The guitar rosette is an important part of the acoustic guitar, and a way for woodworkers to express themselves artistically. While even a plain rosette can be beautiful, all rosettes serve another hidden function. Rosettes help make a weak area of the soundboard stronger.
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Making a Rosette on the Acoustic Guitar
The area around the soundhole is susceptible to vibration loss, as the wood is less supported. A well made guitar rosette stiffens this area and improves the ability of the soubdboard to retain energy.
The strings on the guitar can only get the soundboard moving so much, and conserving this energy is important. The more you can do as an acoustic guitar maker to limit vibration loss, the better sounding the resulting instrument will be. Notes played will sustain longer, and the instrument will sound fuller. It’s an easy matter of planning for this in your guitar rosette design.
A Solid Mahogany Rosette
For this rosette on an orchestra model, I used Mahogany to make the guitar rosette, then added purfling around it. The denser Mahogany adds strength to the Spruce, and the purfling trims it out nicely.
Inlay this deep into the Spruce, preserving more of the rosette wood. An inlay that is very shallow ends up being very thin after sanding. Inlaying the guitar rosette deeper means that more of the denser wood is retained, and the soundhole dressing will function more to help reduce vibration loss. Dig your trench for the inlay and leave a thin section of wood at the bottom. Test fit the guitar rosette, then add glue to the trench. Finally, press the rosette in place and clamp with a block and wax paper.
As you are planning the guitar rosette, think about the effect of a larger inlay made from a hard wood. This makes the area stronger, and helps control vibration loss near the soundhole.
Another thing that some acoustic guitar makers do is install a graft of Spruce under the soundhole. This is essentially a flat Spruce ring that is glued under the rosette. The opening is the same diameter as the soundhole, and it’s typically an inch and a half wide. If you are not going to do a rosette on the outside, this method can help add a little mass to the soundhole area.
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Either way you accomplish the task, adding mass to the soundhole area does have a positive effect on an acoustic guitar. Try a graft on your next build, or try a heavier rosette made of hardwood. You can’t go wrong with a little more vibration control.
I have a great article on making a Fretboard Duplicating Jig. The jig will allow you to create copies of any fretboard that you already have. Watch the video, then make the jig from scraps and its free.
My book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs is a great resource for beginning guitar makers. This book simplifies the many processes in guitar making, and helps with making tools as well. There are over 500 pages, and more than 1600 images in this book, and it is a great companion to any step by step book.
Do you have any tricks that you use to make the soundboard perform better? Share them below, then we can all benefit from your experience and knowledge.
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