Old School Archtop
Back in 2010, while located in Montreal and still doing restoration work, a German women who was slowly going blind because of a particular condition, came-in for repair-work.
She looked for some new -hobbies-
in her life, and decided to learn to play the guitar:
She happened to have her father's old guitar in a closet. She started to play it, and then some accident happened, and the guitar needed restoration.
It was a no name archtop, very intriguing.
It had to be open to re-glue some braces:
Notes where taken on its ladder bracing position before closing the box back to its original state.
When that guitar was finally strung-up it was pure magic. It was the most thrilling guitar encountered in a long time.
The guitar's role in this women's path all made sens as it was handed-back to her.
She had never played any other guitar.
So, the inspiration for the -magic- Old-school archtop had begun there.
It all came naturally : Since an OM shaped acoustic mould was already in process,
the old, Orville-oriented archtop idea evolved quickly into a build.
It all felt like a true gift from life.
About this guitar:
Its scale length is longer than usual, and of a full 26.00" to accommodate lower tunings.
It has a voice of its own, miles away from the contemporary archtop offer. It has something reminiscent of the lute, very European. The ladder bracing yields a very complexe and focused tone, similar to some low budget American guitars like Harmony, Stella, and not too far also from the more refined Selmer-Maccafferri type of instruments.
For the Old school archtop, two removable ebony pickguards where made :
1-One with a custom made, offset humbucking pickup, calibrated for bronze strings by MJS pickups:
Its 1/4" output jack (Thanks KP !) is built-in on top of the pickguard near the bridge, and there are absolutely no wires running inside the guitar:
-The ground wire is inlayed inside the neck and makes contact with the Waverly tuners, making contact at the other end with the threaded bushing holding the pickguard at neck extension.
2- The other pickguard acts as your standard finger rest.
Pickguards can be swapped, or removed,
via one allen bolt using a dedicated tool.
Materials and construction : Douglas Fir top plate - Striped ebony back and sides - Modern laminated rim (ebony outer, indian rosewood inner) - Wide footprint tail block and neck block, torrefied rock maple, with neck -wings- support
attaching to rim - Torrefied rock maple neck, oil finished - Ebony bindings, fingerboard and appointments, with -retro-
orange/yellow purflings - Aged nickel plated Kluson type brass tailpiece, Nickel/cream Waverly butterbeans tuners -
All visual and acoustic very classic, as in Orville Gibson's first archtops, with added removable/retractable pickup.
As an innovation, both neck block and tail block are beveled, to give the soundboard more longitudinal movement ; The arched top plate is (like on a cello) only touching the outer rim of the instrument.
To support neck pull, -neck wings- are used (Klein, Doolin), as they free-up the top to vibrate its whole length and give true fundamental in most tunings.