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Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?

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GUEST,Cindy 04 Jan 01 - 08:21 PM
Midchuck 04 Jan 01 - 08:41 PM
Gary T 04 Jan 01 - 09:11 PM
GUEST,CraigS 04 Jan 01 - 09:54 PM
catspaw49 04 Jan 01 - 10:26 PM
Murray MacLeod 04 Jan 01 - 10:32 PM
Murray MacLeod 04 Jan 01 - 10:34 PM
catspaw49 04 Jan 01 - 10:39 PM
Gary T 04 Jan 01 - 10:43 PM
DonMeixner 04 Jan 01 - 11:34 PM
catspaw49 04 Jan 01 - 11:41 PM
Murray MacLeod 05 Jan 01 - 12:06 AM
Murray MacLeod 05 Jan 01 - 12:06 AM
catspaw49 05 Jan 01 - 12:11 AM
GUEST,Cindy 05 Jan 01 - 12:12 AM
Murray MacLeod 05 Jan 01 - 12:31 AM
Gary T 05 Jan 01 - 06:33 AM
GUEST 05 Jan 01 - 07:37 AM
Mooh 05 Jan 01 - 08:29 AM
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Subject: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: GUEST,Cindy
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 08:21 PM

Hello all. I have been visiting this great site for a while, and decided to take the plunge and ask a question. I am sure nestled among the people here, there might be some knowledgable people that can provide information on guitar bracing. I have finally reached a level of proficiency with my guitar playing that necessitates a better instrument. I have saved my pennies for a long time and want to get a "lifer" instrument. I am gravitating towards a Martin, perhaps a dreadnought or a triple O. I have read that Martins made prior to the mid 1970s have what is called straight bracing, and that newer ones as well as ones made before 1945 have what is termed "scalloped" bracing. Can anyone explain the differences, and how this affects the stucture of the guitar, and how it affects the overall tone? Is there a noticable difference if I were to play a 1940 D-28 vs. a 1948 D-28 (just as an example.) Grateful for any advice on this subject.


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Midchuck
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 08:41 PM

Here (if I did the blue clicky thing right) is a place to learn more on the subject than you can possibly absorb.

You may even want to sign on.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 09:11 PM

There is a very informative site called "frets.com." Go to that URL, and click on "Go to frets.com index page," then click on "Of interest to musicians" for a list of various subjects. The articles there may well answer many of the questions which you may have about guitar construction, repair, set-up, accessories, etc.--and likely answer some questions you haven't thought of yet. The articles tend to be reasonably brief and to the point, and generally have helpful high-quality photos.

The article on your question, which I believe will answer it thoroughly, is here (click on the blue).


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 09:54 PM

I've just looked at the links above, and they don't really tell Cindy what she needs to know, so here's the way I see it: Guitars with scalloped braces are more responsive but less strong - they usually have more sustain and bass response, but using strings heavier than "lights" on a regular basis will cause the top to "belly out" over a few years. The use of light strings will normally give increased sustain over heavy strings, but the heavy strings will be louder. The general effect of a light top with scalloped braces is to give a guitar that is as loud on light strings as one which is not scalloped with medium strings. Generally, it depends on the style you play as to what you want - a scalloped top usually suits the fingerpicker better than the flatpicker - fast flatpicking can lose clarity and just sound jumbled up if the guitar is too responsive. If you like that "scalloped sound", it is also possible to get a guitar's braces shaved by a good repairman ( ie. scalloped without dismantling the guitar) This is a very tricky operation - don't try it yourself ! The best guitars with scalloped braces were made in Chicago before the war by the Larsen brothers, who worked under the names Maurer, Prairie State and Euphonen - if you want one of these, be prepared to pay $3k to $12k for one!


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 10:26 PM

Cindy.........Forget all that. There are too many factors that go into building any instrument to focus down on any one thing unless you're just into the reasons of acoustic sound production. Those of us who are nutty for that type of thing will argue interminably over bracing and bridge pins, spruces and saddles, the merits of rosewoods or the use of hide glues, and about a hundred or so other pieces of minutiae.

You say you are ready to get a "Lifetime" guitar.......OK.

What type of music do you play? What kind of picker are you? Solo or group? etc, etc, etc.............Do you know what sound you like? I imagine you do. Go play some guitars and have someone play them for you with your back turned. There are vintage instruments and new instruments that are well built, have a beautiful sound......all that good stuff. Only you know what you are looking for.

The size and shape in terms of sound and feel have a lot to do with any decision and there are some general things to be agreed on about that. And some vanity issues apply as well. Think through your style and needs and then go for the sound you have in mind. Its often a long search..........but damn!!!! Its a boatload of fun!!!!

How much money ya' got??? (:<))

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 10:32 PM

Cindy, if you are looking for a lifer instrument, then you really don't want to get hung up on whether the braces are scalloped are not. The art of luthiery has moved on so much in the last decade, amd so many great instruments are being made that really there are many more important factors to consider.

Most importantly, you have to lose the idea that Martin guitars are somehow the lodestone by which all others should be judged. There are individual luthiers today building guitars of a quality which Martin will never approach, far less equal.

