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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Saddle Materials For Guitars Part 2

Due to some technical errors, the previous posting has been deleted. This is a repost

Walrus Ivory Nut
Walrus Ivory Nut

Part 2 is expected to be slightly technical… While I am aware that not everyone will enjoy reading technical stuffs, such information does provide both wider and deeper comprehension of saddle materials in relation to tonal characteristics. This can further narrows the subjectivity tendencies in selecting the suitable saddle materials to match one's preference. During my study on saddle materials, I have reviewed several literatures written by anthropologists and other researchers that have conducted extensive study onto these materials. The sources are attributed at the end of this posting. For those who wish to know more, you're encouraged to read those resources. Herein I will attempt to elaborate the ever elusive saddle materials and tone from these perspectives.
  1. Brief introduction of Acoustics
  2. Acoustic properties of materials
  3. Properties of the various saddle materials.
  4. Sound clips - Bone and Ivory
About Acoustics

Particles transmitting vibration energy

Firstly, we all know that sound is produced when an object vibrates. The vibration pushes surrounding air particles, and these particles oscillate which spreads like ripple effects, the oscillation gets passed on between adjacent particles until the initial vibration energy is completely dissipated. Our ears detect such particle movements as sound. Guitar saddles function to transmit strings vibration energy to the guitar top plate (wood) resulting the vibration of top plate. We hear guitars through this energy transfer process. However energy loss is inevitable during the process of vibration transfers. Saddle materials are no exception to that. Perhaps it could very well be due to the inherent energy loss for each material that is different from others that sets each apart. While sound energy can be transferred via various mediums, this article concerns saddle materials, which are solids.

About Acoustic Properties of Materials

Many properties affect the eventual acoustic properties of any given materials. Herein I am featuring three prime properties in determining if a given material transfers sound energy or absorbs it. Understanding it is essential to predicting the tonal characteristics of saddle materials. However, there is no attempt to rank these featured saddle materials.

The three properties are density, rigidity and porosity.

1. Density - a measure of mass per unit volume of material. Dense materials allow efficient transfer of sound energy. Low density materials tend to absorbed part of the sound energy in making the particles within the material to vibrate.

2. Rigidity - a measure of resistance to deformation by external force of a given material. Malleable (Non-Rigid) materials can absorb sound energy in making the particles within itself to vibrate, which is similar to low density materials. Conversely, rigid materials can transfer sound energy through their material structure with little loss.

3. Porosity - a measure of the quantity of empty spaces (air gaps) in the total volume of a material. This is the most tricky property of the three. For a highly porous material, it is made up of very dense and rigid molecular structures. Adjacent to these dense and rigid molecular structures are air voids, too small to be observed by naked eyes. Rigid molecular structures promote efficient sound energy transfer with minimum absorption (loss). However the air voids within have created changes of energy propagating medium from solids to air voids (a.k.a. changes in surface impedances). This isn't good for energy transfers if the path way is subject to many impedance changes. Invariably materials of low porosity doesn't guarantee superb sound energy transfer because density and rigidity must promote it as well. Suffice to say that the relationships between porosity and efficient transmission of energy is far more complex.

Those who wish to read on, the following sections will cover the various saddle materials widely used in the present market. I have made no attempt to do any review but report the researched and known facts related to each featured material herein. There are unlimited literatures on this topic and my version may not align with many others. Also please don't take my writings wholesale, be curious to verify and even recommend corrections. In this way, everyone will learn and hopefully inclining to greater accuracy in creating such literatures. The following saddle materials will be featured in the next few sections.

Plastic (Synthetic)
Synthetic Ivory (Synthetic)
Pyrolytic Carbon (Synthetic)
Brass (Alloy)
Bones (Natural)
Horns (Natural)
Ivories (Natural)

Synthetic Materials

1. Plastic - Actually it is a by-product of crude oil refinement process. Polyethylene a.k.a. plastics have surely changed our lives. Its versatility has made it relevant. One such application is the injection molding process. Just about any plastic you hold in your hands is made through the molding process. By going in large volume, plastics products can achieve speed in production, volume in production, consistencies and most importantly reduction in cost per plastic product produced. While there are various grades of plastics, they are pretty much viewed by laymen as similar.

