Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Start on the Soundboard

Design thoughts on the sound hole
So I've been pondering how to design the sound hole since the start of this project. I wanted something that was unique but also that does not negatively affect the sound quality. I have three ideas, one of which I will share here. Because this is the direction I will most likely go.

I had the idea of using Petoskey stone sound-board inlays right from the start of this build. I decided to look this up on the net to see if anyone had done this sort of thing before. I came up with nothing – so I'm thinking, Great! But wait, is there a reason no one had tried this? with this dampen the sound?, will this be too heavy?, will the material break when it gets too thin?... Lots of questions. About mid-way through the neck build I met a local luthier here in Traverse City that does inlay of Petoskey stones in his guitars, in fact his logo is a Michigan shaped stone with a star on TC. So yes, people have used stones for guitar making but not yet have I seen one on the soundboard. I don't think this Luthier liked the idea that I had thought of using PS on my guitar, but this is a much different application than what he's using. Plus if he can put a patent on using petoskey stones, I'm putting a patent on walnut and maple.

People use shell all the time, and a Petoskey stone is as light or (soft) as Mother of Pearl or ablam (peices of shell). So why not? Here's a preliminary design:

Graphic representation only... this is not done. Petosky stone, with mother of pearl bars and white and black binding.

Graphic representation only... Close up of above.

I did start cutting the stones out on my tile saw... worked great. But I do need the thickness much less.

Sanding it down... I will most likely go back to the tile saw to remove more material.

On to the soundboard: Here I was assembling a make-shift shooting board for planing the edges to join the two halfs of the soundboard.

There was a worm hole that I had to plane off – so i removed a lot of material then tried to get the edges straight and even... easier said than done. Once you think you have it straight, you hold both boards together up to a bright light to see if there are any high or low spots (called candling). I was chasing high spots all over the place. I adjusted my plane to cut just a super tiny amount and I started to see better results. I finally got it but this was a chore.

Gluing up the board – kitchen table style. I made some shims to tap into place to apply some pressure to the boards. The other side was held in place by a peice of masonite, then I added a weight in the middle... in this case it was a scroll saw. I put a trash bag under the glue line.

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