Acoustic Guitars Featured Builds

Seven string, Fan Fret Stereo Acoustic

It’s a little like No 7 buses. You can’t see one and then 3 come along. I had just completed a Selmer style acoustic, albeit with a transitional arm bevel and was looking forward to a rather more straight forward build, when along came Dave with those immortal words, “What about a seven string slant fretted guitar with stereo output?”. Hmmm, interesting I thought, hoping it would just go away but Dave was adamant about what he wanted and so it began.

Dave had been loaned a Godin Multiac nylon 7 string but found that dropping the lower string below B wasn’t easy as the tension obviously had to be lowered and the acoustic volume dropped. This made for hard work at a gig so the idea of a longer scale for the bass strings would help things out - hence the idea of fanned frets.

Although many other guitar builders have, I had never built a fan fretted guitar and I decided on two scale lengths, Top E string at 648mm and the lower E string at 686 mm (25.5” & 27”). The board obviously needed to be wider to accommodate 7 strings and it was radiused at 24”.

As it was to be a stage guitar, the body depth was reduced to help limit feedback and a ‘Fleta’ style bracing adapted to the cedar top. The back and sides were Indian Rosewood and the neck was mahogany with a Macassar Ebony board. The bridge, also Macassar Ebony, was fitted with two piezo under-saddle transducers, one for the three bass strings and the other for the four treble strings and they were routed through a stereo output jack socket, the idea being that the bass strings could be sent to one amp and the treble to a second amp.

The body shape I based on another guitar that I had built for Dave, a slightly Maccaferri influenced cutaway body with headstock featuring unmistakable Maccaferri routs. There were many long ‘moments’ during the build, when a two dimensional drawing seemed at odds with a three dimensional model but all were overcome and the result really pleasing - mind you I could never play it! The longer bass scale length allowed the bottom string to be lowered to A if needed and the balance across the guitar was excellent acoustically. So far I have yet to hear Dave play it live but look forward to the stereo spread. Now I’m dodging any more No 7 buses.

The guitar was featured in ‘Guitarist presents Acoustic Winter 2015’ magazine.

Zircote Stage Acoustic

My reader(s) may recall a while ago, a guitar that started out as a possible acoustic commission but ended in a rather nice set neck, twin HB, S type. Well coincidentally, this one started as an electric slide guitar (with a suggested shape similar to Richard Thompson's green Ferrington electric) but this morphed into a rather beautiful acoustic featuring a "Manzer" style wedge body. It is a steel strung 25", scale cedar topped guitar with a B band piezo pickup system.

Chris, my client, owns quite a few top end guitars, including a very very nice Linda Manzer nylon strung acoustic and so I was able to have a good look at the "Manzer Wedge." Although I had done something similar with a baritone acoustic, I was impressed by her styling and indeed everything about the guitar, far more radical than my previous effort.

Chris chose ziricote for the back and sides and cedar for the top and binding to body and head were koa. The neck was mahogany with a figured maple centre splice. Fingerboard and bridge were macassar ebony. Ebony bridge pins, Waverly tuners, Schaller strap locks, black tusk nut and bridge saddle and an under saddle B Band pickup system completed the spec.

Because Chris is an accomplished guitarist (don't blush!) a cutaway was considered essential as was a 14 fret to body design to access the 'dusty end' of the fingerboard. The neck profile was taken from his trusty Lowden acoustic and the body shape was my 'parlour' sized acoustic but with added cutaway. I copied Linda M's wedge body but reduced the depth overall by about 5/8" (yes, imperial measurements - you youngsters go work out the metric conversion!). This was to help reduce any on stage feedback, much as I did with Dave Burrluck's CE-N acoustic (featured build Nov 2012). I also fitted a bridge truss system that I have used many times.

The finish was nitro cellulose with the cedar top and back of neck in satin, whilst the back and sides were hand rubbed gloss.

The finished guitar looked stunning and had a rather surprising 'full sound', (again rather like Dave B's CE-N). Plugged in, the B Band delivered the goods with little piezo 'quack'.

Most importantly, Chris says there is nothing that he would change at all about it, "best acoustic ever!". So why did it come in today to have the action slightly lowered!!!!

In truth I liked this guitar so much I have just built another to very nearly the same spec. It may appear for sale or it may well be added to my own collection, I do fancy it for a few Muskett gigs!