One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

By Mr. Joe Sustaire of Talihina, OK
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One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Sun Jun 26, 2016 11:03 pm

What the heck I'm on a roll.......
So we'll do it one more time and see if I like this new one as well as I like the one I just finished. White spruce top, birch back and sides, ladder bracing, built with a 12' radius cylinder arch on top and a 15' radius dome on the back. I'm going to try and get the angle right on the dovetail neck join this time so I can use a pinned bridge and see how they differ.

Now I'm not a production guy so I've always just layed out my bracing pattern right on the top, figuring it out each time. This time I did a lead pencil cad drawing so I won't have to figure it out again next time I build this guitar.

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Sure makes it easy to layout your bracing onto the top!


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Here's the sides in the mold with end blocks and kerfing in. Top sanded to fit a 12' radius cylinder and back sanded to fit a 15' radius dome.


Here's the white spruce top with a birch-bark rosette and a celluloid tortoise soundhole binding set into the top so it's supported from underneath as well. I figured it's about time I tried out Grants bark rosette idea since this has birch back and sides.

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Bracing the top.

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And the top bracing before carving.

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And showing the 12' radius to the top.

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And now I'll get to carving the braces and tapping the top to see if I can make it come alive......
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Dennis Leahy » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:13 am

Looks great, Joe!
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Fred Blom » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:48 am

Great pictures, Joe. Love the birch bark rosette
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:07 am

Thanks Fred and Dennis!

Got a bit more done....

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Sure looks better after they're carved!


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Routing for the back strip...


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Inlaid...


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Well on the way to a box, and the back bracing carved......

All for now.
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Dennis Leahy » Sun Jul 03, 2016 4:34 pm

Looking great, Joe!

Hey, you may have already stated this, but what is the secondary laminate on your bridge patch? And, what's the idea with it?
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:36 pm

It's just east indian rosewood, for the string ends. The spruce wouldn't stand up over time. Not needed if you use a tailpiece/floating bridge, but I'm planning for this one to be a pin bridge. I know, I said that on the last one also, so who knows how it'll end up. :lol:

At least if it's in there you can always go with a pinned bridge later...... flexibility, yeah, that's it......
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by michael » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:20 pm

Joe, it is looking good. I'm surprised at how big the bracing looks. You said the other one sounded good so I guess it works out some how. I would like to build a similar guitar and look forward to hearing how this one sounds.
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:52 pm

I know Michael, it looks massive to me also. :lol:

I'm basically following Haans's pattern on this except that he has the braces at 7/16'' x 3/4", John How, who built some great ladder braced guitars used the same dimensions. I actually reduced them to just under 3/8" x 3/4", I just couldn't go the 7/16". It sure worked out on the other one and I got this box closed up yesterday and it's got a heck of a thump to it when you tap anywhere around the bridge area. Makes a very nice drum...... so I've got my fingers crossed this one will work out as well.....

On looking at the bracing picture trying to analyze it you'll see that basically most of the bracing is going to reinforce the soundhole area which has a bad tendency to develop a "potato chip curl" in the old ladder braced guitars. So to counter this Haans uses a thick .120" top, doubled plate around the soundhole, and the braces tying the top two braces together.

But if you look at it, in the sound producing area you just have the one ladder brace, which isn't tucked into the bracing and the spruce bridge patch which ends before the kerfing also. So that leaves you a nice big area free to vibrate for sound production while keeping structural strength in the upper bout to hold it all together.

At least that's my analysis of what's going on. Who knows? :lol:
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:22 pm

I'm still plugging away.....

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The always interesting binding tape shot...


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Just routed the dovetail mortice...


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The roughed out neck....


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Shot of the binding.....


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And the back.....

That's all for now.
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:22 pm

I'm still plugging away.....

Image

The always interesting binding tape shot...


Image

Just routed the dovetail mortice...


Image

The roughed out neck....


Image

Shot of the binding.....


Image

And the back.....

That's all for now.
"I tell you we are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anyone tell you any different!"
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Dennis Leahy » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:47 pm

Looks great Joe! Dovetails look so daunting...
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by johnparchem » Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:01 pm

Looks really good!
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by coopman » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:06 pm

Joe, this is coming along great ... I am increasing developing a strong like for little guitars like this.

The symmetry on your binding tape job is very nice. The judges have posted their scores: 8.8, 9.3, 8.5, 9.7, 9.7, 9.2 ... way to go!!! :clap:

I'm glad Dennis asked about the bracing. It's interesting under the bridge ... kinda like another tongue or popsicle brace ... never would have even thought to try such a thing.

Great work

John
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:41 pm

Thanks guys! I really appreciate the judges scores on my binding tape, one of my strongest areas......

Well as of about 5pm yesterday, it's a guitar.....


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Bone dust and all....


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Rosette detail showing off the tortoise soundhole binding.


