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Is ladder bracing the devils work?


Gruffchris

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Hey,

 

So there not many rules to "Guitar club" :rolleyes:

 

I got told my first one from my uncle when I went to buy my first acoustic, he said "Make sure it's got a solid spruce top".

 

Then my second from you guys "x braced good, ladder braced bad".

 

Anyway, I went and had a look at a John Lennon peace(laminate/ladder braced), expecting it to sound really boxy/tinny and just not nice. Now I'm not saying it's the best guitar I've ever heard but it does have a nice tone.

 

So what's the dealio? have I had wrong information about ladder bracing or are my ears going?

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My son has a ladder braced LG1 and when he plays it he's able to bring out a very nice sound. When I play it, not so much. He plays with a pick, I don't. He musters an assault on the guitar, I play softly with fingers. He loves it, I love it when he plays it, but not when I do. So, in the right hands and all that...

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So there not many rules to "Guitar club" "Make sure it's got a solid spruce top". and "x braced good, ladder braced bad" [but] had a look at a John Lennon peace(laminate/ladder braced), expecting it to sound really boxy/tinny .. but it does have a nice tone.
. As you found, laddering is perfectly god for a punchy direct sound without a lot of overtones. Ditto laminates. Hence Gibson's choice to use that for their jumbo A/Es back in the day. On the other hand, if you play Bluegrass band, ragtime or breathy singer-songwriter music, it might not get the job done. THat's wehre those super-responsive x-braced solid Engleman spruce tops come in to play. Room in gods creation for all kinds.
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Considering about half of my guitars are ladder braced I guess you could say I have a certain fondness for them. A couple of them sound a whole lot better than accepted theory about guitar building would have you believe.

 

Sometimes when you read posts about this guitar or that you can conjure up a mental image of a bunch of white coated scientists standing around a table dissecting an alien body.

 

Back in the day, I wanted one of those J-160E's bad. I ended up settling for a DeArmond 210 pickup slapped across the soundhole of an L-00. The L-00 is long gone but I still use the DeArmonds.

 

I believe the main difference between the RI and the original is that the old ones came with a P-90 single coil pup while the new versions sport a P-100 stacked humbucker. I guess Gibson does not subscribe the the belief that a little 60 cycle hum never hurt anyone.

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Well, I've been playing it all afternoon.

 

I guess the J160e is at the total opposite end of the spectrum from my J45.

 

It has got a trebly sound, but there's a bit of an aliveness to it also, I'm happy.

 

About the soft vs hard fingers, I use a very thin pick for my 45, and a thick one muffles the sound too much, this one may be the other way around.

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It could be handy to have a bit of the 'devil's work' ladder bracing if you are going to play some Devil's Music as played by the Devil Robert - perfect sound - no overtones, no sustain - my ladder braced Gibson LG1 is perfect for that strangled tone acoustic blues....thunk, thunk, thunk kerthunka thunk.

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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The thing about ladder bracing is it is a whole other ballgame when you put it in a big box guitar. The Harmony Sovereigns and Vega Profundos immediately jump to mind. I have a 1950s Silvertone 618 (pretty much a dressed down Kay K-22) in the house at the moment. A big old 17 1/8" wide body with a long 25.9" scale. Ya mix it all together and you would not believe how good this thing sounds. It has a low end that has enough rumble to make anybody smile. The upper mids and highs are full and snappy. Maybe just a touch of nasalality. That long scale just turbo charges the top adding power and volume. It also explains why alot of these guitars did not survive well - that is alot of tension to be tugging at a neck without a truss rod. I get the feeling that stringing this guitar with anything other than lights and you are heading for a train wreck. This is one guitar though that begs to be played hard.

 

From the Silvertone World site

 

112013b3-f206-4b98-a8c7-6f5cbdf1352c_zps48cf46b6.jpg

 

3dcc6d30-4b7e-48d1-83b8-5b18b9c00e45_zpsd2b45d63.jpg

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I think that it depends on whose ladder bracing we are addressing. The Gibson/Kalamazoo bracing is one thing while the 1900-1930 Oscar Schmidt built Stellas and Sovereigns are another. Oscar Schmidt built great sounding ladder braced guitars that sound nothing like what most of us get to hear (including anything built by Schmidt from about 1930 on). Here's a lovely O.S. 1915-ish sovereign that I owned until a fellow wanting to complete his collection talked me out of it:

 

OSStellaFront_zps391d84ae.jpg

 

I've got sound clips of it somewhere that I'll try to dig out.

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Hey JT, zombie.

 

Well that's kind of the jist of the conversation I read on AGF the other day(just re read it and zombies posted).

 

Not sure if I'm allowed to put the link, but if "ladder vs x bracing" is goggled it should be the top result.

 

I don't know if I'm looking through rose tinted spectacles, but I played with it for about 6hrs straight yesterday and it felt right. As it started to get late, I was started to finger pick and it's defo not as loud as my 45.

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I have owned a buch of Schmidt guitars over the decades. With the Oscar Schmidt guitars it is hard to separate myth from fact. So many of the legendary blues guys played them that I sometimes get the feeling that folks think they have to sound great.

 

Thing is though Schmidt did ladder bracing right. The ends of the braces are nicely tapered and Schmidt actually domed the backs of his guitars (which were generally concert size instruments) giving the body more depth and the ability to push a bit more sound out of the soundhole. Regal used a hybrid X bracing in at least some of their guitars. There is an X brace below the soundhole but then two parallel braces (one of which serves as the bridge plate) below it. Harmony, on the other hand, just slapped some thick rectangular shaped braces in their Stellas (Harmony acquired the Stella and Sovereign names from the Schmidt company in 1940). These are the boxy, unrefined, thin sounding guitars that many folks have come to associate with a small body ladder braced instruments.

 

At present I have four ladder braced guitars in the house - a ca. 1960 Harmony Sovereign, mid-1930s Kay Kraft Deluxe K-20, a late 1930s Harmony-made Supertone, and the Silvertone I talked about in an earlier post. Every one sounds very different from the next. The one thing I would say though that connects them is that they all have a quick attack, more like an archtop..

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All I can say is this about that:

 

I love the way a ladder braced J-160E sounds & I love how mine plays. Granted it's a Fuller '62 Reissue, not a vintage version of which I have no 1st hand (left or right) knowledge on. But, with regards to my 160, I'm VERY happy with it. I play it plugged in with Flats on it. I play it with flats just practicing unplugged too. I've heard people play them on YouTubes with Jazz & Blues (best I recall) plugged in and they sound wonderful. Much more masterful players by 2 light years beyond me. They make them sing and beautifully so.

 

Nothing like my J-45 Custom but then my Ric 330 isn't ANYTHING like it either except for being wood & having 6 strings I guess. [biggrin]

 

Prolly not for everyone, or even more than a handful of people maybe as far as popularity. I do see what drew John & George to play them & love them over their music days however. Nothing sounds as fun in an acoustic with the way their music sounds to me anyway.

 

Aster

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