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-   -   MARK BLANCHARD Bristlecone [Italian Spruce | Brazilian Rosewood] (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=596397)

iim7V7IM7 11-02-2020 07:32 PM

Thanks Professor I-IV-V...:)

iim7V7IM7 11-03-2020 03:52 PM

Selecting a Top
 
Mark selected some European and Italian Alpine Spruce tops that he thought would work well for my Bristlecone. He joined them and cut them to his Sequoia shape (his largest 16” model).

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...5B50F5467.jpeg

The photos show the results of his test process and the Chladni numbers for frequencies that he associates with long-grain and short-grain stiffness for each top set. The Sequoia numbers marked with a star are bogus because the top didn’t quite fill the pattern in the lower bout, so the cross-grain numbers are artificially biased higher than they should be.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...05A406C4E.jpeg

After recording all the Sequoia numbers, Mark cut all the tops down to his Tamarack size (15-5/8”, slightly larger than the Bristlecone at 15-1/4” across the lower bout) and recorded the Chladni numbers again. All of these tops now appear workable for a Tamarack, so he doesn’t want to cut them all to Bristlecone size. The Bristlecone numbers are predictable at this point given the 3/8” difference in lower bout width.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...1287B4F6E.jpeg

Out of these five potential top sets, four where appropriate for a Bristlecone (one was too stiff cross grain). Mark and I ended up choosing Set #2 which is an Italian Alpine Spruce set that he purchased from violin luthier David Morse (Soquel, CA) nearly two decades ago (so it is well seasoned at this point). David Morse would visit the famed Val di Fiemme in the Alto Adige region of in Italy to select individual trees for harvest, split, re-saw and ship the processed wood back to the US. This is a well quartered set displaying medullary rays that is likely a AA aesthetic grade top BUT it has the right properties for the guitar being built. It does have a slight a color streak on the treble side upper bout, some of which will obscured by the rosette, covered by the polyester pick-guard and some will be removed by the cutaway.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...7CAFFB0DE.jpeg

iim7V7IM7 11-09-2020 03:37 PM

Headstock Veneer
 
Mark likes to aesthetically match the hardwoods that he uses for his headstock veneers with his rosettes. In the case of my Bristlecone, we had decided to use Brazilian RW, so he wanted me to select a veneer for the peghead first. Here are eight different veneers I chose from.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...3B73F9796B.png

I chose this veneer because it is from the same piece of Brazilian RW that he used in my Pinyon 5+ years ago (right).

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...FD13A9DC8C.png

Richard Mott 11-09-2020 07:32 PM

Love Mark’s book-matched headstock! That finished one looks like a pheasant’s tail feathers.

iim7V7IM7 11-09-2020 08:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Mott (Post 6545859)
Love Mark’s book-matched headstock! That finished one looks like a pheasant’s tail feathers.

Richard, thanks...:).

Here is what my Pinyon veneers and rosette looked like 6 years ago. You can see why Mark selects headstock veneers so early in his build process. He needs to cut a sound hole and install a rosette in the top next. He carefully wants the rosette woods to match the headstock veneer. The 10 trapezoidal pieces get assembled into a rosette so the wood grain is radially aligned.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/albu...psmw1wrizh.jpg

mountainguitar 11-10-2020 09:52 AM

Wow- the artistry is so amazing here. I love the headstock of your Pinyon and this one seems like it will be equally stunning! And matching the rosette with the headstock veneer... whoa... This just made my morning! :)

Thanks for sharing this special build!

beth

iim7V7IM7 11-10-2020 04:52 PM

Mark focuses a lot on the quality of the woods that he uses, elegant design forms adorned by a simple decorative aesthetic. Small details like these don’t jump out at first, but they are there for those you take the time to look...:)

Quote:

Originally Posted by bmh1 (Post 6546185)
Wow- the artistry is so amazing here. I love the headstock of your Pinyon and this one seems like it will be equally stunning! And matching the rosette with the headstock veneer... whoa... This just made my morning! :)

Thanks for sharing this special build!

beth


cigarfan 11-11-2020 06:27 AM

Nice choice Bob. Love the feather look and the rosette is gonna be special. Wow!

iim7V7IM7 11-11-2020 06:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cigarfan (Post 6546805)
Nice choice Bob. Love the feather look and the rosette is gonna be special. Wow!