In making guitar saddles, the moldable nature of plastic has overwhelmed all other materials regardless of their merits. Just about any shape can be made out from plastics. As such, plastic saddles of any kind are seen flooding the guitar markets relentlessly. A huge attraction to guitars manufacturers indeed. In terms of properties relating to acoustic qualities, due to plastics' general low rigidity, it will be hard to claim that plastic saddles can enable a guitar to fully express herself. The density and rigidity of plastics are usually not close to regular natural materials like bones, ivories and horns. While these two attributes are main influences to acoustic properties of any given materials but they are still not the determinant ones.

It is also difficult to describe the tonal characteristics from plastic saddles except to predict more sound energy loss is expected. Suffice to say that changing to harder and denser materials with known acoustic properties, improvements are noticeable immediately. However plastic is here to stay regardless..

Plastic parts

2. Pyrolytic Carbon - it is a diamond like carbon base synthetic material that has undergone a treatment process call pyrolysis. The treated materials are enhanced in certain mechanical properties. The patent of this process is held by James M. Guthrie and Jonathan C. Stupka, both are based in Austin Texas, USA. The company behind the development of this material is Obbligato Inc. also based in Austin Texas, USA (

Elaborated in the patent, pyrolysis is inducing decomposition of hydrocarbon at temperature in excess of 1000˚ C. In this state, carbon molecules can be coated on a suitable substrates of dense isotropic graphite, also of suitable size and shape which include various guitar parts. The coating can be of structural or surface nature. The process in which they are made will likely result in increase in rigidity and density but porosity is not conclusive. This carbon base material bears a trademarked name "Black Diamond" because of the way the material is synthesized. These are the claims regarding tonal and functional enhancements for applications to musical instruments.

≈ significant increase in volume
≈ gives richer harmonics
≈ clearer sound, reduce muddiness
≈ strings sound lively for a loner period before going "dead"
≈ gives strings coming to contact with such materials longer life-span

Pyrolytic Carbon a.k.a. Black Diamond
Taken from:

A Black Diamond Saddle
Taken from:

Source: Pyrolytic Carbon Components for Stringed Instruments Patent, USPTO # is 8,110,729.

I wasn't able to obtain any empirical data to verify the above claims but given the method which it is synthesized, the Black Diamond is likely to give any organic material a run for its money.

Clarification; the above section has been amended from synthetic ivory to pyrolytic carbon. Factually, it is incorrect to classify pyrolytic carbon as synthetic ivory.

3. TUSQ, a material well known to many guitar players, also widely called man-made ivory, is produced by Graphtech, a Canadian company. Graphtech has employed this patented TUSQ technology for more than 30 years in producing many guitar parts. TUSQ has similar enhancements as claimed by the pyrolysis process. Likewise I wasn't able to find any empirical date to support those claims. However the popularity of TUSQ has certainly been established strongly among musicians. Anecdotally, one may find it hard to deny its qualities by the sheer popularity.

3. Brass - it is an alloy of copper and zinc known for its superior acoustic properties. This wonderful materials carries many favorable properties that have magically fitted into man's evolution. As man became more knowledgeable, the application of brass also widens and deepens. Its great versatility in industrial and commercial applications has made it indispensable.

Brass nut

While many musical instruments are made out of brass, it is not known if it was the malleability or acoustic properties of this materials that made brass the top choice for making metal musical instruments, perhaps both characteristics have contributed. As for acoustic properties, brass does carry certain properties like strength, elasticity, density that are favorable to sound energy transfer too. There are other metals that possess similar basic properties but they don't make the grade of musical instruments. The history of brass in relation to metal musical instrument is indisputable. Brass saddles are rare but nuts are commonly seen.

Natural Materials

The next sections, I will provide a simplified summary of each natural saddle materials. Instead of focusing on merely acoustic properties and tonal qualities when applied as guitar saddles, understanding the fundamental make up will help in making sense of the tonal characteristics of these natural saddle materials when in use. After all, acoustic properties of any given materials are all but an extension of their fundamental make up.

Bone parts

4. Bones - It is a dense type of connective tissue made up of 1/3 organic tissues and 2/3 inorganic salt components. This wonderful substance provides functions like support, protection, movement assistance, mineral storage, blood cells production and chemical energy storage. Porosity and density of bone are not uniform for all bones. It is because of the unique functional applications of various bones located at different body parts that render its variable porosities and densities. Besides the structural function undertaken by our bones, blood irrigation is one of the many essential functions as well. This explains the porosity nature of bones.The bones for making guitar saddles are compact bones that has the mechanical and acoustic properties to meet the expectations.

