Warning shocking content!

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Alan Carruth
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Alan Carruth » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:34 pm

Again, if you look at old instruments you will see plenty of glue on the surfaces. Often it's a useful indicator of how they did things: drips run 'down', for example, and show you whether the instrument was built on it's face on a solera. Glue attracts moisture and dirt, so it's nice to avoid having a lot around. These days is also tends to repel a certain class of buyer, and must be avoided. What counts as 'big glue drips al over the place' these days would have been negligible a hundred years ago.

In this case, the glue used is resin of some sort; probably epoxy, and is much more like a 'finish' than the old-fashioned hot glue. In vacuum clamping the top, with the uncured resin, was wrapped or covered with a thin plastic membrane and the air was sucked out. This uses the outside air pressure as a clamp to squeeze out excess resin, which adds weight to the layup but not strength. The excess resin ran down onto the top and was spread into a thin film under the plastic membrane. It is hard to get into such small spaces to clean up the excess in any event, and this type of resin is very hard and strong once it's cured, making it even more difficult. Given that the 'top' is not much more than a membrane to move air, and is at veneer thickness of less then a millimeter, it's simply impossible to get that surface layer off without risking destroying the top. It's possible to think of alternate assembly methods and sequences that would avoid, or, at least, mitigate this, but Smallman has had no need to do so, since he's undoubtedly booked solid for the foreseeable future. In coming years, perhaps, as other makers take this up as a 'standard' method, such niceties will become selling points, and you'll see more effort in that direction.

The resin does, of course, add some mass and local stiffness in those areas. This no doubt alters the way they vibrate. However, the top on that type of guitar is not structural, or even 'acoustic' at usable frequencies, except insofar as it's needed to move air. The structure of the top, and the way it vibrates are governed for all intents and purposes by the lattice. In this respect it's an entirely different sort of beast than a traditional guitar.

Some years ago Tim White designed his 'Chrysalis' guitar. It was an electric/acoustic, built of carbon fiber, which had an open lattice on the top that was inspired by insect wings (White trained in entomology). In use there was a cloth bag that attached around the edge of the back with Velcro, into which you could insert a balloon. Blowing up the balloon produced a membrane between the lattice elements that could move enough air to make some sound. In many respects this is similar to Smallman's design, except that the lattice on White's instrument doesn't carry any string load.

Jim Frieson
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Jim Frieson » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:17 am

Shocking !! Deviation from the norm !! No , not shocking , admirable . Admirable that someone who lives in the middle of nowhere in Australia
should have an original idea , work at it , and the idea become an instrument found to be useful by some players .
Perhaps there is a caveat ; that in fact it was not entirely an idea solely of Smallman , but he did execute it . I do not know .
Original ideas are very rare and few people have them or even entertain the question , have they ever had one .

Alan Carruth
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:03 pm

Smallman has been, and may still be, a power in the world of radio controlled hand launch gliders, and they use lots of CF. In fact, much of what goes into aircraft construction applies to the guitar as well, since we're both trying to make a light, strong, stiff structure. I don't think he needed much coaching to come up with the idea.

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Chris Sobel
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Chris Sobel » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:15 am

Smallman is a great luthier who has had success with many well known players... weather you like his sound or not, he's put in the kind of time that a lot of us haven't. If you know anything about this style of build you know that the globs of epoxy on the underside of the top are used to voice the instrument, since you can't really modify the lattice after it goes on.

Contrary to what the OP might suggest, the thing that is "shocking" here is armchair quarterback-ing an innovative and successful luthier from the comfort of a forum. I'm not referring to any of the informative posts by James or Alan.

Chris
CE Sobel Guitars

lamanoditrento
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by lamanoditrento » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:54 am

'Shocking' as in 'causing a feeling of surprise' is probably apt. 'Shocking' as in 'causing disgust or offense' is a bridge too far. As an amateur that spends a bit of time/effort trying to be tidy and exact in learning the craft, I was surprised it looked so messy. That being said, what others have explained about lattice and vacuum clamping makes sense.