Thanks Dennis...:). It will be nice to have two guitars from Mark with headstock veneers made from sequential cuts from the same piece of wood. For the rosette, we are doing something a bit different from Mark's standard rosette (my Pinyon is shown below as an example).

https://hosting.photobucket.com/albu...stcxfucu4.jpeg

It will contain radial oriented Brazilian RW, but be of a different design as will the fretboard terminus.

iim7V7IM7 11-12-2020 06:31 PM

Mark proposed and I agreed on a simple Brazilian Rosewood and curly Koa rosette and purfling scheme for the guitar today...:). Once installed, Marks top voicing process will begin in earnest.

iim7V7IM7 11-14-2020 07:03 PM

Today, Mark glued up the Brazilian Rosewood back set (almost doesn’t look like Brazilian but EIR!)...:up:

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...E0F679727.jpeg

Steve Kinnaird 11-15-2020 10:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6550050)
Today, Mark glued up the Brazilian Rosewood back set (almost doesn’t look like Brazilian but EIR!)...:up:

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...E0F679727.jpeg

Wow, that's pretty!

SK

iim7V7IM7 11-16-2020 06:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Kinnaird (Post 6550997)
Wow, that's pretty!

SK

Thanks Steve...:). The set is sedate in terms of it's figure that so many players value, but it quartersawn, seasoned and stable which is frequently what luthiers value more.

iim7V7IM7 11-17-2020 06:45 PM

Like a number of luthiers, Mark makes all of his own purflings and bindings. He spent the day sanding down some curly Koa strips into various thickness for purflings and the rosette. Here’s a shot of Mark’s thickness sander (it’s a beast, I’ve seen it!).

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...EBD053014.jpeg

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...315F6DDE4.jpeg

Mark is creating a different rosette from his signature one on this guitar. He needed to make a new UHMW PE mold to form the rosette in.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...3E5656FEF.jpeg

Lastly, Mark cleaned up the joined Brazilian Rosewood back set and drew the Bristlecone pattern on it. Nice looking stuff...:up:

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...20934227E.jpeg

Nemoman 11-17-2020 07:11 PM

Schweeet--beautiful BRW!

It's amazing all that Mark goes through with the building of your (and others) guitar--thanks for the detailed sharing of the process.

Should be wonderful--looking forward to watching this and hearing it!

iim7V7IM7 11-18-2020 11:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nemoman (Post 6552769)
Schweeet--beautiful BRW!

It's amazing all that Mark goes through with the building of your (and others) guitar--thanks for the detailed sharing of the process.

Should be wonderful--looking forward to watching this and hearing it!

I see that Dennis's nomenclature has influenced you:). I am glad that you appreciate seeing what goes into the construction of a guitar. They all aesthetically look a bit different from the outside but why do they all sound so different? I post these threads for players in the future considering commissioning a guitar getting an in depth understanding of how the luthier approaches their work and how it may differ from others.

iim7V7IM7 11-18-2020 07:18 PM

Rosette
 
Mark worked on part of the rosette today.

In the first shot you can see that Mark cut 10-36 degree trapezoid pieces of Brazilian Rosewood cut from a piece similar to the headstock veneer shown in the same shot. The grain of the rosewood is radially arrayed when assembled and contrasting color is organized to create light against dark for visual interest. The piece are located on a backer.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...7204252E2.jpeg

The glued Brazilian Rosewood pieces adhered onto backer are cut out into a 0.240” wide circular rosette ring.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...4766281AB.jpeg

Here is the Brazilian Rosewood rosette ring glued up with surrounding 0.040” curly Koa purflings with 0.020” Black Fiber in a UHMW polyethylene mold.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...51CC05FDF.jpeg

iim7V7IM7 11-19-2020 06:59 PM

A bit more on the rosette...

