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New Selmer/Maccaferri style guitar

Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:34 pm
by Jared Burrows
Hi All

It has been ages since I posted anything here, but I am often here lurking about the edges and enjoy looking at all your work and discussions.

Here are some pictures of a recent effort in the Selmer/Maccaferri style. I have made a half dozen of this type of instrument in the past but this one turned out really well so I thought I would share. I began this one in 2018 and completed it very gradually while I built a pile of electrics.

Details: Engelmann top, Indian rosewood back and sides, Macassar ebony FB, mahogany neck (species unknown), ebony bridge, maple binding, brass tailpiece, Gotoh open back tuners. The somewhat bold rosette and tailpiece details are my tip of the hat to my friend, Michael Dunn, who is kind of a father figure to many of us guitar makers in Vancouver.

Perhaps of most interest to my fellow luthiers:
As you probably know, the sides and back of these guitars are traditionally made with laminates. I normally use only solid woods as I used to think laminating was too much work. This rosewood set seemed especially twisty and uncooperative despite its straight-grained appearance. The laminated construction makes it easier to bend two thinner pieces rather than one thick one around that tight cutaway and the resulting side is extremely stiff and stable. I've done this with a few classicals in the past and I think I will do it this way as a matter of course for all my instruments in the future.

The back is another laminate construction but a little unusual. While thickness-sanding the back, the power in my shop went out and the resulting change in feed rate and drum speed caused a deep gouge right across the whole thing. By the time I got it flat again, the back was way too thin. After a goodly amount of loud cursing and agitated pacing about the shop, I decided to try an experiment and laminated some very light and very stiff red cedar that I had on hand. So the back is essentially a red cedar soundboard about 1.5mm thick with a rosewood veneer of about 1.2/1.3 mm. It works extremely well and perhaps contributes to the extreme volume and projecting qualities of this guitar. I'm not sure if I would do this again (at least not on purpose) but it does open up the possibility of working with exceptionally thin back pieces that might pop up in the bargain bin.

My apologies for the lousy pictures. I am hopelessly inept with a camera.

Re: New Selmer/Maccaferri style guitar

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:24 pm
by Barry Daniels
Nice work! Sounds like a good outcome from your power black-out. Maybe your shop was trying to show you something.

Re: New Selmer/Maccaferri style guitar

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:30 pm
by Clay Schaeffer
I would encourage you to continue with your laminating experiments. It can allow you to use some exceptionally beautiful veneers in a cost effective manner. Laminating rosewood veneer to softwoods is not a new idea. It was practiced in the mid 1800's until the price of imported wood dropped enough to allow builders to simplify construction by using solid rosewood materials.
Here is an example of one:

Re: New Selmer/Maccaferri style guitar

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:41 am
by Jared Burrows
Thanks, Barry.
Clay, thank you for the pictures. I was aware of some similar examples but it always seemed like more work. Now that I have done it, the benefits become more obvious. More experiments are certainly warranted.