From maple and spruce to an archtop guitar

archtop

While the violin maker gets most of the acclaim and prestige for turning lumber into musical instruments, you can’t deny the sheer beauty and grandeur of a jazz-style archtop guitar. Much larger than a violin or viola, the scale of a guitar can still lend itself to the exacting artistry of a master luthier, while adding some interesting engineering challenges not found in smaller stringed instruments.

Last year, [Bert van der Meij] built an archtop guitar for his daughter by following the bible written by a modern master, [Robert Benedetto]. The build began by sourcing huge blocks of quartersawn maple and spruce, carefully carving the spruce for the top and the maple for the back. The neck is made of three laminated strips of maple, carefully contoured with only hand tools.

In [Bert]‘s video, there’s some interesting examples of the tools used in the creation of this fine instrument. Instead of carving the inside and outside of the top independently, [Bert] only carved the top and used a drill press set to a certain depth to rough out the back. With only a minimum of planing, this ensures the top has a constant thickness with a minimum of work.

The end product is  a fine enough instrument to find its way onto the stage of any jazz club, as shown in a demo video of a few different musicians rocking out. A magnificent piece of work, and a wonderful gift to [Bert]‘s daughter.

 

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