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Old 02-21-2021, 12:06 PM
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Default Spohn Guitars 2021

Hello fellow AGFers!

It's been quite a while since my last post. To give you a more regular insight of what is going on in the Spohn Guitars workshop I am opening up this thread.

The year has already been incredibly busy for me and it couldn't have started better then with stringing up a very special project...

After the pandemic has hit us last year I found myself practicing guitar more and more and started to add some new songs to my repertoire. I began with a couple of songs by Vin Downes, followed by some of Will McNicol's tunes. While practicing Will's tune "Lighthouse" I noticed that the neck geometry of my guitar was not perfect for my hand and playing style. It seemed impossible to play a particular part of it without squeaking and buzzing as there was not enough space for my fingers. Most guitars I have made had a nut width of 1.75" and while I still think it works for many people, it just doesn't for me.

With a couple of lucky incidents happening I was able to start a new guitar for myself in the middle of 2020 and strung it up very early in January this year.

My personal preference have always been small body, short scale guitars with a light weight wood for the back. The last guitar I made for myself is a 00 shaped guitar with Koa back and sides and a bearclaw Sitka top. And since I love this guitar the material choice was fairly easy for this one.
I ended up choosing a lovely quarter sawn set of Tasmanian Blackwood for the back and sides and a bearclaw Swiss Moon Spruce top. The biggest difference to my previous guitar is the neck joint on the 12th fret I chose out of curiosity.
Other than that I have tried a couple more new things including Tasmanian Blackwood for the neck as well as gaining some experience working with stone for the inlays.

So here it is and I couldn't be happier about the result! It is the perfect guitar for my playing style and the super wide 48mm/ 1.9" nut is the perfect match for my hand.

























I hope you have enjoyed this first post and will follow along the thread over this year.
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Old 02-21-2021, 03:44 PM
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Congrats Max!!! Fantastic looking guitar!

That is a gorgeous Swiss spruce top, and the figured neck wood looks beautiful too.
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:09 AM
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Thanks for sharing, Max! Absolutely stunning bearclaw on that Spruce and, as always, your lines and design aesthetic are remarkably elegant. I feel the same way about 1.75" nut widths: something a bit wider allows me to play cleaner and with more comfort
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Old 02-22-2021, 05:26 AM
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Certainly is purdy! Glad to hear you are sharpening your playing skills. Congrats.
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Old 02-22-2021, 05:28 AM
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Beautiful work, Max!
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:02 AM
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I love the look of the neck matching the back and sides so well! Of course it doesn't hurt that the wood is so beautiful - the whole guitar is very beautiful.

A question: now that you've found the optimum string spacing for your hands, wouldn't it be fairly simple to retrofit a new neck onto your old guitar?
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:21 AM
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Beautiful guitar, Max--very cool that you could take the time to build yourself a custom guitar to fit your needs and desires.

Really enjoy your work and appreciate you sharing it here!
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cocobolo Kid View Post
Congrats Max!!! Fantastic looking guitar!

That is a gorgeous Swiss spruce top, and the figured neck wood looks beautiful too.
Thank you! I feel very fortunate to live so close to the Swiss alps that I can select all of my tops in person and I am a huge fan of bearclaw figure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erithon View Post
Thanks for sharing, Max! Absolutely stunning bearclaw on that Spruce and, as always, your lines and design aesthetic are remarkably elegant. I feel the same way about 1.75" nut widths: something a bit wider allows me to play cleaner and with more comfort
Thank you, I really appreciate your kind words!
It is great to hear some feedback about wider necks. Which widths do you prefer?

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Originally Posted by cigarfan View Post
Certainly is purdy! Glad to hear you are sharpening your playing skills. Congrats.
Thank you! It is a lot of fun and helps me sharpening my skills as a builder too.

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Originally Posted by Deft Tungsman View Post
Beautiful work, Max!
Thank you Marc!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
I love the look of the neck matching the back and sides so well! Of course it doesn't hurt that the wood is so beautiful - the whole guitar is very beautiful.

A question: now that you've found the optimum string spacing for your hands, wouldn't it be fairly simple to retrofit a new neck onto your old guitar?
Thank you! I am really happy with the look of the neck too and will definitely use it again.
You are right that I could change the neck on my previous guitar. But it is also very helpful to have a guitar in my shop to test for my clients and since most prefer a narrower nut width it is good to have one with a standard width around.

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Originally Posted by Nemoman View Post
Beautiful guitar, Max--very cool that you could take the time to build yourself a custom guitar to fit your needs and desires.

Really enjoy your work and appreciate you sharing it here!
Thank you Kevin! It indeed was a great experience.

Thanks to everyone for following along.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Max Spohn View Post
Thank you, I really appreciate your kind words!
It is great to hear some feedback about wider necks. Which widths do you prefer?
My favorite is 1-13/16" (1.81") because it allows for a string spacing of 1-9/16" with plenty of room outside the outer strings. Anything narrower and I experience exactly what you described: not the cleanest playing experience.

I also prefer a moderately chunky neck profile (21-23mm thickness behind the first fret--including the fingerboard) because if the neck is too narrow my hand will cramp after playing for a while. Some of these acoustics that are now built with hyper skinny, "fast", electric guitar style neck's just don't work for me. I can't maintain a good arch form in my left hand.

And at the saddle I like 2-5/16" or 2-3/8" spacing. All of this stems from a fingerstyle approach, of course. If I were flatpicking, I'd want a narrower saddle spacing (though probably still the same nut width and profile).

