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Markets: Guitar-Building in the Stone-Age

The new guitar with a soundboard (1) and a back of a 2-millimeter-thin Chinese granite reinforced with carbon fiber. The saddle (2) is made of Swiss Andeer granite. Photo: TechnoCarbon(January 2009) Making music with stone is no novelty. In our link-list you will find such „Stone-Voices“. Now there is a new development, which could prove to be much more than a flash-in-the-pan. The German company TechnoCarbon, which produces millimeter-thin carbon-fiber-reinforced slabs, has put its product to use in the building of guitars. The acoustic properties of the instrument are exceptionally good, as rumor among guitarists has it. The sound of the instrument in the (1, 2) video clips is somewhat unbalanced, so rumor remains unconfirmed for the present.

This may, however, be due to the plucking technique of the musician.

In the case at hand, the soundboard, that is the face of the instrument, and the back were replaced by Carbon-Stone laminate. Using a 2 millimeter-thin slab of granite plus carbon fiber makes the instrument just slightly heavier than a normal wooden guitar – granite has approximately the same mass as aluminum but is usually preconceived as much heavier since granite comes in thick slabs.

The sound of the stone-guitar is not only influenced by the material itself but also by the fact that because of its properties, it is much thinner than wood. The soundboard also does not require reinforcement to resist the tension of the strings.

This has an impact on the acoustic properties of the instrument. On the one hand, the body can resonate freely; on the other hand the low frequencies are amplified giving the instrument a smoother, fuller sound. Also the new material could help dampen unwanted vibrations. The instrument can be played with steel or gut strings.

Yet another development in matters Carbon-Stone can be announced: i.e. guitar saddles. The saddle is a thin wedge traditionally made of wood, which carries sound from the strings to the body of the instrument. Up until the present, special types of hardwood were used for this important function. Here, too, like for violins, Carbon-Stone could be implemented successfully. TechnoCarbon is seeking instrument builders willing to experiment with the new material.

Another new development: In the USA Antonio Liberta is producing electric guitars with granite or marble bodies as reported in an article. The advantage of the material for the acoustic properties is questionable as the sound of the instrument has less to do with the properties of its body than with the range of the pick-up head.

The last innovation in guitar-building dates back to the 60’s when the US company Ovation used Lyrachord in building a round guitar body.