Makes you wonder if you could spend that time/effort elsewhere? But then again, when I stand back and look at a clean looking job it does make happy

montana
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by montana » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:00 am

mChavez wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:01 pm
I am surprised that players care about how their guitar looks on the inside. Nobody can see it from the outside, it does not affect the sound. Why would a luthier bother perfecting the look on the inside when that's the time that can be spent voicing a guitar and adding real value?
When you pop the bonnet of your car, you don't expect the car battery curves to follow the exterior design, right?
Ya..but you don't expect to see chunks of plywood either :D
Kidding . ..you do make a good point

vesa
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by vesa » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:44 am

Chris Sobel wrote: the thing that is "shocking" here is armchair quarterback-ing
What I find ¨shocking¨ is the total difference in inside finish in 3 different Smallman guitars because 2009 does not show us ¨a standard inside finish¨ in Smallman guitars.
Here are 3 different inside Smallman videos.
2012:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O15u0JbJVvQ
2001:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENImGsolpIw
2009:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idit9C8 ... e=youtu.be
2001 is ¨traditionally¨ finished with no glue spillage at all to be seen.
2012 has a ¨Torres¨ level inside finish(a little bit glue to be seen in some places).
2009 is the one seen in the first post 1/3 of the top covered by epoxy glue.
IMO question is:
1. Does 2009 sound as good as 2001 and 2012? (We'll never get an answer to this)
2. If that is the case, is the glue intentionally spread on to add more rigidy to certain places in this specific top?
Or is it so that in this construction, it really does not matter if you cover the top with something?
And if the answer is no to the first question
- is this really a Smallman guitar? -
- and if it is -
¨errare humanum est¨.
Vesa Kuokkanen

Antonio Marin nr. 813 1995 (Bouchet)
Vesa Kuokkanen 2016

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KenO
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by KenO » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:58 am

Well...once you Master working with high density carbon fibre and super low density balsa wood in a lattice and curved framework using non-conventional adhesives, I suppose the inside of the Smallman might look a bit shody... Of course, considering the fact that none have mastered the art to the point of aethetic beauty, you'd have to draw your own conclusions, I guess. Innovation in its developing stages almost never looks "pretty". However, I suspect those who've had the opportunity to behold the resonance and feel of a Smallman could care less what the inside looks like...
'06 Asturias Prelude S; '02 Yamaha CG101; '68 S. Nogami Concert Tenor; '67 Hashimoto No. 232

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KenO
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by KenO » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:00 am

:desole: double post!
Last edited by KenO on Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
'06 Asturias Prelude S; '02 Yamaha CG101; '68 S. Nogami Concert Tenor; '67 Hashimoto No. 232

gjo
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by gjo » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:44 am

Chris Sobel wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:15 am
If you know anything about this style of build you know that the globs of epoxy on the underside of the top are used to voice the instrument, since you can't really modify the lattice after it goes on.
Do you know that for sure or are you speculating?

Alan Carruth
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:11 pm

It is virtually impossible to make any significant change in the voice of one of those things by re-working the lattice once it's together. CF is odd stuff; you can cut the layup with a knife in many cases, but it's very difficult to machine, slow to sand, and can't be worked with anything like a hand plane that you'd use for voicing of wooden top braces. The two approaches I've heard about that work are to add mass in selected spots (found by experiment) on the top, or restrict the vibrating area of the top by blocking off areas around the edge.

I've often thought that a lot of these issues could be addressed by making the lattice off the top. It would be fairly simple to add stiffness, and even take a bit off if need be, and you could test the lattice to see whether it was 'right'. You could not, of course, hear the guitar at that stage, but by comparing readings on lattices you should be able to figure out what worked and what didn't, and refine things. A bonus would be that the lattice itself could be made fairly clean, and you would not mess it up much, if at all, gluing it to the top. The drawback, of course, would be that you'd be starting in pretty much at the beginning of the development cycle, so it could take a while for this approach to pay off. OTOH, once you got it, you'd have it.

