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New Semi-acoustic In Progress

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I am working on a pretty cool project lately that I thought some of you might be interested in. It is very different from my usual designs being a a true acoustic-electric semi-hollow. The main idea was to have an acoustic guitar that could play at stage volumes without too much feedback and then be able to switch to a full-on electric mode with the flick of a switch. The body is built much like an acoustic with thin bent wood sides with a full thickness center block of mahogany. The wood is Brazilian rosewood and the neck will be mahogany with an ebony fretboard and details. Here's a pic of the construction:


You can see more pics as well as a photshop mockup by clicking here.

The larger piece of mahogany will be for an access panel. There will be an acoustic style bridge with a coaxial piezo element and an onboard preamp. Since the soundholes are way too small the access panel just makes sense. The piece by the upper bout is for a strap button. Notice also the pieces of kerfing that support the braces. This side assembly is extremely rigid with the braces tied in this way.

I love the contrast of the binding but I do not like working with the plastic binding at all. It is messy and just not as easy to work as wood bindings, for me anyway. I may just be more used to wood bindings but I do not plan to use plastic again if I can help it. I like the look of wood much better. This was a client request so...

I should have more progress done this week. I'll post pics if I get the chance.


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Wow, I know it's only january, but that's the coolest thing I've seen all year.

Do you expect much acoustic volume out of it?

I dont know enough about flattops, nor have I ever seen one with a centre block. That's still a sizeable chamber on the bass side though.

Edited by Mr Alex
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Wow. Having spent a TON of time trying to get the purflings on my own f-holes (etc) perfectly mitered in the corners with marginal success, I must say those acute angles look absolutely PHENOMENAL. The overall shape really isn't to my own tastes, but the craftsmanship and detail looks impeccable so far.


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Thanks for the comments. I appreciate it!

To answer your questions:

MrAlex: I expect to get about as much acoustic sound as you can get from a piezo undersaddle pickup. I have gathered a lot of information on this style of guitar from some of the acoustic forums (mostly from Rick Turner) and I have read over and over that most of the tone you get from an undersaddle piezo element is the sound of the strings on the saddle and only a little is actually from the soundboard itself (this is why transducer pickups are still being developed, like the K&K pickup systems, that capture more of the acoustic tone because they are located on the soundboard). I did some tests with an acoustic bridge and saddle fitted with a piezo on a solid block of wood. I was surprised by how 'acoustic' it sounded. I think what we are used to hearing is actually just the undersaddle piezo characteristics.

davee5: Thanks, those miters were tough. In order to get them to stay in place I used a heat gun to fix their shape but that added to the problem. The heat made the plastic slump and stretch. After going through a couple pieces I finally taped them in place and heated them with the hole as support. This worked pretty well heating and then holding in place until cool again. When it finally did hold its shape the miters were then possible. I would love to see how some of the archtop builders do this with the standard f-holes. I suppose I could have used a thinner piece in the soundholes but I liked the look of the bolder white lines.

Mickguard: The center block is 3" wide. I put in the braces to give some support to the thin top and back as well as making the guitar more solid. The bracing is 1/4" wide by 3/8" tall. Not too much different than an acoustic and still allows the body to be quite responsive. As far as if it is totally necessary. Yes, I think so. The top and back were just too flexible without them. In a flapping around sort of way and not in that crisp resonant way I wanted them to be.


erikbojerik: Good catch! Actually this is not the exact same shape but it is from the same Sungazer family of instruments designed by Rob Taylor. This one he calls the Flaretone. There isn't any radius on the top or back. And the braces are glued into tight fitting grooves. The entire centerblock is glued down to the top and back. There is no air gaps or anything. Just a solid join.

I'll get some new pics up later this week.


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My initial question I was refering to the unplugged acoustic volume of it. But the more I think about it, the large acoustic cavities will resonate with the centre block, and effect both amplified and unplugged tone. I would assume that this method will give a far more "acoustic" sound from the piezo that a solidbody with piezo.

On your recommendation I had Pickup The World make a large under saddle pickup for the fanned fret archtop semihollow I built last year. Whilst it had the most "airy" sound from the archtop, I found myself sticking it on every instrument I had. Surprisingly, it was my pedal steel that had the most natural "acoustic" sound with the pickup. Perhaps the massive resonant body simulates an acoustic guitars resonance.

It will be interesting to hear how this instrument behaves, I'm beginning to think that large centre block will prehaps react in the same way, with some additional simpathetic vibration from the acoustic top and back.

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  • 5 months later...

I will have some more progress of this one very soon. I have just been slammed over here and haven't had much time to update the website. I'll post here when I do.

Thanks for all the comments. My client Rob Taylor is the design mastermind behind this one. It is always a pleasure working with his ideas. They are all off the charts cool and so much fun to build.


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