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Three Holes are Better than One

Three Holes are Better than One

by Robert Ruck

previously published in American Lutherie #91, 2007

See also,
“There’s a Hole in the Bucket” by Cyndy Burton
“Sideways” by John Monteleone
“Herr Helmholtz’ Tube” by Mike Doolin

Classical guitar maker Robert Ruck pioneered sideports for nylon string gutiars. He describes how the idea materialized out of several experiences going back to the begining of his career in the ’60s. A strong advocate, he now offers ports as an option on all of his guitars.

Since late 1999, I have regularly used sideports in my guitars. My experience with the resulting 150 or so ported classical and flamenco guitars with various designs is consistent, predictable, and all positive. There is an increase in loudness both for the player and for listeners. In listening tests with several fine players, we have concluded that the guitar is louder for the audience, too. The fundamental tone quality of the guitar stays the same, but it is louder, has stronger trebles, and has a more balanced quality for the player, opening up an area of sound around the player that is not normally heard. Since we as players sit somewhat asymmetrically to the guitar and the conventional soundhole is positioned to our right, there is an area on the left side of our heads that does not receive as much sound as the right side. We grow up hearing the guitar this way, so we never question it. Players comment that it’s as if one is hearing the guitar in stereo for the first time.

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