About Schachle Guitars
What draws a person to become a builder of acoustic guitars? Luthiers come from a variety of backgrounds to settle in to this craft. It starts with a deep appreciation of the dedication and craftsmanship that goes into the creation of a beautiful instrument. They come from fine furniture trades, the metalworking trades and other skilled trades that share the skills of the the instrument builder.
My time spent in machine shops, manufacturing plants, and aircraft structures shops taught me the skills of the luthier, though I didn’t know it at the time. As an owner of several guitars, when I began researching the design and construction of the acoustic guitar, the challenge to build became irresistable.
As a self taught luthier, the challenges along the way were considerable. One day, everything seemed to fall into place. The next day it dawns on you that this is a vocation unlike any other. What seems clear and easy on first glance, has more complications than you ever imagined once you get to the hard work of turning an idea into a reality. That was in 2003. Thankfully, there are many resources, books, internet forums and support groups. Members of The Seattle Luthiers Group were a valuable resource and I came to appreciate their knowledge and experience. I saw that we are all trying to solve the same problems, each with our own approach.
Thoughts on Design and Construction:
There are as many theories of what makes a guitar sound great as there are
guitar builders. We all have our own way of looking at it. Here’s mine.
The guitar top is responsible for 90% of the sound of a guitar. The sides, back, and neck have some influence on the sound but only to color the overall sound by accentuation or attenuation of certain vibration frequencies coming from string energy at the top. Mellow, punchy, boomy, bright, balanced etc.
The top thickness, the carving and shaping of the braces, “voicing the top”, is how a guitar arrives at its own unique sound. The creative challenge is to make a top that is light yet stiff, able to withstand the tension of the strings, but thin and flexible in the right places to allow the top to act as an air pump and transfer string energy into sound waves. Knowing where to trim the braces and where to leave the braces full height achieves the right balance. A great guitar top lives right “on the edge”.
Strong yet flexible. The peak of the power curve. The proof is in the listening.
The neck can have an effect on the sound of the guitar. Some have described the neck as a “tuning fork”. And it does produce interesting sounds at the guitar body if tapped at the headstock. My view is that this can only have a negative effect on the sound coming out of the body of the guitar. There is nothing to be gained when string energy is absorbed at both ends of the string. How do I minimize this effect? Traditional design of the neck attachment is a rectangular block as part of the body structure to which the neck is attached by a traditional dovetail joint or a bolted mortise and tenon joint. There is a large area with no support braces between the headblock and the first large braces on both the top and the back. This area becomes stretched by rotational force of the neck resisting string tension but transferring that force to the neckblock. When strings are at full tension this area becomes wound up like a spring and is able to oscillate absorbing string vibration energy, reducing string energy at the bridge.
My solution to this is a “C” shape neckblock design with feet extending from the block to the first braces on both the top and the back, with “C” shaped gussets on the sides to reinforce the feet to the block. This stabilizes the neck attachment area, makes the joint stiff enough to not allow the absorption of string energy as it would if the neck joint area were flexible and not reinforced. Does it work? The proof is in the listening. This has the additional benefit of maintaining a stable neck angle, reducing the possibility of needing a neck reset throughout the life of the guitar.