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  #16  
Old 03-01-2019, 09:53 AM
GeoffStGermaine GeoffStGermaine is offline
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Wow! One of Tyler's guitars would be outstanding but three is another level. Looking forward to seeing these come together. The choice of woods is great and Tyler's appointments will bring it all together into three works of art.
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  #17  
Old 03-01-2019, 12:46 PM
guitaradam guitaradam is offline
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Alright, jumping back in here now.

Thanks Tyler for adding those photos and sharing your perspective with this project.

Why Braz? From my perspective, we were looking for three outstanding sets of wood. And the first choice was brazilian. For two reasons. One, Tyler had never built a "Robbins" build with it, despite his extensive use of it at the school. And I simply wanted to know what this budding, gifted youngster could do with it. And secondly, it's widely held as the gold standard.

Why Madagascar? Well, to me MRW is considered by many to be a great non-Braz alternative, but providing acoustics and tone that are similar. So could Tyler make a non-braz alternative sound as good as braz? We picked a nice quartsawn set, hoping we could give it the best chance to compete with the Braz.

Why Macassar Ebony? To me Mac Ebony represents one of the more visually stunning sets of wood out there. It's hard to argue that it is simply beautiful. And so the question was, using a matched top, could we get this set to tonally be similar to the finest brazilian out there. Can Tyler make any "pretty" wood sound as amazing as the finest tonewoods?

And its not that the goal was to make every guitar sound the same, but to control, as best as possible, the variables involved so as to truly get a flavor for how these back and sides sets color the tone.

So Tyler, talk to us about what goes through your mind as you approach box contruction. You've got in front of you 3 different wood types. How to assess the wood evaluation as you plan the build? Do you simply say, "Well I'll build them all the same and then hope, once strung up, they sound good!" Or do you vary your thickness, bracing, etc to try to achieve some measurable goal?

Same for the tops - How can you try to be sure that the tops are "matched" and can be a controlled variable? Also, I've played guitars I love with so many spruce varieties, and I've noted that you've built a lot with Engelmann tops. Is there some aspects we might be able to expect from Italian?

After you address these points and questions, lets jump into the esthetic discussion shall we?
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  #18  
Old 03-01-2019, 01:26 PM
jmagill jmagill is offline
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I'm a fan of Tyler's and this sounds like an exciting project, but I'm a little unclear on what you're trying to achieve, other than getting three great guitars. What is the goal here? Are you testing Tyler's skill, or the differences in the tonewoods?

Is the point to see if Tyler can replicate an identical tone with 3 different B&S tonewoods? If so, the results will say something about his abilities as a luthier to hit his target sound no matter what woods he uses. Or, is the point to produce 3 different flavors of his signature tone? If so, the goal is then to isolate the different tonal qualities of the woods.

Either would be an interesting project, but it would be helpful as I follow along to know what target you're aiming at...
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  #19  
Old 03-01-2019, 08:07 PM
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Acousticado Acousticado is offline
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With the Italian spruce tops being essentially the same and assuming the goal is to determine the tonal differences between the three chosen back and side woods, then I would imagine tops and b&s should be the same thickness, and the bracing would have to be identical, no?
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  #20  
Old 03-01-2019, 08:32 PM
RobbinsT RobbinsT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmagill View Post
I'm a fan of Tyler's and this sounds like an exciting project, but I'm a little unclear on what you're trying to achieve, other than getting three great guitars. What is the goal here? Are you testing Tyler's skill, or the differences in the tonewoods?

Is the point to see if Tyler can replicate an identical tone with 3 different B&S tonewoods? If so, the results will say something about his abilities as a luthier to hit his target sound no matter what woods he uses. Or, is the point to produce 3 different flavors of his signature tone? If so, the goal is then to isolate the different tonal qualities of the woods.

Either would be an interesting project, but it would be helpful as I follow along to know what target you're aiming at...
Hey Jim, nice to see you checking in. I hope your doing well and I am very much looking forward to Swannanoa this year!

As for the project I think it is a matter of curiosity rather then reaching a specific goal. If the guitars are so identical that you cannot tell the difference then it will instill more confidence in the statement that a great guitar can be built out of most any species if you know how to manipulate it properly. If they all have there own specific voice, I will have controlled the other variables enough to equate any audible difference in tone to the back and side species with more certainty. If they are different this will add to my ability to properly describe how a species might affect tone based on my own research to more effectively guide clients through material selection and build process in general.


Quote:
Originally Posted by guitaradam View Post
Alright, jumping back in here now.

Thanks Tyler for adding those photos and sharing your perspective with this project.

Why Braz? From my perspective, we were looking for three outstanding sets of wood. And the first choice was brazilian. For two reasons. One, Tyler had never built a "Robbins" build with it, despite his extensive use of it at the school. And I simply wanted to know what this budding, gifted youngster could do with it. And secondly, it's widely held as the gold standard.

Why Madagascar? Well, to me MRW is considered by many to be a great non-Braz alternative, but providing acoustics and tone that are similar. So could Tyler make a non-braz alternative sound as good as braz? We picked a nice quartsawn set, hoping we could give it the best chance to compete with the Braz.

