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do you recommend cutaway on guitars?

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GUEST 19 Oct 05 - 06:56 PM
Midchuck 19 Oct 05 - 07:02 PM
Grab 19 Oct 05 - 07:26 PM
Peter T. 19 Oct 05 - 07:32 PM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 19 Oct 05 - 07:57 PM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 19 Oct 05 - 07:59 PM
michaelr 19 Oct 05 - 08:23 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Oct 05 - 09:01 PM
number 6 19 Oct 05 - 10:40 PM
GUEST 19 Oct 05 - 11:02 PM
Big Mick 20 Oct 05 - 12:45 AM
Mark Cohen 20 Oct 05 - 01:58 AM
C-flat 20 Oct 05 - 02:28 AM
Shiplap Structure3 20 Oct 05 - 04:20 AM
mooman 20 Oct 05 - 04:29 AM
Dave Hanson 20 Oct 05 - 04:46 AM
LesB 20 Oct 05 - 08:34 AM
freightdawg 20 Oct 05 - 09:03 AM
Mooh 20 Oct 05 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,Betsy 20 Oct 05 - 09:54 AM
mooman 20 Oct 05 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,wld 20 Oct 05 - 03:20 PM
John Hardly 20 Oct 05 - 03:37 PM
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Subject: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 06:56 PM


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Midchuck
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 07:02 PM

If you actually use those frets up there - maybe.

If you don't, of course not.

You're taking some volume of air out of the body, therefore stealing some of its potential sound. If you need the reach, it may be a trade off that you have to decide. If you don't, it's nutsy to have one.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Grab
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 07:26 PM

On an acoustic, no. The width of the body and the neck-joint is such that you can't fret them normally anyway - your thumb won't go past the neck-joint, so you're reduced to using a "floating" left-hand. And if you're going to do that, it's just as easy to use the classical-style reaching down the fretboard, and that means you don't need a cutaway.

On an electric, definitely. An electric body isn't much thicker than the neck itself, so you can get your hand around it. It's useable and it helps.

YMMV...

Graham.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Peter T.
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 07:32 PM

On an acoustic, yes. Just to be ornery. You are still able to reach for the higher frets more easily. The problem is that the highs sound pretty crappy anyway because there is so little resonance.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 07:57 PM

Andy Manson (the luthier responsible for The Mermaid and John Paul Jones' triple neck acoustic among others) reckons that a cut away makes no difference to the overall sound of the instrument.

The Manson guitar used by Julie Ellison as her main gigging instrument features a very curvy cut away combined with different body/neck position and - most importantly - no heel, a feature specifically requested by Julie to avoid the fretting problems mentioned by Grab. All frets are easily accessible and sound as crisp and clear as any postion on the neck.

That said, Andy Manson's guitars are pretty special!

This feature is available on many other guitars made by Andy. Although he doesn't make "models" as such - all his guitars are individual - features often pop up in different guitars.

You can see a photo of Julie's latest Manson at http://www.andymanson.co.uk/ellison.htm and http://www.julieellison.co.uk/promo.shtml#photographs
(page down to the third photo)


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 07:59 PM

Oh - I should also mention that I came across a "heeless" factory guitar - unfortunately with a plastic back :-(


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: michaelr
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 08:23 PM

There are several heel-less guitar designs on the market; I believe Washburn and Wechter (sp?) make some.

I wish my Lowden had a cutaway... about twice a year.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 09:01 PM

They are occasionally more convenient.

I have never yet heard one that sounded as good as its non-cutaway equivalent.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: number 6
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 10:40 PM

Everyone up above pretty well said it all ... but if you are into collecting guitars take note that cutaways generally don't bring as much in on resale value as non-cutaways.

sIx


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 05 - 11:02 PM

I would cut away so many inept guitarists from their poor wretched guitars


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Big Mick
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 12:45 AM

Why? It adds nothing to the guitar, as long as we are talking acoustic.

