The Clara archtop
Acoustic / Electric archtop guitar with through the top floating Humbucker and removable finger-rest.
This guitar is named after my little girl Clara.
The Clara archtop was completed on December 14th 2020 with serial number -Andre Instruments no.111, Quebec city, Canada.
For the short - summary version of the context in which it came about, here is a wonderful little clip produced by our insightful Guitar-Man Michael Watts:
The Clara archtop has a special story of its own, as it was planned to be presented at the 2020 Holy Grail guitar Show.
This was mid-February 2020.
When the Holy Grail guitar show team hinted that there where still Demo concert spots available for to showcase our instruments, I contacted Michael immediately.
The birth of a collaboration:
Michael replied a genuine -Yes-, in a letter translated into French! Wow!
A discussion was engaged about the Clara archtop, its pickups, scale length, woods, etc. etc.
-Listening to his album Vetiver while working was even more motivating. It tickled the idea of a more fingerstyle oriented instrument.
Michael was so informative, kind, and with the flow of everything that the design of the Clara was considerably modified from his input.
Of course, it was never expected that the world would turn-around like this in the following days (read: pandemic), and that this collaborative venture towards a planned meeting at the Holy Grail guitar show would now be obviously compromised.
Thanks to Michael, the -vibration- for the Clara archtop was kept lively...
Accents of ebony, aluminium, nickel, rosewood, as well as the addition of beautiful plum/teal coloured purflings where chosen.
The top plate was -x- braced, with added harmonic/ladder elements, aiming to bring to the guitar
a baroque/historic sonic feel.
Michael's insights have helped to plan for a simple - useable, pickup wiring layout, which was enclosed in a shielded box atop the steel and aluminium tailpiece.
Current innovation is the way the pickup is suspended inside the box :
The neck pickup is free to protrude through the top it as needed. Shown in small picture 3 is a temporary shim to test height.
This hole approach to affixing the magnetic pickup to the guitar felt right, and enabled using a beefier pickup without worrying for its impact on acoustics.
The guitar scale-length is 25.00. The neck core was chosen to be Black Limba, with carbon fibre inserts. Its fingerboard is taken from a very old double-bass fingerboard once belonging to Lloyd Goldstein.
Aluminium, and thin shop-made strips of jade coloured recon stone were used to highlight the fingerboard. Stone was used again on headstock's mid-part, which serves a the truss-rod cover.
Exploring the archtop tailpiece, made from recycled metals :
Clara André selecting materials!
The guitar needed a visual -kick- near as strong as its nickel covered humbucker:
Some of Clara's artistic expression was included within the build: -Right into the tailpiece's mid- part, a section of one of her very own gouache work is set into composition.
Completed tailpiece serves as control box (volume/tone) and is made of recycled steel, aluminium, recon stone, ebony, willow and Canson paper:
The beautifully done video below shares all the energy and excitement that surrounded the creation of the Clara Archtop :
Scale length: inches 25.00
Neck width std. @ nut 1.6875 inches (1 11/16th)
String spacing at bridge std. @ 2.125 inches
Body width lower bout: inches 16.625
Body length total: inches 21.50
Body depth upper bout: inches 2.75
Body depth lower bout: inches 2.875
Pickup: Mojo Pickups UK, handmade Filtertron bladed model brushed Nickel finish, Switchcraft output jack, w/ vol/tone controls 50’s wiring at tailpiece.
Tuners are Schertlers brushed aluminium with brass gear. Truss rod cover is the removable center part of headstock.
internal laminated Spanish cedar neck -wings- supports.
Altitude Red spruce soundboard bracings, soundboard voiced as per André.
Black Limba neck reinforced with carbon fibre, w/ ebony fingerboard, adjustable 2-way truss rod, aluminium rectangular inlays & greenish -glow in the dark- side dot markers.
Twin colour headstock design in Dyed Sycomore, ebony and rosewood. Brushed aluminum Schertler tuners w/ ebony buttons, and Andre Instruments 3-line logo in stone (headstock) and gold (pick guard).
Copal & oil satin varnish.
Woods: All master grade, quarter-cut material is used. The carved soundboard is said to have been cut by loggers in the 1850 era… and was left behind in the mud, hence its -Sinker- appellation and colouring. It is quite cristalline in nature, showing strength, lightness and luminosity.
Materials: Haida Guai Island Sinker red Cedar top, altitude red spruce bracings, Zizicote back/sides with internal rosewood lamination, Black limba neck with carbon fibre reinforcements and truss rod, Gabon ebony fingerboard (from Lloyd Goldstein’s double bass replacement, via Mario Lamarre, luthier Qc), Spanish cedar beveled blocks & kerfings, dyed Sycomore (plum/blue), Rosewood, Jade recon stone (green), steel (tailpiece), aluminium, unbleached cow bone, Luminlay side-dots, carbon fibre, nickel silver (pickup), aliphatic glue, epoxy, tung oil & copal varnish, 23 karat gold leaf (head, pick guard), steel wire, nickel wire.
" Hi Thierry,
Unpacked Clara yesterday.
As always, a beautiful work of art! I’m very pleased to add it to my Andre collection."