Guitar Making Tip No. 120 is about tall braces and the effect they have on strength. The relationship between shape, strength, and weight all factor in to how a top will perform on a guitar. Here are is how physics plays into guitar making.
Braces and Guitar Making
If you bend it flat, the ruler gives way really easily and breaks. However, if you bend it edge to edge, it’s nearly impossible for the average person to break.
The more interesting part of the experiment is that the ruler has not changed form or weight. It is still the same ruler, and still has the same physical properties. The only difference is orientation.
When you build your guitar, you are working on a top that needs to be light enough to vibrate well, and strong enough to resist the string tension. You can add a lot of strength with very little weight by using the physics lesson of the ruler in your design. Here is how…
Plan Your Braces Well
When you work on your braces, you will easily see where you can make changes that will reduce weight. If you have wide fat braces in certain areas, you may be able to change them out for taller braces.
As you learn more and more about guitar making, you will understand more about experimentation and how what you do affects tone. I’m not saying to just swap out all of your braces for razor thin tall braces.
What I am saying is that you can use taller braces in areas where you want some strength, but you also want to reduce the weight. You can use a brace that is a little taller, and half the width, which will nearly half the weight without altering the strength at all.
Build a Couple First Before Playing With Braces
This tip is a little more advanced for new builders, and I recommend that you get at least a couple builds under your belt before playing around with the braces. This is not because you don’t know how to make good decision, it’s something completely different.
The real reason is that you will not have much of a frame of reference. If you don’t know what the normal bracing patterns do to a guitar, you will not fully understand what the changes that you make do to the guitar.
It’s like when you have an entry level item and then get to use a nicer one. You only understand how good the nice item is because you had to work with the entry level item. The same goes for playing around with the guitar braces.
Guitar Making Tip No. 120 – Wrap Up
Guitar Making Tip Number 120 is about using taller braces on your top. Taller braces are stronger than shorter braces of the same width. They are also lighter for the strength, because they are being bent through the thicker cross section.
As with bending a school ruler, the way you bend something has an effect on how strong the resistance will be. Bend a school ruler on the flat, and you can easily break it. Bend it stood up tall, and you will have a very hard time breaking the ruler.
The guitar braces can be designed the same way. When you use taller braces, you can use thinner pieces of wood. This means the same strength for the reduced weight. As you learn more about making guitars, these kinds of changes can make a big difference in your sound.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 120 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track. There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.