I'll be back with a bit more info after she's played in a while......
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Dennis Leahy » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:05 pm

Wooooo hoooooooooooo Way to go, Joe!
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by coopman » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:45 pm

Nice job Joe! I really like the sound hole binding. I'll have to go back and see if you showed us how earlier in this thread. Looking forward to 'hearing it'. Is this approx a 00 size?

John
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:20 pm

Thanks Dennis and John!

Yeah, I would say it's about a 00 size. It's a Stella Grand Concert size to be specific. Just going from pics off the web. It fits into a classical case real nice. And no I don't believe I have shown my soundhole binding technique. I'll have to do that. As you probably notice my build threads have kind of deteriorated into I built threads, relevant pics of whats under the hood but little build detail. So many good builders here that have building systems worked out, which is probably better guidance for someone trying to learn. I build more from my artistic side, which means jump in over your head and work it out......

Let's see, new this time around. I switched to pressing in my frets as opposed to hammering them in. What an improvement, it's the way to go!

And also on these last two builds I've used Colin's egg white pore-fill technique. I've never had such silky good feeling guitar necks. Thanks Colin!

I've only been playing this one about a day but it's sounding really good, but it hasn't caught up to the sound coming out of the floating bridge tailpiece one yet. Of course that one's been played in almost two months so we'll see....

Common thoughts are that a floating bridge/tailpiece flat-top shouldn't sound that good.....

These will both be at Stringfest so I can get some player feedback there.......
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Fred Blom » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:26 pm

Another Sustaire Beauty!
Last edited by Fred Blom on Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Fred Blom » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:27 pm

Sorry, I didn't finish my thoughts. Another Sustaire Beauty! The sound hole binding caught my eye immediately. I like the way you just "jump in over your head and work it out."
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Steve Kinnaird » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:30 pm

Joe (and anyone else who would like to comment) how does the ladder bracing sound differ from the Martin X brace sound? More of this...less of that...?
Thanks in advance for any light shed into my darkness!

Low-watt

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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by whitespruce » Fri Aug 05, 2016 4:16 pm

Steve Kinnaird wrote:Joe (and anyone else who would like to comment) how does the ladder bracing sound differ from the Martin X brace sound? More of this...less of that...?
Thanks in advance for any light shed into my darkness!

Low-watt
Steve, I will jump in here, though I don't know how to put guitar sounds into words. Too bad you can't get to Stringfest this year because you could do all kinds of first hand comparisons. Not only will Joe have his ladder braced guitars here, but Dennis will have "Angelina" (his uniquely braced guitar), plus there will be 2 totally thermally modified wood guitars (an OM and a dread), and a bunch of my weirdly braced guitars, plus many "normal" guitars, some factory and some hand built. Hey, even an 1890 Martin parlor. Lots of things to compare.

Still not too late and well worth the trip :D

G
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Joe Sustaire » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:41 pm

Hey Fred, thanks for the kind words! Jumping in over my head seems to be my only option....... :D

Steve I also find using words to talk about sound pretty frustrating. But here goes..... I would say first off it gives you more of the fundamental, less overtones. Quicker response and decay. Which all to me translates to a more basic roots oriented thumping sound as opposed to a chiming harp type sound. Best I can do......

Road trip, road trip, road trip........
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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Steve Kinnaird » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:51 pm

whitespruce wrote: Steve, I will jump in here, though I don't know how to put guitar sounds into words. Too bad you can't get to Stringfest this year because you could do all kinds of first hand comparisons. Not only will Joe have his ladder braced guitars here, but Dennis will have "Angelina" (his uniquely braced guitar), plus there will be 2 totally thermally modified wood guitars (an OM and a dread), and a bunch of my weirdly braced guitars, plus many "normal" guitars, some factory and some hand built. Hey, even an 1890 Martin parlor. Lots of things to compare.

Still not too late and well worth the trip :D

G
Thank you for the invite, Grant. Truly appreciated! I can relate to your difficulty describing sonic qualities. Not only are everyone's ears different, the lexicon is still being written. Or it NEEDS to be. The string fest sounds not only like fun, but a real education! Too bad you live almost a continent away... And, too bad my vacation time is spent. Ah well. Maybe another time. Back on topic, Joe: that is a fine looking guitar!

Steve

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Re: One More Ladder Braced Birch GC

Post by Steve Kinnaird » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:56 pm

Joe Sustaire wrote:Hey Fred, thanks for the kind words! Jumping in over my head seems to be my only option....... :D

Steve I also find using words to talk about sound pretty frustrating. But here goes..... I would say first off it gives you more of the fundamental, less overtones. Quicker response and decay. Which all to me translates to a more basic roots oriented thumping sound as opposed to a chiming harp type sound. Best I can do......

Road trip, road trip, road trip........
Typing at same time. Thanks for that description Joe. What I have read backs that up, and what I remember from playing some old Gibsons does the same. It is an interesting sound for sure-- one suitable for, would you say, Scott Joplin? Probably some thumpy blues tunes?
Must try building one. Also must get out more!
Thanks again,
Steve

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