Friday, August 26, 2011

The Fingerstyle Guitar - Side Reinforcement

For almost as long as I've been building guitars I've followed the lead of others and have fitted kerfed linings to the rims, then installed wooden reinforcement strips to span the sides between the top and back linings. Although this remains common practice, it seems an increasing number within the lutherie community are coming to the view that this could potentially do more harm than good, the thinking being that if the guitar sustains a significant impact, the area of relative weakness created at the intersection of the side reinforcement and the lining could contribute to a crack developing at that point - it makes sense to me.

Guitar side reinforcement

For this guitar then - and for its rosewood and spruce companion - I've chosen an alternative approach which is to to glue cloth bias tape across the full width of the sides at regular intervals and install the linings over the top of it. The rationale for this is that as the glue-impregnated cloth spans the entire side and will remain somewhat flexible, the weak point I've described is largely avoided. In the unlikely event that a crack develops in one of the sides for whatever reason, the tape will provide a measure of protection against the crack propagating along the length of the side - at least until a permanent repair can be carried out.

Useful Links:
Installing Side Tapes