Bracing the Top

The braces are glued to the underside of the top and then shaped. This is a critical step which impacts directly on the sound of the instrument.
Note the dark rosewood bridge patch, which indicates a steel string guitar. The bridge patch handles the tension of the steel strings and is sufficiently hard to prevent the strings from damaging the top..
The braces are carved and shaped. Each builder uses his own pattern, dimensions and shapes. Note that the lower bout of the top is slightly raised from the plywood supporting board, indicating a slight curvature to the top.

Compare the bracing of the steel string guitar above to the fan bracing of this classical guitar. This top of Western Red Cedar is braced with spruce struts. The top wood, in this case, not being sufficiently structurally strong to handle the tension of the strings.


The dark spots at the end of each fan brace are drops of wood glue which prevent the narrowly shaved end of each brace from lifting from the top.

Copyright, Shel Sax, July 2001. No reproduction without authorization.
Photographs by Howard Rossman