The science of instrument-making


I have to present myself as an instrument maker or a luthier, because I’m making, you know, violins, guitars, mandolins. Virtually any stringed instrument. But all of my designs are based on being non traditional. There’s no reason for me to redo what other people have already done. The big innovation, which is changing the sound of my instruments, and makes them very notably different to a standard traditional instrument is the use of carbon fiber to change where the wood moves, and where it doesn’t. Being able to add strength and stiffness to a piece of wood without adding weight is the key to it. That’s what Formula One cars and all that and helicopters are all about now. Is using modern materials to create something which performs but doesn’t have weight attached to it. The carbon fiber goes above and below the bracing system, which is inside the guitar underneath the bridge. I actually do my bracing and all the fine work when the sides in the top are joined into one pace. That allows me to really see if it’s got enough flex and the places I want and enough stiffness. So using carbon fiber is a huge part of this because if I was working with just wood braces, there is a strength to weight ratio, that can’t be changed. It’s that’s the strength to weight ratio of that wood. But using synthetics, I can surpass that ratio by 10 to 20 times. Which means I can do things acoustically which traditionally could never happen. A lot of traditionalism is mythology. There’s a lot of people say stuff about a guitar. You know what parts of it should move and what parts shouldn’t move. A lot of it’s not true. If you look at real acoustic modeling. It’s about creating parts that don’t move. And that’s very important to sound production, is to make parts just supportive structural things and not part of the sound. I think being a multi instrumentalist, and and a sound technician and a lot of other things. Has led me to a place where I want to break a lot of those barriers that are traditional ones. This is my Lifetime’s work, my bringing together my musicianship with a love of wood with a love of science and with also wanting to pass on things. I think what really motivates me is creating something different that will go on to influence other people and become part of the whole traditional education.