Saturday, 1 March 2014

Guitar making and aerodynamics

I can't be the only guitar maker to have started out by making model aeroplanes as a kid. I loved making anything really so to have ended up spending my working life in my own workshop creating things is no great surprise. Model aircraft still creep into the workshop sometimes. last summer my 8 year old son and I spent happy hours building balsa catapult gliders and then spent more happy hours chasing them round the local park.

I made the plane pictured above a couple of months back. It's a Dart Kitten for those of you who are interested; a 1930s design. It is still waiting for its prop and rubber motor but test glide flights look good. It's free flight and is made as light as possible so I selected the lightest balsa I could find; then thinned it down so that you could see light through it. It weighs 9 grams; a classical guitar low E strings weighs about 5 grams.....

It was whilst I was weighing sheet balsa that I realised again the connection with guitar making. When I select guitar tops I will always take weight into consideration, the same with strutwood, and bridge material.When you build an aircraft/guitar it needs to look good but it has to fly/play as well. (I was telling all this to one of my students recently who pointed out that at least guitars don't get stuck up trees.)

The aeroplane is sitting on the back of a cypress Torres inspired guitar which I have recently finished and weighed just over 1100 grams. The plane has yet to fly but the guitar has gone and is faraway now, and singing like a bird....

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