Here is my latest double top, built to show at
the 2010 GFA convention. The soundboard is spruce outside and cedar
inside. The spruce is from my travels to Italy's Val di Fiemme; this
Alpine valley in the Dolomites has been the source of wood for the
Cremona violin makers for centuries. The valley was communally organized
and selling wood more than 500 years before Stradivarius was born. The
set used in this instrument has very rare and unusual "hazelfichte"
pattern, as if raindrops fell in the wood.
I know the emergence
of double tops is controversial; I resisted building them for years
because most that I heard could be aggressively loud, but also
hearing a few great ones, I relented, and my focus has been on getting a
traditional beautiful tone and working towards the volume end of the
Surprising to me are some added benefits I didn't expect. While most
builders get a lot of volume from double tops, it seems to come at the
expense of balance and color palette. I was pleased to find that my
double top design makes for a very round, luscious and creamy tone with
great balance and an incredible range of available color.
This newest guitar is probably the most velvety yet, and played lightly
it is not aggressively loud - but it has incredible "headroom." If you
push it, the volume grows and grows, without the tone breaking up or
getting weird. The basses show the influence of the top's inner cedar
skin, while the mids and trebles have a very creamy spruce character.
There's also good separation between the basses and trebles, so in
pieces with counterpoint, it sounds as if different instruments are
playing the respective lines, a trait I especially enjoy musically.
Back and sides are Madagascar rosewood, with a sound port on the bass
side. As always, handmade rosette and purflings, with Rodgers tuners and
French polish. Scale is 650 mm, nut width is 53.4, and saddle string
spacing is 58 mm.