I’ve recently made a development with the way in which I brace the back of my guitars- which I’ve named “compression braces”.
The principle of the compression braces is to maintain the cylindrical back profile as with all Taran instruments, but allow it to vibrate while giving a reflective surface for sound waves.
Benefits are 3 fold:
People always say to me that my guitars are particularly comfortable because of the cylindrical back profile. This characteristic allows you to play a large instrument and it not feel too big. It feels deceptively smaller bodied as the widest part of the lower bout is also the narrowest in depth. As opposed to rib rest that cuts the edge off, the cylindrical back profile hugs the player and also brings the playing position into a closer and to a more natural posture.
We could go into the complexities of the vibrations of a guitar here however, if you imagine sound as a tennis ball for a moment. If you throw that ball against a bed sheet on a washing line it will disappear into the sheet and then fall to the ground. If you throw the same ball against a brick wall, it will come back and hit you in the face! In guitar terms, the reflection of sound off of this solid surface is vital in order to hear the guitar, as both a player and audience. The cylindrical profile of the back makes an extremely reflective surface that throws the vibrations off of the sound board, out of the sound hole, into the ears of the player and far beyond.
Colour of sound-
Every piece of wood has its own tonal quality and influences the instruments sound differently. This is where the compression braces really start to work their magic. The nature of the compression brace is to have minimal mass on the back of the guitar. This allows the back to vibrate as freely as possible across its entire area. This resonance influences the sound of the guitar, allowing the character of each variety of wood used to be maximised; be it rich, earthy, bright or dry.
These braces have been in my mind for quite a while. There had to be a two tier development on them. It was important to test how the process would work at each stage and see how the changed features would respond on the instrument.
The first thing was to test the increased cylindrical profile of the back to see whether it would work in terms of construction. I also needed to know how the physical shape would affect the projection of the instrument. I tested this on the DS2 which is a maple Taran. This guitar had an incredibly light back, and maintained the cylindrical profile, but did not have the compression braces. I concluded that the projection and power of the instrument improved and was happy to move to the next stage of the development.
Happy with the profile I had to develop a brace strong enough to hold the shape while having the lightest mass possible. The design of these braces was inspired by the principles of archery. A strip of wood or “Bow” under both compression and tension because it is fixed at both ends by a non stretchable material. The theory worked but as with every part of a guitar it was crucial to get the balance between strength and weight on a knife edge.
So happy with this development. As with every ingredient on a recipe it changes the flavour.