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Thread: LEFTY Smeck stage deluxe build

  1. #11

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    Sam, you carve the top braces after the top is joined to the sides?

  2. #12
    Join Date
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    Bend, Oregon
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    Just got denied by reply with quote!!!!

    Anyhoo, gonzo I like your words. I am not married etc and thus my son and I have the epic bachelor pad. His toys are everywhere as are mine. The dirty work happens in the shop/garage.

    George I carve the braces to spec before sides are joined and tune em up after sides are on if it seems it's missing something - an advantage of this build approach. And thx for clarifying though I knew where you were coming from. I did know you were referring to top grain and not the burst. Even though Stacey and i like the burst quite a bit, when I go out on creative limbs I get a little worried it's too far out there....not that that stops me! I'm left handed if that helps explain things.
    Last edited by Sam Van; 11-13-2017 at 12:18 AM.

  3. #13

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    So those braces are carved? I also thought that typically the sides are joined to the back, then the top to that rim. Is it different with Gibson style builds, or just a personal preference? (I’m learning here )

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    What a cool project ! Lots of skill and patients to get there

  5. #15
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    All good questions! Arguably the best Gibsons to many people's ears are the before the war tapered bracing ones. Fairbanks almost never scallops bracing and I was glad to see the Mike segui stage deluxe from judge wolfe is also tapered. Gibson typically has thinner tops and backs than the old martins so that's another contributor to their tone.

    I do deviate from Gibson and everyone else except a few individual luthiers by attaching sides to top. This way, I don't have to build in forms, the build goes together under much less tension and forced glue joints, which is definitely better long term for the guitar, and has been argued to lead to better tone immediately after building. I built in forms at first but once I figured out how sexauer was doing it, I was sold. There's so many advantages to this order of build.

    I also don't use traditional kerfing on the top to sides join. I use small spruce wedges called peone. This is how the highly sought after Spanish guitars of the 1800s were built. It allows for different spacing depending on top stiffness etc. It takes more time to do this but the payoff is worth it. This is also a sexauer thing.

    Also, I generally build the upper bout bracing a littler burlier because almost nobody thinks these braces contribute to tone but they do help reduce the need for a neck reset. A light guitar is still the goal but where mass is taken away is the key so I think.
    Sam
    Last edited by Sam Van; 11-13-2017 at 11:22 AM.

  6. #16

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    Interesting info. Thanks, Sam!

    No one thinks upper bout bracing contributes to tone? You must be talking Gibson-style, right?

    I know very little about Gibson bracing/construction. That’s why I have so many questions.

  7. #17
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    I said ALMOST nobody . And I love the discussion!

    Preston and others in his shop do not believe this area contributes much to tone but build to the old specs to make sticklers happy. As you know, there is much about mystique in the realm of Luthiery that is purely to add interest for sales.

    The majority of individual luthiers believe that the upper bout is all about structure. And in fact one could argue, and it is discussed, that there is better sustain to be had by a robust neck to body connection, of which the upper bout structure has a lot to do with. Look at the majority of the top luthier builds and you will see that most beef this area up more than the old school martin or Gibson. A few have said taking out the tongue brace makes a difference but seriously, can you hear small tonal differences in one guitar built exactly the same as another, by the same guy, at the same time? Yes indeed. There's arguably a bigger difference in that than a measly tongue brace attached to a part of the guitar that doesn't really resonate?

    I try to take everything good about the vintage builds and then bring in the best thinking and design from modern builders who have an eye towards future and the past.

    Sam
    Last edited by Sam Van; 11-13-2017 at 03:17 PM.

  8. #18

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    Ha. You sound like a new version of Sexauer, but with a vocabulary I can follow a bit easier.

    There certainly are MANY ways to debate aspects of luthiery. Personally, I like old things, I romanticize old things, I like the way those specs (vintage pre-war) sound to MY ears, and I like hanging out with folks who like to recreate them. It's a lot of fun, and more times than not, it's the dedication to those old specs that is the common bond among them.

    There are obviously many luthiers who are innovative, and who claim to have made progress in certain designs. I guess that "progress" is in the eye of the beholder, and that's totally cool - I completely respect that, it's just not really my bag. (While my new Chevy truck is much better in every practical way than my old 1979 Chevy truck, I'd take the '79 in a heartbeat if I had to pick one)

    Oh, I've been meaning to ask... what is this new term "before the war"? Is that the new cool kid way of saying "pre-war"? Is that a Sexauer-ism?

    I think this project looks really cool, fellas. I can't wait to hear some sound clips.

  9. #19
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    I'm with you in every way there! And I continue to love the dialogue. I do follow a few of sexauers approaches and thus am a modern version of him in some ways......But with the caveat that all the approaches I use have been corroborated by a guy who painstakingly precisely recreates martins, meaning Preston. He has built with all the techniques I've discussed and believes they all contribute to a great guitar. But 1) he's in a mass production business, as Martin and Gibson are/were, before and after the war and so there are certain methods that do not lend themselves to some of these more time consuming methods, even though it can be easily argued that there's benefits to these approaches. But Preston also loves the faithful rendition aspect and said to me that he'd be a smithsonian restoration artist in a different life. That says a ton about who he is and why he goes about it his way.

    I'll absolutely go before the war specs if someone requests it and I feel super comfortable that I have all the info at my fingertips to do so. But, if people aren't too particular about vintage specs but are still looking in that arena, I'll build the way I'm establishing because its more rewarding and makes more sense to me, a guy who isn't in a hurry and who does not follow anything just because that's what people used to do. But I am also equally footed in not redesigning the wheel. I like that tightrope, as does Bruce I surmise.

    Haha, I say before the war because some new guitar company trademarked the more commonly used term for their guitar brand. I didn't want to confuse you specifically, which has blown up right in my face hehe.

    Sam

  10. #20

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    Very cool, Sam. I respect that approach. It's been great seeing your previous builds, and they seem to just keep getting better. Thanks for always taking the time to discuss, explain, and share your work. It's a real treat!

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