Jonas Guitars Boulder, Co.

Acoustic Guitar Builders

How Does The finish on an Acoustic Guitar Affect the Sound of the Guitar?

by on Mar.02, 2009, under Acoustic Guitar Builders

Peace Guitar Head InlayHow Does The finish on an Acoustic Guitar Affect the Sound of the Guitar?

For along time I have been very curious about this subject

It has been a long time passion. So I made it my mission and went out to find out.

I have visited countless guitars shops over the years, having found myself stranded in a strange town with some time to kill and end up in the local guitar shops playing the new and old guitars right of the shelf, you know, this is what guitar lovers do!

Any way, Here is my observation regarding guitar finishes, we are talking acoustic guitars here, electrics are a different story.

Don’t these new Taylor Guitars, Gibson and Martin Guitars and so many others look mind boggling attractive, nice shiny and spiffy?
Some of them are so shiny you can use them as a mirror and comb your hair in ‘m, if you want to. Some of them almost look and feel like there is a thick coat of plastic over the guitar. Do suppose that’s really a good thing?

Be Aware! All that glitters is not Gold!

I am not bashing these companies or their finish work but I’d like to make the point of caution here; a very high end guitar from these companies most likely will have indeed less of a finish coat on them, it just makes sense. Over finishing a guitar to make it look shiny and pretty can be detrimental to the sound quality.

Well I set out to talk to many store owners and I found out that these shiny buffed instruments are what people like and pay the big bucks for.
I got to think about the motives of why these potential customers really got attracted to these guitars to begin with. Are these people buying the looks and shine of the guitar or are they buying the guitar for the sound that comes out of that thing, probably both right? Well, I find out that surprisingly and unfortunately, most people are buying it for the shiny looks, not knowing any better or not educated. Therefore to many people are not realizing that the payoff may be very possibly a lesser sound quality from the guitar.

HERE IS MY POINT:

Guitar BodyHere’s what I did through personal experimenting. I completely stripped one of those high lacquered perfectly good guitars, and refinished it. My method of finishing an acoustic guitar, usually, is; 2 coats of vinyl sealer over the bare wood and at most 4 coats of nitrocellulose lacquer. I do experiment also with other finishes but for now this will make my point. Some of these guitar companies especially the guitars made cheaply and mass produced in Asian countries may be spraying up to ten coats perhaps more of these lacquers.

WHAT DOES THAT DO THE SOUND OF THE GUITAR?

Of course this would muffle the sound a bit! It over tightens the soundboard, the neck, and the rest of it, like the head of the guitar. Overkill in layers is preventing the guitar to move or at least restricted the energy that goes trough it to the point that the sound has a harder time to make it trough these layers.

Think about it yourself, if you were wearing jacket that was way too tight, would you feel like dancing to the music?

WHY ARE THEY DOING THAT?

Just know that the more coats you put on an acoustic guitar( it is a bit more complex than that but for now I can make the point ) the more shine you can get as a result, more on this process later. People just like shiny things! This leads to more people buying them and more business right?

YES, BUT AT WHAT PRICE? Well at least more kids are learning to play the guitar.

So what I find out with my experiment was that the guitar I refinished sounded so much louder, warmer, brighter and clearer. So my point when it comes to guitar finishing: LESS IS BETTER ! Of course, the whole guitar needs to breathe, flex and dance with the music. I was astonished when I discovered the difference.

It is argued by the classical master acoustic guitar builders in Spain that the best sounding guitar has no finish on it at all! Wow!

Here is my conclusion: It’s best to stick with limiting the amount of lacquer coats on the guitar’s surface. It’s best to coat it just enough to have a good and acceptable protection from the elements and players usage. Some woods require more coats than others. Therefore if you see a little less of a shine on a guitar, you know that the guitar builder would not sacrifice sound for shine.

Peace FretboardThere clearly is a difference, but I believe that these practices make the difference between hand built customized guitars and mass produced. As a guitar builder, it is definitely worth the trade off. To me it is all about the sound and that has no price tag. Why should we want to trade; diminishing the sound quality with finish overkill?

Another favorite quote;

“When choosing the guitar of your dreams, go for the sound! the rest is icing on the cake.”

Find out the ‘rest of the story’ at jonasguitars.com/Custom-Guitars

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What Gives a Custom Acoustic Guitar that Exceptionally Great Sound? Part 1.

by on Mar.01, 2009, under Acoustic Guitar Builders, Build A Guitar

Soundboard BracesWhat Gives a Custom Acoustic Guitar that Exceptionally Great Sound? Part 1.

