Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

michael Bocchicchio
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  • Rocklin, CA
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Michael Bocchicchio's Friends

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michael Bocchicchio's Discussions

Rosettes; mufflers or mutes in disguise
8 Replies

Started this discussion. Last reply by michael Bocchicchio Mar 29, 2009.


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About me:
I am 42 and a luthier in Nor Cal. Since 1990/91(?) I have been focused on building and playing the lute. In 91-95 I played in a Renaissance ensemble (those were the days!). In 2001 I studied continuo, but that is the extent of my formal Early Music training. I now am interested in the Baroque guitar.

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At 2:13 on February 8, 2010, Alexander Batov said…
Hi Michael,
Now I’m confused ... I’m not sure which “original Voboam brace” you are talking about. There are only two braces in that guitar – one above and one below the rose that can be considered as original. There is a possibility that one more brace, just below the neck block (which is an integral part with the core of the neck), is also original but it’s difficult to say for sure without close examination.
At 1:28 on February 3, 2010, Alexander Batov said…
I thought of pointing to this link when I wrote my reply (further below) but could not remember who gave it and if it's still there. As it just occurred to me it was given by mel (http://earlyguitar.ning.com/profile/mel) and illustrates rather brilliantly the changes that were made to the original two-bar construction (and some other parts too) in the 19th century:


Thanks a lot to mel for making it available.

At 2:11 on January 7, 2010, Alexander Batov said…
Hello Mike,

Thanks for asking. I haven’t got the plan that you mention so I’m not sure what sort of bracing is shown there.*

Generally speaking I would be rather cautious to rely solely on virtually any publicly available plans of baroque guitars, in particular when it comes to such parameters as soundboard thickness (if it’s at all indicated) and / or bracing patterns. Either one of these or indeed both are often found altered. I do believe that the two-bar bracing pattern is what would originally be there on the 17th - early 18th century guitars, with the soundboard thickness set up accordingly so that there is no ‘abnormal’ flex in it in front of the bridge. If it’s all done properly there is no need to use an extra-stiff soundboard wood for there is a danger of ending up with the rather different sort of sound. Personally I never had problems with soundboards flexing too much on my guitars and vihuelas (which are, from the constructional point of view, rather identical) and I only use traditional (European) varieties of spruce. Adding an extra bar in front of the bridge (which is not uncommon on modern baroque guitar reproductions) creates some different, ‘nasal’ sort of sound, plus also slowing down the instrument’s response, in other words making it sound more like an early 19th century ‘Romantic’ guitar (of French school of makers in particular). However, Stauffer was still using only one bar below the sound hole well into the 19th century and his guitars sound quite remarkable, to me anyway.

* “Warning! Warning!” is what would be resounding in my mind if I were to encounter with an item from that particular brand of a draughtsman :) In any case, if possible, it's always best to examine the instrument in person.
At 12:36 on April 3, 2009, Waling Tiersma said…
Hi Michael,

About the bridge coming off the guitar...
As you've read on my blog I'm an amateur at building instruments, so I presume I could learn more from you then vice versa but will gladly share my experiences.

I can't exactly reproduce the circumstances.
My 'workshop' is in the basement of our house. It's rather humid so I keep my tools and wood and instruments under construction elsewhere.
For jobs like glueing the top, glueing the bridge etc. I work in our living room, thus at 'room temperature' of around 19 degrees Celsius. Both times it was around April when I put on the bridge so I guess the heating was on resulting in low relative hunidity. I guess the thickness of my glue could be comparable to yours (thin cream...).
After the last time - having worked very clean - I tend to think that maybe I apply to much pressure, thus pressing the glue away into the soft woold of the top. (Bridge is was pear on both instruments).
At 21:35 on March 27, 2009, Alexander Batov said…
Thank you, Mike. I've just added my more-in-depth answer about the roses to the thread that you've started earlier. As for the bubinga neck, I forgot to mention that this wood is as stable as others, provided of course that it's seasoned up properly, or kiln-dried at least to start with.
At 23:15 on March 26, 2009, Alexander Batov said…
Hello Mike,
The neck on that particular guitar (fluted-back, 66cm SL) is of some other wood (can't really identify it ...), which is very similar in density (if not even heavier) to bubinga but not that interesting in appearance so I decided not to use it any more. My bubinga is more towards brown-red in colour (plus also darkening when finished in oil) and I'd say it combines with maple body and / or ribs rather well. My first experience of solid, heavy wood neck (ebony) was when I made my first reproduction of the Dias vihuela. And it does make the difference, no question about it!
At 4:50 on March 26, 2009, David Tayler said…
Hye Mike--
I'm only doing Europe this summer. What are you building?

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