Mick


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 01:58 AM

Actually, I don't think it makes too much difference what you wear when you play guitar. If you want to be extra formal, by all means, go for it.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: C-flat
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 02:28 AM

I'd rather have a take-away.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Shiplap Structure3
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 04:20 AM

Cutaways can make a vast amount of sense have a look at the original Maccaferri design with 12 frets to the body and a cutaway, wheras on a dread where every effort is made to create the biggest box possible it seems a nonsense to chop a lump out still it seems to suit the big hat and tassles brigade


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: mooman
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 04:29 AM

I use the high frets a lot so am grateful for the cutaway on the acoustic archtop I use.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 04:46 AM

If you are call Django, yes, if you have all five digits on your fretting hand, no, it'e a mere affectation or fashion.

eric


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: LesB
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 08:34 AM

If you put an unamplified cutawy up against the same model without the cutaway, i,ve yet to hear one that sounds as good as the original.

Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: freightdawg
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 09:03 AM

I have a nylon string and 12 string in the "classic" shape and, I will admit mostly for reasons of variety, have a steel string with the cutaway. It makes a nice bit of "uniqueness" to my little family of guitars.

I don't want to get into an argument of physics (discussion, definitely), but does that tiny little bit of air up on the shoulder really make that much difference in sound? Luthiers are experimenting all the time with sound hole placement, and there is more than one maker that cuts a hole on the side of the guitar that faces the player. That way there is more sound directed up at the player, but according to the reviews, it really doesn't affect the sound coming out of the sound hole directly under the strings. (Anyone have any experience with one of those guitars???)

Anyway, I'm not a physicist, but it seems to me that the loss of the vibrations so far away from the sound hole, and so close to the side of the guitar would be minimal if at all. But then, like I said the reason I chose the cutaway was more aesthetics than sound.

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Mooh
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 09:22 AM

Someday maybe I'll get an acoustic guitar with a cutaway, but it'll have to be pretty damn good, and I'll have to really need the upper fret access. In the meantime, the several guitars that get regular use around here suffice. I tend to use the upper frets more than most folks I know who do own a cutaway.

So often, at least by what I see of inexpensive guitars coming through my teaching studio, a cutaway comes with a factory installed pickup. If the buyer simply wants to plug in without the hassle of after-market changes, they pretty much are stuck with the cutaway whether they need it or not. That's not universally the case, but it is much of the time. Also, on less expensive guitars, paying for a cutaway (and that stupid piezo) means you're not getting features that contribute to better tone.

My recommendation: don't bother with a cutaway.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 09:54 AM

If you need one 'cos you play up there - get one .
Beware the acoustic sound can suffer / get used up.
It needs to be a deepish body to compensate, or,
I've got a Martin (laminated back and sides one) and LOVE it.

Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: mooman
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 10:48 AM

From a pure luthiery point of view, internal volume, thickness and profile of the top, tonewoods and bracing tend to affect the sound more than shape.

Peace

(one with, one without)


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,wld
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 03:20 PM

getting a bit precious aren't we?

if you want one, have one....

like King Lear (Martin Carthy's biggest influence) said, Reason not the need...!

if you do get one, get it from the shop - don't try and do it yourself with a penknife


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: John Hardly
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 03:37 PM

If you want the looks of a cutaway but don't need the upper fret access, here's a nifty trick...

Take a compass (the kind with point and pencil) and carefully draw an arc on that lower part of your guitar's upper bout. Now, with flat black paint, carefully paint the area where a cutaway would be. Voila'! From all appearances to anyone out in the audience, you will have a cutaway guitar.

Be careful to paint a matching purfling and binding along the edge of the black paint. You want it to look authentic.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,wld
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 04:05 PM

my god,thats brilliant - think of all the things you could make disappear!

I can't think why they don't have a special Martin tin of dulux black matt with every guitar sold - just for the bits you don't like

John Hardly - a desperate little man


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Briagha
Date: 21 Oct 05 - 01:23 PM

I have one on my Taylor, but only because it was the guitar that sounded best to me in the shop. Still love the sound, but I've never used the cutaway and don't see any real need for it-- except that it does make for a convenient nook to put the strap in when the guitar is put into its case.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: C-flat
Date: 22 Oct 05 - 05:29 AM

John, that belongs in the "Dr. Guitar" threads. Brilliant!!

