Thin Spruce Acoustic, this will be a weird one folks.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by printer2, Jan 19, 2020.

  1. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    On another forum a poster wanted to know of any thin nylon guitars. I did not have a suggestion but thought it would be a good time to show off what a good thin guitar sounds like. So I showed this video.

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    Not the usual fair here but hey. As far as sound goes though, not bad for a guitar two inches thick, more or less. So I asked about building a thin guitar on a luthier section of a classical guitar forum. Basically given the two thumbs up, go for it.

    So the reason for such an animal. There are times I can't hold a guitar due to pain issues. Can't use a Telecaster unless it has an arm bevel on it, I sold my G&L because of it. Now I have some small acoustics I built, one with enough bevel on it I should be able to play it. It is being humidified for a couple of weeks before I do the neck fitting and bridge, the rest of finishing it up. But I would like to have a full scale guitar that I can practice on that is light in weight.

    So going through my wood I decide to use a top I already have joined and some funny looking Sitka that came from a reject pallet of tops for the back (got it?). They are not even bookmatched but seem to come from the same log. I am using a 2"x3" wall stud for the neck. It is some light Engelmann spruce, Just enough depth for building a neck for this guitar. The light weight will go to keeping the guitar more balanced, hopefully not a lot of weight to the body. Going to use some ukulele tuners on it.

    So the lineup. Minus the 2x3, I forgot to get it in the picture.

    [​IMG]

    So I chopped the 2x3 and sanded the two surfaces flat using sandpaper clamped to the top of a tables saw. Glued it together. Split the board for the sides down the middle. Left them thick as my tablesaw had a fine tooth blade on it and the power bar that it is plugged into trips the breaker easy. Took a lot of patience to get through it, especially with the garage at -10 C. Rather than freeze longer I just took a plane to the sides so they were a reasonable thickness to put through my drum sander. So a good start.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I've never owned a nylon guitar, but like the sound.
    It will be interesting to see how this build differs from "common" steel string dread.

    Peace - Deeve
     
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  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I did a les paul sized steel string acoustic one time. Maple back and sides with an x braced spruce top. It was neck heavy, tinny sounding, and not much volume. It would have been a good couch guitar or something for song writers. Classical strings and bracing may be more suitable. I'll follow along and see what materializes. :).
     
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  4. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    Nice idea. I’ve often thought, about building an acoustic that’s optimized for private performance, for play comfort, with the idea that if you needed to perform with it out just amp it. So much of guitar design was formalized in the era before any kind of amplification.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
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  5. Guitardvark

    Guitardvark Tele-Holic

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    hauser type honeycombed double top might work out even better in a thin spruce. like the idea though bec its thin doesnt mean at all that it wont have a voice. the steel strings will have more tension but i dont see why a double top wont work :) good luck
     
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  6. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hi, thanks for the interest.

    Hey Marty, good to see you. The part of the reason I went nylon is steel strings have no problem with treble but with bass. Nylon strings the opposite, bass is there but treble is less inherent due to the string material. So with two things stacked against it, small top size and width the nylon strings will help round out the sound. I think.

    My first guitar here was Telecaster sized with a fully chambered top (whole top free) with a floating bridge. I had the same problem with no bass, I tried compensating with flatwound Jazz strings. It did turn out better than I planned but I could see that it could be much better, and so started my building hobby. In a way this is the guitar I would have liked it to be. I probably will not put a piezo in this one to electrify it, with the softness of the neck wood this will be a pampered pet. The hardness of the wood is somewhat related to the density of the wood. A heavier neck would make it more ding repellent but neck heavy. If I would make something like this also for playing out I would use a heavier spruce, easier to find than lighter in the lumber department. I am guessing this guitar may fit in my bass guitar gig bag.

    A double top would work. One day I will try making one. Heck, any reason to make a guitar. I mainly stick to building acoustics as I want to learn what makes the animal tick. A double top would be louder, it would be interesting to try one on a Dred sized instrument, Take that you banjo!
     
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  7. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    That guitar in the video sounds really lovely. Yea, not big and bold, but clean and enjoyable. My original guitar, acquired when I was a teenager in the late 1970s, is a cheap nylon "classical" guitar and I still have it. I cannot remember how or why I ended up it, being a keyboard player, but despite it's foibles, I've always enjoyed it and it helped me learn a few things.

    I'm looking forward to what you come up with here! It sounds like a great idea.
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    My only experience with classical guitars is the one '37 Hauser clone that I built a long time ago and I followed the plans very carefully. I have built a bunch of steel string acoustics however, including several small bodies ("parlor" sizes). There is one simple fact that you can't get around - the smaller the box of air the higher its natural resonance and the less bass and mids that you'll get out of it. It really doesn't matter what the shape of that box of air is as far as this resonance is concerned - its the volume of the box and the size of the hole.

    With a parlor style guitar you also shrink the area of the top - that raises some of the other resonances. You won't have that if you stay with a pretty standard sized top (and bracing) - the other modes are more dependent on stiffness and mass. It will be interesting to see how this works for you.
     
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Having thought about this for a few minutes a couple of things have popped into my mind. First, I assume you are going to use a conventional Spanish heel neck joint - that probably will work fine but if you want to build the neck separately I would suggest an electric guitar style fitment (either screwed on or set M&T). You won't have enough vertical distance for a dovetail or bolted neck joint.

    I would worry a bit about getting clamps inside for the bridge. If you want to use ukulele tuners at least get geared ones, I think friction uke tuners are a pita.

    I had this cross my bench a while back. It is about as thin as you can get, has nylon strings. Unfortunately it is an electric guitar....

