Monday, June 4, 2012

Soundports

I've posted Matt Mustapick's observations on soundports before, but it seems an opportune time to do so again:

"This concept came originally from the great classical maker Robert Ruck, who puts two small holes on each side of the guitar, very close to where the neck joins the body, rather than one larger hole. The main advantage of the soundport is that it gives the player a "front row seat" to enjoy a strong direct signal from the soundbox. This feature takes nothing away from the forward projection of the instrument. From 20 feet away the guitar is just as loud. For anyone closer to the guitar, it adds a great deal of richness to the sound, owing to the dual sound source which creates a stereo field."

Prior to marking and cutting the side soundports, I took the precaution of gluing two thin layers of veneer to the inner surface of the sides as reinforcement.


Cross-grain veneers provide a measure of protection against cracks

In recognition of the veneers' primary purpose which is to strengthen the area around the ports, their grain runs perpendicular to that of the sides. Some builders argue that cross-grain veneers actually promote cracking by restricting the expansion and contraction of the sides that would otherwise occur. While I accept that such veneers do indeed limit the capacity of the sides to move with fluctuations in humidity, the distance between the linings in this area of the upper bout is small and any potential dimensional change is minimal. If it was a credible risk, we'd surely see cracks developing where the headblock and tailblock similarly restrict the sides' movement across the grain.

In addition to their practical role of protecting against cracks, the veneers also provide me with an opportunity to introduce a contrasting maple line around the walnut guitar's port and extend the rosewood guitar's black and red theme.


Dremel extension handpiece with mini circular saw blade fitted - before and after

A mini sanding drum in the Dremel handpiece takes me to the line

Final sanding required, but essentially, they're done

Very soon, I'll prepare myself mentally for the onerous job of installing purflings and bindings - a task that never seems to get any easier or less stressful!

A recent guitar, with soundport


Useful links:
The Shrinkulator is an online tool that calculates dimensional change in wood with variations in moisture content or relative humidity.



Cheers
Pete