acous•tic blue•print•ing: The process of refining an instrument for most
efficient operation with minimal noise, sweetest tone, and most open feel.
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Instruments are most happy when all the parts work in harmony with themselves
and with each other to provide the cleanest tone and quickest, most even
response. My system works by examining and adjusting the pieces of and entire
instrument to the extent feasible. Each step only makes a small difference, but
the overall effect is to get a sweeter and more open sounding instrument that
responds evenly and quickly, and projects well through putting energy cleanly
into the upper overtones.
The power of the clean vibration of individual pieces is demonstrated by the
advanced tuning given marimba bars. For example, take a look at http://www.
lafavre.us/tuning-marimba.htm. In an assembled instrument, the parts still like to
do what they do, and they have to be comfortable with the pieces of wood they’re
attached to, and work with the whole instrument.
Our general approach is to first get the setup and basic construction elements
worked out, then adjust the balance and projection of the instrument. The violin
provides a good outline of the general approach:
1. Set the B0 bending pitch to match the “Zaltone” singing pitch of the
instrument’s body. This isn’t feasible on mandolins and guitars.
2. Make minor adjustments to the ribs, linings, blocks, bass bar (or tone bars, or
braces) to make each piece of wood resonate cleanly.
3. Work out irregular areas of the top and back, that is, areas that are bright or
dull compared to that tapped pitch generally found across the plate.
4. Adjust the bridge for clarity, balance, and projection. This isn’t as feasible on
guitars, but some things can be done.
5. Adjust tone by working “cross-over” areas of the top. This isn’t as applicable
to guitars, but a bit can be done.
6. Adjust brilliance by slightly lightening appropriate areas of the top.
7. Finally adjust the evenness of response around F holes or other ports.
This whole process gets repeated, partially or completely, several times. Each
step tends to influence the previous ones just a little.
The results are generally quite clear. Less energy goes into noise, non-musical
sound. More energy goes into the sound that the instrument is designed to
produce. There’s greater clarity and sweetness. Volume often appears to
increase, although that may simply be a redirection of energy away from noise
and into useful areas. The greater efficiency shows up in more consistent and
None of this work will make a bad component or ineffectively designed and build
instrument into a masterpiece. The work can only reveal what’s concealed in a
gianna, inc. – friendsville, tennessee, usa – skype stephen.perry.esq – firstname.lastname@example.org – 865-995-9546