THE EXPERIMENT - Dave Bricker
|This Guitar used to be a Taylor 410. The guitar was damaged in
a flood and I got it with all of the braces loose and knocking
around inside, so I steamed off the back and rebuilt the guitar.
The theory was that the JLD Bridge System could handle the structural responsibilities so the bracing could be redesigned entirely for tone. With that in mind, I eliminated the bridge plate completely and allowed the JLD System to serve as the new bridge plate. I also routed the bridge down to almost nothing and took the wings off.
Theoretically, the guitar top will now function like a speaker cone which has a voice coil in the center (the bridge) where sound enters, and then a speaker cone (in this case; the top itself) which gets progressively more flexible towards the edges. Notice that the braces stop just shy of the bridge. This allows the bridge to move as much as possible and transmit more sound to the top and to the tailblock via the soundpost. The braces then taper towards the edges and fade to nothing. I left the bass side just a bit more flexible by using shorter braces.
|I also removed one of the tongue braces under the fingerboard
extension (the original design had two), and then scalloped the
other one on the underside before gluing it back under the top.
You can see where one of the radial braces passes through the
scalloped area on the tongue brace. Here, I'm trying to use the
brace to "pipe" sound up into the shoulders of the guitar.
On the back, I assumed that the tailblock was going to be a "hot spot" because of the JLD Bridge System soundpost. (You can see the JLD System installed in the above photo.) The fan braces are designed to conduct sound from the tailblock through the back. The transverse braces are designed to keep the longitudinal grain from splitting. They're all of sitka spruce which is cut thin, but high for maximum stiffness to weight ratio.
The results? Well, I was really disappointed at first. I'm used to the JLD System taking a little time to break in, but this sounded unusually nasal for the first few hours or so while the guitar settled.
Ultimately (to my great relief), the guitar warmed up quite nicely.
Several months after completing the project, I found the joint
between the tailblock and the top had also suffered some water
damage. I reglued this and immediately found the sound improved
even more. The guitar has an unusual clarity and volume. There's
an unusual natural reverb quality to the sound and the instrument
really cuts through at a jam session where its bright treble rises
over the midrange mud. I've been playing this guitar for over
six months now and find that the top is still flat and the sound
continues to open up. The instrument has great projection and
unlike most guitars which seem to max out dynamically, if you
hit a hard accent stroke while playing rhythm, there is no practical
maximum volume. It's a cannon! There's a certain almost-but-not-quite
electric quality to the sound but I'm not sure that's such a bad
thing. The guitar's brightness and incredibly even response make
it great for certain kinds of music and for jam situations. I'm
pleased with it and play it as much as my Lowden D-10C.