Horn saddle

5. Horns - It is composed of a sheath of keratin overlying a bony core. Keratin is a class of resistant and insoluble fibrous protein. These keratin tissues are usually associated with various essential biological functions e.g. offense, defense, display, communication, temperature and water regulation. In fact, there are other body parts which constitute keratin tissues as their make up, e.g. feather, hair, claws, nails but in this article, the feature item is bovid horn. It is not regenerative unlike nails or hair. The growth of horn is also made possible because of the presence of organic tissues which deliver nutrients and minerals to it. Unique to bovid horns, moisture content within can have significant influences on its overall strength.

FWI Saddle

6. Ivories (Elephant, Mammoth, Mastodon, Walrus) - It is a calcified substance which possesses a complex chemical and structural composition. In material science terms, ivory is a rigid biological composite, has a rigid matrix reinforced by elastic fibers. Its strength comes from calcium phosphate found in the rigid matrix and its elasticity is due to discontinuous collagen fibers. The application of tusk (before they become ivory) during their active days include functions like pushing, piercing, bending and bearing its own weight. The make up of ivories is also like bones or bovid horns consist of both inorganic and organic tissues. It is almost made entirely of dentine, coated with a layer of cementum. Within the dentine core, pulp cavity takes up about 1/3 of the entire tusk length, beginning at the pulp rostral. The growth of tusks are enabled by the delivery of nutrients and mineral via the dentine pulp.

Tonal Characteristics

The above three natural saddle materials are found to be dense in general. Each one possesses high strength and elasticity due to the functional requirements during the active days of each. It may not be squarely considered as a rigid material nor soft as well. Within each one, it is made up of both organic and inorganic constituents for its initial growth years. The porous nature of each enables nutrients irrigation thus growth is possible.

In relation to the tonal characteristics of each material, it is all about recognition and differentiation. This is also the main issue. The process of recognition and differentiation is all but a subjective preferential cognitive process. Far from perfect but this is what we have. Not withstanding our subjective preferences, each material does carry it unique characteristics that are influenced by the fundamental make up, density, rigidity, strength and porosity. As objective and factual as I can, below are my two cents of each material, largely base on my experiences in working with them and the data table below.

Data Table

Bones are denser than ivory (see above table), thus also heavier for a given unit of volume. In terms of rigidity, bone has higher Elastic Modulus than ivories which accounts for its stiffness and hardness. Taken from Maury Music's website on saddle materials' review, "Bone saddles offer very pure tone, nice volume and an increase in sustain…" I interpret pure tone as loud, clarity and unaltered. What is yours? In relation to bone's acoustic properties, its high density and rigidity are likely contributive to the tonal characteristics. As for porosity, it is inconclusive.

Ivories, the common ones use in acoustic guitars are Fossilized Mammoth, Fossilized Walrus and Elephant. Compared to bones, usually their densities and rigidities are less but not far from it. However ivories are known to be tougher than bones in terms of fractures, i.e. high in elasticity strength. While bone is observed to give pure tone, ivories tend to influence the tonal signature of guitars. Taken from Maury Music website on saddle materials' review, "They add warmth and fullness, fatting up the notes and compensating for any brittle qualities one might hear…" and also " If there is a downside to fossilized ivory it is found in highest highs. Some of the brightness and sparkle, what I call the angels in the harmonics over top of the voice, is sacrificed in exchange for that added warmth and meat in the undertone and fatness in the fundamentals."

The link to Maury Music's saddle review article:

We can loosely conclude that ivories are softer than bones because bone fractures more readily than ivories. In a paper written on the physical characteristics of mammoth ivory (Heckel C., 2009), bone specimens when subjected to percussions by hammerstone fractured. Whereas ivories were able to take more blows and cracks were seen propagating before fractures finally set it. This amazing property is indicative of ivories ability to absorb mechanical energy. Personally, I think this unique ability has resulted in the tonal distinction mentioned in saddle materials review article.

Here are two audio clips for your listening pleasure. The only difference between both clips is the saddle material. Here is the recording chain regarding the clips. Remember to raise your device volume if you can't hear the clips optimally.

Guitar: Gibson Western Classic
Mic: Zoom Q3
Amplificaton: Unplugged
Instrumental Tune: 31-91 by Hardline
Clip one: With FMI saddle
Clip two With Bone saddle

What is your take?

