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PDM 4 Acoustic Guitar

Design Folder upto Manufacture

Martin Thompson

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of PDM 4 Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitar
Martin Thompson

Product Design 4
Music is an ever growing industry that continuously offers great opportunities for musicians to display their talents and show case their work.
My client is 23 year old Stephen Rooney, graduated music teacher and successful guitarist. Stephen Rooney is already a well established musician who first emerged on the Traditional scene some nine years ago.
Design Brief
I am going to design and manufacture a guitar that incorporates custom and unique features to enable the musician to stand out when used.
Working with the client I created a list of musts in the following areas:

Before meeting with my client to create a specification it is essential to research into guitars and how they work, so that I can create relevant research questions to get the best possible results.
The 'little Martin' Guitar
Played by Ed Sheeran
Jimi Hendrix
Hank Marvin
X Factors Lucy Spraggan
In Ireland, the traditional music scene is vibrant and competitive. It offers people of all ages the chance to compete in local, county and All Ireland competitions either in groups or singles.
Every musician in this competition takes pride in their instrument and prices can range from hundreds to tens of thousands for a unique handcrafted product.
When discussing an instrument with a musician they say that the most important quality it must have apart from its sound, is its looks. An aesthetically pleasing and completely unique instrument, although its price may be in the thousands, will certainly aid you in all competitions and therefore providing more work opportunities.
Catching the eyes of the listener is nearly as important as the music that is being played
A unique artist is most often accompanied by a unique instrument.
Successful artists are associated with the music they produce, high quality instruments should be associated with the artist that uses it.
There are many famous artists who have their own individual instruments.
My Situation
I have been approached by a successful and popular guitarist, to create a unique and bespoke instrument that adds to his 'image' and give him a 'stand-out' effect on stage.
These features must not affect the high quality of sound it must produce in order to meet the client’s standards when performing. The client for this product is three time, all-Ireland winner and accomplished member of Donal Lunny’s handpicked group of elite Irish musicians, Stephen Rooney. Stephen is regarded as one of, if not the best, guitarist in traditional Irish music.
An individual guitar not only visually sets the artist apart from others but adds to their confidence in expressing their ability
Some musicians long for an instrument made famous by a specific artist.

ALL musicians long to make their own instrument famous and wanted.
He has traveled throughout Europe and various parts of the world entertaining audiences and performing in festivals in Denmark, Slovenia, Finland, and Germany. Stephen also spent some time touring Canada.
Since then, Stephen became one of the founder members of up and coming band ‘Venue i’. ‘Venue i’ have played along side such artists as Grada and the Dubliners. Stephen has also appeared on many television programmes broadcasted on BBC, RTE and TG4. The most recent being the latest series of Blas Ceoil, here Stephen performed with ‘Venue i’ and the band were selected as one of the series highlights. Since Stephen first began performing, he has claimed many All Ireland medals and titles on both Guitar and Banjo.
Stephen has performed with Liz Doherty on a number of projects throughout the country, here Stephen was given the opportunity to perform at the well known Frankie Kennedy Festival, Donegal. In 2007 Stephen, along with his family were worthy recipients of the Danny Kyle award at the Celtic Connections festival. As a result, Stephen performed with the family at the festival the following year along side Brian Finnegan’s ‘Singing Tree’ project. Stephen has also been recorded on numerous albums. He is regarded as a top composer and a much sought after musician.

Stephen Displaying His guitar skills
Stephen playing with his band on TG4
What type of guitars are there?
Having a small previous knowledge on guitars, I fully understand that the two most popular types are acoustic and electric but there are many other variations on the market. Gathering all information on these guitars will lead to more adventurous designs.
How a guitar
This is the most essential area that must be researched. In order to create the best sounding guitar the following areas must be understood:
What parts of the guitar create sound.
What parts of the guitar must be kept the same.
How is the sound created.
Does the sizes of guitars effect their sound.
What is defined as a good quality sound.
How is a good quality sound achieved.
How should it be finished and maintained
Guitar Manufactures
and their products
As my client buys his previous guitars from companies in Northern Ireland, it is important that I know their products in order to create something different.
How they are
All parts of this guitar (apart from the strings) must be manufactured using the equipment within the university. By researching into how the different aspects of the guitars can be made it will allow me to recognise my restraints in manufacture, if any.
By gathering all the possible information on relevant materials, including their cost, I will be able to estimate possible prices when first talking to my client. This is important as a possible design could be effected by the cost of the materials needed to produce it.

