2003 hybrid classical    
Quilted maple & African blackwood, spruce top

Maple & African blackwood back

  click to enlarge

My aim with this guitar is to reacquaint modern players with maple, one of the most traditional classical guitar tonewoods, while combining its lively sound with another great tonewood, African blackwood. 

Maple, though hardly used now by modern makers, was favored by many masters of the past, such as Torres, Arias, Ramirez, and Hauser. For every three Brazilian rosewood guitars Torres built, he made two maple guitars, always his fanciest models.

African blackwood is a true rosewood (Dalbergia melanoxylon), and is even more rare and costly than its cousin, Brazilian rosewood. It is the wood used for clarinets and oboes, because of its stability during extreme humidity changes. Maple is often characterized as sweet, vivacious, even "dry," while blackwood yields very powerful, clear, ringing tone of great projection.

The way I combined these two woods in this instrument was prompted solely by acoustic, rather than visual, considerations. Indeed, I reduced a flawless two-piece maple back to smaller pieces. Even so, I am just as pleased with the guitar's appearance as I am with its sound. The top is Italian Alpine spruce with extensive cross-grain silk, a variation of my handmade traditional rosette, and curly black walnut binding. Tuning machines are Sloane Moresque with ebony grips.

Top with rosette

click to enlarge


I am so excited by the sound of this guitar that I plan to build many more along the same lines. This instrument's basses are very warm and powerful, and the trebles really sing with a clear, round, liquid tone. Players who have tried this guitar commented on its sensitivity, volume, sustain, and broad tonal color palette. It is currently set up with a low action and plays very easily. A higher saddle can be supplied upon request. 




More photos

Maple & blackwood back Neck joint and heel Rosette closeup

Maple & blackwood back

Neck joint & heel detail

Rosette closeup


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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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