Why Macassar Ebony? To me Mac Ebony represents one of the more visually stunning sets of wood out there. It's hard to argue that it is simply beautiful. And so the question was, using a matched top, could we get this set to tonally be similar to the finest brazilian out there. Can Tyler make any "pretty" wood sound as amazing as the finest tonewoods?

And its not that the goal was to make every guitar sound the same, but to control, as best as possible, the variables involved so as to truly get a flavor for how these back and sides sets color the tone.

So Tyler, talk to us about what goes through your mind as you approach box contruction. You've got in front of you 3 different wood types. How to assess the wood evaluation as you plan the build? Do you simply say, "Well I'll build them all the same and then hope, once strung up, they sound good!" Or do you vary your thickness, bracing, etc to try to achieve some measurable goal?

Same for the tops - How can you try to be sure that the tops are "matched" and can be a controlled variable? Also, I've played guitars I love with so many spruce varieties, and I've noted that you've built a lot with Engelmann tops. Is there some aspects we might be able to expect from Italian?

After you address these points and questions, lets jump into the esthetic discussion shall we?
Okay so when I approach box construction the first thing is to take the plates to a known state. Again, removing variables. If I have a plate of mahogany and one of cocobolo at the same thickness not only will the cocobolo be heavier but odds are its going to be stiffer as well. If you have a set thickness, lets say .110", for your plates like a big guitar company would, you are immediately introducing error into the build when it comes to consistency. Each piece of wood is different. Even if it is the same species, taking both plates blindly to a dimension will result in a different stiffness from the start.

I have a method taught to me by Bryan and Sam that allows me to take factors into account such as size, weight, stiffness, frequencies to calculate how thin a plate needs to be to flex a predetermined amount. I need to be able to control the plates with bracing so predicting thickness lets me know that I can safely brace a plate. Safety in this instance means I have room to voice it with out starting out to low where I can not carve the braces or too high which would result in braces being carved down too much to hit a target frequency.

As for tops. I have had my hands on 1200-1500 tops and tested each individually. My thoughts are that each species has potential to have a "10 top" but I think that some species are more susceptible to having the characteristics necessary to be rated as such. If you recall my previous post I said I tested 55 tops of both German and Italian spruce. The kicker for the German was that it was too heavy. The plates would have to be significantly stiffer to compensate for the extra weight they were carrying. On the flip side the Italian was more consistently lighter while retaining stiffness which resulted in the high rating. Does this mean all German is too heavy? No. I've personally dealt with Bryans stash of German "10 tops", but maybe they were harder to find.

I have heard Bryans Guitars with the best of the best German, Sams guitars with the best of the best Sitka and Englemann, and obviously my own experience with Englemann. If the tops are rated closely enough I don't believe I hear any notable difference regardless of species. You can however hear the difference between a '"10 top" and one graded at a 9.

Why have I only really used Englemann? Well to be completely honest, its because I could afford it. I could buy 1 German top or two Englemann for the same price. Since I am grading to find usable tops, using Englemann allowed me to double my chances of finding the good stuff. Well why not sitka? Its cheaper and you said all species can have "10 tops". This is true, I could have stuck with Sitka but the majority of the 1200-1500 tops I had graded were sitka and I just wanted to try something different for a change. Also it seemed to me that Englemann was more accepted in the high end guitar community.

whew.. that was a mouth full.

Hey Adam, lets cue up some more pics. What do you think we should show them next?

-Tyler
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  #21  
Old 03-02-2019, 12:40 AM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Lots of VERY interesting arcane knowledge being shared here!

Thanks!!!

Have fun gentlemen

Paul
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  #22  
Old 03-02-2019, 08:32 AM
jmagill jmagill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobbinsT View Post
Hey Jim, nice to see you checking in. I hope your doing well and I am very much looking forward to Swannanoa this year!
Me too, buddy.
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  #23  
Old 03-02-2019, 10:04 AM
guitaradam guitaradam is offline
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Tyler that was more than a mouthfull! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and thoughts. I'm still digesting all that.

As I worked with Tyler, I was always so impressed by his eagerness to discuss all points of this build project. Always responsive, always cordial, always knowledgeable.

Alright, moving on...

So Tyler picked Italian. Now if you ask Ervin Somogyi about top spruces, he might say something like, "We here in the states seem to be overly fascinated with Euro spruce - German, Italian, Swiss Moon... But the funny thing is that over there, they prize Sitka! What gives?" Now I'm putting words in Ervin's mouth a litte and Ervin, if you're reading this, feel free to put me in my place or correct me!! And my favorite guitar EVER, also one of Ervins, had none other than a sitka top. But I suppose that's partly the point of this project, at least for me --- to trust the builder, the ears and senses and preferences of the luthier to accomplish the end goal. If Ervin wants to use Sitka, and he can make it sing, so be it! If Jason Kostal can impress Michael Watts with German, then I'm gonna trust Jason. So Tyler's original goal was to grab some German tops, but in the end, we found some sensational Italian and we went with it. I trust Tylers ears, and this project will hopefully be enlightening on the science side of top selection.