Different parts of the guitar need certain materials.
1. The Soundboard - This is the face of the body (also called top). This is where most of the sound is produced. A quality solid wood top is a great influence and is very important to the sound of the guitar.
2. The Bridge - The bridge attaches to the body and the strings are then pinned into the bridge. The bridge is very important to the tone and plastic bridges are horrendous at transmitting sound. Once again the type of wood used here influences the sound of the guitar.
3. The Sound Hole - Contrary to popular belief the sound hole does not allow the sound to escape out of a guitar. It's size actually affects the balance of treble and bass tones.
4. The Body - The body of an acoustic guitar is the large section of the guitar below the neck. The body amplifies the vibration of the strings when a note or chord is played. Different woods provide different tonal qualities and effect the sound of the guitar. Plywood does not vibrate as freely as solid wood, and the glue used in plywood does not transmit vibrations at all, which makes the tone thinner sounding.
5. The Cutaway - This allows the user to reach the frets closer to the soundhole, producing a higher note. This is optional as some guitarist prefer not to have these.
6. A Fret - The pitch of a note is caused by the frequency of the strings vibration. When the string length is shortened by being pressed against a fret it's frequency gets higher and so does the pitch of the note
7. The Fretboard - This is the board that holds the frets. This is often made from rosewood and is a specific size.
8. The Nut - The nut is the piece of material between the fretboard and the headstock which the strings rest on. Like the bridge, the material will effect the sound as plastic does not transmit sound.
9. Tuning Pegs - Sometimes called tuning knobs or tuning buttons. They tighten or loosen the strings. Cheap machine heads can be difficult to turn or loosen the string tension quickly, or worse yet keep breaking strings because of sharp edges.
10. The Headstock - Headstock: or Peg-head. The part of the neck above the nut where the tuning pegs are attached. The headstock affects the volume and sustain a bit. Larger headstocks absorb more string vibration than smaller peg-heads.
Pippy Oak
White Oak
Purple Heart
Bone is Used For the Saddle
and nut

