Posted on March 2, 2020October 11, 2023 by Dale Phillips Free Plate Tuning, Part Three: Guitars Free Plate Tuning, Part Three: Guitars by Alan Carruth Originally published in American Lutherie #30, 1992 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004 See also, Free Plate Tuning, Part One: Theory by Alan Carruth Free Plate Tuning, Part Two: Violins by Alan Carruth The guitar is somewhat simpler acoustically than the violin, and perhaps more limited. As a result it has evolved into a number of more or less specialized forms to suit different musical uses. It is difficult to imagine a guitar that could “do it all” the way a good violin can. Rather, each guitar seems to have a “center,” a sound that is characteristic of it that suits it for a particular style or player. Good guitars do have a wide dynamic and timbral range, but they always retain their characteristic sound. As I see it, a good part of the art in this game is deciding where you want the “center” to be, or, alternatively, how to get the “center” you want out of a given shape or set of wood. And then you want to have a broad dynamic and expressive range, good balance, and clarity or resolution; the ability to distinguish things like inner lines. No amount of acoustic science is going to tell you what priority to put on the different characteristics of the sound, nor whether you have succeeded in the end. But if you know what you’re doing, an oscillator and a jar of glitter can help you get the sound you want. One of the main simplifying factors between the guitar and the violin is the lack of a soundpost in the guitar. This allows the top and the back to be more independent; in acoustic terms they are not so tightly coupled and can act out of phase. Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page. If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.