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  #16  
Old 05-29-2020, 10:47 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Today, I finally figured one thing about these Emerald "woody" guitars that just doesn't look quite right to me. They look more like beautiful furniture than what I would expect for a guitar!

The reason is simple, Emerald is using wood with beautiful grain, but these pieces wouldn't normally be used for top wood on an acoustic guitar, which generally is rather plain by comparison.

I have never seemed to have gotten along with guitars that have hardwood tops such as mahogany or koa. For back and sides those are perfectly fine, but I prefer spruce or cedar for the top simply because I prefer that sound.

My Taylor K14ce Builder's Edition has koa back and sides, but a spruce something-or-other top.

Please understand that I am not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with these Emerald "woody" guitars (they ARE beautiful to look at), but instead it would take some getting used to, seeing a guitar with such a top wood look.

Even though the typical carbon fiber top is relatively new to the guitar world, it is what I would expect to see on a carbon fiber guitar. Who knows, maybe if Emerald used spruce or cedar for a "woody" top, it still might look strange to me simply because it is a carbon fiber guitar. I don't dislike the Emerald "woody" guitars. If anything, they are quite unique in their beauty, making my poor Sable and Touring look rather plain by comparison.

Tony
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  #17  
Old 05-29-2020, 01:45 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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I totally get what you're saying. One of the major attractions to Emerald guitars for me was the exotic veneers though I still do appreciate the more plain types like spruce and cedar. I also like the direction Rainsong is heading with their own veneers.
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  #18  
Old 05-29-2020, 05:01 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by GuitarLuva View Post
I totally get what you're saying. One of the major attractions to Emerald guitars for me was the exotic veneers though I still do appreciate the more plain types like spruce and cedar. I also like the direction Rainsong is heading with their own veneers.
Rainsong seems to be going for that traditional look so that their guitars, at least in the photos, look indistinguishable from their wood counterparts from Martin, Taylor, and Gibson.

Tony
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  #19  
Old 05-29-2020, 05:39 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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I guess that is what I really like about the Emerald woodies: they are not trying to look like a tradiional wood guitar. No offense intended towards the RainSong veneers, but with their traditional shape and the spruce veneer, it just feels like they are trying too hard to look like a Martin. What they have to set them apart is: no maintenance and still have the RainSong tone.

Whereas the Emerald guitars show forward thinking in their design and execution: not only do they sound great, but they go where wood guitars can't. The louro preto veneer on my X20 doesn't look like anything in the Martin or Taylor line-up. You couldn't make a wood guitar out of this wood because it would collapse in on itself or be too thick to have good tone. From my perspective, it doesn't look like furniture - but, rather the future of the art of guitar making.

Think I'm off base here? In my younger years, I drove some sporty cars, include a couple Porsches. The 911 is a classic; it has evolved over the decades - the chassis, the engine (big fan of that twin-turbo), and, yes, that beautifully curved body. If you took all that great running gear and put the body of a 1976 Ford F150 on it, most people would scream sacrilege!

RainSong makes nice guitars. I had one - it was my first carbon fiber. They could take one of the truly great aspects of designing with carbon fiber: the ability to create compound curves and bevels that better fit the human anatomy, but they chose to stay "traditional" in shape and style. That's a design choice and I am not critiquing their choice. It still has good tone and all the other attributes of carbon fiber. The traditional spruce-looking top fits what they do.

Emerald chose a different path, and is my choice. Those veneers they offer give customers the choice of traditional to exotic... or no veneer at all. They still come with the great tone and ergonomics.

Back to the original topic: the Lava is an Asian upstart trying to compete on price (albeit with a lesser expensive construction method). Not saying that's bad... I remember back when Toyota, Datsun, and Honda made cars that got their foot in our American doors based on price... and the Datsun 510 didn't look anything like Detroit.
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  #20  
Old 05-29-2020, 06:18 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Jim View Post
I guess that is what I really like about the Emerald woodies: they are not trying to look like a tradiional wood guitar. No offense intended towards the RainSong veneers, but with their traditional shape and the spruce veneer, it just feels like they are trying too hard to look like a Martin. What they have to set them apart is: no maintenance and still have the RainSong tone.

Whereas the Emerald guitars show forward thinking in their design and execution: not only do they sound great, but they go where wood guitars can't. The louro preto veneer on my X20 doesn't look like anything in the Martin or Taylor line-up. You couldn't make a wood guitar out of this wood because it would collapse in on itself or be too thick to have good tone. From my perspective, it doesn't look like furniture - but, rather the future of the art of guitar making.