is the most
wood used
when making

Spruce is mostly used for
the soundboard on guitars
Cutaway Acoustic -
allows lower fret reach
Classical Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
Travel Guitar
Electric Guitar
Bass Guitar
Electric Bass Guitar
Electric Acoustic
3 Quater size
Acoustic Guitar
Steel Guitar
3mm Spruce can be very expensive but is an essential material that creates a high quality sound due to it close consistant grain.
Rosewood is a very expensive material and is most often used for the freat boards and guitar sides.
Bone is prefered rather than plastic as it doesnt absorb vibrations from the strings.
Here is an image of a bone saddle and 6 bone string holders
Purple Heart is an expensive hardwood that provides a pink/red colour tone.
Ash is a moderately priced wood. A Very light colour and can be hard to stain.
This is the most common type of oak. Very durable but rarely used on acoustics.
Very attractive timber but due to the knots it can be very expensive to get a thin piece without faults.
Very attractive and popular timber. Moderate cost and finishes well.
Popular guitar making material. Easily worked with and not too expensive to buy.
Often used in place of cherry or spruce. Can be expensive when creating soundboards.
Very popular along with spruce. More expensive than spruce.
I have looked at the 3 main manufactures in Northern
Due to intrest in the flower design I decided to investigate some well know Irish flowers for inspiration on further designs
Initial Meeting
with Stephan
After researching into methods, materials, other products and how guitars work, I was confident to meet and discuss a specification with my client.
I asked the client to bring his own guitar with him and explained that we are going to create a list of things this guitar must encorperate.
The guitar must be made from a hardwood as other materials such as laminate do not provide a high enough quality of sound. A mixture of woods such as walnut and ash were suggested although it was stressd that the colours must work well together.
The guitar must provide a high quality of sound. This will be judged by stephen as each guitar can have a unique sound quality depending on many things such as material genetics.
It must be a full size guitar for use in areas with no microphones.
The guitar must not only be aesthetically pleasing but be unique and different from a 'normal' spruce faced guitar.
The features must work well together and create a beautiful guitar that will visualy enhance his proformances.
The beauty of the product will be judged by Stephen.
The guitar must be able to be played with ease, following the universal dimensions of the neck and fret board.
The tension rod within the guitar body must be easy used along with the tuning pegs.
Stephen expressed that he was open to any themes and if possible something that relates to his traditional irish music.
Stephen did express that his idea of an acoustic should have a natural effect and not painted.
The only factor within this section was, like all good instruments, the cost should be relative to the quality of craftsmanship, materials, sound produced and aesthetics.
A high quaility finish is essential on a guitar. If there is a poor finish the wood used can shrink, expand or warp causing the sound of the instrument to be effected.
Further Research
After meeting with my client and creating a specification, I will now research guitars that I feel have relevance to what was discussed.
These images will aid me to create my own ideas for the next meeting with the client.
How Sound is Produced
Initial Ideas
This guitar shows bold colours and a unique bridge
This is a very unique guitar in the way that it is manufactured different from others. I would imagine that this design would be quite heavy in weight.
The main features of this guitar is the mother of pearl inlays. It is a very aestheticaly plesaing guitar but maybe too many images
This is a very striking and unique guitar. Its features are bold yet simple.
This is Johnny Cash's guitar. Its painted effect is very striking and and fits his personality.
This guitar uses patterns within the wood to make it unique.
This is a modern take on an acoustic guitar. Its shape is non traditional making it extremely eye catching.
This is the guitar in which my client suggested I look at. This is a semi acoustic roundback guitar. Its different soundholes makes it very unique and aesthetically pleasing.
This guitar uses striking colours and a mother of pearl bridge.
This guitar uses graphics to enhance its soundboard
An off centre soundhole really changes the style of the guitar. It is very eyecatching!
An off center and different shaped soundhole.
This video shows the steam bending process
A bold design with a unique soundhole
A completely new design of the acoustic guitar. Very eyecatching but too large.
The soundhole and fret board working to create a very different look.
A very bold and beautiful guitar. This guitar is worth over £2000.
Simple and effective design. Very striking and modern.
A traditional Irish input onto a modern acoustic guitar.
Another style of the semi acoustic roundback
A branded version of an acoustic guitar.
Fantastic deisgns which create an eyecatching guitar.
Different soundhole on a plain guitar will enhance the aesthetics, making it modern and different.
Another image of the roundback only this time with a different style headstock.
soundhole placed at the side of the guitar.
Simple, bold lines working to create a beautiful guitar which would enhance any artists visual performance!
1st The user strums the strings. By pressing on the frets the length of the string changes causing a higher frequency of vibrations. The lower the fret is to the body of the guitar, the higher the note will be.
The vibrations in these strings then travel down into the bone saddle, then the wooden bridge which then causes the soundboard to vibrate.
on the underside of the soundboard are struts. These struts not only support the soundboard but determine how the sound board vibrates. The positions of these struts determin the sound produced.
The vibrations caused by the soundboard move inside the body of the guitar. The soundhole determins the tone and bass of the guitar. The larger the soundhole the lower the base.
This image shows the variety of differnt soundboard patterns.
What does this mean?
The materials have to be correct for certain parts, such as the saddle and nut must be made from bone as this allows vibrations to pass through them. The body must be made from hardwood as it vibrates the best.

There must be a soundhole inorder to produce the correct sound. The soundhole can be place anywhere though.