It really all comes down to how much you can afford, but if you are looking for a guitar to spend the rest of your life with, to honor and obey (!) then please go the handmade route, don't walk the factory floor

Murray


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 10:34 PM

Spaw, how come you always post simultaneously ?? Can you read my mind, or what? Murray


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 10:39 PM

When you have as few thoughts as the two of us do Murray, there's damn little to read!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 10:43 PM

Hell, Spaw, all I can manage is to look at the pictures! BG


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 11:34 PM

Spot on Pat. I am amazed at the clear and concise advice that issueth from you from time to time. Other times you are clear as mud. How is that?


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 11:41 PM

Well, I guess its because Gary gets color pictures and I only get black and white.......My best guess is that Murray gets his pictures out of Batman comic books.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 12:06 AM

Scuse, me Spaw, I have never read a Batman comic in my life. My mother told me that if I read these American "horror comics "I would go straight to hell.

BUT I was a huge fan of the original Batman TV series, and I can even remember the name of the guy who played Robin, (which you were unable to remember ! na-na naa naa naa)

Burt Ward.

Murray (whose memory cells are still intact)


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 12:06 AM

Scuse, me Spaw, I have never read a Batman comic in my life. My mother told me that if I read these American "horror comics "I would go straight to hell.

BUT I was a huge fan of the original Batman TV series, and I can even remember the name of the guy who played Robin, (which you were unable to remember ! na-na naa naa naa)

Burt Ward.

Murray (whose memory cells are still intact)


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 12:11 AM

Well geez Murray, even I can remember not to punch the submit button twice!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: GUEST,Cindy
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 12:12 AM

Wow! Thank you for all the input and quick responses. The links provided and discovering Fret's web site and the Flatpick L archives was a revelation. I've much more reading to do! I think the main reason I am gravitating towards Martins comes down to one thing for me - TONE. I've yet to play anything with a tone that really speaks to me, other than a well aged Martin. I have played late model Larivees, Bourgeois, Gibsons, Taylors, Lowdens, Collings and others, and there is a richness, darkness or call-it-a soul to the tone of a Martin that I've just not experienced with other guitars. To answer Catspaw49, I am a Travis style kind of finger picker but also enjoy blues picking akin to Rory Block, one of my favorites. As far as my budget, let's just say for the right instrument I'm prepared to spend somewhere between 5K and 10K. One answer I was especially looking for but seemed to escape me, is whether there really is a funadamental, NOTICABLE difference in the tone of a straight braced as opposed to a scalloped braced instrument, assuming both were strung with light gauge phosphor-bronze strings and both considered excellent instruments? Or is it more marketing hype designed to keep the prices high on the so called "Golden Era" instruments? Anyway, I really appreciate y'all taking the time to respond. Perhaps I will become a member here. You seem like good folk to me. Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 12:31 AM

Cindy, I guess I speak for everybody when I say that I hope you will register and grace us with your presence. It is always a pleasure to meet someone who takes the guitrar as seriously as you obviously do. There are many guitar enthusiasts on this Forum and you will enjoy reading what they have to say on any guitar-related topics.

Even old Catspaw 49' bless him, he is getting on and his memory isn't what it was, but sometimes even he can come out with some really invaluable little snippets.

Look forward to seeing you around,

Murray


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Gary T
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 06:33 AM

Cindy, here are two excerpts from the "frets" article linked above, which address the tone issue. Read the whole article to put these into perspective (or if you have already, my apologies, perhaps this doesn't quite provide what you're looking for).

"There's quite a bit of disagreement over the effects and benefits of one bracing system over another. We all agree that IF ALL THINGS ARE EQUAL, namely same maker, size, style, material and age of guitar, that the scalloped brace instrument will have more bass response. It's predictable, since bass response is generally increased if the top is made more flexible, and the scalloped braces are more flexible where they are cut lower."

"Straight brace guitars are not necessarily inferior. Some players prefer the sound of Martin instruments with the straight braces. These pickers may refer to bassy sounding scalloped models as being 'tubby.' Of course, the scalloped brace Martin player might call the straight brace models 'tight' or 'tinny.'"

Other parts of the article give an historical perspective which sheds some light on the "marketing hype" angle.


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 07:37 AM

For the bucks you're willing to spend, you could have one custom made to your specs. Just as an example, Travis style picker Steve Rector plays one of these.


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Subject: RE: Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences?
From: Mooh
Date: 05 Jan 01 - 08:29 AM

I was in much the same position as you a few years ago and I was seriously considering a high end factory instrument. I wanted the guitar of my dreams now and I wouldn't wait. Then a stumbled on a handmade one-of-a-kind flat-top built by some guy who'd been building such things for 25 years. I was totally converted. Instead of buying the one I played in the shop however, I went straight to the luthier himself and had one custom made. Not only did I have to wait a little longer, about 9 months, I didn't end up spending any more cash than I orginally intended. Not all luthiers are this fast or this reasonably priced, but many are, and their instruments excel. Given your price range, this would be a very good consideration for you.

Either way you go, and I can still support you buying a Martin, trust your ears, your hands, and your heart. But shop around, because there's lots of virtually identical looking guitars out there which vary greatly in sound characteristics, regardless of the type of bracing. Don't forget the hardshell case and gigbag.

Previous advice here in Mudcatville is good. Try talking to Stanley Jay at Mandolin Bros. (New York) and the good folks at Elderly (Lansing, Michigan) for personal advice too.

Let us know what you end up buying. Mooh.


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