Mark created thin .020” Black Fiber/.040” Curly Koa/.020” Black Fiber outer ring in the UHMW polyethylene mold. Curly Koa purflings will be used throughout the instrument.

Sometimes simple is beautiful...:)


https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...28D501B7B.jpeg

iim7V7IM7 11-23-2020 03:04 PM

Backstrip
 
Mark was able to install a .040” Curly Koa/.085” Macassar Ebony/.040” Curly Koa backstrip to the joined Brazilian Rosewood back set. He is struggling a bit with humidity control in his shop this week and is bolstering his humidification system before continuing working on the top.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...B8C9A65BE.jpeg

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...606DAC51D.jpeg

cigarfan 11-24-2020 06:33 AM

Another gorgeous guitar coming together. Beautiful rosette! That BRW is some kind of incredible. Thanks for sharing Bob.

iim7V7IM7 11-24-2020 09:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cigarfan (Post 6558309)
Another gorgeous guitar coming together. Beautiful rosette! That BRW is some kind of incredible. Thanks for sharing Bob.

Thanks again Dennis...:).

My friend, luthier and Brazilian Rosewood importer Rodrigo Moreira told me that Brazilian Rosewood like this is typical of type grown in trees grown in cacao plantations to provide shade (cacao likes shade) in Bahia region on the Atlantic coast. The insect holes seen are from a well known parasite that proliferates among cacao that kills the Dalbergia nigra trees. This tree was likely felled due to the parasites.

iim7V7IM7 11-24-2020 07:28 PM

% RH
 
Mark’s shop was having a low humidity crisis that was slowing down work on the top and back of the instrument until it could be resolved. Despite extensive humidification he was only only able to raise the humidity to 35%. The problem was that his pellet stove heater was drawing combustion air from inside the shop and exhausts it outside. It’s was sucking all the humidity out of the room. Today, Mark added a pipe to bring in some combustion air from outside. It resulted in bringing the shop % RH above 40% so once the wood equilibrates, he can continue to work on the guitar.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...87FA7BD619.png

In the interim, Mark inlayed a Green Abalone “B” into the Brazilian Rosewood headstock veneer today.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...BD7969F12.jpeg

iim7V7IM7 12-01-2020 04:30 PM

The Tone is in the Top...
 
This photo shows the installed Brazilian Rosewood/curly Koa rosette installed in the Italian Spruce top.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...3F1BA78C6.jpeg

The second photo is from Mark’s notebook in which he records the data for each guitar that he makes. This page shows some of the Chladni modes as he works the Italian Spruce top of my guitar. What Mark calls Mode 6 relates to the long-grain stiffness of the top and Mode 5 relates to the cross-grain stiffness of the top. Mark considers the long-grain to cross-grain stiffness ratio of his tops important to the final sound of his guitars.

You can see how these two modes come closer together frequency wise as he adds the rosette (added mass) and cuts the sound hole (interrupts the long-grain fibers) with the final Mode 5 and 6 frequencies ending up only 6 Hz apart indicating to him a top with nicely balanced top in terms of the long-grain to cross-grain stiffness ratio.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...76F2E300E.jpeg

mhw48 12-04-2020 06:58 AM

I am fascinated by the patterns of the Chladni modes on the top. I have to confess that I don't know very much about the thought behind the whole process. Does Mark also test the Chladni modes of the back of the guitar? I seem to remember reading somewhere that one of the ideas behind this particular method was to have the top and back exhibit the same patterns so that they were sonically working together -- but it may have been an article about violins rather than guitars.

iim7V7IM7 12-04-2020 08:12 AM

Mark does use Chaldni modes to tune his backs as he adjusts and braces the plates. The same principals apply to both the top and the back, it is just somewhat easier to visualize what is going on with a ladder braced back. Mark uses target Chladni modes to determine the Brazilian Rosewood back thickness and to guide him through the carving of the Spruce braces.

