Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

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Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Eric Knapp » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:35 pm

Hello,

I saw Pat Metheny last night and for many of his tunes he played solo on a nylon string archtop. I’ve never heard one before and now I’m intrigued. I guess I’m out of touch, eh? Anyway, now I’d like to start exploring the concept more. I did search the forums here and found all the posts that talk about them. I think it sounded great amplified and I would love to hold and play one. Are there some resources on them or is everyone building them making up their own approach? Regular archtops and classical guitars have a large wealth of materials. Anything on a nylon arch?

Thanks,

-Eric
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Brian Evans » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:35 am

I studied this fairly extensively when I was designing a guitar for a friend, and ended up concluding that for performance use it would have to be electric, probably with a Barbera pickup. She is very anti-pickup, so I made it a steel string with classical guitar influences instead. Benedetto uses the Barbera pickup in their nylon string instruments. I found this on Pat's guitar:

https://www.facebook.com/barberatransdu ... 624924845/

https://www.slamanguitars.com/nylon-jazz-guitars.html

so his also uses the Barbera system, so you at least know what it sounds like! Alan Carruth has made some nylon string archtops. The only thing I could think of to do was to make it exceptionally light in the top, around a .060" recurve and over-all top thickness around .110, and fan brace it. Make an extremely light bridge. Just not a lot of energy in nylon strings, is my perception. Classical guitarists spend a lot of time learning how to get power out of their instruments, it's not easy to make them loud and clean. Pat plays with a pick, I think, and as he is playing an electric guitar the need to develop power is reduced, or even eliminated.
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Mark Wybierala » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:23 am

Slightly off topic...
I've built a fair number of solid body nylon string guitars. Thank you for the links to Barbera pickups. Their description of their pursuit or intent of design seems to be right on the money with the issues that I encountered as I incorporated conventional piezo pickups -- almost but not quite wonderful instruments. Their prices put them out of touch for me but I haven't given up. I'm still looking for solutions.
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Brian Evans » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:40 am

The Slaman guitars are archtop, but not carved or pressed or laminated top. They are what I imagine to be a stressed bent top, with shaped braces that stress the top into a dome shape of about 1/2" or 1cm of arch. Proprietary top bracing system. The video showed quite an excellent acoustic voice. I wonder about long term health of the top with such induced tension in the wood. Maybe he does something to pre-shape the top into the dome shape then just stabilize it with the shaped braces.
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Eric Knapp » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:58 am

Thanks, Brian. That’s a lot of great information. I had found the Slaman guitars and I noticed how thin they are. Pat is very performance focused so acoustic volume probably doesn’t matter to him. If those F holes are actual holes then it seems pretty silly to say the bracing system is proprietary. Are the backs arched like an archtop or radiused like a flattop? With a very low arch, a light bridge, maybe fanned braces, it seems like it is mostly a flattop with a smaller radius than normal. The main difference would be that is has a narrower neck and a radiused fingerboard. That would appeal to a jazz player accustomed to steel-string archtops.

I was also surprised it wasn’t a Manzer guitar. I suspect she could make a wonderful nylon archtop. Maybe she didn’t want to or didn’t have the time.

-Eric
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Alan Carruth » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:06 pm

The successful ones that I've made used a fairly low arch. I found a reference that said you should scale arch height to plate thickness, and not body length. Since I wanted to keep the weight down by making the top around 3mm thick, I used the same arch height (15mm up from the bottom of the plate) that I would use on a violin. It worked well.

I used a 16" 'Small Jumbo' shape for those. You need to use low density wood for the top to keep the weight down.

So far I've used X bracing on those, since that was what I was used to. I finally made a steel string archtop with 'parallel' bracing, and that's the way I will go with the next arch classical.

Do you know who made Metheny's guitar?
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Eric Knapp » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:50 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:Do you know who made Metheny's guitar?

It was made by Daniel Slaman. I found this link for it.

http://www.nylonstringjazzguitar.com/pat-metheny,-usa.html

Thanks for your input. I’m still working on my first guitar so planning anything else now is premature. This might be an interesting one down the line, if there is more for me down the line.

-Eric
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Randolph Rhett » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:14 pm

I have made a half dozen or so, and am currently working on another for a customer. My approach is different than Daniel's. Here is me playing it as a demo for a prospective customer. I'm no Pat Matheney, of course:

https://youtu.be/0wo3xpoIOoM
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Eric Knapp » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:46 pm

Randolph Rhett wrote:I have made a half dozen or so, and am currently working on another for a customer. My approach is different than Daniel's. Here is me playing it as a demo for a prospective customer. I'm no Pat Matheney, of course

Thanks, Randolph. Was the sound in the video coming off the pickups or a mic?

-Eric
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Re: Pat Metheny’s nylon archtop

Postby Randolph Rhett » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:18 pm

Straight cheap webcam mic.
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