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Semi-Hollow or Contoured Chambered?


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For a guitar build I'm designing with a buddy (he's got a woodworking business and I'm giving him some ideas to play with), I'd like a hollow-body. However...

I've sort of fallen in love with the idea of a heavily contoured and ergonomic guitar. I'm thinking something along the lines of Myka Guitars (and eventually I'd like to save up for one of his, it just hasn't been in the cards just yet). But I'm looking at something that's got that seamless sort of flow, and I like the look (and presumably the feel) of his that are one-piece backs that just curve around without any edges.

So my question is two-fold.

First, can you get those kinds of ergonomics with a semi-hollow, or would that just be too complicated to make work with the bent sides and carved top and back? I have seen Ovation make some contoured acoustics, but I don't know how to give my buddy any advice for planning that.

Second, if you carve out huge chambers (or carve the whole thing out and add a separate center block, if that would make sense) and make the top and back thin enough to be resonate but thick enough to be be structurally sound and not feedback like crazy, how much of the traditional semi-hollow sound and feel? Because part of what I loved about the semi-hollows I have owned is how they just vibrated your whole body with them. It may be silly (or not), but I loved that kinesthetic part of playing.

If I could add a separate build question, I'm thinking of a black limba back, walnut top, rosewood neck, and either a rosewood or ebony fretboard. What would be the difference between staying with black limba for the center block vs. the more traditional maple or mahogany? I've read the tonewood talk over the years, but with this much going on that's already non-traditional, not to mention the electronics, I'm not sure if it would matter. That said, I'm open to being told I'm wrong.

-Cheers

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10 hours ago, Dave I said:

can you get those kinds of ergonomics with a semi-hollow, or would that just be too complicated to make work with the bent sides and carved top and back?

Violins and mandolins among others have all sorts of curves, yet they have been made for centuries so complicated forms are not something only modern technology allows.

10 hours ago, Dave I said:

I loved that kinesthetic part of playing.

I guess that's what "tonewood" does. Anything that makes you want to play more is good!

10 hours ago, Dave I said:

What would be the difference between staying with black limba for the center block vs. the more traditional maple or mahogany?

There might be a small difference in the acoustic sound and the kinesthetic feedback. Would it matter is another question, only building several instruments of various wood combinations would tell what the average result might be.

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  • 1 month later...

Limba is an absolutely fantastic tone wood. More tonier(tm) than most any other wood I’ve used. It has this incredibly resonant mid that just sings. It doesn’t stick out, but sounds like warm mahogany with a focused lively voice. I’d use it for the body and center core. I’ve not used walnut, but thought it was warm in tone? Your topwood is probably the one to consider most. Using any tonewood ‘recipe’ used by David is certainly going to be good. He absolutely knows and has tried most of them.

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I have a couple of build threads here where I do a semi hollow with a radius top/back. I just cut the semi hollow, then created a jig for my router (with help from many here) that would carve the contour into the body stock, then bent a top over it and glued.

then I do one with semi hollow and a carved top that has more drastic contours. 

might give you some ideas to look at those threadsanyway.  I think it's totally do-able but it's up to your buddy to know his limits... certainly there are lots of folks here who will help with advice if you/he are open to it.

I've used 1/8" tops on semi hollow, 1/4" tops, and a 1" carved top.  def the thinner the more it is going to resonate... but then you have to have careful planning to make sure it is supported and structurally strong.  afa center block... in one of my builds i actually used birdseye inside mahog to mount the neck pickup... honestly didn't notice a huge difference but it doesn't mean you won't.  I think as long as you use good quality hardwoods... it'll sound good but zeroing in on a specific sound is something many hear have spent their lifetime mastering... gotta start out by just making a guess and taking a shot.

i second: black limba is awesome/beautiful.  can't go wrong there!

 

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