lap_steel_Weissenborn

Acoustic Steel String Guitars

I use a full phase bracing design so my guitars get more bass from the soundboard and don't need a large body. As a result of this my guitars are smaller than most guitars, but deliver a full sound.

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Unlike strumming guitars that focus on the top and bottom frequencies, my guitars are designed to have a loud balanced tone that is continuous across the whole range like a good mandolin or violin. This is a big asset for finger picking, lead playing, and studio recording.

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This shorter scale version (574mm) could be classed as a 3/4 guitar but it still sounds like a full size instrument. Given that the carbon braces can allow the guitar to function with a lower tension, I find that this size is my favorite. This one has a 15th fret join which is an option on all my guitars.

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cittern steel

This new design is what I call a cittern guitar. more info below

This is a steel string model with a 608mm (24") scale. It fits in a classical guitar case and I consider it to be a good standard size.

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I have also made a smaller version with a 574mm 922.5") scale that fits into a 3/4 case. Both instruments are tuned to standard pitch.

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This is a fluorocarbon strung cittern guitar. I tend to play it with a lute technique which gives it a harp like sound, but I also like it for jazz pieces. This is a small scale 542mm version and is tuned up to G. The top is WR Cedar and the body is Tasmanian Eucalypt.

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I also make a full scale 644mm version. video1 video2

All of the cittern guitars use a "turtle back" design.

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Cittern Guitar info

The cittern guitar is pretty much the same instrument instrument as my normal guitar but with a single bout design instead of the double bout guitar shape. If it wasn't for the full phase action of my sound boards this idea wouldn't work, but I have had makers and players alike saying that it sounds as good as the guitar shaped version. Some insist that it sounds better.

My main inspiration for the design has been the accessibility of the neck and the physical balance of the instrument. Of course it needs to be played with strap, but I find that the feeling of effortlessness in playing it more than makes up for that.

The classical or fluorocarbon string version seems to play best at it's scale pitch, so a 542mm scale that is 3 frets shorter than a standard guitar likes to be tuned up to G which is 3 semitones higher than standard. Info for fitting fluorocarbon strings.

If you want to know more about how it works, it is worth reading my design page.

More info and specs

My guitars are currently made from Tasmanian Blackwood with WR Cedar, Blackwood or Engelmann Spruce soundboards.The cittern guitars can also be made with fiddleback Eucalypt body like the one shown above.

Fingerboards are Indian Rosewood. Radius is about 16". Bridge is Blackwood or Rosewood. The longest scale that I do is 644mm but because if the responsiveness of a light carbon braced top, I prefer 1 or 2 frets shorter

If you want to experience what a short scale guitar would feel like, simply put a capo on the first or second fret of a guitar and tune it down to standard E.

My standard string spacing at the bridge is 58mm between E strings. (about classical guitar standard)

My standard nut size is 44mm to 46mm depending on the scale etc. which is slightly wider than steel string width but not as wide as a classical. These widths are my choice for speed and accuracy but they can be altered for individual needs.

I put the strings slightly off center so that there is a bit of extra fingerboard next to the high E string on the fingerboard. This allows for more aggressive lead playing without worrying about the string slipping off the neck.

Frets are stainless steel on my steel string guitars and nickel silver on the carbon string versions.

I put fret markers on the side of the fingerboard and not on the front (5, 7, 12 and octaves). I have always objected to dots on the front of the fingerboard on the basis that if you can see them, you are holding the guitar badly.

I use 3mm (1/8th inch) back and sides plus and a weighted tone ring around the sound board for better projection. This means that the resulting instrument is heavy for it's size.

Pickups

The undersaddle pickups that I use are a low profile high output piezo version that I make myself. I charge $80 aud to supply and fit one. These do not have a preamp so you have to be aware of the ultra high impedance of piezo elements. Mixers often don't like this impedance but going into a foot pedal or precessor first usually fixes the problem.

lap_steel_Weissenborn