The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Custom Shop

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #16  
Old 04-03-2020, 03:31 AM
Michael Watts's Avatar
Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 2,984
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flat5 View Post
I’m really looking forward to seeing how all this rolls out!

You want to focus on tone, you said. How does your experience in flattops reflect on it?

You mean acoustic tone or electric? From your background, I would assume acoustic, first.

An archtop is a beautiful tool, totally different from a flattop in terms of sound.
So, you have this “ideal” set of qualities in a flattop: let’s assume that your Kostal MDW is the paradigm here. You know exactly what that guitar does -in fact you did spec it out together with Jason.

An archtop is going to differ from that in so many ways, is going to change your way of playing in so many ways.

I guess the tricky part for me would be: how do you spec out an archtop in a way that’s not just “try to emulate my Kostal sound”.

Does that make sense?
What’s your ideal of a fingerstyle archtop tone? What’s the real challenge here?

G
All very good questions that I have been working through myself these past couple of weeks.

This is not an attempt at making a Kostal sound come out of a body with F-holes. This will be an acoustic instrument but will also feature a custom hybrid electronic set up which Thierry and I have designed together.

As far as the acoustic archtop sound is concerned, there will of course be the usual factors at play of scale length, body size and shape and wood choice. In that order.

I can honestly say I am not sure of what the ideal tone is yet other than I want to hear something I haven't heard before. There may be elements of ancient Gibson, Guild, Epiphone and Stromberg in the mix, there may be something recogniseable of more modern archtop voices from the likes of Linda Manzer, Cris Mirabella and others in there too. But it will be Thierry's voice at the end of the day of course.

Acoustically I'm hoping for a fast and detailed sound with enough useable dynamic range (ie not just volume, I like my guitars to retain their voice even when played PP) to play with nuance and feeling.

Essentially we're going for uncharted waters...
__________________
www.michaelwattsguitar.com
Album Recording Diary
Skype Lessons
Luthier Stories
YouTube
iTunes
Instagram

Guitars by Jason Kostal, Strings by Elixir, Gefell Mics and a nail buffer.

Last edited by Michael Watts; 04-03-2020 at 03:41 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-06-2020, 03:58 PM
Michael Watts's Avatar
Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 2,984
Default Wood

It was never my intention to get to the second page of this thread without having shown you all some of the more visually arresting aspects of the guitar so far. I hope this post will make up for that!

This also presents an opportunity to demonstrate the way that I have learned to approach a custom guitar build. This methodology formed the basis of my initial communications with Thierry.

Scale Length

In my experience a guitar's scale length has a more marked effect on the instrument's eventual personality than any other aspect. No, it's not sexy, and you can't really post beautiful pics of a scale length to instagram (or indeed, here) for people to get fizzy about. Nevertheless the fact remains that scale length is king.

When Thierry first got in touch with me, he was working to this blueprint for the guitar.



The eagle-eyed amongst you will have already seen a scale length of 25.25" written on Thierry's plan which is the same as my Kostal modified dreadnought. That guitar is all about the power and the glory and the scale length reflects this fact.

However in this case once Thierry and I had spoken about in more detail about what he'd like to build and what I'd like to play we came to a shorter scale approach of 24.625".

This guitar is designed to be played fingerstyle (with mostly flesh) in DADGAD with flatwound strings (gauge 12) which will take us into the realms of the wooden bell textures I've encountered in the best archtops I've played. The will also be expressive bends and vibrato involved which I find work more transparently on a shorter scale.

Body Shape

This is actually a new model for Thierry which, in a lovely touch, is named the Clara archtop after his young daughter. This design will essentially be a blank canvas that Thierry can then adapt to each client's needs.

In this picture you will notice that the design has evolved from its first iteration. You will doubtless notice the achingly cool scale length written in pencil and your eye may also be drawn to the custom Mojo Pickups gold foil humbucker which will form part of the amplified voice of this instrument.



Materials

Ok finally! Let's get some wood shots happening!

While this is an archtop guitar, this instrument will feature a domed back rather than a full arch. I am cool with that.

The vast majority of archtops guitars are made from maple, Thierry has chosen Ziricote, a wood that in my own controversial view responds very much like the best maple in flat top steel string guitars and can be expected to provide similar standards of performance in an archtop too. It also looks really cool.



With this being a fingerstyle instrument, Thierry decided to modify his original spec of a spruce top and instead cut a billet from a stash of 80-year old sinker cedar that he had been saving for special occasions.


Looks a little rough here...



