Doing a little experiment....

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

I've heard theories and what people think, but I've never actually seen the product, so I'm doing it. I found an old stick of white pine 1x4 in storage of our shop today and decided to make a guitar top out of it, just to see what happens.
There was absolutely no way to get any vertical grain out of it and not enough to split it, so I ripped it down into .10" strips, mixed them all up and glued them up. That got me a 5.5"x24" long piece, which I then resawed into 3 pieces and glued them together. I got them planed and sanded down to thinckness (.10") and hope to get the rosette and bracing installed this weekend. I already have a topless box ready for it.
It's not pretty, but kinda neat looking once I got used to the idea. If you look at it from about 10 feet away it looks almost like a bamboo top.
Don't have any questions really... just found it interesting myself so I thought I'd share.

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G.S. Monroe
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by G.S. Monroe »

Experimentation is great... keep us informed.
I'm not expecting that anything great will come of this, most likely you will simply confirm and verify what others suspect.

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

A laminated top done the hard way! :lol: What type of glue did you use?

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

G.S. Monroe wrote:Experimentation is great... keep us informed.
I'm not expecting that anything great will come of this, most likely you will simply confirm and verify what others suspect.
I suspect that too. but I've only heard peoples opinions of how they think something like this would sound. Never actually heard one. Haven't even heard a first hand account of someone who has done this or heard one done like this. I've been curious about the concept for years and it just finally got the better of me. I'm certainly not expecting much. Either way it will be a great campfire guitar. If it sounds even remotely decent It will have that rustic, woodsy look making it even better by a fire; and if it sounds terrible it will burn pretty good.
Clay Schaeffer wrote:A laminated top done the hard way! :lol: What type of glue did you use?
titebond

Alan Carruth
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Alan Carruth »

The few samples of white pine I've tested come out with stiffness numbers and density like European spruce, so it should be fine structurally if it's thick enough. It would have been easier to get an accurate density reading before you sawed it up, but c'est la vie. Stiffness along the grain tracks the density quite well.

I saw a couple of tight grained vertical pieces of pine at the lumber place last weekend, in the 'shorts' bin. They were not very wide, but were long enough to make dulcimer tops. I should have picked them up. *sigh*

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Since the pieces are only 1/10th of an inch wide I think the weight of the glue would affect the "density" a fair amount.
How did the across the grain stiffness turn out?

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Mark Swanson »

In an "experiment", we are trying to illustrate or prove some point, or come to some conclusion. What is your objective here? Spruce is pretty inexpensive stuff, it makes me wonder why you just didn't get some top wood in the mid to lower grade and go with that? A few bucks and all the bother is done...
Of course we luthiers will often just do something or take some kind of risk "just because we want to see what happens". I will admit to that myself!
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

That's pretty much it. Just to see what happens. people ask me all the time of all kinds of different woods and techniques that seem absurd based on what I have read and heard. but the only answer I can give is 'I've heard it doesn't work.' I'd rather be able to say, 'I would/would not recommend that based on the one that I did.' Now, a teacher in high school once said to me, "Do you think you need to try heroin just so you can tell other people not to do it?" evidently I've been this way for a long time. and to that point, I've never tired heroin, but I still tell people to stay away from it.
Here's my theory, as unfounded as it might be... please feel free to redirect me. An 8' 1x4, flat sawn, very wide grain, there's no way to make a top out of that, right? probably not. but I figured that the glue joints so close together along with the grain already naturally in the wood, would in effect artificially create a tight grain. as to Clay's post, adding more glue lines being a very bad thing is one of the things I've heard. so that's part of the risk, and part of the experiment. also, by mixing, turning and flipping the pieces rather than just gluing them back up in order, any runout should be neutralized.
Clay, I'm not much to the point of measuring deflections and stiffness. I'll see if I can take some kind of measurement to give you an idea.

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

I was able to measure the stiffness along the grain. I put a one pound weight on it and it deflected 1/8". But im afraid there really is no cross grain stiffness to speak of. I never put the full weight on it as i was afraid it was going to break. Its a bit like a wet noodle. Probably not a good sign?
Now if someone can interpret for me... I don't really know what these numbers mean.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Alan Carruth »

"An 8' 1x4, flat sawn, very wide grain, there's no way to make a top out of that, right? probably not."

