Tuesday, July 17, 2018


'Ambrosia' is a fourteen-fret dreadnaught acoustic/electric guitar fresh off my bench with a variety of enhancements that make it very different from others I've created.

Standard design incorporates a mahogany neck with Indian rosewood headstock overlay; Grover enclosed gear tuners (this time gold); rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot position markers; Earnie Ball 10-50 strings; walnut back and sides; mahogany binding; Ambrosia Maple top; rosewood bridge; and bison bone nut and saddle. Enhanced features are on-board Guitar Fuel ToneMonster electronics; vintage Martin Guitar bone bridge pins; and a new design for internal support, which I call V-8 bracing.

The walnut back and sides and the ambrosia maple top started out like this.

When glued together, the body took on the shape of a real guitar, but there is a lot that went into the project before this stage. Notice the dovetail neck joint, which is the first for my construction.

Here are the individual pieces that came together to construct the 'V-8' internal bracing, which gives the guitar it's stability. 

The long, dark, piece of Wenge is the back spine brace, and the four pieces immediately above it are the horizontal back braces (note the curved relief at the bottom center, which allows the brace to 'bridge' the spine, thus giving the spine more continuous strength). Usually, the back braces are recessed into the spine brace.

The bridge plate is the artsy piece above the back braces, and above that are the 'V-8' braces for the top, which is a design I started working on in January and finally completed a couple months ago.  The ten smaller braces to the right are rib braces to support each side.

The holes in the braces don't do anything structurally, but I like to add a little flair to the inside of a guitar, which I think should look as good as the outside.

The spine is glued in place, and the rough cut horizontal back braces are sitting there ready to be hand finished and glued in place.

This is the top 'V-8' bracing structure with pieces glued in position.  Why the V-8 name?  Because, there are two long vertical braces which touch at the center of the tailpiece and extend forward to the outside of the sound hole, forming a 'V'. Two horizontal braces form support for the top around the sound hole.  And, four tone bars extend out from the vertical braces. Eight braces in total with the core being a 'V' . . . It had to be 'V-8' bracing.

The ambrosia maple grain is so cool and it screamed acoustic top when I saw the raw wood at Keim Lumber at Charm, Ohio, down the road from me about an hour.  If you look closely on the left side of the sound hole, you'll see a couple white protrusions, which are the volume and tone controls for the Guitar Fuel ToneMonster preamp, which my friend Ty Falato provided for this build. Hidden under the bridge saddle is a rod style piezo transducer pickup, which is connected to the output jack, the control dials, and to the 9-volt battery driving the preamp . . . all of this is hidden inside the cavity of the guitar.  If you want a simple way to pound sound out of your box, give Guitar Fuel serious consideration.

Gold Grover tuning machines look great on this combination of wood.

Check out the volute on the  neck near the headstock.

I like simple, so the ambrosia maple heel cap matches the headstock logo and the top.

The narrow maple-walnut-mahogany spine inlay is just enough to give the back a little style without detracting from the wood grain.

The finish on the guitar is satin, which I like, because it does not take away from the natural beauty of the wood, and the grain is not filled, again because that's how I like to build my instruments.

And, finally, the mahogany top/side binding is visible, and compliments the walnut quite well.

Yup, it's a homemade stand . . . gotta keep 'em off the furniture. 😎

It looks pretty good, but how's it sound.

Bluesman Jimi Vincent has been playing guitar for more than fifty years, so when I want a candid appraisal about each of my creations I go to Jimi.  I guess he likes them, he asks if he can borrow one occasionally for a gig, and I'll always be there to say, "Hell Ya, Buddy!"

I shot this video with my phone, so it is not great, but it gives you an idea about how it sounds. Jimi's first thought was "This would be a helluva bluegrass rig", and then he launched into an improv.

The sound is coming from a cigar box amp I built several years ago ('Black Dog' featured in another post on this site), which is a simple 9-volt driven Guitar Fuel ToneMonster harness. On-board controls allow it to sound real clean or real nasty, and for this video, it is a little on the heavy metal side. It makes a great practice amp, so if you're intrigued by it, contact Ty Falato at Guitar Fuel . . . tell him I sent you . . . he'll take great care of you.

Stay tuned for the next adventure soon.

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