L-5 Multi-scale Archtop Complete!

By Tony on October 28, 2015 in Acoustic Guitar Building, Guitar Building, Uncategorized, Woodworking


I’m happy to say that last year’s big project is now complete!  I don’t even want to speculate on how many hours went into this archtop guitar.  In building this, I took a couple large leaps of faith.  First was just taking on an archtop build.  Carving the back and top to the gentle contours and variable thicknesses that both support the stresses placed on the guitar, while also enhancing the acoustics, should have been enough.  But I added on the additional challenge of making it a multi-scale instrument.


For those who are not familiar with multi-scale guitars, they are designed so that each string is a different scale length.  In the case of this guitar, the low-E string has a 26″ scale length, while the high-E is only 25″.   Of course, your fret spacing is based on the scale length, so the spacing must also change along the neck to accommodate the different scales.  So the fret positions, nut and saddle are set for the low and high-E strings, connect those positions in a strait line that defines the fret angle, and the other four strings naturally fall in between.  The resulting “fan fret” layout has a tendency to twist the mind and eye.  You tune it and play it as if it were a standard single-scale guitar.  The theory is that it allows for better balancing of tensions and tone across all strings.  Also, if you play in drop D or other drop tunings, it allows for more tension to stay on the low-E string as it is tuned down.  This helps keep it from flopping around as much and buzzing.

I’ve been playing this for a couple of months now and am constantly impressed by how it plays, sounds, and feels.


Back and Sides: Curly Maple
Top: European Spruce (Bearclaw)
Neck: Baked Curly Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Saddle and Tailpiece: Ebony
Binding: Cocobolo with black/white/black purfling
Frets: Stainless Steel
Tuners: Gotoh 510 in Cosmo Black
Pickups: TV Jones Duotrons
Pots: CTS 500K, with Alpha Blend Pot
Nut and Saddle: Bone

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