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Resonator veneer back: one piece versus multi-pieces (of wood)

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Feb 11, 2019 - 6:06:26 PM
1179 posts since 3/27/2008

Hi Everyone,

I’m having a custom resonator made, and I wanted a specific type of wood used.

However, if I want this particular wood used, the resonator would need to be a multi-piece resonator back veneer (in 8 inch wide segments).

(I know the back side resonator veneers are normally one piece).

Since this potential multi-piece backside veneer will be over solid resonator under-wood, is there a difference in tone by using a multi-piece veneer back?

Also, would the seams in the wood pieces be that evident/visible?

Thank you for your thoughts and feedback.

Edited by - KD Banjer on 02/11/2019 18:09:40

Feb 11, 2019 - 6:17:08 PM
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11616 posts since 6/29/2005

It depends on the wood, but if the veneer pieces are consecutive and you bookmatch them, you wouldn't be able to tell if it was one or two pieces.

Feb 11, 2019 - 6:25:04 PM
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1763 posts since 2/7/2008

I’m a big fan of the bookmatched 2 piece back.


 

Feb 11, 2019 - 6:59:35 PM
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7200 posts since 1/7/2005

I like bookmatched resonator backs, but it sounds like you are describing non-bookmatched, 8" wide veneers. If this is the case, you can figure on having a fairly visible joint on the center line. Just how visible will depend on the actual grain of the wood. Most guitar backs are bookmatched pretty much for this reason. However there is a way to somewhat hide this mis-match. Martin did it on their D-35 guitar by going to a 3 piece back with a wedge down the middle. This could be one solution to your problem. You could also simply make it a two-piece overlay, and run some purfling or decorative back strip between the two halves, as is done on many guitar backs. The decorative strip would clearly define the back joint and make it look purposeful rather than an error.

DD

Feb 11, 2019 - 7:05:35 PM
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beegee

USA

21154 posts since 7/6/2005

here's my Lane model G in book-matched Walnut/abalone


 

Edited by - beegee on 02/11/2019 19:09:08

Feb 11, 2019 - 7:41:43 PM
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9600 posts since 6/2/2008

I think some woods look better, prettier or more striking bookmatched than one piece.

Feb 11, 2019 - 7:56:51 PM

1179 posts since 3/27/2008

Thank you so much, everyone, for your great ideas.

I never knew that bookmatching was done with banjo resonator veneers.

And as Dan suggested, inserting a wedge in the center of the two 8 inch pieces might be a great solution.

I’m going to send a link to this thread to the luthier tomorrow and see what he thinks is possible using the wood he has to work with.

Thank you all, again.

Feb 11, 2019 - 7:58:31 PM

1179 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by beegee

here's my Lane model G in book-matched Walnut/abalone


Beautiful banjo, Bob.

Exquisite workmanship.

Feb 11, 2019 - 9:27:21 PM

Blackjaxe47

Canada

1400 posts since 6/20/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192

I’m a big fan of the bookmatched 2 piece back.


WOW, that is a beautiful resonator. Nicest piece of quilted maple I have seen on any resonator.

Feb 12, 2019 - 1:51:07 AM
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4629 posts since 5/14/2007

Consider having the back laid out "pie style," too. This was common on instruments built in the 1920s and 30s. I think it looks great.

Feb 12, 2019 - 3:29:51 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11787 posts since 8/30/2006

What specific type of wood?

Feb 12, 2019 - 8:49:21 AM
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1179 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

What specific type of wood?


Hey Larry...

I’m having a resonator made with old growth maple wood taken from factory floor wood.

Eric Sullivan has been very kind in working with me on a custom banjo that’s being built using a piece of upright old growth maple wood from a 1900 piano (that’s being made into a neck).

There were 2 old growth maple uprights taken from that piano. 

I have a Sullivan V35 that uses the first piece of the 1900 piano wood upright for its neck.

I know that the veneer probably will not make any difference in the tone of this new banjo, but I wanted to use as much old growth wood on the banjo as possible.

I really enjoy and appreciate Eric’s open mind regarding banjo-building, and how easy it has been to speak with and work with Eric in this (and other banjos). I won’t share any specifics on his current and future ideas, but it sounds like Eric is coming up with some really interesting and never-before-tried & cutting-edge ideas in banjo construction.

Edited by - KD Banjer on 02/12/2019 08:52:59

Feb 12, 2019 - 1:51:58 PM
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11616 posts since 6/29/2005

I am working on developing a system to make laminated resonators and have some pictures of ones in process.  These are rough—no finish, no bindings yet, so they will look much better when they are finished. 

