Another 17" archtop

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John Clifford
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Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:08 pm

Another 17" archtop

Post by John Clifford »

Here is my fourth 17" archtop. This is pretty similar to my last one, but with different woods and headstock and tailpiece designs. The woods are:

Top: Douglas Fir
Back & sides: Cherry
Neck: Cherry, Maple & Padauk
Fretboard: Ebony
Bridge: Ebony
Headstock veneer: Cocobolo
Tailpiece: Cocobolo
Finger rest: Cocobolo
Bindings: Cocobolo, with Maple & Fiber b/w/b purfling on top

Although the sound is very similar to my last build, it is a little mellower (slightly less projection) and I think better balanced. Some might say more muted. That's probably mostly due to using douglas fir rather than western red cedar for the top.
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Barry Daniels
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Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Barry Daniels »

Looks great, John.
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Beate Ritzert
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Location: Germany

Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Beate Ritzert »

To my eyes a very nice connection of modern design and a traditional instrument.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Alan Carruth »

Doug fir certainly tends to be denser than WRC. If you made them both the same thickness the fir top would be a fair amount heavier. WRC also tends to have much lower damping. That ought to do somethimh to the sound, but it's hard to say just what.

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Randolph Rhett
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Randolph Rhett »

Nice. Very elegant looking.

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Mark Langner
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Mark Langner »

Very nice. Clean and simple. I like the way the sound hole echos the shape and angle of the cutaway "horn".
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Eldon Howe
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Eldon Howe »

John.
Is your bridge hollow?
Also I see that you did not use a saddle made from bone or other. I love the cherry..

John Clifford
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by John Clifford »

Eldon - no, the bridge is solid ebony, but it’s carved pretty thin.

Rick Milliken
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Location: Okotoks, AB, Canada

Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Rick Milliken »

Very nice!

I’m curious how the Doug fir was to work? I’ve never worked with fir that fine grained.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Alan Carruth »

I can't speak to John's experience, of course, but I've used a lot of Doug over the years. It tends to be pretty dense, and hard with heavy late wood lines. It's also much more prone to splitting than spruce. All of this makes it a bit troublesome to work with; with the added density and stiffness you want to leave it a bit thinner than spruce, but that make it more likely to split. It's a bit more difficult to carve, especially around the corner in the channel, due to the big difference between the early and late wood hardness, and cutting nice smooth F-holes by hand calls for patience and a really sharp knife, especially in the places where the edge is almost parallel to the grain. Just my $.02.

John Clifford
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by John Clifford »

I agree with all of Alan’s comments about Douglas Fir, except that I haven’t had a problem with splitting, as in the top actually splitting. Just splintering and chipping. I’ll add that it’s tricky to sand smooth, because of the difference in hardness between early and late grain. The trick is to use very light pressure. I found it somewhat counterintuitive that if you use too much pressure, you’ll actually sand the hard grain lower than the soft grain, because the latter compressed easily then bounces back up. But if you do it right, the wood is really beautiful, with more visual interest than spruce and a great piney smell.

Rick Milliken
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Location: Okotoks, AB, Canada

Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Rick Milliken »

Thanks guys. That pretty much sums up my experience with fir as well, so REALLY well done on that top!

Patrick Hanna
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Re: Another 17" archtop

Post by Patrick Hanna »

That is a gorgeous instrument.

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