Planning Your Acoustic Guitar Braces – Guitar Making Tips

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Planning your acoustic guitar braces is an important step in the guitar making process, and one that sometimes causes beginners to worry too much. If you are building from a plan, just follow the plan. If you are building from a book, just follow the book. On your first several guitars, use an existing plan that will give you the best chance of success.

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Guitar Making Tip No. 6 – Planning Your Acoustic Guitar Braces

acoustic guitar making tips planning your acoustic guitar bracesThe best guitar making tip I can give you about the braces is not to worry. Especially if you are reading a lot about brace placement and the effect on tone, this can drive a beginner nuts. It even drives the more experienced makers nuts if they can’t control it.

There are things you can do with the braces now that were unheard of before. New placements, carbon fiber reinforcements, braces that touch the soundboard on the ends only, and even more imaginative setups. It can be overwhelming.

The best thing to do in the beginning when placing your acoustic guitar braces is to follow an established plan. The way that the braces are explained in a book or a plan is for the best overall design.

Yes, a professional guitar maker could improve that design and make adjustments based on the exact top being braced. However, this is beyond the scope of a first time guitar maker. It will also make you crazy. Even worse, it can stall your progress for no real tangible reason.

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Doubt has a worse effect on your performance than poor decisions do sometimes. If you are worried about your bracing, you can end up building the rest of the guitar thinking that it’s all going to be a failure. You do not build well in this state.

If you think that the guitar is going to be awful, you are probably right. The opposite works too. Build with a positive mindset, and you will actually improve the quality of the build.

See Also: The Secret to Getting the Most from a Guitar Making Forum

Planning Braces and Modifying Designs

acoustic guitar making tips planning your acoustic guitar bracesWhen you modify a design without really understanding what it does to the tone of the instrument, you are taking a risk.

If you can’t help yourself, then all I can advise is to really research the change before you do it.

On my guitars, I do make a couple changes to the standard Martin bracing pattern. However, the changes are minimal.

When C.F. Martin developed the X Bracing System, he revolutionized acoustic guitar making. His design is about as perfect as it ever needs it to be.

Making small incremental changes in the design is the best way to go if you just can’t keep yourself from making changes. Also, changing several things at once can cloud the results.

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If you make three changes, and you end up with a great sounding guitar, you will never really know which of the three, or what combination of the three actually made the difference. This does not teach you about how the small changes make differences in the sound.

See Also: 50 Things I Wish I Knew When I started Making Guitars

My Acoustic Guitar Bracing Design

acoustic guitar making tips planning your acoustic guitar bracesFor my guitars, I did make a few small changes that I will explain here. These couple things make my guitars sound louder and fuller.

I personally like these small changes, and have been using them since about my fourth or fifth guitar.

First, I moved the intersection of the X-Brace up towards the soundhole. It sits much closer than most guitar bracing patterns. This helps loosen the belly of the guitar, allowing more vibration.

Second, I angle the lower braces so they are more perpendicular to the center line. This also loosens up the area behind the bridge.

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The effect of loosening these areas is that it allows the soundboard to load easier. It also allows the board to vibrate more freely. It takes less string tension to produce good sound, and the instrument itself projects more sound.

Bringing it All Together

acoustic guitar making tips planning your acoustic guitar bracesStart your bracing design by drawing out where the braces will go on the inside of the soundboard. It will be very helpful later in the gluing process.

Especially in the beginning, having everything already measured and laid out is a huge stress reliever.

All you need to do is follow the gluing process and you will never need to measure once.

Most patterns will have you start with the bridge patch and X braces. Then, you will glue down the other braces in a particular order. Again, if you are following a book or a plan, just follow the directions and do not worry about it.

If you follow a well established plan, you will establish a baseline from which to judge from. From there you can make alterations on your next instruments and see what they do. This is not a fast process at all, but some things are not meant to be sped up.

When you end up making several guitars, you will immediately begin to see and hear the differences in the instruments. You will see what you like, and see what you don’t. From there you can make design tweaks and craft the perfect instrument.

If you have any questions on Planning Your Acoustic Guitar Braces – Guitar Making Tips, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

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