Many factors come together into the puzzling and complex issue; what goes into a custom acoustic guitar to make it sound great? To answer this question is very complex and I’ll suggest to you step by step. Articles will follow this one that will encompass the details of each of the factors involved.

THIS ARTICLE IS INTEND TO BRIEFLY TOUCH UPON SOME OF THE BASICS OF THIS SUBJECT – Great sound in Custom Guitars

First of all, the sound that comes out of any guitar is just what it is, as you hear it. Our Judgment of it is based on what we come to judge throughout history and what we have come to accept as todays standards set by others to what a Good or Bad Sounding guitar for should sound like.

In other words, in nature there is no such thing as a good or bad sound in a strict sense. It’s only what we have come to accept as standards to what a guitar should sound like. Developing this idea further, hopefully, in the future we can learn to set higher standards and maybe the custom guitars at that time would even sound better than todays guitars. Woudn’t that be awesome?

Wave dispersionThe standards were achieved by ground breaking companies such as Martin Guitars and Gibson, who spent money and research to allow standards to exist within the ‘sound’ of a custom acoustic guitar, or any custom guitar for that matter.

OK, let’s get to it.

When you pluck a string, this produces an energy wave that we know as sound. What this guitar must do is transfer the energy introduced by plucking the strings. This is what I call the ‘final common denominator’.

The guitar string energy in motion is transferring through the whole thing (glue and everything, with a dependance also as to the current temperature), how this perceived sound being generated by a complex system, finally producing that resulting factor we call ‘resonance’.

In other words, everything combined about this “Complete Unit” and all its complexity called a “Guitar”, contributes to the sound you are hearing at the moment the strings are put into action.

Therefor the sound depends on:

  • The Design of the guitar, it’s shape.
  • The construction, the manner in which the guitar is constructed.
  • The types of woods used in the guitar making process
  • The types of bracing inside on the soundboard.
  • The materials used for nut and sandal, including the bridge pins.
  • The finnish used on the outside of the guitar.

Audio Wave Dispersion There’s more on this later. Ideally a guitar should sound like, what? It’s only limited to our imagination. Therefore a custom guitar builder of any size has the same ability to further advance the sound quality of any custom built guitar.
What I’m going to share with you over the course of several articles, are some secrets about this and how do we go about constructing a great sounding guitar in practice.

This article will concern itself with the Construction in general and we’ll touch upon the woods and others stuff in a later article. After I built my first Martin Guitar, many years ago with the guidance of my Father a Master craftsman himself during my youth;
I discovered that:

As a general rule, a lighter built guitar would bring out tones more clearly, and with the right construction technique, a louder response.

The energy brought forward by plucking the strings had less mass to hide in, less places to get lost or trapped. The energy had less ‘knee jerk’ obstacles to overcome hence forth, due to fine shaped braces, more on that later. In other words as a direct result, the guitar became more alive and responsive.

The advantage of that is that the whole guitar becomes more flexible and at the same time more producing a likeable and even louder sound. The thinner I made, the back, sides and top, (up to a point, more later) the more sound was able to transfer through the woods. The wonderful advantage of this is that the player can feel the sound transferring into his ear, guts, and body while playing my guitars. As a result, a better and direct connection and relationship with the musician. The guitars simply talk better to the players.

This has to be done within it’s own limitations for obvious reasons, the overall strength of the guitar must be maintained we’ll discuss it in a later chapter.

THE INSIDE GUTS

When you look at the basic Martin Cross bracing pattern for the sound board, you’ll feel the representation of a water reservoir or lake. The idea is that if you throw a rock into a calm lake, it produces wave patterns, getting smaller the farther they travel until they disappear back to the balanced state of the water surface or to its original neutrality.

Because the waves of water are essentially the same as the waves in the air, slower because of a thick medium; the idea is to construct the soundboard bracing pattern in such a way that the wave energy generated by the strings, is gently and ‘smoothly’ transferred into the guitar’s soundboard. To help transfer this energy wave back to a state of natural balance of the sound board shape, just like it’s counter example in nature, the rock thrown into the water.

These are the kinds of revelations one receives as a master guitar craftsman, like myself. This way we can create the sound waves the way that I want. This is the doorway to understanding a bit more on creating even better sounds in the future, like the sounds that are produced in the Peace Guitar.

Energy Dispersion Structure and Bracing PatternIn the case of making a guitar sound good, or Great, on this one point:

It is the individual shapes of the braces that represent water waves. And, the idea is to help the energy waves return to their original balance of rest.

But the fun of all this is, that I get to surf the waves right in my guitar building shop. I am proud to say that the more attention I pay to this phenomena, the better the guitars turn out and come to sound.

My favorite quote: “better sound is a concept that may be in perpetual changing mode due to human perception.”

