We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Jacek A. Rochacki
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Jacek A. Rochacki » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:49 pm

Beowulf wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:31 pm
...Mind you, I did notice a soft sound in the guitar interior...something light moving around inside as I tilted the guitar...a few weeks ago. I checked with a flashlight and a small piece of green painter's tape had found its way inside. It was rolling around due to having collected a large amount of dust, animal hair, etc. I guess this is a way to clean out your instrument's interior and reduce any fuzziness in the sound... :lol:
Some time ago I had similar experience with my Picado model 60 guitar, I decribed it here
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=113024&p=1203187&h ... l#p1203187
and @Alan Carruth named such element "Tone Ball". Since I spotted it and removed my guitar sounds beautiful again.
Antonio Picado, model 60, 2015, Cedar/IRW. Scale 640 mm.

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eno
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by eno » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:25 pm

Jacek A. Rochacki wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:49 pm
Some time ago I had similar experience with my Picado model 60 guitar, I decribed it here
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=113024&p=1203187&h ... l#p1203187
and @Alan Carruth named such element "Tone Ball". Since I spotted it and removed my guitar sounds beautiful again.
I found this kind of dust "tone ball" in quite a few vintage guitars that I happened to own. I think what happens is just when more and more dust and hairs gets inside the body over the years and the guitar is moved thousands of times then that dust and hair will stick together and form a ball as it rolls back and forth inside the guitar when it's moved.
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Masaru Kohno No.6 1967
Rokutaro Nakade 1967, 1962

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Jacek A. Rochacki
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Jacek A. Rochacki » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:36 pm

- in my case this "tone ball" got jamned at some wodden elements of the guitar inside the sound box and it influenced sounds in rather unpleasant way. Friendly luthier in my town told me that he often sees such "tone balls" inside other stringed instruments - violins, etc.
Antonio Picado, model 60, 2015, Cedar/IRW. Scale 640 mm.

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Beowulf
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Beowulf » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:45 am

Jacek A. Rochacki wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:36 pm
- in my case this "tone ball" got jamned at some wodden elements of the guitar inside the sound box and it influenced sounds in rather unpleasant way. Friendly luthier in my town told me that he often sees such "tone balls" inside other stringed instruments - violins, etc.
I think my guitar was jealous of the damper pedal on my wife's Yamaha upright grand and decided to create its own tone softener ball. I will put it back in if I am playing late at night. :wink:
1971 Yamaha GC-10

es335
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by es335 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:01 am

Jacek A. Rochacki wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:36 pm
- in my case this "tone ball" got jamned at some wodden elements of the guitar inside the sound box and it influenced sounds in rather unpleasant way. Friendly luthier in my town told me that he often sees such "tone balls" inside other stringed instruments - violins, etc.
My luthier built 1928 Gitarrenlaute (guitar lute) had a felt tone ball inside. A befriended luthier said that this had been a quite common feature of lutes as well!

ChristianSchwengeler
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by ChristianSchwengeler » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:10 am

Jorge Oliveira wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:25 pm

Hi Christian, that's me, Jorge. Please read this...
I apologise for quoting you, it is not proper nor polite :oops:, but that's the expedite way to bring you and your expertise into this discussion. The question is how to distinguish between laminated rosewood in the back and sides of a guitar, double plate rosewood and solid rosewood (or any other wood, for that matter).

Laminated rosewood, I believe, is a thin foil (2 or 3 mm) of rosewood glued to some other, thicker, non-precious type of wood. So the rosewood foil would just be there for aesthetic purposes. That would be the case of my Aria A558.

Then we have the double plate rosewood, in which two thinner plates of rosewood would be glued and bent together to form the sides and back of the guitar. The luthier could even go to the extreme of matching the grain of these two plates, so that, at the naked eye, it could not be distinguished it from a single plate, solid, rosewood. Apparently, the factory of Ryoji Matsuoka did use this technique so as to make the instruments more resistant to the high humidity of Japan.

Finally, we have the well known solid plate rosewood used in the sides and back of the guitar.

The question is, then, how can we distinguish between these three instances without "invading" the instrument. Moreover, why is a solid rosewood guitar more expensive than a double plate if, in the end, the amount of wood employed is the same (assuming, like many say, that the quality of the sound produced by both is indistinguishable)? Again, Christian, are we missing something?
[/quote]

This is complicated, sometimes laminated can mean just a kind of ply wood which is produced for musical instruments.

