Volume 11 - Start of Sonic Project

Written by Patrick Podpadec on . Posted in Northcoast Voice



Stay  In Tune                                                                    vol#11
                                                                                           By Luthier Patrick Podpadec

   I hope everybody’s been staying in tune lately. Things have been busy as usual in the shop in the past weeks.   I’ve got in an older 60’s Gibson L-20 with a warped bridge that needs to be replaced. The bridge was actually a piece of plastic that had been bolted down on the body. You would think that the Gibson factory would have a bit more class than that, but apparently on this particular model of guitar they were trying to save a little money. Other than that obvious flaw the rest of the instrument was a very well built piece. It was made with a solid mahogany body, front and back and sides with a mahogany neck. I also got in a beautiful standup Bass that has the headstock scroll broken off. It was repaired once before, but has come apart again .I think that the original builder removed a bit too much material in that area. I believe that is the reason that it broke in the first place.  It is going to be a very difficult repair to get it right this time. I will have to cut off the bottom portion of the scroll and build it back up with a larger piece of maple so that I can build up the area inside the pegbox so that it has a little more wood inside where the tuning machines are running through that section. I will have to recarve the flutes on the back side of the scroll after I graft the head back onto the neck. After I match up the stain color and French polish the scroll , I hope to have an almost invisible repair. In this type of repair it is much more important to make sure that the repair will hold up structurally rather than look astatically perfect.

    I would like to share another interesting thing with all of the Voice readers about the latest news in my guitar “building” area of my business. I have just recently been accepted to join an elite group of modern guitar builders to participate in a project called the “Sitka Sonic Project”. This is a project that will entail 80 different builders to build a guitar using a “special top” ( wood that has been cut from a Sitka spruce tree from Washington state in 1998 and meticulously air dried. It has also been run through a special “stress relief” procedure, more on that later). This wood has also been “sonically” tested and the data has been documented  so that when it will be tested again in the years to come the data can be monitored to see what changes have taken place in the structure of the wood. This test is being done in hopes to prove or disprove the theory that instruments sound better with age.

       I have already received the wood and will be building a slope shouldered dreadnaught guitar that has the neck /body joint placed at the 12th fret. If you can picture the guitar that the Martin guitar company built for Gene Autry back in the 30”s. I will incorporate a small cutaway and will be using East Indian rosewood for the back and sides. The neck will be a three piece laminate made with birdseye maple with a rosewood strip down the center. I will try to have pictures developed through its building process and will share them with whomever would like to see them. This project is a great opportunity for me to get more involved with many of the top named instrument builders in the country. I will have to register this guitar with the “Guild of American Luthiers “and present it every year at either of two major guitar festivals. I will be taking it down to Miami Florida in mid April 2010 to the Newport Guitar Festival I’m extremely excited about this project and probably will be mentioning it again from time to time. I believe it will also give me some interesting building procedures to discuss with all of the readers and open up some opportunities for me to answer any questions that anyone might have about building or repairing instruments. So with that in mind please do not hesitate to drop me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                                                                                                   Thanks Again!
                                                                                                                      Patrick from Wood-n-Strings