In 2012 I made some fascinating and exciting changes to my guitars. With every thought to design, and a passion for making the best sounding guitars as possible I, as a maker, want to continually improve my guitars. One big improvement that I have successfully adapted is the double top.
Building previous solid top guitars and the testing method I have developed to tune those tops has greatly influenced how I build my double tops. When making a solid top guitar I am always looking for a piece of wood that is very stiff and lightweight. At the proper thickness for the given stiffness and weight of the top, the guitar will have a quick response and a powerful sound. So I am always looking for these properties in tops.
The double top method for my guitars lets me take this to a level beyond where I could take a solid top. I use a honey comb material called Nomex sandwiched in-between two thin pieces of wood. The combination I like to use is Spruce and Cedar one being the choice on top. I want the most stiffness, in the center of the top, from the bridge toward the neck of the instrument. I have found that the center portion is best left all wood for a more traditional sound and also for better stiffness in this region of the top due to the pull of the strings. I have found certain thicknesses in this region work perfectly.
The outer pockets, one on the treble side, and the other on the bass side have the Nomex. After this is vacuum pressed together, the top is lighter and stiffer than any solid top. I believe the double top is stronger in resisting future cracks as well, unlike a solid top.
I still use my fan braced method with hide glue on these tops and can brace them even lighter. Other changes adapted are a handmade V joint to the neck and I changed my head design as well. After all of this I felt these guitars needed a brand new rosette and decided to make a new wheat motif design throughout the guitar. A ton of work, but well worth the results.
The improvements in the sound are amazing. A traditional sound is heard with a quicker response especially in the right hand. Even note to note separation, booming bell like basses, and crystal clear trebles are all noted in the spruce top. A similar quality of sound is heard with cedar on top, although it is somewhat darker. Did I say loud!? These guitars project very well! I have still kept all of the other features from my past guitar improvements using stiff linings inside the guitar with a light 12 hole tie block bridge and a raised neck above the soundboard. All of these features help make an outstanding sound possible as well. Improvements like this were essential in my evolution as a modern/traditional builder in taking the best of both worlds and combining them to make an even better handmade concert classical guitar.