About bracing

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Re: About bracing

Postby mqbernardo » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:04 am

nice article, just a couple of questions:

1- in the variations on the fan-bracing pic, is that really a Bouchet design? isn´t (at least that i know of) the typical bouchet design made from (5?) concentric fan struts (like Torres "cometa") and bridge bar, besides the open harmonic bar?

2 - didn´t Santos Hernandez use a slanted "treble bar" - in the context of a fan-strutted guitar - prior to Ramirez III?

thanks,
miguel.
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Re: About bracing

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:11 pm

Hi Miguel,
Those variations on fan bracing were pulled from the the GSI website I think. I just wanted to show less informed readers that there were a lot of luthiers tinkering with variations on the Torres fan pattern, and to show what a few of them looked like.

But I wondered how accurate some of them were too, like the Bouchet pattern which does'nt have the braced across the center of the lower bout. He probably had more than one pattern he used, even though that's not the one we all think of when we think of Bouchet bracing.

As for the treble bar, it's hard to say who actually invented it. Inventing seems to be one thing, and becoming associated with something is another. It's possible that Jose Ramirez 3rd took the idea from Santos, or someone else, and claimed it as his own. I doubt he was the very first to do the treble bar, but it's become associated with him.
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Re: About bracing

Postby Scot Tremblay » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:41 pm

Good article Marcus. It's always a pleasure to see a buddys name in print.

Assigning any one particular feature to a single "inventor" is iffy at best. All of the features found in the Torres design and variations, can be found in instruments dating back many centuries. Arguably, there is even evidence for a radial pattern reminicent of Kasha/Schneider in the early 19th century...possibly the lattice pattern is new but if one looks hard enough and stretches the design a little there may be examples in early guitar bracing patterns.

A couple examples: the so called "treble bar" can be found in some early Baroque guitar patterns:

chiarrigliasoundboard.jpg


The transverse bar across the middle of the lower bout under the bridge, often associated with the Bouchet and others is a common feature of many of the guitars from the 19th century Viennese school of building. I recently documented a later 19th century guitar by L. von Reisinger which has this bar running just under the saddle, Scherzer also used a similar bar on occassion. Sorry I don't have a photo of that at the moment...after I draw the pattern.

Even the harmonic bars associated with the Torres school can be found in early lutes (slightly different but same intention) as well as some Baroque guitars. I believe it was Sinder de Rider (a French master instrument restorer...the best!) that recently posted some photos of this pattern found on a Baroque guitar, on another form. I'll have to search it out and see if I can find them.

So there is "nothing new under the sun". But what might be new is the combination of these various features that a single builder puts together for his use. I'm not trying to lessen the importance of our luthier heros but I think we should admire them for having the instinct and intelligence to put things together, from all the various sources, in ways that significently effect the instruments improvement rather than having "invented" any one thing. It's all part of the evolution of the guitar drawn from the knowledge which came before.
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Re: About bracing

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:55 pm

Scot Tremblay wrote:Assigning any one particular feature to a single "inventor" is iffy at best.


Yes, I agree. A good example is fan bracing itself. Who is more important - the "inventor" or the one who markets it with success, and who should history remember?
We associate fan bracing with Torres even though others, like Panormo used it before him. But Torres was the best, and most succesful luthier making that model of guitar at the time. His workmanship was better, and his guitars were sought after by musicians from as far away as Argentina. That's a pretty incredible feat at that time in history.

Imagine if we discovered that Smallman had taken the lattice bracing idea from some unknown luthier who made a few prototypes, had a bit of commercial success, and then gave it up and went into Law or Medicine. Who do we give the credit to? I would say Smallman becuase he's the one who essentially made the lattice concept a reality in that he brought it to the awareness of the guitar playing world. Well maybe it could be argued that it was John Williams who did that....... :!:

Cheers Scot
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Re: About bracing

Postby David LaPlante » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:20 pm

Tyler,
You are certainly correct in stating that "X" bracing was in use by a number of makers in the U.S. including Martin by 1850.
It actually predates that date considerably.
Several researchers including myself are working on a volume which should answer the question of who originated the "X" brace as we know it as well as where it came from in the progression of development which occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century here in the U.S..
Hal Leonard will be publishing the book in 2013 which is tentatively titled "The Guitar in Early America".

Just as an interesting aside, an X arrangement above the soundhole was used in the guitars of Jose Pages which were made in Cadiz Spain in the 1820s.
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Re: About bracing

Postby Tyler Smart » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:49 pm

David,
Happy to hear such a project is in the works, I am neither a guitar historian nor a guitar maker. I am just thoroughly intrigued by the subject, so I patiently await the release of such a book. Not to derail the direction of the thread, but could you (or anyone for that matter), recommend any books already published on the historical development of the classical guitar?
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Re: About bracing

Postby David LaPlante » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:20 pm

Well, Marcus has already mentioned one of the best ones in this thread which is "Guitars, From the Renaissance to Rock" by Tom and Mary Anne Evans (Paddington Press). Another excellent one is of course Jose' Romanillos' "Antonio de Torres-Guitar Maker, his life and work".
There are several others including Sheldon Urlik's fine book "A Collection of fine Spanish Guitars" as well as the MET's catalog "The Spanish Guitar" from the 1991 exhibit of the same name.
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Re: About bracing

Postby mqbernardo » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:04 pm

Marcus Dominelli wrote:Hi Miguel,
Those variations on fan bracing were pulled from the the GSI website I think. I just wanted to show less informed readers that there were a lot of luthiers tinkering with variations on the Torres fan pattern, and to show what a few of them looked like.