Why not? Grain spacing doesn't seem to correlate with anything much except salability, and you're not worried about that.

It's possible to calculate the Young's modulus of the wood from deflection data if the piece is rectangular, you know the thickness and width, and have the spacing of the supports, along with the load and deflection.

This sounds like a fun experiment, but I would not expect the outcome to be an Eternal Verity. With all the glue lines and what have you, you've introduced a lot of variables that complicate interpretation. If it sounds terrific (or awful) is it because of all the glue lines, or the wood, or the way you mixed up the runout, or what? Good experiments are designed to isolate variables, so you have an idea of why it went the way it did.

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

When I think about bracing, I think it is partly to counteract the stresses on the top and partly to balance the across grain and the along the grain stiffness. If you subscribe to this reasoning your top might be a good candidate for ladder bracing.

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Alan Carruth wrote:
It's possible to calculate the Young's modulus of the wood from deflection data if the piece is rectangular, you know the thickness and width, and have the spacing of the supports, along with the load and deflection.

Good experiments are designed to isolate variables, so you have an idea of why it went the way it did.
Oops... Then it would seem I've got the cart our a little too far in front of the horse.

Doug Shaker
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Doug Shaker »

Ryan Mazzocco wrote:
Alan Carruth wrote:
It's possible to calculate the Young's modulus of the wood from deflection data if the piece is rectangular, you know the thickness and width, and have the spacing of the supports, along with the load and deflection.

Good experiments are designed to isolate variables, so you have an idea of why it went the way it did.
Oops... Then it would seem I've got the cart our a little too far in front of the horse.
Well, maybe, maybe not. I think the cart and the horse just haven't gone very far yet. Good experiments are usually preceded by bad experiments. And bad experiments are usually preceded by observations. It appears to me that you are making an active observation. It will be fun and may give you some ideas of what to try next.
-Doug Shaker

Trevor Gore
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Trevor Gore »

Making guitars out of "weird" wood can be fun, and interesting. Here's one I made out of bits of wood saved when I was renovating my shed (near the bottom of the page). The top is 5 pieces of radiata pine, grain width about 1/2". When we run out of old growth, it's good to know we'll still be able to make decent guitars from salvaged woods and wood grown in our own lifetime.

There's a sound sample here.

There's more of the build story and more pics here.

...and a small pic as a "taster" here:
Top.jpg

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

well there ya go. An instrument made out of non-traditional materials and yet it still sounds like a guitar. (very cool rendition of Day Tripper btw)

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Mark Swanson »

Nice work there Trevor. I like the way you often use an unconventional approach.
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Steve Senseney
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Steve Senseney »

I do like the appearance of your guitar Trevor.

It did remind me of the sprayed on grain patterns that the old Stella guitars used however.

Trevor Gore
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Trevor Gore »

Steve Senseney wrote:I do like the appearance of your guitar Trevor.

It did remind me of the sprayed on grain patterns that the old Stella guitars used however.
Thanks Steve! (I think!)

It wasn't intended as a "looker" (I have other guitars for that!), rather as an exploration into a few different things:
1) A steel string guitar on a classical body shape (nothing radical there, as it's basically 00 sized)
2) An exercise in using "woods of opportunity" rather than select tone woods, to demonstrate that it's more about the design than the materials (poor design + good materials = poor guitar; good design + poor materials = decent guitar)
3) To verify that my standard design techniques would work using non-standard materials (which they did)

It's not often I get to see/hear the guitars I've built once they've left, so it's good to keep one and see how it changes over time. This guitar is about 18 months old now and sounds quite a bit better than in the linked recording above. What's changed? It's louder with more in the trebles than before, which I put down to finishes really hardening off and maybe some crystallisation of resins in the soundboard, which has made it stiffer (which I've measured) and reduced the damping (which I haven't measured). Usually, woods don't exhibit the increase in stiffness but I think in this case it was due to the pine I used never having been kept at low humidity until I dried it just before I built with it. Mostly, top woods have been at 8% EMC for years before they get used in instruments.

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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Chuck Morrison »

Absolutely !
Trevor Gore wrote: ...
2) ... to demonstrate that it's more about the design than the materials (poor design + good materials = poor guitar; good design + poor materials = decent guitar)
...
46+ years playing/building/learning

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Doing a little experiment....

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Here are some update photos.
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20130501_153834.jpg
20130501_153728.jpg

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