Think I'm off base here? In my younger years, I drove some sporty cars, include a couple Porsches. The 911 is a classic; it has evolved over the decades - the chassis, the engine (big fan of that twin-turbo), and, yes, that beautifully curved body. If you took all that great running gear and put the body of a 1976 Ford F150 on it, most people would scream sacrilege!

RainSong makes nice guitars. I had one - it was my first carbon fiber. They could take one of the truly great aspects of designing with carbon fiber: the ability to create compound curves and bevels that better fit the human anatomy, but they chose to stay "traditional" in shape and style. That's a design choice and I am not critiquing their choice. It still has good tone and all the other attributes of carbon fiber. The traditional spruce-looking top fits what they do.

Emerald chose a different path, and is my choice. Those veneers they offer give customers the choice of traditional to exotic... or no veneer at all. They still come with the great tone and ergonomics.

Back to the original topic: the Lava is an Asian upstart trying to compete on price (albeit with a lesser expensive construction method). Not saying that's bad... I remember back when Toyota, Datsun, and Honda made cars that got their foot in our American doors based on price... and the Datsun 510 didn't look anything like Detroit.
Since you are using SOME of the words I used in my post, perhaps you might read the entire post and see some of what else I said...

I don't dislike the Emerald "woody" guitars. If anything, they are quite unique in their beauty, making my poor Sable and Touring look rather plain by comparison.

There is no need that I can see to have to so staunchly defend Emerald. I made an observation from my perspective, but also at least tried to show that it wasn't at all intended as a negative reflection. So if you felt my post said (or implied) anything like that that, my apologies.

Tony

Last edited by tbeltrans; 05-29-2020 at 07:39 PM.
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  #21  
Old 05-29-2020, 06:28 PM
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Fwiw, AGF owner J.R. Rogers had posted in Oct. 2019 about the Lava Me which he’d obtained in this thread in the General subforum. In it, J.R. talks about the construction.
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  #22  
Old 05-29-2020, 07:30 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Originally Posted by Acousticado View Post
Fwiw, AGF owner J.R. Rogers had posted in Oct. 2019 about the Lava Me which hed obtained in this thread in the General subforum. In it, J.R. talks about the construction.
Guess I was asleep that week and missed that thread. Thanks for sharing it was an interesting read. If the Sable is constructed in a similar way that would explain why the soundboard is thinner than my Emeralds.
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  #23  
Old 05-29-2020, 10:15 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
Since you are using SOME of the words I used in my post, perhaps you might read the entire post and see some of what else I said...

I don't dislike the Emerald "woody" guitars. If anything, they are quite unique in their beauty, making my poor Sable and Touring look rather plain by comparison.

There is no need that I can see to have to so staunchly defend Emerald. I made an observation from my perspective, but also at least tried to show that it wasn't at all intended as a negative reflection. So if you felt my post said (or implied) anything like that that, my apologies.

Tony
Only the "furniture" mention. And absolutely no apology necessary. We all have different tastes and I think it is great that there are manufacturers who create great instruments for all of us. Emerald doesn't need me to "defend" them, but I am an enthusiastic owner. I didn't see anything negative in your earlier post - we all have opinions.

For the record, I think the Sable and Touring are very nice guitars and don't see anything "plain" about them. I like the fact that McPherson has carried the lines from their wood offerings to carbon fiber. Glad to see them get more discussion here.

I hope I didn't come off chest-thumping in my post you quoted - that has never been my intent here. I enjoy the mix of personalities we have, as well as the entertaining exchange.

I was smiling while writing that earlier post, especially in regards to comparing cars and guitars. I thought the only ones who might get miffed at anything I wrote would be the Mid-70s Ford Pickup Owners Group.

It's all good.
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  #24  
Old 05-30-2020, 04:59 AM
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These guitars are not built out of carbon fiber per se because carbon fiber does not melt. They are probably built from a raw compounded plastic pellet that contains carbon graphite powder that will remain in the material matrix when melted for injection molding. Its similar to the same process to make the raw material for grocery bags, diaper liners, garbage bags, etc. A pellet is formulated for the application where a plastic resin (such as polyethylene or polypropylene) is mixed and compounded with materials like calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and titanium dioxide. The CaCO3 primarily is what gives the film that is derived from the pellet its strength and that is the reason that thin film does not break when you use it in a grocery bag application and you can carry your 6 pack in it.