The modes are determined by the stiffness of the back plate itself (sans-bracing). Given the cross stiffness nature of Spruce ladder braces, they don’t really affect long-grain stiffness much at all. Mark believes that it important to get the target long-grain back stiffness by manipulating the Brazilian Rosewood plate thickness. The cross-grain stiffness Chladni modes can then be adjusted by adjusting the stiffness of the ladder braces.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6566355)
I am fascinated by the patterns of the Chladni modes on the top. I have to confess that I don't know very much about the thought behind the whole process. Does Mark also test the Chladni modes of the back of the guitar? I seem to remember reading somewhere that one of the ideas behind this particular method was to have the top and back exhibit the same patterns so that they were sonically working together -- but it may have been an article about violins rather than guitars.


iim7V7IM7 12-04-2020 09:36 PM

Graduating the Top
 
Mark graduated the Italian Spruce top today. The process starts on his ‘graduation board’. Layers of tape build up areas on the board where he wants the top to be thinner.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...C51D068B5.jpeg

He places the top face down on the graduation board, and runs it through his sander.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...AAC2672F1.jpeg

After each pass through the sander, Mark checks the Chladni modes. The process is repeated until he gets numbers that he likes.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...A18DA571A.jpeg

These are the final modes for the unbraced top plate.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...87F0D6D98.jpeg

This is the graduation map of the top after the initial graduations are sanded and scraped in. The top is thickest between the bridge location and the sound hole and thinnest near the end block.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...9213A16A9.jpeg

mhw48 12-06-2020 04:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6567082)
Mark graduated the Italian Spruce top today. The process starts on his ‘graduation board’. Layers of tape build up areas on the board where he wants the top to be thinner.


He places the top face down on the graduation board, and runs it through his sander.


After each pass through the sander, Mark checks the Chladni modes. The process is repeated until he gets numbers that he likes.

It's always interesting to see the eminently practical solutions that luthiers come up with for something that conceptually seems complicated: Layers of tape that raise the edges of the wood slightly so that in sanding it "flat", the top is actually tapered in profile.

nootis 12-07-2020 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhw48 (Post 6568731)
It's always interesting to see the eminently practical solutions that luthiers come up with for something that conceptually seems complicated: Layers of tape that raise the edges of the wood slightly so that in sanding it "flat", the top is actually tapered in profile.

That is a simple and clever solution. However, to me, the rest of the process seems very complex. I've never even heard of Chladni modes until now.

It is a wonderful enlightening thread though, and I look forward to learning more.

iim7V7IM7 12-07-2020 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nootis (Post 6569027)
That is a simple and clever solution. However, to me, the rest of the process seems very complex. I've never even heard of Chladni modes until now.

It is a wonderful enlightening thread though, and I look forward to learning more.

That is exactly why I post threads like this...:)

Luthier's work in very different ways to achieve a common goal (a great sounding, easy to play, beautiful to look at, structurally sound guitar). Regarding Chladni, Mark learned the basics of this from luthier Al Carruth's "Free Plate Tuning" course >24 years ago. Since then, he has developed his own approach to using these to achieve consistency in his guitars.

iim7V7IM7 12-07-2020 07:07 PM

Top Bracing 1
 
Mark has begun to brace the top of my Bristlecone. Here is a photo of some rough cut Red Spruce bracing stock, a Sitka Spruce popsicle brace and a Brazilian Rosewood bridge plate ready for use.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...9FE629F42.jpeg

Here is the top in Mark’s go-bar deck. A faint pencil layout of the bracing pattern can be seen. A laminated (lower laminate is cross-grain to the top and upper laminate is aligned with the top grain) sound hole reinforcement plate is installed and an angled upper transverse brace to accomodate the cutaway lining.

https://hosting.photobucket.com/imag...2301058A0.jpeg


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