Gibson Guitar Board: Scalloped Braces Vs. Non-Scalloped - Gibson Guitar Board

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Scalloped Braces Vs. Non-Scalloped What does this actually do to the sound?

#1 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:49 PM

Scalloped Braces Vs. Non-Scalloped.

I have often read (and seen pics) about scalloped braces. I was reading the M forum about vintage 000-18s and a group I came across actually don't like their braces scalloped!

So it would be good if somebody explained the differences in sound this makes??


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#2 User is offline   PromoOnlyGuy 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 05:12 PM

Great article on this over at frets.com

#3 User is offline   slimt 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 05:27 PM

If Im not mistaken.. I thought I read somewhere that it was Bluegrass guitar players wanted to be heard, Not being over sounded by Banjos .. I know a friend of mine had stated something to this effect as well.. I could be wrong...

Scalloped Bracing was intended to make the Guitars much Louder.. The Top would vibrate More but in the same token weaken the top structure if to much was removed..

When the Actual Custom Shop was in place.. they did that on some of the Gibsons.. I know a few of mine were like that.. they were Loud,

I had a Franklin OM Brazilian that had Scalloped Braces. . . It was a Martin Killer.. Tone, Ring, Bass, Just a remarkable Guitar.. . it wouldnt and didnt need a Pickup or Mic to be heard..

#4 User is offline   Rambler 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:13 PM

Scalloping really is not so much about volume but response. Its about the energy it takes to get a top moving. Guitar makers moved away from that in the "black diamond string" era, then came back to it in the slinky 90s.

The appeal of S-B is obvious. More sound, more nuanced sound, for less energy. More sustain. A prettier sound than either ladder or straight braces. Not for nothing do they call the 30s the golden era.

That said, straight braced guitars have their devotes. Some bluegrass guys like 'em because there's less low end woof and they dont mind the aggressive touch it takes to tear off those G-runs. Old time players looking to cop the sound of 20s recordings also lean toward that snappy in-your-face tone. This could be you, BK!
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#5 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

Thanks.

That article at frets.com is very good - I thought I had read everything there, but no!


Only way to hear I suppose is to go to the music shop and try a few! And I must try that Taylor Doyle top-of-the-line while I'm there. I need to go on a quieter day than last time - tyre kickers everywhere....
Dangerous, dangerous place with a J50 staring at me last time, and an EC which I always wanted and a 000 GE and up the other end a National that was calling my name... Couldn't get near everything though - the owner must have advertised free beer.


No, stay at the computer and earn money. Keep away from that shop. Don't. Don't. I prefer ladder-braced which no one makes anymore. Don't, don't.

HA.



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#6 User is offline   sboiir 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:39 PM

View PostPromoOnlyGuy, on 06 February 2012 - 05:12 PM, said:

Great article on this over at frets.com


Thanks for the article link. It doesn't go too much into detail, but gives good examples. Would be nice to hear sound files of the same guitar with and without S-B's, but that likely will never happen. anyway, thanks

#7 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:47 PM

I once got to A/B a late 1940s SJ with a mid 1950s SJ. What I heard was the 1940s scallop braced guitar had a bit more low end. The mid-1950s SJ with the stiffer top had a slightly quicker note decay but more punch to it. Of the two, I preferred the mid-1950s SJ. But it is hard to make any kind of a blanket statement based on just two guitars.
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#8 User is offline   slimt 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:15 PM

I had a Hd-28 tweeked 15 yerars ago.. They were able to Scallop the top Braces with the Guitar intact.. it made a Big difference... Hd-28s are Nice to begin with... it cost abit.. but it was Worth it..

#9 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:23 PM

I keep referring to the M's because from what I can see, all the current Gibsons are 'scalloped'. Please correct me if I am wrong.


At the music shop that sells M's, they have listed a standard 000-18 listed as 'standard x bracing' and next to it a 000-18ge with 'scalloped x bracing'. And also a standard 000-28 and an Eric.


Any hows, this all started because I like the sound of Kenny Sultan's 1937 M 000-18. A Martin that sounds like a Gibson. Is this scalloped?



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#10 User is offline   Rambler 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:33 PM

View PostBluesKing777, on 06 February 2012 - 07:23 PM, said:

This all started because I like the sound of Kenny Sultan's 1937 M 000-18. A Martin that sounds like a Gibson. Is this scalloped? BluesKing777.


