Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Andy’s hybrid archtop is completed!

Remember, quod nos non necat fortiores facit, well Andy’s archtop didn’t kill me and yes, I feel a better luthier for having built this instrument. It’s quite something to look at and I’m very pleased with the completed guitar. The idea of an archtop with a “flat” back isn’t a new one and frankly after building this guitar I would question why you would want to have a carved back other than for aesthetical reasons. The work/time involved in carving a maple back coupled with the cost of high quality materials makes “traditional” hand made archtop guitars incredibly expensive. This hybrid construction seems to make the archtop sound more affordable for the guitarist.

The archtop sound...well that’s an interesting one. I think to get the best out of an archtop, you’ve got to know how to play one. Just like a classical guitar- unless you’ve got the correct technique and decent finger nails you’re not going to get the best out of it. Flat-top steel-stings are far more forgiving of a player’s technique. The sound produced by the archtop is completely different to the flat-top (I don’t suppose that they’d be any point in building one if it wasn’t!) The sound is more percussive and there are less overtones; this allows for fast rhythm playing using lots of chords that sing out cleanly.

Now if, you’ve seen my demo videos, you’ll know that I’m not the person to bring out the best in an instrument. Fortunately, a local guitar player, Alan came over to put the archtop through its paces, playing a couple of jazz standards for me. The guitar really came alive and you can see (hear) for yourself in the video. Hope you like it....

Having built this hybrid archtop, I’m tempted to build another, this time with “f” holes. I’m trying to build one instrument for fun each year- last year was the “Red Mandolin” this year the parlour, so next year maybe another where’s that set of quilted maple?

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