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There are dozens of decisions to make in the building of a guitar that meets the objectives of a client. Many of these objectives are accomplished by design and shape while others are determined by an intuitive selection of properly seasoned materials. At the heart of doing the right job for a player is the preliminary identification of sound preference and playing characteristics.

One of fundamental decisions in my design work is how much control of the rigidity of the sides and neck I wish to employ in order to meet the sound objectives in the client's guitar. Tailoring the flexibility affects how the string's vibration energy is employed by the soundboard and back. Often, I double the Rosewood sides and/or reinforce the linings with Graphite. The neck is usually constructed with hard dense Mahogany and a built-in 3/8" Graphite beam although for certain guitars I'll select a softer more flexible Spanish Cedar.


Soundboard with Nomex

Double Top

The Double Top is a remarkable development by German Luthiers Gernot Wagner and Mattias Dammann. I hasten to add that their designs and processes are proprietary to them. A Reynolds guitar has its own technology which is likely to have similar features but takes its own direction.

The Double Top is a composite lay-up of two thin soundboards, usually Cedar, with an interior of Nomex honeycomb and various Spruce or Cedar pads to assure longevity. The adhesive in use is either Polyurethane or high quality epoxies depending on the processes selected. All clamping is done with vacuum fixtures which apply a precise and even pressure throughout the soundboard during construction.

The sound produced has its own sonority which is loud and natural sounding. When playing concert quality conventional guitars next to a Double Top, a player will readily observe substantially more power and richness in favor of the Double Top.


The Acoustic Port

The Acoustic Port seems to help broaden the tonal palette and helps the guitar project well. The player hears the instrument much better, and it adds an interesting artistic element to the guitar design as well. I believe my port design helps the guitar to project well; and in limited testing so far, audiences seem to feel that the guitar sounds better than when it is blocked.


Ring Bracing Design

The active back is thickessed to a specification I believe to be suited for the player's needs and braced in a "Ring Bracing" design and moderately domed. I believe that this supports treble production but I would be hard pressed to come up with anything but anecdotal evidence to support this intuition. There are very few luthiers today who have explored developing the role of the back in tone production. The Ring Bracing is my fourth bracing design for the back and I believe this design helps to give excellent feedback to the player and acoustically reveals the character of the wood much better than ladder bracing used in other conventional guitars.


Tonewoods

While not a design feature necessarily, I have placed great importance on high quality seasoned woods. My inventory is extensive and this gives me great choice. All of the Rosewood sets I build with are a minimum of five years old and many especially the Brazilian Rosewood are several decades old. Additionally, I have personally selected much of my inventory from specific trees so that I can be confident of reproducibility.

For more information about tonewoods, take a look at my Tonewood Guide

Brazilian Rosewood w/sapwood (sorry, it's on reserve)

Soundboard Bracing

After exhaustive experimentation, my soundboard bracing designs have been stabilized in most models and this allows me to focus on refinement for the best sound and to control that sound as required. Each of my four designs use four different bracing patterns selected for their contribution to tone:

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Torres/Hauser Bracing - A seven fan strut design dating from the time of Torres and used in more guitars than any other bracing design.

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Santos Flamenco Bracing - A seven strut straight bracing with an angled harmonic bar. The straight bracing can create terrific character and separation from string to string.

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Concert Grand Bracing - An Asymmetrical Radial bracing from the Kasha school which tends to create a very balanced and powerful sound with excellent sustain.

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Grand Legacy Radial Symmetrical Bracing - This is a bracing design that is well balanced and yields a lot of clarity and a very pretty sound.


Bridge

I believe that the bridge is critical to tone production. At the present time I am making a light bridge, enabled by its small footprint. The bridge features carved saddle and tieblock sections which distribute the string tension out into the wings and facilitate the smaller bridge. If you look at the Bridge section of this web site you'll find more explanation.


C Block

A feature of all Reynolds guitars is the unitized "C" block in the upper bout. This provides a solid, strong support for tone production especially over the 12th fret. Unlike the traditional Spanish style block, the "C" block is shaped to extend under the fingerboard out to the soundhole while the foot extends out to the brace on the back. These two braces then extend out to the sides and are tied together with vertical side braces. There is very little weight gain but the rigidity is greatly enhanced and this in turn seems to expand the power and tonal envelope of the guitar body.


Playability

Playability is a vast and complex topic that is beyond the scope of a website to explain properly. I believe my guitars have won praise from players because of the attention to detail during construction and set-up. Everything from neck shape, to action and intonation have an effect on the player's tactile connection to the instrument. Rest assured that at the heart of "playability" is the communication between player and builder and I pride myself on getting that collaboration right.


Traditions

While it may seem that the Reynolds guitar is laden with contemporary features, rest assured that the traditions of Classical guitar are met with such features as use of hot hide glue on the soundboard, fine woods, mitered hand-made purflings and rosettes and hand-rubbed French Polished finish. I use traditional Spanish style construction in certain designs and maintain an awareness of convention while not being hidebound by the past ... a delicate balancing act to say the least.

An important part of guitar design is the engineering techniques inherent in the craft. These are issues that can't really be satisfactorily discussed in a website context because of the complexity and esoteric nature of Luthiery. Having said that, I hold no secrets and am willing to discuss any manner of technique with my clients. My objective has been to develop healthy, stable guitars that will last for generations at a high performance level. My designs blend traditional construction methods with contemporary materials and processes that I have learned or developed in association with other luthiers. Finally, I believe that properly designed and constructed guitars will not "play out" under normal and proper use.

A word about science and intuition in Luthiery. There is no question that a guitar operates under the laws of physics and that acousticians can give us generalized explanations about how they work. It is also true that the best guitars are being built by makers who pay their dues at the workbench thereby developing an intuitive approach. I don't think there is any natural conflict between technical and intuitive approaches and indeed both are intended to achieve the same goal ... a better guitar. My own work, I think is a practical blend. My scientific efforts tend to be more "Edsonian", that is to say planned experiments that start during the design process. Once underway I seem to count on my experience to select, shape and thickness the woods. I tend to avoid deflection testing or other production engineering techniques in favor of my intuition unless the instrument is involved in a test. Having completed and evaluated the finished guitar I'll circle back to the design and test objectives for conclusions.

"Art is a science with too many variables." - anon