13 string guitar build thread

Discussion of all aspects of multi-string guitars, namely those with 7 or more strings.
Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:33 am

Hi Delcampers

I'm an amateur luthier from Brazil, currently building my number 4. Since this is not an ordinary project, I thought that it could be interesting to post it here.

I have been following the delcamp luthier's forum for a few years now, almost daily, and I would really love feedback and input from more experienced builders.

A few years ago I started to listen to a lot of baroque lute music, and since I (kind of) play the classical guitar, I started to look for options to play it closer to what the composers wrote; I specially missed the extra range on the bass side unavailable on the 6 string guitar.

I got to known the Alto guitars, mostly tuned in G, but really felt in love when I heard of the Dresden guitar, idealized by Mr Michael Thames.

So I decided to build a 13 string guitar, to be tuned in D min, like a baroque lute, and that's how my project began, about six months ago.

I searched the internet for variations on the design of multi-string guitars, and since I didn't find any that I thought was perfect, I had a few ideas...let's see how they come through.

Thanks guys (sorry if my language isn't clear sometimes, I don't get to write often in english)
Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:40 am

As I wrote, this is guitar number 4 for me. The first 3 were build using several sources (Natelson / Cumpiano, Bogdanovich, Robert Obrien, Roy Courtnall, Gore / Gilllet, Delcamp and other luthier forums on the Internet), so I use ideas from all these great masters, and would like to begin this thread thanking them!

So, let's begin !

The Neck

The neck was built with Cedro, and I felt it needed to be re-inforced because of the tension induced by the 13 strings, so I put an ebony strip in the middle and 2 carbon fiber bars, glued with epoxy.
13string1.jpg
13string2.jpg
13string6.jpg
13string10.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:47 am

One of the things I was searching for was a guitar that could be similar in size to a regular guitar, without the extra-long neck to support the bass strings. My headstock design was around this ideia.
13string11.jpg
13string12.jpg
13string14.jpg
13string39.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:52 am

The soundboard is of European Spruce; Back and Sides made of Maple.

I like to laminate the sides, and for this guitar I used Maple on the outside and EIR on the inside. I also use reversed kerfed linings for extra rigidity.
13string19.jpg
13string20.jpg
13string21.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:54 am

I had never worked with maple before, I since it has a lower density than the rosewoods, I decided to keep the back "out of the game", or non-live, as Mr Trevor Gore calls it. I left the back at 2.5 mm, and used 4 transverse back braces.
13string9.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:57 am

The soundboard is made of European Spruce, and I decided to keep the bracing very tradicional and conservative. 7 fan braces,2 lower harmonic braces and a bridge plate. The soundboard thickness was calculated using the formulas from the Gore/Gillet book, and yielded a target thickness of 2.2 mm for my particular piece of spruce.
13string24.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:04 am

This was the first time I built my own rosette. I used small scrap pieces of BRW, EIRW and Spanish cedar. I really like the idea; the execution wasn't perfect, a few very obvious mistakes, but overall I'm quite happy.
13string15.jpg
13string18.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:09 am

Gluing the label is always a happy and proud moment !
13string28.jpg
I assemble my guitars using a Solera, face down.
13string26.jpg
13string27.jpg
13string29.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

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HNLim
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Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by HNLim » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:31 am

Well done!

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Alain Cloutier
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Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Alain Cloutier » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:45 am

Hi Ricardo

Do all your strings will be the same length?

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:07 pm

HNLin: Thanks !

Hi Alain!
First of all, let me personally thank you for your videos playing Weiss music on your Dresden. They were a major source of inspiration for this project!

The instrument will be similar to your guitar. The first nine strings will be over the fretboard, and their length will be 650 mm. The four additional basses "float"above the fingerboard, and they attach to the bass side of the head of the guitar. The head is tilted upwards and I glued a support to keep the strings in the same level as the fretboard.
13string39.jpg
These 4 stings will have increasing lenghts, from 700 mm (10th string) to 850 mm (13th string).

May I ask whats strings do you use and recommend on your guitar?
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

Ricardo Barros
Amateur luthier
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:04 pm
Location: Brasil

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Ricardo Barros » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:36 pm

Now we have something that looks a lot like a guitar !
13string30.jpg
13string31.jpg
The next step was routing the channels for binding and purflings; I used ebony bindings.
13string32.jpg
13string34.jpg
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Sergio Abreu 2012 (sp/ir)
Ricardo Barros 2013 (cd/ir)

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Alain Cloutier
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Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Alain Cloutier » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:37 pm

Ricardo Barros wrote:


May I ask whats strings do you use and recommend on your guitar?
The Dresden is 640 mm for the first eight strings and 800 to 840 mm for the floating ones.

I use these strings :


#1 : A first (E) d'Addario nylon string
#2 and 3 : Savarez KF 60 et KF 77 carbon
#4 to 8 : Pyramid lute strings 1114, 1015, 1024, 1029 and 1034
#9 à 13 : Pyramid lute strings (120 cm) 1025, 1029, 1034, 1237 and 1441

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Alain Cloutier
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Location: Puvirnituq Canada

Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Alain Cloutier » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:43 pm

Your guitar will look a bit like Bruno Boutin's.

Here's a screenshot I took from his website.
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Alain Cloutier
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Re: 13 string guitar build thread

Post by Alain Cloutier » Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:19 am

Alain Cloutier wrote:
Ricardo Barros wrote:


May I ask whats strings do you use and recommend on your guitar?
The Dresden is 640 mm for the first eight strings and 800 to 840 mm for the floating ones.

I use these strings :


#1 : A first (E) d'Addario nylon string
#2 and 3 : Savarez KF 60 et KF 77 carbon
#4 to 8 : Pyramid lute strings 1114, 1015, 1024, 1029 and 1034
#9 à 13 : Pyramid lute strings (120 cm) 1025, 1029, 1034, 1237 and 1441
Ricardo, I forgot to tell you that these strings are for a d minor tuning.

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