Some Thoughts On Building Better Guitars
Reduce That Mass
Branzell Guitars are built lightly, much like the prewar guitars. Properly done, light construction allows guitar woods to deliver superior tone and volume without sacrificing structural integrity. When you pick up one of my pieces you will immediately notice the lighter weight compared to most other acoustic guitars.
Top woods are selected based on the guitar model, tap tone, stiffness, and appearance. Tops are typically braced with Adirondack that is scalloped during the voicing process. Backs and sides are always of a high quality, usually well quartered, and are appropriately dimensioned to allow the sides to be bent and the braced back to be resonant.
Hot Hide Glue
Hot hide glue is used to assemble the entire top and back structure as well as the bridge and dovetail neck joint. I have been using it for several years now and without question it adds a presence and improvement in overall sound quality. It is stronger than modern glues, it is resistant to cold creep, and when compared to modern glues it is has a greater tolerance of high temperatures, like the inside of a hot summer car. That said, please don’t ever leave your guitar in a hot car, ever! Hide glue nearly doubles the time it takes to glue braces but it is time well spent. (There is no up charge for HHG) More work, but better tone.
Many high end guitars are built in the 45 to 55% humidity range. This is most likely due to the higher natural humidity in say Pennsylvania or Tennessee, that dictates the builder work within that range or some happy medium. Branzell Guitars are built in Nevada, the driest state in the union. For a guitarist that is valuable and desirable. My shop is easily humidify up to 30 to 35%. If I knew your guitar would never leave Nevada I’d build even dryer. A dryer built guitar is less prone to many of the repairman’s bread and butter fixes like cracks, sunken tops, action issues, sharp fret ends, loose braces or any number of tortures experienced by wet wood gone dry. And there is another equally important benefit, dryer guitars sound better than wet ones. Ever play one of those old dried out Gibson or Martin acoustics that have been through multiple repairs caused by dryness? The really good ones are often quite parched. What about taking a guitar built in a dryer environment to a more humid one? Given the choice I’d take the dry to wet, over the wet to dry scenario. Just avoid extremes.
I do use a band saw, a thickness sander, various routers and other power tools to do some of procedures that really don’t “require” hand work. Beyond that my guitars are handmade. Chisels, various hand planes, draw knifes, scrapers, files and such are typically the tools that are in my hands while crafting your guitar.
It “really does matter” to me that you get the guitar of your dreams. Tell me what you want!