Oh, yes, indeedy, and Martin when right on scalloping into the 40s (47-38, dont have references handy). The 50s-60s Ms are nice instruments but a little more forward sounding, in my book. Especially the hogs (Mrs Rambler owns a 57 D18 which goes off like a Tele on the rear pickup). Those 30s style Martins are not quite like a Gibson tho. More separation, even with the short scale. That's the Martin way.
"As through this world you ramble, you meet some funny men. Some rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen"
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#11 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:59 PM

I raised this Q. in the first half of last year and got some great response. Did sample it to send it to 'my' former guitarist who was in the hospital at the time. Primarily being an electric guy, he's not that much into the these things.

The answers deserves a re-run. Plenty of good stuff there – Rambler even hit a poetic string in answer 1.

Here we go again -

E-minor7 - Only last year, after beginning my 12 month period as acoustic monk, it dawned on me that there is a significant difference between scalloped and nonscalloped bracing. A bit embarrassing to be this late out, I know, but as forumites we have to say things straight. It came with a couple of new guitars in the house and immediately opened my mind. What I then noticed, was my difficulties in expressing this newly discovered difference. My ears could sense it, my hands could feel it, it influenced my touch and overall playing, but I couldn't quite put it into words - and still can't. Well, I wonder, can you ? Is there anyone ready to give it ago. Be abstract, concrete, be dry or ebullient, technical or whimsy, be square, be hippie, but pass a clue about how you perceive it.

Some have almost scientific thoughts about the inner wood-work and have been down to the smallest detail - others say bracing is the soul of a guitar and more or less should be left in peace. The first group ought to be able to clarify things once and for all. The second might have a point as souls can be very hard to grasp. Still let's hear from you all. . .

Rambler - A non-scalloped D28 barks; a scalloped HD28V rumbles like a midwestern thunder storm. With the D28 you have to digin; with the HD28v, a whisper gets it rolling.
That's the basics. Some builders (Collings, Bougeois) adjust the scallops for better balance (Read: less bass) but on the whole, sb = more open response, nsb tighter. In Gibson talk, LG2 vs and LG1.


chasAK - Frets.comhas some interesting information on bracing. Scalloped brace will be less restrictive to the vibration of the sound board (top).Rambler put the practical differences very well. The bracing pattern also forms a kind of speaker affect. The placement (or, pattern), thickness, and material of these braces will have great affect on the volume and tone. In general a wide X pattern will increase the size of the area most responsive to the vibration transfer from the saddle and bridge mechanism. I assume the sound board, due to shape,openness, and grain, has varying response spots to certain frequencies. Scalloping the braces in key area will affect the overall response and tone to the guitar. I was surprised to find out that the back of the guitar is very responsive and involved in the sound production. This is the extent of my theory and understanding.I am new to bracing issues as well. I may be wrong but in my mind some of the major factors to the inherent tonality of a guitar are wood type & quality, shape of the body, gage of the wood, bracing pattern (including scalloping & shape), bracing mass and type ofwood used in the bracing. Here are a couple of picture of the top bracing of my j45 mc.


Sorry having a problem with posting the pictures. See my former post, "j45 bracing question" for the pics.
Hopefully someone with more expertise will chide in!

Oh, concerning latter bracing on the j160, my former "68"model did not sound very good IMO and the newer ones seem to be no different. They seem choked.


red333 - From what I can see with my inspection mirror (and from the part numbers that are visible on some bits), the tops of the J-45 TV and Southern Jumbo TV are braced the same way, with the scalloped AJ bracing (wood is relieved from either side of the intersection of thex braces and from the tone bars, etc.).


The bracing on their backs differ, though. The taper at the ends of the braces start much sooner on the J-45 TV's back (or maybe it's a scallop--the braces deeply scoop deeply at their ends instead of sloping gently. I don't know which is the correct term for this.) The taper or scallop on each end is about twice as long relative to the same brace on the Southern Jumbo TV. Judging by eye, they seem to be the same thickness and height on both guitars, though, and cut flat on the top (these braces sometimes come to a point).

By the way, the back braces on the J-45 TV seem to be tapered the same way as those on the J-160E Standard (which I happened to have out), but those on the J-160E Standard seem noticeably thicker. I don't mean to muddle the discussion, just to point out how light the back braces on the TVs are relative to some other models.