Buffalo Horn Saddle

Bovid horns are least rigid compared bones and ivories. In handling the blanks, they can be readily bent, unlike the stiffness of bones and ivories. However, bovid horns' are still considerable stiff, tough and strong because of the functional demands of horns. Hydration significantly affects the stiffness. Water penetrates the intertubular matrix, acting as plasticizer thereby reducing density and stiffness of bovid horn. Well in laymen terms, horn feels softer. Sound energy transfers 101, more sound energy loss is expected from bovid horn materials. When translated to tonal characteristics of guitar, one would expect less volume but the other characteristics are anyone's guess.

Brass possesses higher levels in strength, rigidity and density than all natural saddle materials. Moreover brass's acoustic properties are indisputable. When used as guitar saddles, the heavy weight is expected to increase sustain, boost clarity and volume. However, it is harder to make a brass saddle by hand than those natural materials. It might be this practical reason that brass is not commonly used as guitar saddles.


My conclusion is similar to part 1 in essence. While we can put in tremendous effort in quantifying the properties and normalizing the way we describe the materials, there is no escaping from our preferential judgment on such intrinsic attributes. There isn't much difference in loving someone where it is all in the eyes of the beholder. In my effort to condense the abundance of literatures that are related to the topic of saddle materials, I hope this article is able to provide fresh angles and insights to all guitar lovers. To some individuals, judging should be solely base on irrefutable facts and data whereas on the other end of spectrum, some individuals are totally comfortable in using subjective perspectives, jargons and intuition. Part 1 has given attention to subjectivities and part 2 has attempted to link mechanical properties and acoustic properties of various saddle materials to the eventual tonal characteristics of guitars. If you are able to find your preferred tone and saddle materials after reading this article, it would be the greatest reward for me. It was indeed an interesting ride for me. Thank you for reading!


Acoustic Properties of Materials:

Measurement of the Acoustic Properties of Acoustic Absorbers:

Bone Structure and Composition:

Tensile Properties and Facture of Ivory:

Physical Characteristics of Mammoth Ivory and their Implications for Ivory Work in the Upper Paleolithic:

Experimental study on the mechanical properties of the horn sheaths from cattle:

Classical Guitar Forum thread about nut and saddle material:

The effects of material in brass instrument:

Acoustic properties of common metals:

Physics of musical instruments:

About brass:

Measurement of the toughness of bone: A tutorial with special reference to small animal studies:

Structure and functions of bones:

What is bone? :

What are cow horns? :

Structure and innervation of the tusk pulp:

Microstructure, elastic properties and deformation mechanisms of horn keratin:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Featured Restoration (A Taylor Baby Story Again)

A young boy… eating

Finger Joint is cracked

In January 2011, I restored a Baby Taylor from a cracked neck heel (see picture below). This guitar is indeed a special one because there is a portrait of the owner’s son being drawn on the guitar top plate. The cracked headstock heel in the Baby Taylor seems to have brought remembrance to certain chapters of the owner's life. Suffice to say that the restoration of the guitar wasn’t simply a job I have done, it meant something to the owner. It was a great privilege for me then but deja vu…

The link to the previous repair posting:

Last episode: Hairline crack

Anything that can happen will happen… the infamous Murphy’s Law strikes. During a missionary trip the Baby Taylor suffered another concussion on its headstock. The previously repaired joint gave way to the impact. The owner brought the “injured baby” to me for an assessment. Visually and structurally, the damage was more severe than the previous episode (see below picture). Previously, only the crown of the heel revealed a hairline crack this time the crack propagated around and within the entire neck radius.

Damage was more severe than previously

In summary, these are the steps I have taken to restore this baby once more…
  1. Remove the old mahogany stub
  2. Glue the finger joints seams an allow glue to set for 24hrs
  3. Enlarge the existing cavity slightly
  4. Make another mahogany stub that fits the enlarged cavity
  5. Glue the mahogany stub into the cavity and allow glue to set for 24hrs
  6. Trim off the stub protrusion and sand till flush
  7. Re-finish the affected areas
  8. Re-string and set up 
Apparently the steps aren’t very different from the previous episode. However there were a few tricky areas to note. I thought it might good to share it with guitar repair enthusiasts through this article. Without a doubt, you will find a myriad of ways to get it done and these were just the ways available to me.

Applying wood glue into the finger joint seams was a tricky thing to do. We know that wood glue doesn’t behavior like water and getting this viscous fluid into these finger joint seams will not be easy. I have read in the internet that applying a “special liquid” to transport wood glue into deep seams and crevices. My curiosity has driven me to hunt down this mysterious liquid but in vain eventually.