I know 1.75" and 2.25" have become the spec guitar standard, especially at Dream Guitars and TNAG, but I don't see why. For me at least, that's a comprise that is neither ideal for fingerstyle or plectrum techniques. Maybe most players just have smaller hands than me? But then, all of the older Martins were built with wider necks; historically speaking, it seems like the whole 1-11/16" was a temporary trend and the recent Martin switchback to 1-3/4" as standard (something already present in bespoke builds) is a move back toward the wider necks of the early and mid 20th century.
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Old 02-23-2021, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
I love the look of the neck matching the back and sides so well! Of course it doesn't hurt that the wood is so beautiful - the whole guitar is very beautiful.

A question: now that you've found the optimum string spacing for your hands, wouldn't it be fairly simple to retrofit a new neck onto your old guitar?
But Stan, if he did that then there would be one less beautiful guitar in this world and that can't be a good thing!

Beautiful work Max, I love what you do with the rosettes.
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Last edited by TomB'sox; 02-25-2021 at 08:09 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-24-2021, 08:31 PM
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Very beautiful - elegant, fluid lines, and sweet figuring on the back.

...and, of course, probably sounds killer in your hands.
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Old 02-26-2021, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erithon View Post
My favorite is 1-13/16" (1.81") because it allows for a string spacing of 1-9/16" with plenty of room outside the outer strings. Anything narrower and I experience exactly what you described: not the cleanest playing experience.

I also prefer a moderately chunky neck profile (21-23mm thickness behind the first fret--including the fingerboard) because if the neck is too narrow my hand will cramp after playing for a while. Some of these acoustics that are now built with hyper skinny, "fast", electric guitar style neck's just don't work for me. I can't maintain a good arch form in my left hand.

And at the saddle I like 2-5/16" or 2-3/8" spacing. All of this stems from a fingerstyle approach, of course. If I were flatpicking, I'd want a narrower saddle spacing (though probably still the same nut width and profile).

I know 1.75" and 2.25" have become the spec guitar standard, especially at Dream Guitars and TNAG, but I don't see why. For me at least, that's a comprise that is neither ideal for fingerstyle or plectrum techniques. Maybe most players just have smaller hands than me? But then, all of the older Martins were built with wider necks; historically speaking, it seems like the whole 1-11/16" was a temporary trend and the recent Martin switchback to 1-3/4" as standard (something already present in bespoke builds) is a move back toward the wider necks of the early and mid 20th century.
I don't understand it too. Neither is my hand very large nor my fingers super big so it would really interest me how other people can play clean with narrow necks. What's funny though is that when I play with my blues band I play a mid 60's Gibson ES125 with a super narrow neck and don't have those issues.
Also I can totally get that a 48mm nut feels uncomfortable when you want to play with the thumb over on the bass strings.

As to the thickness I found that 21mm at the first fret and 23mm at the 12th work best for most people. No matter how wide the neck is.

It would be really interesting to hear other people's thoughts about that, so please feel free to chime in.
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Old 02-26-2021, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
But Stan, if he did that then there would be one less beautiful guitar in this world and that can't be a good thing!

Beautiful work Max, I love what you do with the rosettes.
Thanks a lot Tom!

And yes, you are totally right it would be a shame to not have built this instrument. I am now really hooked by 12-fret guitars and am fortunate to already build another one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcn View Post
Very beautiful - elegant, fluid lines, and sweet figuring on the back.

...and, of course, probably sounds killer in your hands.
Thank you for your kind words!
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:19 AM
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Beautiful work Max, I really hope to be able to try out one of your builds next time I get to visit EU. Karlijn would love to as well, I'm sure.

I was pleased to see conversation revolving around the "standard" nut width...as you might know I typically demo batches of guitars for Cedar Rock Studio Guitar Gallery once every couple months so there is this funny ritual I have to do before each trip which is practice on my roommate's 1.75" nut and 2.25" bridge guitars so my hands get used to it again and I'm not making a fool of myself recording 10-20 guitars that mostly have those specs, if not thinner. My personal favorite so far has been 1.78" nut with 2.31" spacing, (1.81" nut is great too, if the neck profile isn't too shallow).

I have had some luthier's scratch their heads when I make these requests, but it's such a perceptible difference and really just feels more relaxed and clean when recording or composing. I honestly really dislike playing 1.75" and 2.25" guitars now, and would never buy one even if it sounded like the best guitar I've ever heard and everything else was perfect. To my way of thinking, the hand's needs should always have priority over what the ears and eyes desire.
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Old 03-08-2021, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustinfurlow View Post
Beautiful work Max, I really hope to be able to try out one of your builds next time I get to visit EU. Karlijn would love to as well, I'm sure.

I was pleased to see conversation revolving around the "standard" nut width...as you might know I typically demo batches of guitars for Cedar Rock Studio Guitar Gallery once every couple months so there is this funny ritual I have to do before each trip which is practice on my roommate's 1.75" nut and 2.25" bridge guitars so my hands get used to it again and I'm not making a fool of myself recording 10-20 guitars that mostly have those specs, if not thinner. My personal favorite so far has been 1.78" nut with 2.31" spacing, (1.81" nut is great too, if the neck profile isn't too shallow).

I have had some luthier's scratch their heads when I make these requests, but it's such a perceptible difference and really just feels more relaxed and clean when recording or composing. I honestly really dislike playing 1.75" and 2.25" guitars now, and would never buy one even if it sounded like the best guitar I've ever heard and everything else was perfect. To my way of thinking, the hand's needs should always have priority over what the ears and eyes desire.
Thanks for following along! I am really looking forward sending you a guitar next time you are in the EU.

Interesting to hear your experiences with neck widths. I have made quite a few guitars with 1.78" nuts as it is really common over here but I have to admit that I don't feel much of a difference. But it's great to hear that it works so well for you.
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