will end up with something closer to this than a guitar in the style of a big Gibson. Sounds like that is what you want, so you should be on the right track.

    The level of trim, the staining of the wood, the design of the f-holes (within limits), cutaway or no cutaway, etc., are all open to your interpretation without changing the basic sound and playability of the instrument. This is where your creativity can shine and be fairly confident that you will have a good sounding instrument.

    As for "tuning" the top, you will want to do that twice, once without bracing and once with the braces in. You will want that classical top resonance without bracing (which I would call more of a floor tom or even bass drum than a conga), then glue the bracing in. It won't sound the same. Shave the braces down and loosen the recurve to get back some of the richness in bass until you hear a conga.

    Sorry, it is hard to describe tap tones. Using familiar drums as a reference is the best I was able to do when I was helping to teach an arch top lutherie course at my local community college. I hope the description makes sense to you.
    I made a mistake in the name, I was so engrossed in the photographs of the guitars on the website that I got confused!

    I will take into account your indications about the sound of the top in the two moments of construction, they are a great reference, thank you very much.

    Would you recommend parallel or x bracing?