Part of my facts finding effort was querying full-time luthiers regarding the application of such mysterious liquid. However there was no answer to my query. While none have said that such liquid don’t exist, they have remarked that it didn’t make sense to “dilute” the wood glue in order to deliver it into crevices because it can be done mechanically. An assumption to this special liquid was introducing water to thin the wood glue. However it will cause the wood glue to loose its effectiveness. Anyone who knows about this special liquid, I will greatly appreciate if you can share this knowledge.

So how did I get the wood glue to those deep and narrow spaces? Actually it wasn’t that difficult and the method is perfectly logical. Simply flexes the crack joint a few times and the glue will be distributed into the cracks. Just make sure you apply glue generously. A thing to note is the amount of flexing force. Just get the job done and don’t totally over do it until things totally break apart.

The other tricky thing was enlarging the existing cavity (see below picture). In particular, lengthening and keeping the same cavity depth required some attention indeed. Setting up for routing the cavity has taken the most time because it wasn’t a flat surface and I have to take note of the truss rod.

Carefully the old stub was removed

Trimming off the excess stub can be deceptively easy. Anyone can simply sand off the excess and flush the stub surface to the neck. However, the neck possesses a radius profile. As I was trimming off the excess, I have to re-produce the matching neck radius. Failing which a flat portion will be seen along the neck. While it was not a structural issue it might affect the “feel” which is an essential quality to the owner.

After trimmed, sanded and refinished

The stub flushed in both level and curvature

Nevertheless it was done! Once again the Baby Taylor has been restored!

Once again, restored!

There is nothing God cannot heal, save, restore and renew.

Matthew 8:1-3
1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

-End of Article-

Monday, February 13, 2012

Luthiers' Series… with Kent Chasson

Kent working late

One things leads to another, we grow older and wiser (hopefully…) and our desires also graduate from one level to another. I am no exception to this unquenchable thirst for ascension. From big brand guitars, the next step would be a hand-built by luthier.
A Lute
Luthier is someone who makes or repair lutes or other string instruments. The birthplace of modern European lutherie is believed to be in Bavaria, Germany. Then Lute was a popular string instrument among the royalties. Schematic plans of lutes were dated as early as 1450. By the picture of a lute shown below, our guitars have certainly evolved much over time.

I was trawling the internet for a luthier to make my first hand-built. Eventually I found Kent Chasson. From certain past conversations I had with guitar enthusiasts, the idea of commissioning a hand-built guitar is an exciting one. There were reservations as well. Apart from unable to try, most guitar lovers did not possess adequate knowledge in guitar-making to response accurately or succinctly to luthiers' requests for guitar specifications. The perspectives for buying a guitar off the shelves and commissioning a hand-built are drastically different. I will elaborate in another article.

Kent and I corresponded via email for months before we agreed on all the specifications. Actually I could write another article regarding my experiences in collaborating with Kent but this article is all about him. I have this to say about Kent and the guitar he has built for me, extracted from a posting from the Acoustic Guitar Forum.

I have always appreciate guitars with deep-thick bass and Kent is able to translate this preference into this guitar. It isn't the same as my Jeff built guitar but I love them all. Not forgetting the fine craftsmanship and his clean work. It could easily pass off as a CNC built guitar. The fittings, binding, joints, holes, fret wires, etc. are near perfection. It wasn't any exaggeration I have made up. I showed this guitar to other experienced guitar makers at the GAL 2011 convention, they were astonished at its appearance and workmanship. When they played the guitar, they didn't want to put it down. Some made trading offers…

Our collaboration has resulted in this,

My First Hand-Built, in progress then

With great privilege, I was granted the opportunity to interview Kent to find out his personal journey as a luthier and his guitar making ideals.

Here’s my interview with Kent.

About the Luthier…

1. When did you decide to become a luthier?

Headstock design
I built my first guitar 32 years ago. An acquaintance played that guitar and hired me to build one for him the next year. I was 18. I started Chasson Guitars in 1995. I have been building steadily since then and can’t imagine stopping.
2. Where did you train?

I am self-taught and have studied with Charles Fox, Frank Ford, and Ervin Somogyi.

3. How did your training influence you?

Charles Fox is a genius with systems and tooling. Studying with him helped me to develop methods that are efficient and flexible. I can have the precision of a small factory while custom building one-of-a-kind instruments.

