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Parlour guitar questions

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Parlour guitar questions

Postby Stephen M. Faulk » Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:39 pm

Well I throw myself on the mercy of the court judge. I aways said if I eventually make a steel string box I would let everyone here taunt me about, and hell hath finally froze over. I have decided to build a steel string.

I have questions because several of the things I normally to to make my stuff need a tweak to make a steel string work. I mean I COULD measure stuff on existing guitars, but then I would be robbing you vultures of the carrion of my ignorance.

Question- On the thickness of a solid peghead meant for three on a plate post tuners, how much space to you want to leave for the post bushing bin terms of how much post sticks up above the bushing when it is pressed in? I've ordered a set of Golden Age tuers with a 26mm post, but they will get here foe at least a week and I want to get on with making the neck.

This may be a religious question, I don't know, but I have a preference for bracing this first one as a ladder braced top. The plantilla dimensions are lower bout 10 1/2" wide, waist 6 1/2" wide, upper bout 8" wide. Chuck Tweety mentioned in private that an X brace would be tough to fit on such a narrow box, so I have aimed at a ladder brace. My question is how much brace do you need in order to keep a top stable with light gauge strings, given that you put a transverse brace above and below the soundhole and then perhaps a brace across the top about an inch above the bridge? I'm not set on that, I'm interested in some right ideas about how much you need structurally relative to top thickness. I'm working with a fairly stiff Engelmann top that will be quite robust at 2.3 mm thick.

Just curious of opinions if you made this kind of stuff before.
Last edited by Jim McConkey on Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed title spelling
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Re: Parlour giteer questions

Postby Bob Gramann » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:17 am

I make my steel string pegheads .6" thick before finish sanding. That seems like it would leave you plenty of extension with a 26 mm shaft. One of my guitar models is pretty small and pretty close to your dimensions. I have no trouble x-bracing it. With such a small span for your braces, you don't need much thickness. My x-brace for those small guitars starts out just over 3/8" tall before I carve the braces down to suit my tuning process. Think of building a house. To support a floor over a 16 foot span, you use a 2 x 12. You can span 4 feet with a 2 x 4. The lighter you make the top, the more sound you will get out of it. My tops on those little guitars are usually a bit thinner than 2.3 mm, too. I can't speak to ladder braces as I have never done it. I've never considered them stable for the long term and never wanted to run the experiment.

This guitar can hold its own playing lead with other full size instruments in the ensemble.
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Re: Parlour giteer questions

Postby Todd Stock » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:38 am

5/8"/.625" is what seems to be the upper limit and 9/16"/.563" is the lower. For most steel string peg heads, there's no real issue with break angle, so some variation in string hole height is not a big thing. Like Bob, I shoot for .595"-.605" prior to finishing on paddle heads and .750" minimum for slot heads The one caution here is that screw-down tuners can reduce the effective height of the shaft hole, and war-era retros that do not use a bushing can increase that height (more windings to push break angle down), so mock up a couple samples of varying peghead thicknesses to check things out when using new-to-you tuners..
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Re: Parlour giteer questions

Postby Randy Roberts » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:05 am

I'm with Bob, go with an X brace.

I've built a couple small guitars based on a picture of an 1840 Martin about the size that later became the size 1, but I wanted steel string not gut. The lower bout is a touch over 12 inches, and I worked out a bracing that is the spitting image of Bob's, though smaller bridge plate as I used a pyramid bridge. (I must have been channeling him, that picture looks exactly like my top) If I remember, about 104 degree angle on the X(?), 1 tone bar,1 finger brace each side, and Al Carruth's A bracing around the sound hole, exactly like Bob's.

Got the opportunity to hear the original guitar (thanks to the generosity of the recently departed Jim Forderer, who brought it to one of the GAL conventions) that was ladder braced and gut strung, and the sound was so similar to the ones I'd made I got a little choked up.

The reduced width of these smaller guitars allow thinner tops and less brace height because of the shortened span. Very easy to over brace. And, like Bob said, it's amazing the amount of sound you can get out of a small guitar if you don't overbrace them.

