Friday, September 30, 2011

no place for socks

A long time ago there was a beginner violin maker who had it in his tiny brain to make an archtop guitar, because he liked the idea of the carved arching that made sense to his violin inclinations, and because it seemed logical from an engineering point of view too.

The idea died rather quickly over a beer with an acquaintance who was a well-known jazz guitarist and very influential guitar teacher, when he confessed that he needed to keep an unspecified number of woolen socks inside his beautiful instrument to make it usable at a gig.

This was not the sort of technical information this luthier was seeking, and the idea was dropped. He (I) couldn't bear to put all that work into questionable acoustics, so just got on with (mainly) making violas etc.

Now this doesn't mean that archtops aren't good or worth pursuing, just that one person's experience as expressed to another person's inexperience changed somewhat, the agenda of the latter.

The pic above is of the sides initially trimmed to the centre line. The black stains on the inside are remnant tannins that made bending hot wet blackwood such a messy business, but it will all be scraped off soon. I used my bending iron which is electrically heated, and the shape is created by covering the wood with a thin 'belt' of steel strapping to keep heat concentrated where it is wanted and to spread the stresses around the curves as they emerged.

I started with the waist bend- this is the tightest- and it is important to let the curve develop as the timber plasticizes with heat and moisture, rather than pulling or forcing a bend. It was all a bit mucky while doing this....and this isn't really inteneded to be a 'how to' blog, but I can photograph the equipment if anyone needs more information about this bit....I guess I have glossed over it rather superficially...


  1. What is it with guitarists needing to put socks in, and down things?

  2. It's probably only that they can't fit bigger items of clothing through the sound hole...otherwise the guitar could act as makeshift wardrobe.