Alright, so Tyler you asked about more pics, lets do it. I'm thinking we jump into the esthetics and ornamentation of the different builds.

For me, I thought it would be fun to take the three builds into design territories that were different, each one inspired by the woods themselves.

The BRAZ? We were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wrights classic lines and planes. the rosette and fretboard would draw inspiration there. The braz back and sides were deep, dark and appears to have maple drippings down the back. In discussing with Tyler, we felt to leave the back simple, letting mother natures creation do the talking. The design took on a strong feel.

The Macassar Ebony? What on earth could we accomplish with that dazzling back and side set? Tyler shared with me a simplistic design that had an elegance to it that spoke to us both. We added a splash of color and off we went.

The MRW? This one, I think for both of us, took some time to simmer... To me this guitar had a lovely, soft, feminine vibe to it... I knew I wanted to do something along this vein, but honestly wasn't sure where to go with it. Tyler solved that for me, along with the help of his girlfriend... I'll let him explain.

and post pics...

I'll end by sharing an honest feeling, when I first saw Tyler's original rosettes, I wasn't sure I liked them. They were so original and different that I found myself with a furrowed brow, trying to figure out what he was doing... Since immersing myself into Tyler's world of design and esthetic tastes, I have been floored by his work and abundance of ideas. I also learned to see the congruency between his different thoughts, what has inspired him to arrive at the point he is at and the common threads that make a Robbins guitar so special in his own way. Its been delightful to get to know him through his art.
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  #24  
Old 03-02-2019, 10:05 AM
guitaradam guitaradam is offline
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And in case you're wondering, I'm having Tyler post pics, because frankly, he's better at it than I am. haha
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  #25  
Old 03-02-2019, 08:58 PM
RobbinsT RobbinsT is offline
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I have a quick question to anyone on the forum. Has anyone had any luck with any site other than photobucket for image hosting? I don't get on forums too much anymore so I always forget how terrible photobucket is but I am still experiencing the same problems I was about 5 years ago with freezing, missing images, inability to access albums in certain formats like my phone. I cant believe that in 2019, a website that charges a fee still cant handle uploading a handful of photos. Any suggestions would be appreciated guys!

Okay now with the venting out of the way lets get into design.

Ill start with the rosettes for all three because those were the first elements we worked on.

With the Brazilian we decided to keep it classy. Still deviating from the norm of a simple ring rosette but maybe not taking as far as some of the others I have done. For material, we decided on a warm caramel burl that was brought back from Italy. I am not sure exactly what species it is but if I had to guess, I would lean toward Amboyna Burl. I went with Ebony to boarder the pieces to tie to the contrast in the back and sides.






Simple is the name of the game in the Ebony theme. We threw in some pretty bold splashes of color because I think that is fun but overall the designs are minimalist to allow the Macassar to shine!



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  #26  
Old 03-02-2019, 09:01 PM
RobbinsT RobbinsT is offline
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The post got too big so here is part 2:

The Madagascar rosewood is beautiful, no doubt about that, but it felt more like a good uniform canvas to explore inlay possibilities with rather then to let it stand alone. There was a lot of back and forth over this one. We knew that we wanted to push the boundaries both visually and in difficulty to see what was possible. After a few ideas that did not quite pan out I decided to show Adam a rosette that I was working on at the time for a client. It was a floral theme that was based on a special painting she owned and this is what I came up with:


After seeing this Adam suggested we push this theme further. After some talk we realized that Lillie's had significant meanings to both of us. They are both my Mom and my girlfriend flower of choice and I believe they were a favorite of Adam's wife as well. So with that I was off to create a Lilly themed guitar while trying to keep it as uni-sex as possible. I also decided to add a pearlescent purple resin to the palette because once again, color is fun to me



Other materials in this palette include ebony, green stabilized maple burl, cocobolo, as well as white and grey pearlescent resin.








-Tyler
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  #27  
Old 03-03-2019, 05:11 AM
jmagill jmagill is offline
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For all three rosettes, in both design and execution, simply brilliant work, Tyler.
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  #28  
Old 03-03-2019, 06:44 AM
doodahdoug doodahdoug is offline
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Originally Posted by jmagill View Post
For all three rosettes, in both design and execution, simply brilliant work, Tyler.
What Jim said above. Just beautiful artistry in a variety of forms and materials Tyler. I'm curious to learn are these R.1 or R.2 builds? More please.
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  #29  
Old 03-03-2019, 06:49 AM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Wow, absolutely beautiful!
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  #30  
Old 03-03-2019, 07:30 AM
RobbinsT RobbinsT is offline
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What Jim said above. Just beautiful artistry in a variety of forms and materials Tyler. I'm curious to learn are these R.1 or R.2 builds? More please.
Thanks Doug! All three are R.1ís with cutaways and arm bevels

-Tyler
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