It must have the correct strut pattern to produce the sound required.
Having researched other products I then arranged a meeting with my client to show him the research imges that I had found and to then produce some concept sketches to create an idea of which design directs to take and which to avoid. The meeting was recorded in sound only.
This is my first sketch of a guitar. This aided me in realising the scale of the guitar and the differnt shapes in how to draw it.
I then focused on trying to draw the body of the guitar. I realised that two ovals would produce a better shape than this sketch.
This is an image I drew displaying a possible soundhole design.
This was the first concept idea produced from the meeting. The client did agree that it is a very eyecatching design but has a gothic theme which will not aid him in his music style. This then allowed me to see that this is an area I should stay away from.
Going for a more natural and subtle design I produced this sketch. The client expressed that he did like the floral design and soundhole but not a cutaway acoustic.
Having now learnt that my client prefers a more natural design rather that gothic, a full acoustic rather than cutaway, I produced this sketch.
Before leaving with the initail information I had gathered, I produced this image. The client expressed intrest in the bridge of the guitar.
What did I learn?
Although it was a brief meeting I did gather some vital information which will aid me in my designs.
1. My client wants a full bodied guitar, not a cutaway feature. His reasons for this were that in past experiences a full bodied guitar produced better sound and he has found them better and more traditional looking.
2. The client wants a natural free flowing design with no hard lines in which it could have a gothic look.
3. The client expressed that the soundhole should be on the face of the guitar due to the unusual positions he is forced to play in.
4. He expressed that Celtic designs cheapen the look of the guitar and that if any inlays are to be included that should be of a subtle natural theme.
5. The main areas of design changes are the headstock, bridge and soundboard.
Head stocks
I then began to create some headstock ideas. I tried to stay away from gothic designs. The headstock will be seen at all times, unlike the soundboard which could be covered by the arm and hand when playing. It is vital that the headstock does not look out of place but has a fluent effect with the neck of the guitar.
This is a sketch I produced when watching these videos. A possible clamp?
This is a rough sketch I drew when looking for different flowers. The pattern goes across the soundhole.
This is my second attempt. I think if this pattern was inlayed within the soundboard using different woods, it would be very unique.
This is my third attempt with the flower design. I will show this to my client to see if I am heading in the right direction.
It is vital to my designs to understand how a guitar produces sound. Through reseach I have found out the following information:
The images I have created along with the following graphics will be discussed at the next meeting with the client. Meanwhile construction on the body sides can begin as the client has expressed that he requires a full bodied acoustic guitar. This meeting with the client will be recorded and possible final ideas will be discussed.
After deciding on a final design with the client I drew a solidworks drawing which will aid me when working on this project. The drawing was for viewing purposes only throughout the manufacturing stage. As this is a 'hands skill' based product there was no reason to create versions on solidworks to be cut out by machine(except for the headstock template). To start manufacture I created the jigs from the shape outline made from card and a template of the fret positions taken from one of Stephens guitars. The following video shows pictures of the stages of manufacture, evaluation and explanations of the product. The following video also shows the product handed to the client for the first time.
As the video explains, the final guitar produces a high quality sound which is vital for Stephen and his proformance. The guitar is a unique product that has already attracted the attention of potential customers.

I aim to create more guitars in the future and feel that this has been an experience and journey full of learning curves. I have fully enjoyed creating this product by hand from raw materials.

I would like to thank Stephen for giving me the opportunity to create this guitar and help create a foundation for what could be the start of a new journey......
I created a model of this
bridge and found that
although it does
highlight the
guitar, it does
effect the way in
which Stephen has
to play. The bridge therefore
should be flat..
In the meeting I displayed all of the previous designs to Stephen with the intention of creating a final design from the features that I had created. Stephen was very impressed with the ideas but explained that since the inital design meeting he had decided against a strong floral pattern and would like a traditional element added to it. Stephen explained that musicians notice the most subtle of changes rather than bold statements. He did foucus on some features of my designs that i have created. He explained that he would like the soundhole, headstock, bridge and fret board to have subtle, gentle flowing change. He also explained that he would like the back and sides to be made from Rosewood as the rich looking materials are identified and admired by all musicians.
Final Design
As i needed to begin manufacture, so that I could ensure it would be completed on time, we decided to sit down and create the final idea. At this stage Stephen had been introduced to what could be changed and by how much through the drawings and research that I had created.
The following images show the drawings created during this meeting along with a final hand drawn design and soildworks drawing to act as a guideline when manufacturing.

Stephen had verified that this is the final design and was excited for the end result.
Full transcript