To say these guitars are built with carbon fiber is stretching it because there is no fiber per se in the matrix of the raw material pellet melted for the injection molding. I would say they are built out of carbon graphite reinforced plastic or carbon reinforced plastic.
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  #25  
Old 05-30-2020, 05:15 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain Jim View Post
Only the "furniture" mention. And absolutely no apology necessary. We all have different tastes and I think it is great that there are manufacturers who create great instruments for all of us. Emerald doesn't need me to "defend" them, but I am an enthusiastic owner. I didn't see anything negative in your earlier post - we all have opinions.

For the record, I think the Sable and Touring are very nice guitars and don't see anything "plain" about them. I like the fact that McPherson has carried the lines from their wood offerings to carbon fiber. Glad to see them get more discussion here.

I hope I didn't come off chest-thumping in my post you quoted - that has never been my intent here. I enjoy the mix of personalities we have, as well as the entertaining exchange.

I was smiling while writing that earlier post, especially in regards to comparing cars and guitars. I thought the only ones who might get miffed at anything I wrote would be the Mid-70s Ford Pickup Owners Group.

It's all good.
Well, if it makes Emerald owners feel better, I do find these "woody" guitars tempting. I am not put off by the wood, just that something nagged at me every time I saw a picture and I finally figured out what it was.

Some folks have commented on the offset sound hole of the Sable. I join in and joke about it too, right along with them. Guitars are FUN, a past time.

for something serious, look at what is going on in the city where I live. All I have to say is "Minneapolis" and immediately, right now everybody knows just what I am talking about. THAT is real. This stuff is fun.

Hopefully sooner than later, I will be trying an Emerald and then I can determine for myself whether or not to be "lusting" after one, though I am not in the market for another guitar. If I were to get one, it would definitely be a "woody".

Though, with so many different woods to choose from, I would probably regret not getting one of the other ones after I had one sitting at home. That is just human nature. With the Sable, well you have three choices for a top and I don't care at all for the other two, so that was easy.

Tony
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  #26  
Old 05-30-2020, 07:13 AM
ac ac is offline
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Did some reading on the CF pellet vs CF fabric differences, and this is my best distillation. If I misunderstood my sources somehow, feel free to add correction as needed.

All "CF composite" is CF (in some form) combined with plastics of various types. There are endless variations of plastics that are being tested in various ways with CF, both with CF fabric (long fibers), but also with CF short fibers.

From my reading, I found that using carbon fiber infused pellets, melted, and injection molding, is still considered a true "carbon fiber composite". It's simply another variation. Depending on the plastic choices for composition, it can have a variety of physical properties, just like fabric layups. Some of those properties may even present new advantages for making guitars than we have seen with traditional CF guitars.

What we think on the forum as CF composite, is normally CF fabric combined with with "thermoset" resins. After curing, it's "set". It can't be changed or modified.

The fabric gives super high strength. At the same time, it can be brittle. Of course, much less brittle than wood. (side note: Recycling of CF fabric thermoset composite is possible only with a "lot" of work. I didn't followup to see what that exactly meant.)

The CF pellets used by some of the latest guitar builders, is becoming sort of the new "cutting edge" CF composite tech. We are beginning to see a number of builders adopt this technology. The pellets are not made with "thermoset" plastics but are rather made combining CF with a "thermoplastic" material. There are huge variations of thermoplastics, each suitable for specific needs.

Apparently, it takes very high heat and high pressure to inject this stuff into molds. It's a very thick resin even when melted. It's again very strong thanks to the CF, but much, much more resilient than CF thermoset composites we are used from the major CF builders.

The CF thermoplastic composites take far greater impacts than thermoset composites. They can take impacts again and again that would crack or break a fabric CF composite guitar. It's super durable material. (side note: It's also easier to recycle in that, if crushed or cut to pieces, they can be remelted and reused).

I read that the heat needed for melting, on the low end, was roughly 160C (320F). That's pretty hot. But many other thermoplastics need temps up into the hundreds of degrees C before melting. Super hot.

Reading this removed any concerns I had that this stuff would do poorly and simply melt down in direct sunlight after prolonged periods. The material went through much, much worse heat conditions just to be formed into the guitar initially. Now, of course, put the guitar into a furnace and yes, it's going to cause problems

The CF pellets used by the newer builders are not cheap at all. Hundreds of dollars per kg (like $500+). The reading I came across said the cost of using this material is really high, overall more expensive than traditional cloth layups. That was a big surprise for me.

Part of this high cost is the specialized equipment necessary. It's designed for the super high temperatures and high pressure needed to use the specialized molds properly. These molds will be expensive also. This also drives the costs very high.

If you are making a smaller number of guitars per year with this method, you can expect they are going to cost you.