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Building a Guitar with my Father, Jonas

by on Feb.26, 2009, under Acoustic Guitar Builders

Through out my life I have had the amazing privilege of having a woodSpindle Sanding braces for the Guitar top stucture. worker as my father. His passion for working with his hands was instilled in me at young age. I have done many projects and always jump at the opportunity to make something new. My brother has played guitar for years and it was a natural progression for him to build one at my Dads shop. Although I play guitar too, most of my interest Cutting a Rosette and Inlaycame from a desire to take my wood working skills to the next level. The craftsmanship that goes into building an instrument is like none I have seen. Each new guitar that my dad proudly handed me just inspired me so greatly. I jumped at the opportunity to gain this experience and have an amazing hand built instrument at the end.

Cutting out the Guitar top on the Bandsaw

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My Process for My Cherrywood Acoustic Guitar

by on Feb.26, 2009, under Acoustic Guitar Builders, Handmade Acoustic Guitars

Sven's Cherrywood GuitarThere are so many steps in building a guitar from scratch it blows me away every time I look at my work. It is a very humbling process that has to be broken into small doable pieces. This has been such a bonding experience for the two of us. He has guided me through every twist and turn.

I wanted to build a guitar from a tree that was grown in the US. There are so many woods from all over the world that are perfect for their sound quality, but I have a huge passion for things done as locally as possible. We decided that a cherry wood guitar would suit me well, so we got big block and cut out my main pieces. Once they were the right dimension we put them on the thickness sander. My back was glued from two pieces like the pages of an open book. My sides were shaped on the bending jig after been soaked and heated. I put this all together with bracing on my back to give it strength. During this time I also cut and shaped my neck.

The last few times I have focused on my top. After book matching this also, I put in my Rosette. This was one of the finest most careful wood work I have ever done. I wanted something simple yet elegant and unique. I decided I would incorporate wood into the pattern by tying it all back together with the fret board. I choose king wood for my fret board because it looks so amazing and there isn’t many local options for wood dense enough. So my Rosette would also incorporate a small piece of king wood that would flow into the rest of it. I was quite amazed at my final product. It looks so neat and has my own characteristic style.

This week I worked on making braces. This process of “voicing” my guitar is one of the most exciting. If this is done well, all my hard work will come to a beautiful finale. My dad just kept saying, “Sven think sound”, if I had the feeling and intention of unbeatable sound that is what I would get. Once my braces were cut and shaped, I glued them all on with a large jig designed specifically for this process. I bent dowels and used that tension to hold the braces in place.

It is an amazingly intuitive process. This has been one of the most challenging aspects for me. I am a really thinker and planner. With this project I have had to let go of my constraining ideas and logical thoughts to open up for feeling the entire guitar and wood that is in front of me. By using this creative technique I can tell the difference it has made. Flowing with the process and paying attention to the slightest detail, is what will make all the difference in the end.

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Jonas Guitars | Hand Built Acoustic and Bass Guitars

by on Feb.25, 2009, under Acoustic Guitar Builders

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Custom acoustic guitars are guitars that are customized according to the specifications of a specific guitar player. Generally, acoustic guitars are easy to handle and are popular with most guitarists. But still, people like to have guitars especially made for themselves to meet their specific comfort and usage needs.

The concept of customizing things came up with the increasing expectations of people for comfort with whatever they use. With custom made objects, you just don’t have objects in your hands, but you have your desires, expectations, taste, and desires in a simple package. Acoustic guitarsĀ  can be customized according to the needs of just about any type of guitarist with relative ease, if the guitarist is willing to pay the fees.

Custom acoustic guitars are very famous in the market for the sheer reason that you can design them in whatever way you want and apart from changing the looks of your guitar, you can even change the way they sound. Each and every aspect of the guitar can be chosen on your own, including the wood used for guitars, the kind of tuning pegs used, and the shape in which it can be designed.

Usually different varieties of woods go into the making of acoustic guitars. You can choose from a variety of woods like mahogany, rosewood, cedar, cherry, ebony, walnut, maple, and so many other things. The tuning pegs can be made of silver, brass, gold, and anything that you want. The sound quality can be adjusted according to your wish and it gives you a unique feeling of being yourself when you play your custom made guitar.

Custom acoustic guitars are made in smaller numbers only for the people who want them. So, they are bound to be costlier than mass-produced ones. It is also possible to get custom made replicas of famous guitars from the past.

Acoustic Guitars provides detailed information on Acoustic Guitars, Acoustic Guitar Tabs, Left Handed Acoustic Guitars, Used Acoustic Guitars and more. Acoustic Guitars is affiliated with Used Banjos.

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