Friday, June 3, 2011

The Fingerstyle Guitar - Prototype #1

Not so long ago, I started a thread on the Acoustic Guitar Forum seeking opinions as to the ultimate fingerstyle guitar with respect to design features and materials; there were some interesting and very informative responses. I have to concede that in the past I've erred in seeking out construction tips from other builders to the exclusion of the views of the people who really matter - the players! It seems to me that the Acoustic Guitar Forum is frequented more by guitar players than by guitar builders, so the opinions offered were particularly illuminating. With the benefit of that feedback, I'm setting out to build the best fingerstyle guitar I possibly can within my own limitations and accepting of course that opinions as to what such an instrument might look and sound like will vary markedly.

Perhaps it's my own slightly flawed tendency to focus on the visual aspects of the guitar which made some suggestions stand out from the pack, but within the comments I received I noted an emphasis on the ergonomics of the instrument I was proposing. As well as responsiveness and lightness, a slightly wider string spacing at the bridge and a wider nut stood out as worthwhile features on a guitar destined as a fingerstyle instrument.  Depending on how adventurous I'm feeling, I may attempt an arm bevel for the first time too.

Where wood choices are concerned, I sense a preference for the responsiveness and warmth of cedar or redwood soundboards, while for back and sides, walnut seems a popular choice, perhaps because its higher damping and tendency towards shorter sustain results in greater clarity and separation of notes when in the hands of a fingerstyle player. That being my summation of the opinions offered, I'm opting for a combination of claro walnut and redwood together with the wider string spacings generally preferred by those who responded.  I'm favouring my take on the ubiquitous Martin OM body shape together with that model's 25.4" scale length. 

I hope you'll join me as I begin my quest for the "ultimate" fingerstyle guitar. If the outcome is anything less than brilliant, I can always laugh the offending instrument off as "a prototype" in an attempt to salvage some self-respect!