In fact, my J-35 shares the same top bracing as the True Vintage models, but the top two back braces are probably twice as thick, and the lower two maybe three, maybe four times as thick. They're massive. Both of my AJs (rosewood and maple) share this back bracing, too (as well as the AJ top bracing, of course).

So, three of these guitars, the J-45 TV,Southern Jumbo TV, and J-35 share the same top bracing and other general specs (except the SJ has a Sitka top instead of Red Spruce). All three sound unique to one another. Don't let anyone tell you all the sound comes from the top. Clearly, it's shaped by the back, as well.

Red 333


evellis - Truth is, bracing is one part of a complex system. The goal is to have a lively top that retains structural integrity. It's a balancing act and bracing is one part of it. Scalloped braces are more compliant than non-scalloped equivalents.That allows more top movement. But a top without braces at all would have considerably more compliance. It would also self-destruct. The trick of bracing is that it allows the builder to determine where thetop is more or less compliant. When larger areas of the top are made more compliant, bass is increased and treble is sacrificed. Going wild with the scalloping chisel may necessitate a thicker top plate in order to maintain structural integrity. Again, all a balancing act. Some very good builders, like Goodall, don't scallop most oftheir guitars. Instead, they graduate the tops to "tune"its compliance. Different path to the same end point.


My take is that scalloping isn't necessarily better or worse. It's simply oneof many tools a builder can use to dial in a particular tone profile. Once a guitar is assembled, however, going in and scalloping the braces (or removing wood from them in any fashion) is likely to yield greater top compliance and more bass. Clarity, especially in the trebles but perhaps also in the mids and basses, will likely suffer unless this is done with considerable skill and knowledge. Another consequence is that the guitar will be less strong than it was before the wood was removed. On the other hand, a guitar that is designed for scalloping would likely sound pretty constricted and perhaps sort of nasal if the braces were left unscalloped. Other design and construction features would have been built on the assumption that the braces would be lighter than they are in their unscalloped form. For example, the top might be thicker than it needs to be in light of the unscalloped braces.

The goal is not to scallop or not scallop, it's to produce a top that is responsive in a way that produces the tone signature that the builder intended and the buyer expects (assuming they're familiar with the characteristic tone of a particular model). And, of course, thatneeds
to be accomplished while maintaining the integrity ofthe instrument under reasonable use.


.......................................................................................


And nope BluesK777, I don't file every golden thread (hope the Board does), but this was one worth taking care of. Hope you enjoyed -


#12 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:16 PM

Thanks everyone.

So when I go to the music shop, I shall utter some of the above to the strange guy at the counter and he will reply "Uh?".


Well, I shall go to their little shop located here at the end of the known guitar world and I shall try the standard braced guitars versus the scalloped without telling them. I have a list of ones to play - hope they have them - just because they advertise a certain guitar does not mean they actually have it (that is another story). They are probably reading this at their little laughing machine at their counter and thinking: 'It's HIM".


But really if I like it, I like it and will get all feverish...



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#13 User is offline   onewilyfool 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:51 PM

Well....I know one thing, whether guitars have scalloped braces or not, on a guitar to guitar basis, there is no guarantee that a guitar will sound good or better than any other guitar. I've played scalloped guitars that sound like crap, with "wolf" tones, and great variation of volume string to string....and I've played non-scalloped guitars like my friends 30's L-00 or my Gibson's L-20....that sound woody and fantastic!!!!! In another post, I told a story about an Eric Clapton guitar I had....after trying 20 duds I found a gem, and they are scalloped, but had bass and volume problems, completely inferior to Martin's other similar sized guitars. So again...one can't make generalizations about brands (i.e. Martins are great guitars, but Gibson's are better!!!), or building techniques (i.e. scalloped braces are superior to straight braces), or materials (i.e. Adirondack spruce is far superior to Sitka!!!)...because these generalizations are meaningless on a guitar to guitar basis. You have to try each guitar on it's own merits, and separate the duds from the gems regardless of materials, method of construction, or brand.
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#14 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:24 AM

Play a D-28 and a HD-28 and you will hear the difference straight away. D-28 has standard, straight bracing while the HD-28 has scalloped bracing, also shifted forward. The HD-28 is much more responsive, with stronger bass and needs a litter touch to get the engine rumbling. While with the standard D-28 the tone is tighter, not as responsive but ask you to dig in a bit more to get the depth.