They are germane to this thread because they are all made with bookmatched pieces of veneer.  I am experimenting with putting stripes up the middle that match the stripes on my laminated necks, so the stripes would go all the way from the peghead through the resonator.

The stripes are a way to add something to the resonator back that's different from the standard concentric circles and tie it in with the neck. They are also a way to fix a less than perfect joint, which can happen from the forming of the veneer—I am using 1/16" veneer, which is much thicker than normal and hard to press.

 Here is a picture of four in the rough state - three walnut and one sapele, all bookmatched:

Feb 12, 2019 - 4:37:16 PM
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1179 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I am working on developing a system to make laminated resonators and have some pictures of ones in process.  These are rough—no finish, no bindings yet, so they will look much better when they are finished. 

They are germane to this thread because they are all made with bookmatched pieces of veneer.  I am experimenting with putting stripes up the middle that match the stripes on my laminated necks, so the stripes would go all the way from the peghead through the resonator.

The stripes are a way to add something to the resonator back that's different from the standard concentric circles and tie it in with the neck. They are also a way to fix a less than perfect joint, which can happen from the forming of the veneer—I am using 1/16" veneer, which is much thicker than normal and hard to press.

 Here is a picture of four in the rough state - three walnut and one sapele, all bookmatched:

 


Those are great looking resonators, Ken.

Look forward to seeing the finished resonators.

Edited by - KD Banjer on 02/12/2019 16:37:44

Feb 13, 2019 - 4:27:32 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11787 posts since 8/30/2006

kD Banjer: Eric Sullivan is one of the originals in an original family. I grew up in a family with very few resources. Different ones of us respond differently to Life's challenges. Some learn to take nothing and make something out of it, the Lemonade analogy doesn't work here. Since I have survived cancer, the Devil just backs off, Some of us drink Lemonade for lunch.

Mr. Sullivan works at the same lemonade stand that I do. That means nothing to some here, but he earns every penny he makes.
If he is making you a resonator, then you will have one the finest available anywhere. Eric doesn't need a lot of photos, he just does what sounds the best.

I'm 73, I was literally the punk ten years ago. I saw a picture of Dick Guggenheim's that showed the tall guy standing behind what I thought was this short little Mr. Sullivan. I was wrong. It was Dick standing in front of Eric's father.

I AM staying on the subject. I had to make things up as I went along. In my career, I was always in the junkyard under the hood of a Ford or Chevy to get the horn and horn relay to install on somebody's 12 volt electric wheelchair so people would not ignore them. You know we had to install a small mute in the horn to keep them from scaring the heck out of people just for the fun of it. The manufacturers always seem to give people what they think they want. Or what they think society wants. Electric wheelchairs were not even available when I was an underdog.
The point here is the market for musical instruments has evolved away from Company-centered thangs, to people-centered best things available challenging the best shippers to get the music to the people in the best possible way, shape and under budget and on time.

I was trying to get over to Kentucky last Spring, but snow in Albuquerque held me up, so going home I had "my reigns in one hand, my other on my brim." This year, neither rain , nor sleet, nor a century's worth of snow will keep those Sullivans from working.
Remember there is a US Navy ship called "The Sullivans." I'm one of the Hills. The Oklahoma Hills where the Mustangs still roam.
And I suspect that many other human families are enjoying banjo music around this particular campfire modestly called a hangout.

Since everything is weightless in Outer Space, how does the first banjo out there sound? Our family out there likes bluegrass just fine.


Feb 13, 2019 - 8:33:04 AM
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9600 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I am working on developing a system to make laminated resonators and have some pictures of ones in process. 


Beautiful.

And the stripe-less bookmatched walnut at top tight shows what I meant above. To me, this resonator back is better looking and certainly more interesting than it would have been with just a single piece of veneer from the same slab.

Maybe it's the unexpected symmetry that I like.

Feb 13, 2019 - 9:20:44 AM
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11616 posts since 6/29/2005

So much can be done with veneers that can't be done as easily with solid wood.  I was recently at an international luthier's show and talked about that on another thread.  There were a lot of very expensive hand-made guitars, and what I noticed is a new tendency to laminate the backs and sides.  Of course they have been doing that with high end guitar sounding boards using a Nomex sandwich, but at this show I saw $10,000+ guitars that had laminated sides and backs - especially archtop ones which are now often made like resonator backs and not carved.  This is not done to be cheap (because they aren't), but is done done primarily for stiffness and is part of a new method of building.

What I saw was some pretty wonderful bookmatched guitar backs, even a couple that were 4-way bookmatched.

I don't now what kind of resonator Eric is making, but knowing him from conversations we've had, he knows exactly what he is doing, and I'm sure it's going to be beautiful, and if he is using multiple pieces as the OP says, he will do something great that will transcend a single piece.

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