Kevin Cowen
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Kevin Cowen » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:17 pm

MartenFalk wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:00 am
I was truly shocked to see this. I must ask; is this for real or is it fake news? Is it really possible that a respectable luthier such as Smallman could have done this? To my eyes it looks like the work of a 9 year old.... please inform me, has anybody looked inside a Smallman and can you confirm that this is really his work?
https://youtu.be/idit9C8esUk
Why were you shocked?
The video you linked doesn't offer a single scrap of evidence that it's a Smallman.

SteveL123
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by SteveL123 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:43 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:11 pm
It is virtually impossible to make any significant change in the voice of one of those things by re-working the lattice once it's together. CF is odd stuff; you can cut the layup with a knife in many cases, but it's very difficult to machine, slow to sand, and can't be worked with anything like a hand plane that you'd use for voicing of wooden top braces. The two approaches I've heard about that work are to add mass in selected spots (found by experiment) on the top, or restrict the vibrating area of the top by blocking off areas around the edge.

I've often thought that a lot of these issues could be addressed by making the lattice off the top. It would be fairly simple to add stiffness, and even take a bit off if need be, and you could test the lattice to see whether it was 'right'. You could not, of course, hear the guitar at that stage, but by comparing readings on lattices you should be able to figure out what worked and what didn't, and refine things. A bonus would be that the lattice itself could be made fairly clean, and you would not mess it up much, if at all, gluing it to the top. The drawback, of course, would be that you'd be starting in pretty much at the beginning of the development cycle, so it could take a while for this approach to pay off. OTOH, once you got it, you'd have it.
By "making the lattice off the top", did you mean to put the lattice bracing on the outside? That's really thinking outside the box. It would look radical. Would also require a tall saddle.

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Chris Sobel
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Chris Sobel » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:00 am

gjo wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:44 am
Chris Sobel wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:15 am
If you know anything about this style of build you know that the globs of epoxy on the underside of the top are used to voice the instrument, since you can't really modify the lattice after it goes on.
Do you know that for sure or are you speculating?
True. Gobs of epoxy are used to tune the top... David schramm has spoken about this phenomenon in his posts and videos dissecting a Smallman lattice. I am speculating that the “spills” pictured are a combination of those gobs plus the results of vacuum clamping.

I’m sorry if my post was brusk; I am not a lattice fan and I would never leave the inside of my guitars like that, but I think he deserves a fair hearing.

Chris
CE Sobel Guitars

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Chris Sobel
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Re: Warning shocking content!

Post by Chris Sobel » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:01 am

SteveL123 wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:43 pm
Alan Carruth wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:11 pm
It is virtually impossible to make any significant change in the voice of one of those things by re-working the lattice once it's together. CF is odd stuff; you can cut the layup with a knife in many cases, but it's very difficult to machine, slow to sand, and can't be worked with anything like a hand plane that you'd use for voicing of wooden top braces. The two approaches I've heard about that work are to add mass in selected spots (found by experiment) on the top, or restrict the vibrating area of the top by blocking off areas around the edge.

I've often thought that a lot of these issues could be addressed by making the lattice off the top. It would be fairly simple to add stiffness, and even take a bit off if need be, and you could test the lattice to see whether it was 'right'. You could not, of course, hear the guitar at that stage, but by comparing readings on lattices you should be able to figure out what worked and what didn't, and refine things. A bonus would be that the lattice itself could be made fairly clean, and you would not mess it up much, if at all, gluing it to the top. The drawback, of course, would be that you'd be starting in pretty much at the beginning of the development cycle, so it could take a while for this approach to pay off. OTOH, once you got it, you'd have it.
By "making the lattice off the top", did you mean to put the lattice bracing on the outside? That's really thinking outside the box. It would look radical. Would also require a tall saddle.
:lol:
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