In the past two years, I have begun to experiment with lattice bracing. When I use this term, I am not referencing the excellent work of Smallman in Australia, for I am following a different path in the development of this bracing style.
2001 saw my retirement from academe (I am an anthropologist, and happy to be one) and my opportunity to initiate “Plan B,” which was to begin serious work on classical guitar construction, following nearly 30 years of “hobby building.” Jeffrey Elliott and Cyndy Burton offered a Master Class in soundboard design and construction/French polishing at Charles Fox’s American School of Lutherie site in northern California that summer and I happily enrolled. The class changed my approach to building and finishing and set me on the path of design refinement and innovation that I continue today. Jeffrey stressed repeatedly during his portion of the class that it was his goal to pursue and refine the “sound” that is the vibrant backbone of the tradition of guitar building flowing through Torres and Hauser. Having now built several generations of guitars with Elliott’s vision in mind, I can emphatically state that the lyrical Spanish sound Jeffrey is seeking is also my own. There are magnificent guitars built with other visions in mind, but I am with Elliott on this one.
Fast forward to the present; I am now working with young players who are very interested in current design innovations in the guitars they are learning to play as the next generation of performers and teachers. They have heard about lattice bracing and they want to try them out. Since we luthiers are building for them we need to have a response. Mine was to build two lattice guitars in 2013, one with a spruce top and one with a redwood top. In my deliberations about the specifics of design, I visited every web site I could where the luthier discussed his/her approach to lattice design. On his web site, Greg Byers articulates his felt need to take advantage of lattice design without compromising the quality of the traditional Spanish fan-braced sound he is pursuing. His approach is to create a lattice of two intersecting fan systems, which immediately made sense to me. My two lattice guitars reflect my take on this approach. I plan also to explore double tops in the near future as well.
I build with a variety of materials including Sitka Spruce, Cedar, Indian Rosewood, and Port Orford Cedar.