C-flat.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Dr. Guitar
Date: 22 Oct 05 - 06:07 AM

Mr C-flat,

Good to see both Your Goodself and Mr Hardly again. I most heartily agree with your suggested reallocation!

Do you not agree that Mr Hardly is proving a mosy excellent and worthy protegee?

I am a firm believer that one should never forget that one can learn a lot from one's students!

Yours most sincerely,

Dr. Guitar

(Always at the service of Mudcat but, most unfortunately, rarely called upon to offer my pro bono services these days. Except by Dear Ebbie of course! I have note from the "Getaway Reflections" that her eyes "twinkle". Do you think it could be that she has, at last, refrained from looking at those advanced jazz chords that I so often warned her of?)

Dr. G


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: s&r
Date: 22 Oct 05 - 06:30 AM

The body is a Helmholtz resonator tuned to reinforce the bass end of the spectrum - that being so it should be possible to retune for the loss of internal volume by modifying the size and depth of the sound hole.

Stu


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,Coldeb
Date: 22 Oct 05 - 08:09 AM

Depends what you buy and what you play, if your into Gordon Giltrap sort of playing, then YES, I would recommend one, An Ovation, or a Fylde, or if Money allows, an Armstrong or a Roger Williams. There is absolutely NO loss of sound or tone in ANY of these Guitars and the upper Frets are a doddle to reach with them!(Especially with the NEW 'Spanking' Roger Williams one!)cdshuk@yahoo.co.uk


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,jimboo
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 11:11 AM

I have just purchased a tanglewood tw 47 with cutout. i tried a lot of guitars in the shop about twenty.The fact that is is mahogany maybe helps as to why i found no real loss of tone or volume.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 11:44 AM

I don't have any acoustic guitars with cutaways, but the only time I really miss one is when I'm playing slide. Luckily, I don't play a lot of slide and can usually use the arch-top electric for this.
Usually anything above the 14th fret is wasted on me, but I agree with those who say,"If you need it, get it," or even,"If you like the looks of it, get it."


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Scrump
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 11:54 AM

Just read this thread and the consensus is pretty much what I thought myself.

A side question arising from a point made above: what's the best way of accommodating the strap (still attached to the guitar) in a hard case? Some cases fit the guitar snugly (which is sensible), but unless I remove the strap I find it difficult to get it in properly. Yes, I could remove the strap but doing that and re-attaching it is a pain each time.

The best way seems to me to have the strap under the back of the body, but then you get a 'bunch' of strap to accommodate between the neck and the gizmo box inside the case, which isn't always easy for a thick leather strap. Trying to fit the strap around the edge of the body seems difficult for a snug fitting case. If anyone has any brilliant suggestions (apart from simply removing the strap each time), I'd be interested. Btw the strap in question attaches to either end of the body, not from the bottom of the body to the head.

Hope the above makes some sort of sense!


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Scrump
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 11:55 AM

Doh! I should have said, of course I'm talking about a non-cutaway guitar, which doesnt have the cutaway as a convenient place to wind the strap.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 11:56 AM

I ALWAYS take the strap off my guitars before I put them into their cases.... Less chance of the guitar getting damaged by clips, buckles, whatever.

It's much less of a pain than trying to remove scratches and dings from the body of the guitar


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 01:39 PM

A guitar body is not a Helmholtz resonator. In a Helmholtz resonator the body is non-resonant and it is the air in it that resonates. Also the Helmholtz calculations only work if you assume a stiff plug of air, ie a long thin neck to the bottle. A guitar is not a long thin neck of air into the body. Thiele-Small calculations don't work for guitar bodies either.   