I see it this way. Scalloped bracing is a bit like driving an austomatic while straight bracing like driving a manual geared car.
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#15 User is offline   pfox14 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 08:14 AM

Scalloped braces typically refer to only the tone bars, which are not structural braces like the X in X-braced guitars. Scalloped tone bars do allow a top to vibrate more which can produce more volume and sustain, which may or may not be what you're after. Some of the best vintage acoustics Gibson ever made from the 1930s did NOT have scalloped tone bars, but were more tapered thus helping to balance the trebles vs. bass tones.

#16 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:47 AM

The bracing on old Gibson is hard to get a handle on. I have heard that the tone bars of the high dollar guitars like the SJ/J-200 were tuned for each individual guitar which I guess is not impossible to do when you only make a hundred or so a year.

Here is a pic of the innards '42 SJ I found. The tone bars are scalloped but it does not lool like there is a whole lot of shaping to all of the top braces. In general, if you peek under the hood, Gibsons just looked plain sloppy compared to Martins but it sure didn't seem to hurt the sound any.

Posted Image

The bracing that Gibson uses today appears to have more of a Martin vible to it.
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#17 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:45 AM

View Postzombywoof, on 07 February 2012 - 09:47 AM, said:

....
Here is a pic of the innards '42 SJ I found. .... In general, if you peek under the hood, Gibsons just looked plain sloppy compared to Martins but it sure didn't seem to hurt the sound any. .....


Great pic Z.

Now I'm waiting on what Wily is gonna say about this. . B)






BTW, enjoyed the contributions here guys.

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13 Gibson CS Advanced Jumbo R/Spruce..O12 Gibson Southern Jumbo TV....O11 RainSong JM-3000 12
11 Martin 000-15M Elderly LE....................O10 Gibson ES-359......................o10 Rickenbacker 360/12
09 Jackson PC-1.....................................O09 Fender 52 Telecaster AVS..ooO08 Gibson SJ-200 (Colosi S/P)
08 Gibson Robot SG LTD........................oO08 Fender Am/Dlx Stratocaster.....08 Gibson Les Paul Push Tone
07 Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II.....................o07 Guild F412...........................O07 Taylor NS74ce
98 Martin D-45VR.....................................097 Guild X-700 Stuart.................O73 Yamaha G-55A
65 Gibson Melody Maker.............................Amps: Bogner Alchemist (Head/212Cab);. Line6 Spider Jam & Micro Spider
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#18 User is offline   slimt 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:32 AM

View Postzombywoof, on 07 February 2012 - 09:47 AM, said:

The bracing on old Gibson is hard to get a handle on. I have heard that the tone bars of the high dollar guitars like the SJ/J-200 were tuned for each individual guitar which I guess is not impossible to do when you only make a hundred or so a year.

Here is a pic of the innards '42 SJ I found. The tone bars are scalloped but it does not lool like there is a whole lot of shaping to all of the top braces. In general, if you peek under the hood, Gibsons just looked plain sloppy compared to Martins but it sure didn't seem to hurt the sound any.

Posted Image

The bracing that Gibson uses today appears to have more of a Martin vible to it.


That is carved up pretty good... The back X is where its at.. while the Front is Solid to keep it from collapsing..

Great Picture.

#19 User is offline   pfox14 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:38 PM

As far as vintage Gibson Jumbos - J-35, J-45, AJ, etc., there are many more examples of scalloped tone bars after 1937, but not all. Seems Gibson experimented with both scalloped & unscalloped. They also changed from 2 tone bars to 3 sometimes as well. Nothing really consistent with how they built their pre-war guitars.

#20 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:20 PM

View Postonewilyfool, on 06 February 2012 - 10:51 PM, said:

and I've played non-scalloped guitars like my friends 30's L-00 or my Gibson's L-20....that sound woody and fantastic!!!!! In another post, I told a story about an Eric Clapton guitar I had....after trying 20 duds I found a gem, and they are scalloped, but had bass and volume problems, completely inferior to Martin's other similar sized guitars.



Can we hear a bit more about the EC please Wily. A bit of a review , eh - I know quite a few forumites have these. A comparison with your Gibson L-20?.

I played a wonderful EC just after they came out, but did not buy it. I played a few in shops since that didn't appear to be as nice sounding. It was a strange guitar for my playing - hard to describe, but I went a bit 'automatic' sounding, especially on a raggy tune. It was beautifully setup to play very fast, I remember still.



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