11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Discussion of all aspects of multi-string guitars, namely those with 7 or more strings.
Conall
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11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:33 pm

New Guitar Day!

Here at last is my new Heikki Rousu 11 string guitar pitched in E. I've had it about a week and I'm wishing I'd bought something like it decades ago.

Materials: spruce soundboard, Indian rosewood back & sides, ebony fingerboard, mahogany neck, Schaller tuning pegs, 7 fan fretting.
Normal tuning (11-1): 3 open basses G,A,B; 2 fretable basses: C,D; 6 regular: E,A,D,G,B,E. I vary the tuning of all 5 basses up or (more likely) down a semitone depending on the piece. Other alternative tunings are same as 6 string guitar - dropped G 5th, dropped F# 3rd when needed. I try to avoid dropped D because I have D 7th.

Good points:

- sounds loud, balanced & amazingly resonant (every note sings unlike the dull Cs & Fs etc on 6 string guitars),
- allows me to play Bach cello suites in original keys (though I play the 4th suite in D major with capo on 1st fret), Bach lute suites & many Weiss & Dowland & other lute pieces with almost all bass notes at correct octave,
- is not much harder for me to play 6 string music having done the same previously on an 8 string.

Less good:

- finish (French polish) is not as well done as it could be (I would ask Heikki to use alternative varnish instead if ordering another),
- a couple of small scratches on neck probably caused in transit,
- will take a while to get acquainted with the new basses,
- basses need more damping to avoid piano sustain pedal effect,
- damping requires adapted technique particularly using right wrist.

Heikki has a lot of experience in building extended range instruments & it shows. His prices are reasonable compared to many other luthiers.

I intend to record something relatively soon / as soon as I can play something well enough on it.
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soltirefa
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by soltirefa » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:49 pm

It looks beautiful. Congratulations.

I suppose that if you wanted to change the tuning someday you could string it up in the D minor tuning.

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:05 pm

soltirefa wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:49 pm
It looks beautiful. Congratulations.

I suppose that if you wanted to change the tuning someday you could string it up in the D minor tuning.
Thanks Soltirefa,

My main purpose was to find an instrument that could, with less adaptation than a regular 6 string, play the greatest lute music as well as normal 6 string music. I wanted it pitched in E not G (altoguitar tuning) so I could just use it in the guitar pitch that I know & love & have spent decades learning to read staff notation well on. This also means I can use it for regular ensemble music.

I don't think I'll restring this in D minor. If I become obsessed with Weiss etc I'll start saving for an altoguitar (maybe 13 stringed if I can see myself going that far) purely for Baroque lute music. But please don't tell my wife ha ha!

RobMacKillop
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by RobMacKillop » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:16 pm

It's a fine instrument, indeed. Conall visited my house, so I heard it close up and even played it a little myself. I have no doubt that you will enjoy this instrument, Conall. You seem made for each other!

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:24 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:16 pm
It's a fine instrument, indeed. Conall visited my house, so I heard it close up and even played it a little myself. I have no doubt that you will enjoy this instrument, Conall. You seem made for each other!
I very much enjoyed visiting you Rob. You are a gent & a very interesting person! I appreciated your tips too. Thanks again!

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joachim33
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by joachim33 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:43 pm

Congrats on the new guitar.

What kind of strings did you put on? I don’t see ball ends.

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:04 pm

joachim33 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:43 pm
Congrats on the new guitar.

What kind of strings did you put on? I don’t see ball ends.
Thanks Joachim,

Yes, that looked initially like a potential problem. An altoguitar, being pitched in G & therefore shorter scale length, just uses normal E6th strings for 11-6 (of varying tensions eg extra high tension for 8th, high tension for 7th & normal for 6-1). Obviously this is a big advantage since these strings are readily available and not expensive. At first I thought normal 6th strings would be too short for 11 & 10 but in fact normal D'Addario Pro Artes are (only just) long enough and these are my strings of choice anyway.

But 11 has just a basic knot so I'm not entirely comfortable with it in case it slips out - though after over a week it's held ok.

So I did find the ball end D'Addario folk nylon E6s and I will try them when the 11th & maybe 10th too wear out / start being dull. They won't look matched at the bridge but who cares - if they sound ok.