For a visual of the effect of brace height on stiffness due to the cube rule, the link below demonstrated it pretty well for me:

http://www.mimf.com/library/Randy_Rober ... -2010.html
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Re: Parlour giteer questions

Postby Jason Rodgers » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:28 am

Nice to see you back, Stephen! Please show pictures when you're finished.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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Re: Parlour giteer questions

Postby Stephen M. Faulk » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:29 am

Thanks for the help- Here is more on this project:

I made an inside mold to copy a Strad baroque guitar and the idea came up to use it to make a small steel string based on the shape. I was not satisfied exactly with the mold used to copy the Strad because the waist got a bit too tight to really look like a Strad, so it sat about for a year. I decided to use it to build something the Style 1 size range. So here we go.

I'm going wait a few days on the tuners to arrive before I fix the final thickness of the had plate veneer. There other prep work to do on up coming guitars.

This small one is going to be made with cypress back and sides and a spruce top. So I'll plane out the top a bit thinner than I had first planned and think about the X brace. Maybe later I'll try a ladder brace, but now I want that . loud small guitar. I have been messing around with smaller bodies with my classical guitars with good and interesting results. I've been working with a plantilla shape that is about an 1-3/8 " narrower that a regular classical pattern at a bit more than 14".

The picture with the cedar top is the classical with the narrow pattern.



WIN_20170128_155110.JPG
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Re: Parlour giteer questions

Postby Bryan Bear » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:40 pm

I don't have much to add. I've never made a parlor; I just closed the box on my first and have no idea how it will turn out. I just wanted to say it is good to see you back and to welcome you to the dark side!
PMoMC

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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Randy Roberts » Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:22 pm

Stephan,
Maybe it's the camera angle, but I'm wondering if you might want a bit more lower bout than the Strad mold appears to have?
While the ones I made were not precisely a Style 1, they definitely have more belly than your mold seems to indicate.
Actually, I'm kind of drooling over the third picture for a steel string....

I've made a few travel guitars with a body shape similar to your mold, lower bout about 9 1/2 inches, so narrower than yours. Also X braced, and almost impossible to not over brace that model and still have braces. OK volume, all things considered, but the lowest base string sounded mostly ornamental. About 80 of that model out there (by the guy that developed it, not me) and they all pretty much are surprisingly large volume but scarce in the base.
Not meant to be critical, just passing on what a bozo hobby builder experienced.

And don't listen to Tweedy, he huffs waterborne these days anyway.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Stephen M. Faulk » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:46 pm

Tweedy tells a good fish joke however, it's all the isinglass milk shakes he drinks.

Yeah, I meant Style 1 'ish', not literally Style one, but in the general size dept. I don't know as much abut the Martin stuff as I should, but probably I've seen more of them with the backs off than most who build that way. I shared / worked in a shop that is patronized by some of the most well known vintage Gibson- Martin dealers. But my half was the classical- flamenco stuff. I should have payed more attention to measurements, but I was busy with my own things. So I make terrific blunders when talking about the nomenclature and taxonomy of that stuff.

I'll put up some pictures of the cedar top classical, but I'll start it as a new topic.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Bob Gramann » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:34 am

This is the guitar whose top I showed above. It has plenty of sound in the bass--no woof, but plenty of bass. It's quite nice in drop-D tuning. I've made quite a few of these, but no where near 80. I purposely make the bridge plate just a little larger and a little thicker than it has to be. It allows me to make sure that the area around the bridge is very stiff to couple the strings strongly to the top. I want as much of the top around the bridge as possible to move as a unit. It also leaves a decent ledge to mount the K&K pickup discs when a pickup is desired.

It has a 24.9" scale length. And, my customers tell me that it fits in the overhead bin.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Stephen M. Faulk » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:10 am

How long is the head stock if I may ask? Speaking of overhead bins.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Bob Gramann » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:35 am

The peghead is 5" long but it would still work at 4.5". The instrument is 35" end to end. It just fits in the TKL half-size bag.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:54 pm

The most recent size 1 I built used a combination X and fan bracing scheme. The X brace touched the top at the center and the four points near the sides and allowed some of the fans to pass through to the upper bout of the guitar. The upper transverse brace captured two of the fans which then continued to the neck block. The fans were of dimensions generally used for classical guitar. The guitar has a 25.4 scale length and is strung with eight light gauge steel strings. I am quite happy how it turned out,
Size 1 typically have a lower bout width of 12 3/4 inches.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Alan Carruth » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:22 pm

I made a small guitar for my daughter many years ago based on a Panormo from the 1840s. I used very light X-bracing and a thin top. It worked quite well, and the bass was surprisingly strong.