Laminated sides have a structural function an can help with more brittle wood, so it will not crack, and you can use thinner sides in this case, which will bend easier. On the other hand laminated sides have been used by many luthiers to give the sides more consistence, and some believe that the mass of sides has some influence on sustain, as the energy loss is less when the top is glued on a firm suport.

Also mass and flexibility of the back is critical and can add a very interessting element. Of course you can achieve all this also just using thicker sides and backs. I use a side bender and have bended rosewoode sides as thick as 3,5 mm on it. One can achieve very good results by laminating and you can't say that solid is better, it depends how it is done. A lot of world top luthiers use laminated backs and sides, and these guitars are not cheaper than all solid instruments.

This goes all into the discussion if light instruments are really better, I don't believe it, just diferent.

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Jorge Oliveira
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by Jorge Oliveira » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:42 pm

ChristianSchwengeler wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:10 am
Jorge Oliveira wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:25 pm

Hi Christian, that's me, Jorge. Please read this...
I apologise for quoting you, it is not proper nor polite :oops:, but that's the expedite way to bring you and your expertise into this discussion. The question is how to distinguish between laminated rosewood in the back and sides of a guitar, double plate rosewood and solid rosewood (or any other wood, for that matter).

Laminated rosewood, I believe, is a thin foil (2 or 3 mm) of rosewood glued to some other, thicker, non-precious type of wood. So the rosewood foil would just be there for aesthetic purposes. That would be the case of my Aria A558.

Then we have the double plate rosewood, in which two thinner plates of rosewood would be glued and bent together to form the sides and back of the guitar. The luthier could even go to the extreme of matching the grain of these two plates, so that, at the naked eye, it could not be distinguished it from a single plate, solid, rosewood. Apparently, the factory of Ryoji Matsuoka did use this technique so as to make the instruments more resistant to the high humidity of Japan.

Finally, we have the well known solid plate rosewood used in the sides and back of the guitar.

The question is, then, how can we distinguish between these three instances without "invading" the instrument. Moreover, why is a solid rosewood guitar more expensive than a double plate if, in the end, the amount of wood employed is the same (assuming, like many say, that the quality of the sound produced by both is indistinguishable)? Again, Christian, are we missing something?

This is complicated, sometimes laminated can mean just a kind of ply wood which is produced for musical instruments.

Laminated sides have a structural function an can help with more brittle wood, so it will not crack, and you can use thinner sides in this case, which will bend easier. On the other hand laminated sides have been used by many luthiers to give the sides more consistence, and some believe that the mass of sides has some influence on sustain, as the energy loss is less when the top is glued on a firm support.

Also mass and flexibility of the back is critical and can add a very interesting element. Of course you can achieve all this also just using thicker sides and backs. I use a side bender and have bended rosewood sides as thick as 3,5 mm on it. One can achieve very good results by laminating and you can't say that solid is better, it depends how it is done. A lot of world top luthiers use laminated backs and sides, and these guitars are not cheaper than all solid instruments.

This goes all into the discussion if light instruments are really better, I don't believe it, just different.
Thanks for your input, Chistian, it helps us all to understand a bit more why luthiers sometimes use laminated wood instead of solid plates. So, it is more a question of building more robust and firmer instruments, and not necessarily a question of sparing a bit in expensive wood. Nevertheless, this goes against common understanding, as I'm sure most of us, all remaining parts of the instrument being equal, are prepared to pay more for an instrument with sides and back made of solid wood than with laminated wood. And what about the double plate? You have now in your hands my Kuniharu Nobe #8 1972, is there a way to know whether is is made of solid or of double plate wood? And why, in general, luthiers use double plate wood in cheaper instruments if the weight of used wood is practically the same as in more expensive instruments made with solid plates?
1972 - Kuniharu Nobe #8, 658/51, Spr, RW B&S, Tokio, JPN (under repair)
1979 - Ryoji Matsuoka No.40
1987 - Aria A558, 650/51, Ced, lam RW B&S, Nagoya, JPN
2014 - Hermanos Camps Master Nº 3, 650/52, CAN Ced, MDG RW B&S, Banyoles, ESP