That's a slight improvement



Recognisably guitar-shaped



Now we're getting somewhere!



Oh that is really quite special...


Here are some of Thierry's thoughts on the process thus far.



So there you have it, sinker cedar over ziricote. It's a wonderful combination but I've never seen it used quite like this before. I'll leave you with this shot of the body. Next time we can have a little look under the hood.



Until next time, stay tuned!

Michael
__________________
www.michaelwattsguitar.com
Album Recording Diary
Skype Lessons
Luthier Stories
YouTube
iTunes
Instagram

Guitars by Jason Kostal, Strings by Elixir, Gefell Mics and a nail buffer.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04-06-2020, 05:26 PM
Nemoman Nemoman is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: N. California
Posts: 2,790
Default

Looks very cool so far and the woods look exquisite!

I like how the modified design incorporates the more modern soundholes.

I'm following closely along!
__________________
2013 Stehr Auditorium (Carpathian/Myrtle)
2015 Stehr Auditorium (Adi/BRW)
2018 Wilborn Ellie Belle (Old Stika/EIR)
2020 Baranik Meridian (Blue Spruce/Manchinga)
2020 Wilborn Arum (Tunnel 14/Coco)
2021 Kinnaird Graybeard (BC Cedar/Bog Oak)
2022 Kinnaird CS Student Build (Adi/Padauk)
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04-07-2020, 06:55 AM
Flat5 Flat5 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 54
Default

I LOVE the redwood-ziricote combination!
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04-07-2020, 06:59 AM
GeoffStGermaine GeoffStGermaine is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Halifax, NS
Posts: 240
Default

As I expected - very cool! Looking forward to seeing more.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 04-07-2020, 08:39 AM
virob virob is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: west coast
Posts: 314
Default

Very cool and unique build.
I find it interesting the importance you place on scale length and your choice of 24.625 for primary DADGAD tuning. I saw one of you older videos on multiscale guitars and was wondering if you considered a multiscale for this build.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 04-07-2020, 09:01 AM
Ernesto Ernesto is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 271
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by virob View Post
Very cool and unique build.
I find it interesting the importance you place on scale length and your choice of 24.625 for primary DADGAD tuning. I saw one of you older videos on multiscale guitars and was wondering if you considered a multiscale for this build.
First of all, congrats Michael, I just checked Thierry's website, oh my...

And then, my thoughts exactly, 24.625, will that work well for DADGAD, what strings are you planning to use? Anyway, I guess you both know what you're doing
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 04-08-2020, 09:53 AM
Flat5 Flat5 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 54
Default

That top is scary. Those looks, and the prominence of the lower bout, plus Thierry’s comments hint to something explosive....
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 04-08-2020, 10:49 AM
Tom Sands Tom Sands is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 8
Default

Well this should certainly be an entertaining thread. A luthier who’s work is not to be missed!
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 04-16-2020, 12:31 PM
Michael Watts's Avatar
Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 2,984
Default

Don't you just love it when you get an email like this?



Ha ha ha ha! Brilliant!

To be fair, the only example of me playing an electric guitar Thierry had seen was this footage from the 2016 Holy Grail Guitar Show where I played an extraordinary instrument by Austria's Michael Spalt.



This performance is very definitely in standard tuning and it's certainly no fault of Thierry's that I didn't think to emphasis the DADGAD side of my expectations! The reality is that the putative 24.625" scale length would have called for at least gauge 13's if not a custom set of undersea cables in order to work.

All is well, however, as Thierry and I quickly agreed that 25" was the way forward. Thankfully there was little need for adjustment in the blueprints and none in the work so far.

Speaking of which, in my last post I promised you a look at the inner workings of this instrument and I will keep my word. First, here's the domed back of the guitar with its beautifully carved bracing. This has elements of radial and ladder bracing.



Thierry has used a variety of different approaches to bracing over the years and they are as beautiful to look at as they sound.

Here is a quick look at the soundboard of Guitar Fruit Wurcer



Here's Thierry's frankly scary Oudtar



The Old School Archtop featured this intricate ladder idea



And here is the soundboard of this new take on the Clara Archtop



X meets ladder - Nice!

I hope you're staying safe everyone, thank you all for your messages so far! I'm off to prepare for my first live stream on my YouTube channel in a couple of hours so I'll leave you for now.

All the best

Michael
__________________
www.michaelwattsguitar.com
Album Recording Diary
Skype Lessons
Luthier Stories
YouTube
iTunes
Instagram

Guitars by Jason Kostal, Strings by Elixir, Gefell Mics and a nail buffer.

