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  #1  
Old 02-05-2016, 06:56 PM
jkostal jkostal is offline
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Default Kostal Guitars Project and build Thread

Hello everyone,

This is my first personal build thread on the AGF, and while I am a little worried about the amount of time I will spend on the computer in the weeks ahead, I really wanted to document a project that will be starting soon and share it with all of you to the best of my ability.

One of the things that we, as builders, often get asked is "what is the difference between your different models?" As a builder, I can talk about the science and the thought process behind why I build the way that I do, or the theory behind how a certain guitar sounds or responds given its body shape, dimensions, materials, etc. While most of us have a pretty good idea as to the differences between the various models that we make, we rarely are able to A/B test them against one another with any real accuracy in the comparison. I have listened to a Maple Jumbo of mine paired against a Mahogany OM, etc, but the differences are usually profound enough that it really isn't a good comparison. As small shop builders, we often rarely have one of each of our models on hand as well as we tend to ship them out the door as soon as they are complete.

For a long time I have thought about creating one of each of my models utilizing the same materials for each and evaluating them against one another for my own education as well as being able to better inform my clients. This is not a small undertaking, and I pretty much filed it away as a fantasy that would never really come to fruition.

A few years ago, a gentleman contacted me and asked me to build him one of each of my models (I currently make a OO, OM, MD and Jumbo), using the best materials I could source. Other than that, the sky was the limit, and I have complete authority to do what I wanted, however I wanted. This opportunity ignited my dream of being able to create one of each of my guitars, built as closely as possible to one another, and document the process and the results. After speaking with the client, he agreed to the project, and it was put on the books for 2016.

It has taken me some time to source the materials, work through some of my build queue, and prepare for this project, but I am happy to say that, as the year is officially underway, so too is this exciting project.

In the weeks ahead I will be posting pictures, and sharing my thoughts with all of you as the builds progress, but here is the basic premise:

- I will be building one of each of my models: OO, OMC, MDC and JC simultaneously.

- All four guitars will be made with the same materials, from the same billets when possible to maintain some level of neutrality. The guitars will be made with Brazilian Rosewood back and sides with all 4 backs and all 4 sides coming from the same billet.

- All four guitars will be made from flitch cut European Spruce tops.

- The Necks will all be one piece Honduran Mahogany, and all four necks, as well as the neck blocks and tail blocks will all be from the same board.

- All four fingerboards are from the same billet.

- Rosettes will be as identical as possible and of the same material, as will headcap veneers, binding, etc. Top braces will be sitka spruce from the same billet, and back braces will be Honduran mahogany from the same billet.

- Truss rods, graphite rods, tuning machines, etc are all sourced from other suppliers, but will be of the same type and manufacture.

There will be differences in weights, dimensions of materials, etc, as I have no intention of changing the way that I build to achieve a certain outcome. I will build these guitars the same way that I build each of my models, focusing on tone first, and aesthetics second. One thing to keep in mind is that these are a commissioned build project for a client of mine, so I will also be working with him and making changes should he decide that he wants to. In the end, they are his guitars, so there may be some deviation, but I don't think it will impact the project at all.

At the end of this build, my intention is to have a musician play all four guitars in a controlled environment: same songs, same recording setup, etc in order to identify the nuances between the guitars. I will record this session with HD video and studio quality sound and share it with everyone.

So, that is the project as it stands right now. Backs and sides are prepped and ready to begin the adventure once I get a few things off of my bench. In the interim, if any of you have any ideas or things that you would like to know or ask, feel free to send your comments my way and I will address them when I can to the best of my ability. I hope that this project has some merit for everyone, not only in seeing what my guitars are capable of, but hopefully seeing what subtle, but recognizable, nuances exist between the different models. I would love for this to be somewhat interactive and have the community join in where possible or relevant.

I am excited to begin this one, and look forward to sharing it with all of you!

Respectfully,

Jason Kostal
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  #2  
Old 02-05-2016, 07:00 PM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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Good idea...

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  #3  
Old 02-05-2016, 07:18 PM
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justonwo justonwo is online now
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I assume your customer will be paying with cash filling 4 briefcases of different styles but identical materials?

Post photos!
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Old 02-05-2016, 07:24 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Jason, do you tend to use the same scale length on all of your models? Since they are all for one customer, it would probably be feasible to use one scale length, one nut width, the same saddle spacing etc. on all of them, and so reduce some more variables.

What an exciting project - and what deep pockets your customer must have!
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Old 02-05-2016, 07:43 PM
jkostal jkostal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
Jason, do you tend to use the same scale length on all of your models? Since they are all for one customer, it would probably be feasible to use one scale length, one nut width, the same saddle spacing etc. on all of them, and so reduce some more variables.

What an exciting project - and what deep pockets your customer must have!
Great question!

The guitars will have their standard specs so that I can evaluate each guitar as I normally build it.

The Jumbo and MD both have a scale length of 25.25", the OM is 25" and the OO is 24.75". The nut width on all four models will be 1.750" and the string spacing on the J, MD and OM will be 2.25" and the OO will be 2.312". The OO will be a 12 fret body joint and a non cutaway and all others will be 14 fret body joint and cutaway as these are the specs most commonly requested for these guitars.

The main reason for not making them all the same scale length is that I would actually have to change my normal bracing in order to accommodate new scale lengths on each guitar which introduces more variables than it eliminates.

The key is that this is a commissioned build for a client and the "mad scientist" part is just an added bonus to it all. This isn't a perfect, controlled experiment, but for my purposes, and most of us as builders, this is as close as it comes without executing it as an experiment first and foremost.
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  #6  
Old 02-05-2016, 08:21 PM
nashmore nashmore is offline
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This should be interesting to see how the internal volume area affects each guitar's tone. See what similarities/differences there are in the stiffness to mass ratios for the tops. Yay science!
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  #7  
Old 02-05-2016, 08:24 PM
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How exciting! I'll be watching this VERY closely... Much appreciate taking the time to document this Jason! Big fan of your work....
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:16 PM
Stephen Strahm Stephen Strahm is offline
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Great project!
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  #9  
Old 02-05-2016, 09:40 PM
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nacluth nacluth is offline
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This is excellent! For more than ten years we've had a set of flitch matched tops for precisely this same thing, but who's got the opportunity to do such a thing? This is a dream scenario for a builder. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Good luck
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:55 PM
sprucedup sprucedup is offline
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This is going to be fantastic. I'll get the popcorn ready.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:09 PM
JamesO JamesO is offline
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Looking forward to watching, Jason!
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:19 AM
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Marcus Wong Marcus Wong is offline
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I've always wanted to be *THAT* customer, but I'm not sure I'll ever have the funds to justify such an experiment. Will be following this thread closely it's great that they'll be started and completed simultaneously.
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:32 AM
Trevor M Trevor M is offline
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Fantastic! I am really looking forward to this.
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  #14  
Old 02-06-2016, 03:03 AM
quentinjazz quentinjazz is offline
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Great news Jason!
It should be the build thread of the year on AGF!
I can't wait to see this!

Q.
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  #15  
Old 02-06-2016, 05:19 AM
jonnymosco jonnymosco is offline
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Hi Jason - could this not be a project with a Physics department at a university?

I think it is a great opportunity and very important to measure the frequencies in a controlled environment... there may even a PhD student researching acoustics desperate make this type of test.

Looking forward to the builds.

Cheers

Jonny
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