Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
jstroud

Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by jstroud » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:06 pm

I am considering buying a new double top guitar with cedar on bottom and spruce on top. Do these guitars open up like a new solid spruce top or even change at all over time versus traditional construction. Thanks

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2809
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:55 am

I think that the opening up process can be divided into two parts:

1) First, is the "break-in" period. This happens quite quickly provided that the guitar is built to correct tolerances. After even a few days of string tension the guitar will sound way better than when it was first strung. This may occur after several weeks or months too.
I cannot think of any reasons why a double top would not undergo this process in the same way as a solid top would.

2) Second, is the aging process, where the guitar improves as the woods age, the finish hardens, and as the guitar gets played in. The better the player, and the more diverse and dynamic his/her playing style, the better the guitar ages.
Part of what makes solid top spruce guitars age so nicely is believed to be due to the hardening of the resins in the wood. Obviously if a double top is 1/3rd spruce, 1/3rd, nomex, and 1/3rd cedar (as most seem to be), we cannot count on much of this resin hardening process occuring. Hopefully the adhesive used in the laminations will stand the test of time, and age nice both tonaly and structuraly.

Ultimately, how well the guitar opens up and ages is dependent on many factors. Perhaps the most important is how well it's made, looked after, and played.

Dominelli Guitars

User avatar
Dragonbones
Posts: 305
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:01 pm
Location: Taibei, Taiwan

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Dragonbones » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:30 am

Do these guitars open up like a new solid spruce top...?
Only if you order them with built-in hinges.
Pleasure is spread through the earth In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find. —William Wordsworth

2008 Sergio Huerta concierto,
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

jstroud

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by jstroud » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:23 am

Marcus, thanks for your insightful explanation. what type of guitars do you make??? traditional bracing, double tops, lattice?? Thanks much jim

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2809
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:53 am

Hi Jim,
Thanks. I make traditionally braced guitars (typically Hauser style bracing), as well as modern lattice-bracing. Both models can be had with elevated fingerboards.
I would like to do some experimenting with the double top concept. I've been pretty focused on refining my hybrid lattice top guitars over the past few years. One day I'll get going on the DT.
Check out my web-site if you get a chance:
www.dominelliguitars.com

-Marcus

User avatar
Cary W
Posts: 4641
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:12 pm
Location: North of Montreal

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Cary W » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:13 am

Hello Marcus.
I enjoyed visiting your website and also the demo on YouTube. You do very fine work.
By the way, I am originally from B.C. myself, Sechelt that is, and after many adventures am now a little north of Montreal.
Another builder, Martin Blackwell, happens to be just down the road in Roberts Creek, and that is where my parents lived when they were just married (1951).
Maybe one day I can take a trip out that way and visit your shop?
In the meantime I will dream of owning one of your lovely instruments :)
Cheers, Cary
2008 Yamaha GC31C Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ46
1987 Yamaha GC-3 Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ45

User avatar
Section_10
Posts: 644
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:39 pm

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Section_10 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:00 pm

My nomex is aging nicely.


I think another factor is how much you play, I simply don't play enough to open the guitar up in a decent amount of time to notice a change. I've owned the latest guitar for 8 months or so and can't tell much difference. Luckily good guitars sound good from the start and I wasn't concerned if it opened up or not.
For humans to accurately notice a change in sound has to happen fairly quick. If you played a guitar 8 hours a day for 2 months, the guitar would go through more changes AND would be close enough time to tell a difference. But i'm afraid most stories of 'wow it sounds so much sweeter than it did a few years ago' are usely not very accurate and doesn't rule out the many factors like current humidity, nail shapes, strings, aging etc..
The best situation is the impossible one, play the guitar side by side with it now and after 5 years of playing....that would be an interesting day.

User avatar
Guitar-ded
Posts: 1857
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:32 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Guitar-ded » Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:50 pm

Seems to me it would be interesting to try one of those Tone-Rite machines to a double top to hear if there was any differences before and after.
Getting better bit by bit, day by day.

Cincy2
Posts: 807
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:07 pm
Location: Tampa, FL

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Cincy2 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:01 pm

Guitar-ded wrote:Seems to me it would be interesting to try one of those Tone-Rite machines to a double top to hear if there was any differences before and after.
I did just that with a Holtier nomex double top. One full week on a Tone Rite. The change was very noticeable. More volume, more resonance.

Cincy
A wood box, empty
A sensitive heart, too full
You and I connect.

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2809
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:48 pm

Hi Cary,
Thanks. You're always welcome to come by my shop if you're ever out this way. I like having visitors; it can get pretty lonely working in isolation all day long.
I met Martin Blackwell about 10 or 12 years ago on one of his visits to Victoria. He makes really nice looking guitars.
Cheers,
-Marcus

jstroud

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by jstroud » Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:33 pm

whats a tone right? how does it work, where can you get one and how much? Thanks...JIm

User avatar
Waddy Thomson
Luthier
Posts: 2343
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:58 am
Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Waddy Thomson » Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:48 pm

It's a thingy that vibrates the strings to break in a guitar. IMO, it is a poor substitute for patience and practice. I hope I never decide to use one, as I believe it could, actually, be detrimental to the guitar over it's lifetime. There is no substitute for playing a guitar, and breaking it in to the player. It may boost the sound a bit, initially, but then the player has to re-break in the guitar anyway, as it will not be the same type of vibration that the ToneRite provides. It's like giving your guitar to someone else, who plays poorly, and only on a few frets, to break it in for you.

Check around the internet, there are plans for making them with aquarium pumps, if that tells you anything about the type of vibration that is involved! :mrgreen:
Waddy

Link to Build Albums - See Profile

Frederich Holtier

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Frederich Holtier » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:21 pm

Waddy, I totally agree with you. Years ago, there was an article in VSA magazine about a luthier and repairman that was able to tell only from checking a violin if the player was playing sharp or flat. That means that the player makes an imprint on the instrument, influencing its sound.
Frederich

Chih-Wei Liu

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Chih-Wei Liu » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:41 am

IMHO a TR might not be the best breaking-in input when compare to a phenomenal player, but it's usually better than an average amateur player. A player who constantly makes noisy sound out of any guitar will affect the sound in minutes. The maximun setting can make a guitar sound a bit too open and unfocused, but I don't think it'll hurt any guitar at the lowest setting, which is recommended by many users. As for Aqua pumps, I think they might be better than an original TR! The soft rubber certainly absorbs lots of higher frequency.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Frederich Holtier

Re: Do double tops open up like a solid top guitar?

Post by Frederich Holtier » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:13 pm

Just play it and let the time do what time does to a good instrument. Do we realy need everything to be done by machines?
Just my personal opinion.
Frederich

Return to “Luthiers”