Bracing and tonal qualities

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by CanadaJ, Nov 7, 2014.

  1. CanadaJ

    CanadaJ New Member

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    Hello,

    Just looking to gather as much information about bracing and the tonal impact the various approaches can have on a guitar sound. This is my first build, so I want to keep it simple. However, a little bit of learning never hurt. From what I've read so far (and please correct me if I'm wrong);

    1. Straight braces = less bass, brighter sound
    2. Scalloped braces = more bass, less brights

    3. Rear shifted = more balanced, louder
    4. Forward shifted = more bass

    Of course, these are all relative to each piece of tonewood. I played a Martin D28 HD-V the other day and it had great tones throughout the frequency range. The bass was clear as day, no tones were muddled. I was very impressed it just sounded amazing. That being said, I had played "lesser" D28 HD-V before.

    Would love to hear everyone's take on bracing and how to approach bracing from a tonal perspective.

    Thanks,

    Julien

    P.S. I'm a big fan of the smooth sound coming from White/Rice's D28, but realize that much of that has to do with TR himself.
     
  2. Thaddeus

    Thaddeus New Member

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    Make the braces as light as you can get away with. Use bright sounding wood (tap tone). If you tap the brace against something and it sounds dull or muddy, you don't want it in your guitar. You wouldn't add mud to soup, don't add it to your sound.
     
  3. Duplex Dave

    Duplex Dave Active Member

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    That's the trick right there. But, you can't figure out what you can get away with until you've had a guitar or two fall apart from under-braced tops....in other words, until it's too late :cool:
     
  4. Thaddeus

    Thaddeus New Member

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    True dat. Better to start a little beefy and pull back on the bracing gradually with successive guitars.

    Of course, I didn't do it that way, so my first three acoustics (cannons all) blew up after about 6 months. Good learning experience, though. Do as I say, not as I do, etc.
     
  5. difalkner

    difalkner Member

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    My first build, and only to this point, was in 1985 and I used Spruce bracing with Graphite Epoxy Laminate from LMI. I used a Redwood top and now, almost 30 years later, there is no bow in the bridge area and the guitar still sounds good.

    So I'm wondering if anyone does bracing like this...?

    I made the bracing pretty thin and tiny with no experience and no clue how it would hold up. It has good tone and balance, ok bass/mid/treble but not what I would call exceptional.

    I stuck my iPhone in the sound hole and took a photo so it isn't the greatest shot but you can see what it looks like.
    Bracing close up.jpg
     
  6. CanadaJ

    CanadaJ New Member

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    What's the best way to go about procuring braces? I see blanks on Stewmac - should I order a few sets, shape them into braces, and then test for the most rigid/musical braces?

    What is a good reliable source for brace wood?

    Thanks.
     
  7. Mountain Whimsy

    Mountain Whimsy New Member

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    It's a lot cheaper to buy unshaped bracewood and cut it yourself. If you have a band saw it's very easy. Then you can make it as thick or thin as you need.

    For me, shaping the bracing is one of the most enjoyable tasks.
     
  8. Thaddeus

    Thaddeus New Member

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    I went to the Woodcraft store and bought a huge blank of spruce. I rip it into brace-sized blanks, and discard the parts that have grain runout. You want straight grain because it's stronger so you can go smaller, and sounds better/brighter. If there's runout, it will be weaker and then you'd have to make it beefier.

    It's a shame to have to discard any of it but it is what it is. I heat my shop with wood so nothing is entirely wasted...
     
  9. otterhound

    otterhound New Member

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    There are 2 basic sizes of brace wood used .
    5/16" & 1/4" .
    From there , you have shaping of the braces and layout .
    For your first build , I suggest that you buy cut brace wood , kerfing and tonewoods .
    Get that first build under your wing and then concentrate on the other details .
    In other words , walk before you try to run . There is so much to learn just in the process of assembling the pieces . Your #2 will be so much better if you take this approach .
    Have you considered the radii that you will use for the top and back or are you building a flat guitar ?
    Best wishes .
     
  10. Freddy G

    Freddy G New Member

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    The best way to cut bracewood is to cleave it with a froe. This insures that there is minimal or no runout. You can then face the split billet with a plane and and resaw the individual braces or continue splitting with the froe.
     
  11. pfox14

    pfox14 New Member

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    I get Adirondack spruce billets, which are pie-shaped because their pieces from a split log. I run them through a jointer to get two perpendicular surfaces. Then I rip it with a bandsaw to get rough cut braces and sand them to the right final dimensions. If you buy tops from a specialty tonewood supplier, they should have bracing billets too.
     

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