Saturday, September 10, 2011

Welcome to my workshop

In my last post I mentioned that I was working on three instruments. In the foreground left is the Lacote guitar, the Kaiser theorbo mould is in the centre and the Voboam guitar with ebony sides and a light coloured cypress back is to the right. I usually have two instruments under construction at the same time. It is just an economical use of time. Having three is a whim on my part. The Voboam has reached stage where I am waiting on the delivery of a parchment rose from Italy. The back, sides, neck and peghead are assembled and the soundboard is awaiting the rose. As soon as the rose arrives the Voboam will become the focal point of my activity. In the meantime, I decided to start a Lacote. Although I don't mention 19th century guitars on my website I have been building them in a limited way since the late 90's. This particular guitar is based on an 1823 instrument in a private collection in Brooklyn, NY. When it is finished I will put it on sale on my website.

For those of you who are not instrument makers this represents a typical Lacote arrangement of the side assembly. The front and rear blocks  are wide and shallow and nicely contoured. The linings that stiffen the side ribs at the joint between the side and soundboard and the side to the back are fairly deep. Four arched cross struts are glued into the back linings and will support the back. What instrument makers may find odd is that these struts are glued to the side ribs rather than glued to the back as in the usual method. My method is too stretch the back over the struts like a skin. The struts have been   heat bent to a 3mm arch rather than cut and shaped. Bending the struts preserves the longitudinal fibres of the wood in their natural alignment. This combined with putting the back under tension increases the degree of stiffness that can be obtained from a minimal amount of wood. One always remarks on how light these guitars are! This method of assembling the back is described in detail in Jose Romanillos' book on Antonio de Torres. Although this may not be a French technique for assembling guitars I think it adds a particular tone quality to the guitar's character. The dark blocks of wood under the cross struts are temporary supports for the gluing operation. Besides numerous clamps placed around the edge of the body, four or more clamps will be placed over the back at locations matching the cross struts. The temporary blocks support the clamping pressure.

No comments:

Post a Comment