Last edited by Michael Watts; 04-16-2020 at 12:42 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 04-16-2020, 12:34 PM
Michael Watts's Avatar
Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 2,984
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemoman View Post
Looks very cool so far and the woods look exquisite!

I like how the modified design incorporates the more modern soundholes.

I'm following closely along!
Good to have you along for the journey! I hope all is well with you and yours!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flat5 View Post
I LOVE the redwood-ziricote combination!
Almost! Redwood might be interesting too at some point... maybe with a triple humbucker combination too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffStGermaine View Post
As I expected - very cool! Looking forward to seeing more.
Merci Geoff! I'm glad you're enjoying the build so far!

Quote:
Originally Posted by virob View Post
Very cool and unique build.
I find it interesting the importance you place on scale length and your choice of 24.625 for primary DADGAD tuning. I saw one of you older videos on multiscale guitars and was wondering if you considered a multiscale for this build.
Ha, well, there you go! Fanfrets can be wonderful, I get them but they're not for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernesto View Post
First of all, congrats Michael, I just checked Thierry's website, oh my...

And then, my thoughts exactly, 24.625, will that work well for DADGAD, what strings are you planning to use? Anyway, I guess you both know what you're doing
You'd think wouldn't you?!! Glad to you've joined us Ernesto!
__________________
www.michaelwattsguitar.com
Album Recording Diary
Skype Lessons
Luthier Stories
YouTube
iTunes
Instagram

Guitars by Jason Kostal, Strings by Elixir, Gefell Mics and a nail buffer.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 04-16-2020, 12:36 PM
Michael Watts's Avatar
Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 2,984
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flat5 View Post
That top is scary. Those looks, and the prominence of the lower bout, plus Thierry’s comments hint to something explosive....
I believe you might be right!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Sands View Post
Well this should certainly be an entertaining thread. A luthier who’s work is not to be missed!
Hello Tom! Good to see you on here! I'm looking forward to seeing you again when all this blows over...
__________________
www.michaelwattsguitar.com
Album Recording Diary
Skype Lessons
Luthier Stories
YouTube
iTunes
Instagram

Guitars by Jason Kostal, Strings by Elixir, Gefell Mics and a nail buffer.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 05-06-2020, 12:47 PM
Michael Watts's Avatar
Michael Watts Michael Watts is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 2,984
Default

Right then,

Apologies for the delay in posting, bizarrely I don't remember a busier time! That's especially true of this past week where The Holy Grail Guitar Show went online as a 48 hour social media extravaganza. Not quite what we planned but certainly a valiant attempt in the face of extreme adversity!

I prepared this short film as part of the cyber show which will bring you nicely up to speed



Now, we need to talk abut F-holes. Not an area of expertise for me to be honest so it's been fascinating to continue my discovery learning experience through Thierry's expertise.

The last archtop guitar to leave the André Instruments bench was this Old School Archtop which many of you will be quick to notice has a hole exactly where we've been taught to expect one.



That's all well and good but Thierry wanted to explore the idea of F-Holes acting more like soundports. I don't doubt it must have been tempting to get involved with some shoulder-mounted action like you'd see on one of Ken Parker's sublime instruments, but Thierry was adamant that a more traditional approach to placement was the way forward.



Having arrived at a design that did exactly what he was looking for Thierry bound the soundholes with rosewood.



And added an aesthetic flourish of aluminium



With the finished results as seen here



I'd like to say a quick thank you for all the PM's and emails i've had about this collaboration so far. It's been really great to hear from everybody. I hope you're all staying safe and well and I'll be back as soon as I have more to share.

Stay Tuned

Michael
__________________
www.michaelwattsguitar.com
Album Recording Diary
Skype Lessons
Luthier Stories
YouTube
iTunes
Instagram

Guitars by Jason Kostal, Strings by Elixir, Gefell Mics and a nail buffer.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 05-06-2020, 04:14 PM
TomB'sox's Avatar
TomB'sox TomB'sox is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: The Lone Star State
Posts: 11,336
Default

Wow, that looks just great doesn't it. I wasn't sure about the aluminum and then when completed it would be hard to imagine it without it!!!
__________________
PS. I love guitars!
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 05-07-2020, 12:57 PM
Flat5 Flat5 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 54
Default

I’m dying to hear what you’ll squeeze out of that...
Also curious about what ziricote will add to the tone.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Custom Shop

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:07 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=