I learned a few specific repair techniques from Frank Ford but mostly I was inspired by his creativity and straight-forward attitude about work. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be “Figure it out, do it well, and enjoy any puzzles that come along.”

Ervin Somogyi’s teaching changed the way I voice my instruments and helped me develop a broader palette of voicing options with consistent results.

4. Where did you get your ideas?

Kent's signature rosette
Everywhere I can! I decided early on that I didn’t want to only build exact copies of traditional instruments. Most of my body designs are original and those ideas come from long hours of drawing and refining. It’s surprisingly difficult to design an original body shape.
Although the design of my adjustable neck is similar to Stauffer guitars from the mid 1800’s, some elements were heavily influenced by the work of Mike Doolin and Rick Turner. There are a lot of generous people in the luthiery community and a lot of idea sharing.

5. What luthier(s) inspired you?

One person I haven’t mentioned yet is my neighbor, Dake Traphagen. He has always encouraged me to turn off the power tools and work with my hands and I find myself doing that more and more. He is inspiring in the fact that, after 40 years of building instruments, he still experiments with new ideas, is still passionate about building, and he never stops learning.

6. What helped to shape you?

My parents. While I was growing up, they made it clear by example that it was important to do good and challenging work. At the time, they probably would have preferred that I go into a more secure and traditional profession but they were always supportive of me building things. When I was 19, my mother broke her ankle walking down the poorly built stairs in their new house while it was still under construction. She asked me to rebuild the stairs which I did over the weekend. When the builders returned on Monday, they offered me a job. I have been building things for a living ever since.

7. Do you feel anxious about becoming an luthier?
I probably should have but I never did. I’m not sure I would call it anxiety but I do feel a responsibility to make good use of wood. The wood used for guitars is often rare and hard to replace. It’s important to me to be respectful of that and use it efficiently in something that has long-lasting value.

8. How long has it been?

I sold the second instrument I built in 1980. I started my company, Chasson Guitars, in 1995. 32 or 17 years, depending when you start.

About Kent's Design Philosophies

1. Do you consider yourself a modern or traditional luthier?

Both. I prefer a more modern look and most of my guitars reflect that. But I have great respect for the accumulated wisdom that we call “tradition” and I have yet to stray too far from that.

2. What differentiates your work from other Luthiers?

If I were a marketer, I would answer this by talking about the “features” of my guitars. I would mention my adjustable neck, my unique body styles, and my use of carbon fiber. But what really makes my work different is simply the fact that I build it. It’s the whole package starting with the way I work with clients during the design phase and ending with a custom guitar and often a long-term friendship. It’s very personal and, as cheesy as it sounds, there is part of me in every guitar I build.

3. What is your guiding principle(s) in making guitars?

Kent's braces design
I love collaboration. I do my best when working closely with a player to help them realize their vision. At times, that means stretching my vision. At other times, it means making suggestions that depart from the player’s original plan. I don’t want to build everyone my favorite guitar, I want to build them their favorite guitar.

4. What is the toughest challenge(s) when making a guitar for someone?

Communicating about tone can be an interesting puzzle. It's hard to describe tone in words. I try to get information from people in different ways and see if it adds up. I usually start with words but also ask people about their playing style to see if the tone they are describing matches the playing style. I also try to get a sense of what instruments they have played and liked. Finally, if they have recordings of their playing, I listen to them. It's surprising that this can be done effectively, even over the internet, but it works!

5. Is there a part(s) on your guitar you like most?

Binding & Cut-away
I'm very happy with the design of my new rosettes and I love the shape of my new concert model that is in progress now.
As for the work I like the most, it's voicing the top and shaping the neck. It's peaceful work. There is something inherently joyful about shaping wood with sharp hand tools. By the way, sanding is the least enjoyable and there's a lot of it!

6. With reference to top plate voicing, how did you decide on the ideal tone, or the Chasson sound?

The ideal tone has to do with what the player is looking for. One of my favorite guitars lately was for a local fingerstyle player with a very light touch. It's a guitar I would never have built for myself. It has too many overtones and not enough headroom for most of what I play. But it lights up and blooms with a soft touch like no other guitar I've built and he loves it. So my ideal tone is the one that causes my client to tell all his friends about it!

-End of interview-

Pictures of Kent's many wonderful master pieces…

Kent's work

Floating Fingerboard

End of Article