As you make the guitar bigger the main thing you get is bass response. It depends a lot on the pitch and strength of the 'main air' resonance, which is a Helmholtz-type mode, similar to what you get when you blow across the mouth of a wine bottle. In the guitar the flexibility of the top and back get into the act as well, lowering the 'air' pitch a bit. As with the wine bottle the basic resonance is established by the volume of the bottle and the diameter and length of the neck. Not much of a neck on a guitar hole, usually... In theory you can get the 'air' pitch as low as you want it by just making the hole smaller or adding in a sleeve to get a longer neck. In practice there seems to be a more or less optimum size for the hole in terms of activity, and either reducing it or adding a neck cuts down on the strength of the signal. It's hard to get the 'air' pitch down very far on these small boxes. On my daughter's guitar the 'air' pitch was up around the same frequency as the 'main top' mode, somewhere near the open G string.

The impression of a strong bass was just that; an illusion of sorts. What was happening was that all of the overtones of the low notes were there, and strong. In that case your ear will fill in the missing fundamental. It's a well known effect. Organ makers call it 'English bass'. When they wanted a 32' C note, and the ceiling was only 24' high, they'd use a 16' pipe, and a 10-2/3' one, and an 8' one, and so on, that sounded together to produce some number of overtones of the desired low pitch, and rely on the congregation to fill in the fundamental by faith. ;) Or physiology, or whatever....
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Stephen M. Faulk » Sun Feb 05, 2017 2:32 am

How about this, I worked off the idea you guys gave me. I hope this works without folding up!

I left off the last brace diagonally between the bottom of the X. Is that a terrible idea?
The X brace stock is 3/8 tall, Engelmann, very light and a tiny bit flexie at that dimension. I went on that comment made ' almost impossible to not over brace it '....
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Feb 05, 2017 9:58 am

I usually leave the upper arms of the X brace full and have them tie into the sides. Depending on how thick you left the top in the upper bout, you may get a couple of small "dimples" at the ends of the X (Might add to the cuteness factor). As far as leaving off the brace in the lower bout I think that will be fine. As closed as you have the X, that brace might just tighten things up too much.
I think we over think bracing. It probably isn't nearly as important as we think it is. But it is fun to make patterns that please our imagination.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Bob Gramann » Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:58 am

Like Clay said, I would take the upper ends of the X out to the rim. That's how the X supports the string tension. I would worry that the guitar would eventually bend around the soundhole with the pattern shown. My x's generally run around 95 to 99 degrees with the legs just crossing the corners of the bridge. With that wide a spread, the brace across the lower bout helps prevent a belly behind the bridge--your x is narrow enough that a belly probably won't happen. I can't tell from the picture if you have capped the joint on the x, but I would do that, too.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Alan Carruth » Sun Feb 05, 2017 2:59 pm

I've inlet X braces into the upper transverse brace in the past. I would not leave those upper ends floating: too much of a chance of them peeling up, particularly if the top takes a knock.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Mark Swanson » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:52 pm

I agree with that, I'd open the X as much as I could and tie the top ends into the sides.
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Re: Parlour guitar questions

Postby Brad Heinzen » Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:18 am

Hey Stephen, I've built some guitars based on a plantilla very similar to the guitar in your third photo. My regular, daily players are both based on that shape. The SS is bubinga with Eng spruce, and the CG is CA walnut with Eng spruce. I also built a SS from CA walnut with Eng spruce for a friend. All sounded great. The SS versions are a pretty standard X brace design, 12 frets to the body. CG's are a basic 7 fan. The SS ones were optimized for light tension strings. Scale lengths are close to 640mm, so the light tension strings end up feeling pretty good. These guitars are all about 14 1/4" at the lower bout, and the proportions look very much like yours.

If you built a SS to that shape, you might really like it. If I build any more like that, I'll be sticking to back and side materials that tap as bright as possible. The bubinga was really good, the walnut a bit mellow for my taste.

I left the necks on the SS's a couple of mm wider than standard SS necks, so they're a bit more comfortable for CG players crossing over to the dark side. It does make it tough to sneak your thumb over the top to fret the low E string, but not many classical players are comfortable doing that anyway. Thumb muting is about as much as I can get used to myself. The necks on the classicals are a couple of mm narrower than standard CG's.
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