Guitar Builders and Repair
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Savage Classical Guitar - Richard F. Sayage
The first prototype was of the traditional hourglass shape with the twelfth fret clear of the body and a centrally located sound hole. The design changes involved mostly changes in the internal structure needed to reduce energy losses. The acoustic performance of this instrument was outstanding after about a year. The interim period involved a slow relaxation of internal stresses. There was a high level of sustain and excellent sound reproduction over the entire range.
A second prototype was later built incorporating additional design improvements identified during testing of the first instrument. I recognized that the effective area of the soundboard could be increased substantially by relocating the sound hole from its central position at the end of the fret board to a new position alongside the fret board and eliminating the hourglass waist. This new instrument has a soundboard 40% larger than the traditional instrument without increasing the overall body size. The fifteenth fret was clear of the body.
The acoustic performance of this second instrument was astonishing. The sheer power and fidelity appear to be unprecedented. There was an enormous amount of sustain indicating a very low level of internal damping. The "play-in" period was less than one month and appears to be due to a heat treatment of the body structure which I carried out before attaching the back.
The very low damping exhibited by both of these instruments can cause some unanticipated problems. The high sustain can result in notes carrying on longer than required by the music and incidental clicks and squeaks that go unnoticed in a normal instrument are amplified along with the high overtones. Indeed, while these guitars, designed with the application of engineering principles, are exceptional at producing clear, loud sound, they are somewhat unforgiving. A performer must play these guitars with extreme discipline because the smallest mistakes can be heard.
Playing a guitar which is loud all the time can be boring. To correct this, I have designed a mute having two levels of muting. With light muting, the highest overtones are attenuated more than the lower frequencies, resulting in a more "mellow" tone. In essence, the concert instrument is converted into a parlor guitar. Heavy muting results an a severely reduced acoustic output useful if one wishes to practice while someone else sleeps.
The two prototype instruments were intended to be used for data collection and are not for sale. However, the basic principles used in their design are now well understood and can be reproduced readily in production. I would encourage performers who are willing to come to Ridgefield to try out both of these. For an appointment, please contact me at Myardes@aol.com or leave a message on my voice mail at 203-438-4072.