Now if the builder can find a much larger market (like LavaMe--selling to all of Asia??), once the setup cost is past, the cost should be reduced (not mentioning cheaper labor as well) and then profitable. If you like their designs, it's an opportunity to try out this material for the lowest cost possible.

Builders who produce high quality crafted guitars with this method, will pay back their costs over time and eventually become profitable--as long as the equipment is stable and doesn't need upgrading, etc.

If knowledgeable builders choose the right type of pellets to match their design to best advantage, there can be both practical, everyday strength and sound property enhancements possible using the pellet technology. If what they are producing is a sound people like and will buy, then they've succeeded.

Before reading up on this stuff, I initially thought the pellet route just seemed a quick and easy cheap way to build a more profitable guitar. I've now begun to see that CF pellet use is part of the evolution of using a new composite material to real advantage. I may prefer traditional fabric CF builds, but this type of CF composite now has my attention. Interesting stuff.

Last edited by ac; 05-30-2020 at 07:23 AM.
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  #27  
Old 05-30-2020, 08:04 AM
Fixedgear60 Fixedgear60 is offline
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AC... many thanks for your post. It is very interesting that this can be an “and” also in design of guitars. Having been a product manager for most of my career I can not help to view the design decisions through a lense of trying to hit a price point and how you wish to allocate materials and labor costs. Take for example McPherson verses Emerald. I appears that McPherson uses both pellet CF (pre-molded)for back/sides and neck, while reserving CF fabric for the sound board and cosmetic touches with a very defined product offering. The bulk of the labor is assembly and finishing. Based on Emeralds latest videos...Emerald uses the majority of CF fabrics to meet their requirements and much more flexible approach. Each approach has pros/cons based on the companies approach to the market. Gotta just love the creativity of all these CF guitar companies!

I own a touring and amicus. I marvel at both guitars design, construction and sound! Each of them tells a different story about their companies.
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  #28  
Old 05-30-2020, 08:18 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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That was an interesting post, ac. Thanks for doing that leg work.

By the way, I either read or heard in an interview with McPherson, that they use temperatures around 400 degrees for their back and sides, and that the honeycomb top material comes from Germany.

Tony
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  #29  
Old 05-30-2020, 08:37 AM
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AC;

Thank you for the interesting material dealing with CF. You have (as you often do) taken me into unknown and interesting terrain.
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  #30  
Old 05-30-2020, 08:51 AM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Regarding offset soundholes and perception: if you say "guitar" most people will get an image in their mind. For some it will be a Les Paul or a Strat, but many will visualize a generic acoustic with the soundhole in the middle. Some manufacturers have embraced the offset soundhole - not only for the better experience it provides the player, but also for the fact that you are not taking a bite out of the middle of the top, where the majority of the sound in our acoustic guitars originates.

We've had a couple centuries of conditioning that the soundhole in the middle is the way it should be. Some forward-thinking manufacturers are providing options with offset soundholes and sound-ports (or in Emerald's case: a soundhole that opens up as well as out). The soundhole on the Lava Me guitars seems less than optimal to me: taking length out of the top, but not big enough to reach inside to access a pickup/battery. But, I remember the multiple small soundholes in the upper bout of some Ovations, and they got the job done. Each manufacturer picks their take on it, and the public votes with their dollars.

For Tony: I wasn't immediately enamored with offset soundholes when I first saw them. Back when Michael had McNichols guitar shop in the Salt Lake City area, he did a set up for me on the RainSong I had at the time. I wasn't interested in another guitar, but he suggested I play those on display while I waited. That was the first time I saw an Emerald guitar... I remember thinking those and the Blackbird Rider seemed different, just for the sake of being different. The X5 I played seemed unusually small; I couldn't get the Rider to sit on my lap. The CA Cargo had a nice tone for a small guitar, but the scale seemed cramped. I left there with my RS Shorty playing much better and happy to have what, to me, was a "normal looking guitar."

I chuckle now when I think back to that experience. It may have planted a seed that reached the sunlight when I ordered that first Emerald (a previous generation X7). What an eye-opening experience.

I have never cared much what anyone else thought of any guitar I've owned. I keep a guitar based on what it does for me. I played an ES-335 when the rest of the rock world played Les Pauls. I played an Ovation when other acoustic fans thought Martin was the only way to go. Someone doesn't understand the value of an offset soundhole... it isn't my place to inform them, unless they ask. Is my guitar "better" than yours or vice versa? I can't say what's better for anyone other than what works for me.

I have had the opportunity to play most of the CF guitars out there, but haven't seen a Lava Me in person. The style and construction doesn't do much for me, but the market will decide if they're onto something.
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