My Mini Archtop.

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Daniel Oates
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 11:28 am

My Mini Archtop.

Post by Daniel Oates »

I wanted a guitar I could play whilst relaxing on the couch or in an armchair- something I could play without having to sit upright. Here is what I came up with. The body is about the size of a mandolin. The scale is a 25" scale that begins at the 5th fret. Heavy strings allow it to be tuned to E.


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The top is Engelman spruce. The sides and neck are myrtle. The tone is quite trebley which I kind of was expecting but is a little disappointing. Perhaps some of you have suggestions as to how to make it less so.

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Hans Bezemer
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Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Hans Bezemer »

Welcome to the forum!

To bad about the trebley tone, but you made a beautiful instrument!

Daniel Oates
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 11:28 am

Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Daniel Oates »

I just found a side view. As you can see, the arch is quite deep which makes the neck angle steep, which, in turn, makes the bridge about 7/8". Consequently, the angle of the tail piece is really steep meaning there is probably too much tension on the bridge and the soundboard. If I were doing it over, I would probably made a shallower top.
I'm also thinking that the bridge might be too heavy and I should make it less clunky. What are your thoughts?

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Jason Rodgers
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Now that's just cute as a bug! Great concept.

As for the treblies, there's probably no getting away from most of it with the body size. Before modifying anything, try a lighter set of strings and a terz tuning (G to g). Then try a lighter bridge.

Tell about the staining that you did to achieve this charming effect. Hand-rubbed?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Mario Proulx
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Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Mario Proulx »

What type of strings are you using? They look like either nylon or silk & steel? A bronze or phos.bronze steel string set will help...

Losing the bone saddles and making a bridge and saddle of ebony will help tame the high end and help the bottom.

Daniel Oates
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 11:28 am

Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Daniel Oates »

I used Zar wood stain thinned with mineral spirits to get the slight sunburst effect. Once dry i used two coats of polymerized tung oil. Finally, I polished with beeswax - a really quick and simple finish that feels good and looks good.

As far as the strings go, I started with bronze acoustic guitar strings and switched to nylon because I thought the nylon actually sounds more mellow. The bridge was also all ebony but I changed that to bone, but now that I have switched to nylon I will have to make a new bridge anyway because the intonation is off.

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Randolph Rhett
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Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Randolph Rhett »

For what it's worth, my experience is that small bodied guitars are not invariably "trebly" or bright. They are not as loud as bigger guitars, but the tone can be quite full and rich. One thing to keep in mind is that a surface becomes stiffer geometrically as it shrinks. Shrink the width by half and the top becomes more than doubly stiff. On flat tops that I built the bracing is MUCH lighter than on larger guitars.

A tall arch, all other things being equal, will produce a stiffer top. I notice that your top seems to have about 3/4" arch, much as I would expect from a 17" or even 18" archtop. Is is also equally thick? Mandolins have roughly 3/8" arch, for comparison. It may be too late now, but if you do give it a second shot you might try a lower arch. In the interim, you might consider thinning the recurve and see if that gives you a better tone.

I've not built a small archtop yet, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt ;-)

Steve Senseney
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Re: My Mini Archtop.

Post by Steve Senseney »

I really like the appearance.

I hope the tone can be improved with the suggestions others have made.

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