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Determining Size Of Chambering


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I've chambered a couple of my builds now, mostly for weight, although I think it adds a nice tonal quality. At least, I perceive that the differences in sound between two similar builds come from the chambering - it certainly has a much nicer "unplugged" sound.

I've seen a variety of chambering techniques from various builders here. Compared to some of them, my chambering has been fairly conservative, but as I said, my chambering has all been done with wieght as the primary concern. None of these have had f-holes or the like.

I think I'd like to continue to pursue this avenue of chambering, however. Are there any rules of thumb I should be taking into account? I'm assuming the big ones are adequate wood to attach strap buttongs, support the top, and adequate wood to attach my set necks, support for the bridge/strings (looking at Myka's builds, it seems I can get away with less here if I go with a tailpiece/bigsby type mounting where the strings "press" on the bridge as opposed to a string through or wrap-around bridge where the strings "pull" from the top (that doesn't describe exactly what happens, but I think it makes the difference I'm trying to describe clear?)

I'm fairly confident in carving a top now, having done a couple, but I also think I'd like to try my hand at carving the inside of the top as well ( similar to some of the build pics I swore I saw on Myka's site but can't seem to find anymore. I have some wood getting ready to join up for a top here, not quite "scrap", but the sort of wood I don't mind tossing if I botch it, but wouldn't mind using for something if it works (although I would rather do a second one with a nicer piece) But I've never done the inside of a top - any pointers for that? Should I be looking at a book about making archtops? Do you start carving the inside or outside of the top?

I guess these questions are pretty vague - when I finish my body design, I'll post pictures of my proposed chambers, and ask for input - but I'm not really sure what sort of info to be searching for, so my searches aren't turning up much. Any input or reference suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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If you use bridges that screw into the top, you at least want a block under that area, otherwise you need to brace the tops (like acoustic archtops). The bigger the chambers/fewer of them, the more responsive the guitars, more acoustic, more feedback-prone (add F-holes and they're even more feedback-prone).

A book on archtop making can help fuel the creative juices, yes, but isn't essential. Can be helpful though.

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You should try your hand at an archtop or an acoustic. They are functionally very different than a semi hollow electric. It would certainly open your eyes to structural requirements, some of the effects of stiffness/strength/weight on how a body vibrates, air coupling concepts and back plates, helmholtz resonator tuning and many other things that will add to your design toolbox.

Most chambering I see is little more than removing weight. Myka is pushing his semi-hollows more tward a small bodied electrified archtop. His designs reflect his understanding of the acoustic instrument. If you really want to be able to get something more than weight loss out of cutting chambers, carving arches and such. Look to acoustic instruments design concepts and tactics.

Peace,Rich

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Thanks. Like I said, reducing weight is my primary concern, but I've been very inspired by Myka's designs, and I believe there is some sort of tonal change in my small experiments; but certainly nothing very grand.

I'll take a look at some acoustic building info, per your suggestion Rich. I've longed to try my hand at acoustic building for a while, but the side-bending is what gets me - I just don't have the space right now for much more in the way of jigs and machinery. But reading and learning is never a bad thing, even if I don't get a chance to apply it.

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Thanks. Like I said, reducing weight is my primary concern, but I've been very inspired by Myka's designs, and I believe there is some sort of tonal change in my small experiments; but certainly nothing very grand.

I'll take a look at some acoustic building info, per your suggestion Rich. I've longed to try my hand at acoustic building for a while, but the side-bending is what gets me - I just don't have the space right now for much more in the way of jigs and machinery. But reading and learning is never a bad thing, even if I don't get a chance to apply it.

Cool, Reading up on Archtops and or acoustics will not directly translate to electric design, but it can give you a snap shot of what a guitar looks like when it is closer to structural limits. It would be worth pointing out that generally an acoustic uses heavier strings than an electric(generally 12's or 13's,11's being ultra lights). So structurally an acoustic is pretty solid(for reference to requirements). I figure it will help you know how far you can go with some design elements(in general electrics are structurally way over built). An acoustics bridge and soundboard is probably going to be of little use in an electric. However Archtops may just give you some nifty ideas(and the use of recurve thickness and F holes may give you some design control that would be fun to toy with). Good luck with your project!!

Peace,Rich

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The irony is that electrics are 'overbuilt' for string tension, but generally just enough built for the abuse many players put them through compared to acoustics :D

You also don't want to have anything too responsive to vibration if you load pickups if you want high-gain applications, unless you're deeply in love with feedback. It's all about balance, baby.

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