2005 spruce/Indian rosewood classical

Eric with piano soundboard
Eric with piano soundboard
photo: Emma Monrad

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My latest concert classical incorporates two innovations. The first is a modification of the fan bracing pattern, including two lattice braces and longer outside fans. The second is the use of spruce from a Steinway grand piano soundboard for half of the fan braces.

Two Steinway soundboards were given to me by my brother, who salvaged them a few years ago from a partially burned church in San Francisco. One of these is about a hundred years old, the other ninety years old. The spruce of these soundboards is amazingly stiff and hard, so I used it only for the lattices and diagonal fans. The main fan braces are carved from a different, very supple spruce.

braced top


The resulting tone is impressive, retaining my usual big, responsive, sweet Spanish sound. The balance from note to note across the strings is excellent. Trebles are bell-like and even, the first string has incredible power and sustain. Basses are big and firm with a hint of dark character.  Chords are, well, piano-like--strong enough to fill a concert hall. The action is very easy, even with high-tension strings.  The guitar is responsive to a light touch, yet the player can really push this instrument without having the sound break up.

full body back
The back and sides of this instrument are old Indian rosewood, perfectly quartersawn with well-defined grain. The top is master grade European spruce from Italy's Val di Fiemme, the Alpine valley which was the historic source of spruce for Stradivarius and other great Cremona luthiers. Binding is highly-figured claro walnut. The peghead face and back volute and fingerboard are ebony, and the bridge is Brazilian rosewood.
Traditional-style rosette with wheat and spiral ribbon; top detail showing hazelfichte and silk figure in top, bridge, and high-gloss French polish finish
top rosette closeup top detail with bridge

 Moorish arch heel cap, back purfling detail

heel detail

back purfling detail

Tuning machines are Rodgers, of my design, inspired by replacement machines I had fabricated for an 1878 Torres guitar. As always, the rosette was made just for this instrument using the same techniques as Torres did--no end-grain sticks, all side-grain veneers that shimmer under the polish. 

The neck has a comfortable elliptical shape and is reinforced with double graphite rods for stability. The ebony heel cap is decorated with my "Moorish arch." Scale length is 650 mm, nut width is 52.5 mm, and the bridge uses the 12-hole system at the tie block. Both nut and saddle are compensated at each individual string for better intonation.

Rodgers tuning machines; ebony headplate with matching wheat purfling
head back and tuners head

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Eric Monrad, Luthier
Email: monradguitars@gmailcom 
7566 Eastside Road, Healdsburg, California 95448 
telephone (707) 838-7823

Last updated June 24, 2012
© Copyright 2012 Eric Monrad & Thérèse Shere
photos © Eric Monrad unless otherwise noted
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