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joachim33
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by joachim33 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:49 pm

Yep, D’Addarios have a generous length.
I would not worry so much about the 11th slipping from the roller, they are very stiff and you are using them way below their designed tension. You could give the knot a few extra twists if you are to worried.

What happened to the floppy bit of the string? Did you cut it or use it at the roller?

I would forget about the ball ends. I would be too worried that the ball touches the top and in worst case lifts the bridge. To me it is also a matter of pride to tie strings into the bridge.

At the headstock I would wind at least 1 to 5 to the outside. I think that would look more pleasing (look for PR-pictures of Hanika guitars if I am not clear enough). Your 5 seems to touch the wood, which winding to the outside would avoid.

I hope you enjoy your guitar for a long time.

soltirefa
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by soltirefa » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:55 am

Did you have to deal with import issues having that guitar shipped to you from Sweden? Did you need to have documentation that any woods were legal? That would be my concern purchasing a guitar from him.

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Steve Ganz
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Steve Ganz » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:35 am

That looks like years of fun!
I like the extended strings ramp ... I did something similar a few years ago. Let me to show...

Image
Steve

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:33 am

joachim33 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:49 pm
Yep, D’Addarios have a generous length.
I would not worry so much about the 11th slipping from the roller, they are very stiff and you are using them way below their designed tension. You could give the knot a few extra twists if you are to worried.

What happened to the floppy bit of the string? Did you cut it or use it at the roller?

I would forget about the ball ends. I would be too worried that the ball touches the top and in worst case lifts the bridge. To me it is also a matter of pride to tie strings into the bridge.

At the headstock I would wind at least 1 to 5 to the outside. I think that would look more pleasing (look for PR-pictures of Hanika guitars if I am not clear enough). Your 5 seems to touch the wood, which winding to the outside would avoid.

I hope you enjoy your guitar for a long time.
Thanks Joachim, I'm certainly loving the sound & possibilities afforded by the bass strings!

I'll try your tip for strings 1-5. I'm sure the ball end nylons are designed not to lift off the bridge but I could see they could scratch the top if touching. I'm also into practical solutions & if this proves to be I wouldn't be worrying too much about appearances / pride - but thanks anyway!

I don't think these D'Addarios have floppy bits at their ends but if so they have either been cut off or wound round the roller - must check!

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:46 am

soltirefa wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:55 am
Did you have to deal with import issues having that guitar shipped to you from Sweden? Did you need to have documentation that any woods were legal? That would be my concern purchasing a guitar from him.
UK is still, albeit only just, in the EU so I don't think CITES etc is an issue. It might be in the future thanks to Brexit....

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:51 am

Steve Ganz wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:35 am
That looks like years of fun!
I like the extended strings ramp ... I did something similar a few years ago. Let me to show...

Image
Thanks Steve! Yours looks great too & same principle. I'd love to hear / try your 11 string too. If I'm ever in the USA.....

Here's more info about another of his headstock designs:

https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi ... _Rousu.jpg

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Steve Ganz
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Steve Ganz » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:21 am

Yes Conall,
https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi ... _Rousu.jpgis the other style for using a capo on those extended frets.

Congratulations on the new baby.
Steve

Conall
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Re: 11 string Guitar by Heikki Rousu 2019

Post by Conall » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:57 am

Steve Ganz wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:21 am
Yes Conall,
https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi ... _Rousu.jpgis the other style for using a capo on those extended frets.

Congratulations on the new baby.
Hi Steve,

Yes I only really thought of the capo implications after ordering the open basses! But so far it's not been a major issue because I intend to play solo music without capo (I like capo on third fret for Renaissance lute music but don't think it's essential) & if I genuinely need a capo for (eg) ensemble I have an 8 string capo (thanks to fellow forum member Crofty) that at least affords more choice than a 6 string. So far I've used the capo for a piece I arranged for 8 string guitar (Bach 4th lute suite prelude) - which of course works on the 11 string too.

I'm intrigued by the idea of harp semitone levers - perhaps something I might consider for the open basses in a future guitar. The thinner neck of an open bass guitar is presumably lighter than one that has a fingerboard for 11 strings - and my headstock is already heavy / slightly overbalanced (not that it's a problem from playing what with leaning normally on side of guitar - but you wouldn't want to forget to rest your left arm as per usual - or see the guitar tip over!).

Thanks for your info & good wishes!

Conall

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