In a guitar, it is mostly (not entirely, mostly) the top or face of the guitar that resonates - and mostly the lower bout, not the upper bout, but the upper bout does do a bit of the work. The shape of a cutaway is plainly and obviously stiffer than a non-cutaway - ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL. Therefore less thud and less resonance.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 01:44 PM

yes


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 02:08 PM

If a cutaway really altered the sound of a guitar that much, people like Doc Watson, Steve Kaufman and Dan Crary wouldn't be playin' 'em.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 04:55 AM

Myself, I have two Lowdens, and the cutaway (010c) is deeper, fuller and louder than than the non-cutaway. I've also played small bodied guitars that have a bigger bodied and more resonant sound than big jumbos. It's all a mystery to me, and I'm no expert, but experience has taught me that anyone who tells you ... a. the type of wood b. cutaway or standard shape c. size of body ... is the determining factor in sound is just wrong: in other words, it cannot be just ONE of those things. The sound and tone of a guitar is complex mixture of all kinds of factors that make that individual sound. Oh, and the person who said that an acoustic sounds crap on the top frets because it doesn't resonate up there: buy a decent guitar and hear the difference.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: skipy
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 05:03 AM

I think a cutaway on a banjo is a good idea, cutaway the neck & bury it in a differant county to the round bit.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: kendall
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 08:34 AM

Segovia never needed a cut away.

I always thought the cut away looked more like a tool than an instrument.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: pdq
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 11:18 AM

The Helmholtz resonator is tuned to one frequency (pitch, in music) and amplifies only that frequency. Such resonances are the source of "wolf tones" in all wood-bodied string instruments. One of great arts of instrument building is to remove major resonances. Numerous minor resonances spread over the entire frequency range of the instrument is the best one can do. Instrument building is both art and science.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Wesley S
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 11:42 AM

A few more folks who never needed a cutaway -

Robert Johnson
Skip James
Mississippi John Hurt
Clarence White
Tony Rice
Ronnie Bowman
Roy Rogers
Gene Autry
Jimmie Rogers
And even tho Doc Watson has a cutaway - I've never seen him use it. I may be wrong however.

I've yet to A/B two similar guitars where the cutaway model sounded better. But tone is in the ear of the beholder.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: kendall
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 11:46 AM

It ends up there, but it starts in the instrument. That's why expensive guitars are expensive...they are worth it.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Scrump
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 11:53 AM

Wild Willy Barrett is the best cutaway guitar player I know :-)

I have a cheapish cutaway electro-acoustic which is OK for what I use it for, but otherwise I prefer 'uncut' guitars for the sound quality. I recently tried several different Martins in a shop and even I noticed that the cutaways didn't have the full sound of the uncuts. As others have said, it's worth buying a cutaway electric, or if you use the high frets a lot on an acoustic, but otherwise I'd say go for an uncut.

Unless, of course, you just want to give the impression that you play the high frets a lot ;-)


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GLoux
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 02:51 PM

With regard to Doc Watson, I've never seen him play a cutaway in person, but if you Google Image Doc Watson, google returns some photos showing him with a cutaway Gallagher, but most of the photos with guitars are non-cutaways.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GLoux
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 03:06 PM

Click here for the Google Image search for Doc Watson

-Greg


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 05:58 PM

I must admit that I ike the look of vintage guitars, therefore I don't like an acoustic cutaway (with the exception of a Selmer). My nephew prefers modern/newer guitars, and therefore likes an acoustic cutaway. He says,"I'm buying the guitars that'll be vintage someday. Yours were new once too." He's right. To each his own.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: Stower
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 08:18 PM

Just back from a fab night at a local folk club. Thinking of this thread, I saw someone get up with a cutaway guitar. Tried to figure out the % of space lost inside the body by the cutaway. I was amazed, sat there looking, how small the percentage must be. 3% perhaps (a wild guess from sight)? The cutaway sounded much bigger and bolder than the next person playing a non-cutaway. Both were decent guitars. There's much more to the sound of a guitar than whether it's cutaway - factors such as wood, bracing, string tension, action, amount of decoration on the body, depth of varnish.


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 09:57 PM

I've long thought that guitars should come in both sexes, with the female version having a narrower neck for small hands, and a convenient 'cutaway' at the back for women...especially for those of us of Partonesque proportions (you know what I'm sayin..)


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Subject: RE: do you recommend cutaway on guitars?
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 27 Oct 06 - 11:51 AM

Hi
I think it was Gianni that did a cutaway on the top shoulder of the guitar. This,if still available, may assist Guest of Partonesque proportions!
chris


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