    IMG_5258.JPG
     
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  10. El Marin

    El Marin Tele-Afflicted

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    I have played some Thin Spanish Guitars... they are OK if you play plugged. If you are going to mic it get a full box one. Acusticly they are dull, mate sounding and no projection and volumen at all

    By the way, the top is usually cedar, not spruce
     
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  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Not necessarily. Segovia's Hauser was spruce, so is my copy

    Classical front.jpg
     
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  12. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Size matters. Not going to sound like a big guitar. But small guitars have their own charm. And with a bevel or two things may get pretty strange as far as the modes. But in the end almost any guitar shaped object will sound kind of guitar like. This guitar is a little out of the box, Stringing it up will be a surprise. I am going to go with a bolt on neck. I have done a Spanish Heel and I enjoyed building it but I like the idea of being able to go back and fix my mistakes. I built a tenor uke once, found my bridge clamp would not fit. Debating on building a smaller one or just shimming from the inside and applying pressure on the bridge. Yes the tuners are geared, cheap set but with a little polishing can work. Never used friction tuners yet. One day I will do a peg tuner, but with harder wood.

    Nice top on your guitar. One thing I am doing is using an aluminum strip as a truss rod. I screwed up and the bit wandered when one of my clamps let go. I was using the plastic jawed clamps, what was I thinking. Got some C clamps and tightened it well. The bad thing was I had to plane off 3/16", I will be having a thicker heel cap I suppose.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    This looks like a very interesting project. As I’m into the whole acoustic vibe, I’ll be following along. Can’t wait to see how things progress.
     
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  14. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Long ago in the Jurrasic,I as a poor boy wanted such a thing.My first effort was in some ways my best,sometimes knowing more slows you down with convention.I built the body about 1 7/8 from mahogany door skins (a favorite material in times past) and the top from a piece of sitka board from a friend's EAA project.I had dad carefully split the board into 6 3.5" almost 1/8 pieces,matched the grain and glued up a top.For the neck and bracing my favorite material,quartersawn douglas fir :) (very light and stiff).I did the back a simple X brace to save weight and material.For the top an old unused Antonio del la Torres pattern I think he came up with as a practical joke lol.As a man of tremendous humor he was always coming up with things "to confound the experts",you know the type,that says it can't be done,we've had a few here.His most well known example being the "cardboard" guitar ;)
    Anywho,I did a double inverted Vee that's amazingly stiff and light.I introduced it to Rich Rice and he tried it on a cedar Dewdrop with sorta floppy top.It now has as good a tap tone as mine and his (eastern red cedar and Canadian spruce respectively)
    it was basically OO size or the early Martin Auditorium in size with the slightly shorter Martin scale.I even used rosewood veneer as binding like my at the time dulcimers.This basically allowed a large but slim acoustic box,very lightweight bracing
    From there I came up with my own pinless bridge I used for the next 10 years on acoustics.Now this is where it gets good :p, after MUCH trial and error (and thanking God I had a friend working in a music store) I came up with a friend's help my unique stringing,3 classical string for the bass and 3 steel for the treble.As I seem to recall only the G was a bronze string.The e and b were electric (for the gages) and THINK the EAD a mixture of hard/medium wirewound nylons.Just to long to recall the exact combo here.
    The upshot a very comfortable,light guitar with good tone and amazing volume for the size.That's my tail and I'll sit on it now.As always YMMV :lol:

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  15. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    And oh btw,yes one of the MANY reasons I'm called crazydave :lol::lol::lol:
     
  16. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Yeah right!!!!!!! Crazy like a fox!

    DC:twisted:
     
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  17. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Oh darn, a bunch of Daves came in through the open door. Everybody just ignore them, they might go away. :twisted:

    Sorry for the delay. I was looking for a mold I had of a body the right length, nowhere to be found. I did find the template for it and made another. A bearing is shot in my band saw and I am surprised I managed to get it cut out. I have a lot of maintenance to do on equipment, lot of my tools were bought used. But the form came out ok. I did the cutaway side first just in case I broke it. I thinned out the cutaway to 0.045", brushed on some SuperSoft II, wrapped it in food wrap, bent it on a hot pipe with a damp rag over it. Clamped it in the form and left it overnight. Not much spring back, did the other side today. Tomorrow I will do the linings.

    [​IMG]

    Feel pretty good about getting the cutaway done. Bending softwood is not the easiest thing and the turns are tighter than the diameter of my pipe. Just a hint of a crease. I did a test piece before doing the side. I was thinking of laminating it to the side, I'll think about it today. I need to think about wedges, bevels and the like, what I eventually want to end up with.
     
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  18. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    You know, I get distracted by shiny objects. I thought, you wanted to make a lightweight headless electric, why not make it with that quartered 2"x3" and the offcuts of the acoustic? So I started figuring it out moved a bag of cigar boxes out of the way so I had some room on the floor to lay a Strat copy down. Then the one cigar box caught my eye. I might be able to fit a class D amp in it with a 12AX7 for the preamp. So I took it and used a hairdryer to get the labels off. I'm a little concerned about getting rid of the heat but I think it might fit.

    Oh right, bent the sides, about the size of a Tele. Still not 100% sure if I will go headless, just thought it prudent with no weight in the body. I also figure it would be a good test run on doing the acoustic.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    My niece's husband sent me an email asking me if he should buy this Harmony that among the usual problems of a 50 year old guitar it also had someone sit on it and cracked the sides all the way around. And sill wanted $350 for it. I think I disappointed him and thought I better finish the guitar I was making for him. I had the body done but needed to do the neck. It seems to have moved up on top of my list of things to do bumping my guitars. Did the scarf joint today and the truss rod slot. Should build up the heel today but it is late already.

    [​IMG]

    Rather than mess up this thread, the original build one.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/sitka-maple-00-acoustic-guitar.815088/
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
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