ChristianSchwengeler
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by ChristianSchwengeler » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:40 pm

Jorge Oliveira wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:42 pm

Thanks for your input, Chistian, it helps us all to understand a bit more why luthiers sometimes use laminated wood instead of solid plates. So, it is more a question of building more robust and firmer instruments, and not necessarily a question of sparing a bit in expensive wood. Nevertheless, this goes against common understanding, as I'm sure most of us, all remaining parts of the instrument being equal, are prepared to pay more for an instrument with sides and back made of solid wood than with laminated wood. And what about the double plate? You have now in your hands my Kuniharu Nobe #8 1972, is there a way to know whether is is made of solid or of double plate wood? And why, in general, luthiers use double plate wood in cheaper instruments if the weight of used wood is practically the same as in more expensive instruments made with solid plates?
This has all been discussed many times in other threads. It is not true that luthiers do use double plate in cheaper instruments, this is more work. But factories do use cheap plywood for the back on cheap guitars (flat back), which is not the same as a laminated back.

Laminating must be done in a mould to achieve the curve of the back. There are a few factores involved. Flexibility, weight, pitch, and shape. Some woods are so brittle that you might better use it laminated - Ziricote for example.

Most of the sound is produced by the strings and the top, and the fingers of the player of course, while the body is a resonator, and it is not so critical what it is made of, - there is a German luthier who makes back and sides out of spruce, and it works fine. I made myself guitars with laminated backs and sides rosewood/spruce and the results were similar to other of my solid instruments.

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eno
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by eno » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:15 pm

Christian, thanks for you insights. I've heard from one Japanese guitar dealer that the reason why most factory-made, low and mid level Japanese guitars are made with laminate (double-plate) sides is because it is easier and faster to bend two half-thin plates and then glue them together (if you have pre-made molds for that) then to bend a thick plate. So laminated sides were used by many Japanese luthiers and factories for faster production. Would you agree with that?

By the way, laminate material can de-laminate. I had this problem with my Rokutaro 1962 - the back plate delaminated in the area below the soundhole and the guitar produced terrible buzzing when basses were played. The buzzing would immediately go away if I touch the back plate in that area. I had to glue a wooden stick inside the body on the back plate to fix this problem.
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Masaru Kohno No.6 1967
Rokutaro Nakade 1967, 1962

ChristianSchwengeler
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Re: We who love Japanese classical guitars - Delcamp

Post by ChristianSchwengeler » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:57 pm

eno wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:15 pm
Christian, thanks for you insights. I've heard from one Japanese guitar dealer that the reason why most factory-made, low and mid level Japanese guitars are made with laminate (double-plate) sides is because it is easier and faster to bend two half-thin plates and then glue them together (if you have pre-made molds for that) then to bend a thick plate. So laminated sides were used by many Japanese luthiers and factories for faster production. Would you agree with that?

By the way, laminate material can de-laminate. I had this problem with my Rokutaro 1962 - the back plate delaminated in the area below the soundhole and the guitar produced terrible buzzing when basses were played. The buzzing would immediately go away if I touch the back plate in that area. I had to glue a wooden stick inside the body on the back plate to fix this problem.
I have seen a video once how they produce laminated sides in a factory - 3 veneers and powder glue between them and this all directly into the hot form. Of course factories have other equipments and what is easy for them is more complicated in small workshop.

The point is that factories need many models with ascending prices, and in the mid range they need nice wood outside but it must be cheap so the laminating comes into consideration. I found out that some brands have very nice entry models which are not expensive, and then when it goes up the sound often is worse but the instruments are "nicer" with more atention to the visual, but worse in terms of acoustics. Alhambra used to make very nice 2C models, and I try them often when I go to a music shop, just for fun, and it is funny that it uses to be of the better instruments in the whole shop...I prefere this model over 1c, 3c and 4 c by far, and 4 c must cost at least twice as much

About delaminating I don't have any experience with that, but it can happen of course. Even like that there were always very high standard instruments from Japan in the 70ties, I remember Yahiri for example.

It is possible to produce very nice solid instruments for little monney, for example african mahogony is not expensive and makes very nice guitars, just it is not so popular for classical.

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