But I wondered how accurate some of them were too, like the Bouchet pattern which does'nt have the braced across the center of the lower bout. He probably had more than one pattern he used, even though that's not the one we all think of when we think of Bouchet bracing.

As for the treble bar, it's hard to say who actually invented it. Inventing seems to be one thing, and becoming associated with something is another. It's possible that Jose Ramirez 3rd took the idea from Santos, or someone else, and claimed it as his own. I doubt he was the very first to do the treble bar, but it's become associated with him.
Thanks for the reply, Marcus. I wasn´t pointing the arrogant finger, or searching for inaccuracies: hope it didn´t came across like that. i was wondering if that was a Bouchet pattern that i was unaware of. As for Santos and the "treble bar", i had that question for sometime - as he would be an obvious influence on the Ramirez dinasty - and it seemed an appropriate time to ask.

Scot Tremblay wrote:Assigning any one particular feature to a single "inventor" is iffy at best. All of the features found in the Torres design and variations, can be found in instruments dating back many centuries
You´re very right of course, but by saying "using a slanted bar in the context of a fan-strutted guitar prior to Ramirez III" i wasn´t implying that SH invented "the" treble bar, just quite textually that he might be on to something prior to JR III. Indeed History is far from linear and at times is better understood as several histories and subtexts that entwine, mingle and diverge rather freely. The development of the modern/spanish/classical guitar seems to be such a case.

BTW, if you could find the pics of those baroque guitars and post them, i´d be very grateful.

Thanks all,
miguel.
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Re: About bracing

Postby John Ray » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:34 pm

Imagine if we discovered that Smallman had taken the lattice bracing idea from some unknown luthier who made a few prototypes, had a bit of commercial success, and then gave it up and went into Law or Medicine. Who do we give the credit to? I would say Smallman becuase he's the one who essentially made the lattice concept a reality in that he brought it to the awareness of the guitar playing world.


I am trying to dig up an article I read in Guitar International from 1988 which I seem to remember says that John Hall of Australia was that guy! Funny old world. That article is just what we need Marcus, there is a lot of education to be done about guitar construction and especially guitarists need to: TRUST THE MAKER! to make the choices about the guitar making. If you like the maker's sound and feel then go for it, if not then don't buy.

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Re: About bracing

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:12 am

John Ray wrote:I am trying to dig up an article I read in Guitar International from 1988 which I seem to remember says that John Hall of Australia was that guy! Funny old world.


That's interesting. It really does'nt surprise me. I think this is pretty common in almost every field. It would be cool if you found that article.
How's life in Granada? My wife was there in october for work. It was really hot.
-Marcus
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Re: About bracing

Postby Trevor Gore » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:06 am

Marcus Dominelli wrote:
John Ray wrote:I am trying to dig up an article I read in Guitar International from 1988 which I seem to remember says that John Hall of Australia was that guy! Funny old world.


That's interesting. It really does'nt surprise me. I think this is pretty common in almost every field. It would be cool if you found that article.
How's life in Granada? My wife was there in october for work. It was really hot.
-Marcus

There were a few guys in Australia messing with novel bracing ideas around that time. Everyone knows Smallman of course, but there were also Gilet, Biffen, Jim Williams, Kellaway, Caldersmith and, of course John (Ben) Hall who all knew each other and helped each other out in the pioneering days of the 70's. Hall got half way there with regard to a lattice in that he developed a bracing system comprising closely spaced diagonal bars which he called "Steinway Bracing" after the bracing style on pianos. Hall still uses that style of bracing. Smallman doubled it up by putting in the other set of diagonals to create the lattice and the rest, as they say, is history. At least, that's how Ben tells it!
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Re: About bracing

Postby Henrique Gabriel » Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:15 pm

Great article. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.
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Re: About bracing

Postby Frederich Holtier » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:21 am

Hi, Scot.
Something like that ? Both are all wood double tops.
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Re: About bracing

Postby Scot Tremblay » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:55 am

That's the idea but need a few more braces.

The L. von Reisinger has 6 transverse braces: one either side of soundhole, one between neck block and upper soundhole brace, one 3 - 4 cm below lower soundhole brace, one ca. half way between bridge and end block and the last one either directly under the saddle or a few mm in front of the front edge of the bridge. And they are a bit sturdier than the one you've got there.

As most 19th century guitars didn't have any arch to the soundboard, they tried to counter the "S" shape that happens to the top by placing a transverse bar at the approx. center point between the soundhole and bridge. Often this brace was angled at +/- 30 degrees to tighten the treble side much like some of the Spanish builders did with their "treble bar".

I'll soon have a top braced "a la Reisinger" and I'll post a photo. I hope that answers your question...
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Re: About bracing

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:19 pm

Interesting stuff Frederich. Those two guitars are tops made of two layers of solid wood, and no nomex correct?

Scot, Regarding that first picture you posted of the baroque guitar. I would not consider that sloping lower transverse brace (aka lower harmonic bar) the same thing as the "treble bar" as used by Ramirez and others. That slightly sloping transverse brace is still " a mile away" from the bridge. The treble bar is typically about half way to the bridge or even much closer. Talk about a stretch!
Looks like many luthiers were sharing similar thoughts, but this is where I have to draw the line. :!: :!: :contrat:
-Marcus
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