The Clara archtop:  


       - A meaningful birth & creation, collaborative story ! 


This guitar is named after our little girl Clara, and is turning-out to be a very special, one-off build.


The longer, intricate story leading to its creation is expressed throughout this page in text and pictures.



-For the short - summary version, here is a wonderful little clip to get us started :  













































From its initial stages of build and design, II surely wanted the Clara archtop to have a special story of its own, all to be presented, as planned, at this year's Holy Grail guitar Show.























I got my oldest cedar out, for to make something that speaks to me: -Just the touch and sight of this wood had something haunting that I couldn't quite explain. While carving it, it felt really great ; Each wood chip made would advocate a pretty descent acoustic output to my cause. This -softwood- was screaming something different than usual.


This was mid-February, and time would tell me what to do with this next. While the top-plate to my guitar was getting lighter, having a little lateral flex now, it just wouldn't give-in lengthwise. Stiffness-to-weight ratio was out of my mental chart..., so, I set this enigmatic part aside and went-on to work on the Ziricote soundbox.













When the Holy Grail guitar show team hinted that there where still -demo- concert spots available for to showcase our instruments. I applied and luckily got an -electric- demo spot. I had a cool Lace Sensor single-coil pickup laying around, and this would compliment my -soft- F-hole design I was working-on at this time:

























When I asked Michael Watts if he would play a -demo- concert for me at the HGGS 2020, on the Clara archtop, he amazingly replied a genuine -Yes- to me, in a letter translated into French especially for me.



We then engaged in the following days into a discussion about the Clara archtop, its pickups, scale length, woods, etc. etc.

-I started then to listen to his album Vetiver, while working. I was blown away, sincerely, and now was even more motivated about my acoustic / electric archtop project, newly oriented fingerstyle instrument.


Michael was so informative, kind, and with the flow of everything design-wise. I changed the guitar considerably from personal impulse. I wanted to bring it closer to (what I imagine of) his playing style. Not wanting to create a flat-top sound out of it, but focusing on it having immediate response and a -sparkly- spirit, to go with his use of flesh and no plectrum in his playing.

Theses changes all came fast, I when I asked him if he would mind a -big- humbucker in neck position, in the name of the Mojo gold foil wide-range humbucker (the only other pickup I had in-stock), he replied: 


-That is my favourite pickup!

I was feeling blessed !  Such a great feeling, when things -flow- like this.






Of course, Michael and I never thought that the world would turn-around like this in the following days (read: March 13th 2020), and that our collaborative venture towards a planned meeting at the Holy Grail guitar show would now be obviously compromised.





















More lately, and thanks to Michael, the -vibration- for the Clara archtop is on-going, and is now even more-so shared within a larger discussion and build-thread on the AGF acoustic guitar forum. 


Beginning of March...The birth of a collaboration:


From a holy grail planned meeting, to finding new ways ...

Spring time 2020 - Learning to cut apples, and getting creative !


So how is this shaping-up ?

Accents of ebony, aluminium, nickel, rosewood, are planned, as well as the addition of beautiful plum/teal coloured purfling lines.

What I did next was to -x- brace the top, to then add harmonic/ladder elements, aiming to bring to the guitar

a baroque/historic sonic feel that I would like it to be able to express. 

The bridge will lie right at the f-holes mid-point, coupling with the shorter/angled tone bars and -x- meeting point.

As per Michael's suggestions, a K&K transducer system will be included, and independent from the magnetic pickup, to give an interesting A / B blend option at output stage.

Still more surprises are in the works...and Michael's insights have helped me to plan for a simple - useable wiring layout, which will be enclosed in a shielded box atop the steel and aluminium tailpiece, similar to what I previously did on Multi and Multi 2 .

The guitar scale-length is 25.00. Neck will be Black limba, with a tiny bit of carbon fiber. Its fingerboard is taken from very old double-bass fingerboard material handed to me by the incredible/amazing luthier Mario Lamarre
While the rim of the guitar is laminated from Indian rosewood (inner) and Ziricote, the overall neck-pull will be supported by laminated -neck wings-, a buttressing system initiated by (to my knowledge) luthiers Steve Klein and Mike Doolin, back in the days ! I have used this system since around 2011on my hollow/acoustic instruments, this at first on Oudtar as seen from this page.   

More fun coming !


Exploring the archtop metal tailpiece, made from recycled materials!

Clara, during her most recent workshop visit ! 
Energy, frequency, and vibrations!
This in reference to a famous quote by Nicola Tesla....for his clever understanding of the universe.  Similarly, music is a powerful entity that can simply communicate the metaphysical part of our lives.
I am very fortunate to currently be involved in working the basis for the Clara archtop's voice, with a gifted and creative finger style player as Michael is. I feel truly inspired to have come across his path and musical universe, and if I can suggest, I will leave the last note for today to him. 
His transcending music will have the las word till I update this page furthermore soon!
Very best to you! ...and let me know if you have any questions!
Thierry André,  May 3rd 2020
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