Very special projects
A very special all-Koa guitar
Occasionally, I have the very great honour of being asked to build a truly special instrument. This was one of those occasions. The commission was for an all-koa guitar, to live in DGDGBD tuning, strung 13-56, ultra low action, hyper loud, with sound port and wedge body. Also with rope binding, slot headstock and a few custom inlays.
The hyper loud, low action and koa top all seemed rather mutually exclusive, so this was going to force an innovative approach.
To reduce the top mass, a necessity for a high volume guitar, I reckoned I'd have to make it rather thin, so I worked out the mass of a spruce top for the same guitar and took the koa down to that mass, noting its stiffness. It ended up somewhere under 2.00mm thick. Then to support the very wavy short grain figure in the top, I used a classical style dense lattice bracing pattern in King Billy Pine and carbon fibre, sized for the steel string loading. That took care of the structural design for the top. Of course, I used the techniques described in the "The Book" to ensure that the acoustical performance would match the visual impact.
I reckoned this was going to be a pretty lively sounding guitar, so I opted for a non-live back to maximise loudness rather than a live back looking for more tonal colour.
The client had an idea for a rosette he liked and you can see how this turned out. The red is blood wood (Brosimum Rubescens) and the green is English lime that I custom dyed. The brown is natural East Indian Rosewood.
The custom inlays were original scrimshaw pieces set into the fretboard to maintain the Hawaiian theme throughout.
This guitar has caused more than a few gasps, both for its looks and its sound.