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Put Your Guitar on a Diet!

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
Most experienced players will tell you that there's almost always always a direct relationship between the weight of a guitar and it's volume and tone. For fun, I weighed a number of guitars in the DjangoBooks inventory to see how this panned out. The results were more or less what I expected...the guitars that have the best tone and projection are also the lightest.

Here's the data:

1) Jean-Pierre 1990 Favino 14 Fret D Hole: 4.00 lbs

2) ALD GRANDE BOUCHE 14 FRET: 4.05lbs

3) Dupont Vielle Reserve: 4.15 lbs

4) DELL'ARTE D-HOLE HOMMAGE: 4.45 lbs

5) Saga Gitane DG-340: 4.8 lbs

As expected, the European guitars had the lowest weight and also the most outstanding tone and projection. The Favino and the ALD are very closely matched for sound quality...both being outstanding instruments and also very light weight. In general, I've found most Asian copies to be much heavier...and in this test that proved to be true.

It's interesting that the JP Favino is the lightest because it has the large Favino body proportions. So if you take the larger size of the instrument into account, it's even lighter! No wonder it sounds so good...

Both the Favino and Dupont have DR tuners which are probably a lot heavier then standard tuners. So both of those instruments are actually even lighter in comparison.


Just for fun I also weighed an archtop, which is light for an archtop, and it weighed 5.1 lb. I used to have a Gibson archtop and man, that thing was heavy!!

I also have a Martin D28 flatop which was 5lbs. Interesting that the Sagas are closer in weight to flatop and archtops then Selmers.

'm
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Comments

  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,240
    Michael - I absolutely agree. Weight in general decreases acoustic efficiency and lowers resonance - though weight reduction has to be a balance. If any part along the string path is made too light and loses sufficient rigidity to do its job, then you get losses in volume & tone for another set of reasons which quickly offset the benefits of weight reduction. It's a fun puzzle - finding the lightest possible balance.

    I think the European makers did such a great job of making light resonant instruments because they were focused on making guitars purely to get the best sound whereas many modern factories are also designing and building guitars to take abuse so they incur fewer returns costs when instruments are abused (knocked around, exposed to extreme heat or humidity changes, loaded with heavy strings etc.) It makes me wonder what a 1930's Martin Dreadnought weighs.

    Here are a few more measurements to add to your weight survey:

    - Park Encore in Maple/Spruce 4.12 lbs.
    - Busato small body 1940s in Mahogany-Laminate/Fir 3.53 lbs.
    - Busato grand body 1950s in Mahogany-Laminate/Spruce 3.61 lbs.
    - Busato grand body 1950s in Rosewood-Laminate/Spruce 3.94 lbs.
    - Holo Selmer bench copy in Walnut-Solid/Cedar 3.06 lbs.
    - Holo Busato bench copy in Mahogany-Solid/Spruce 3.39 lbs.
    - Holo Busato bench copy in Rosewood-Solid/Spruce 3.55 lbs.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,773
    Hey Bob....I knew you'd chime in on this. Busatos, and your copies of them, are just crazy light! A guitar under 4lbs is just nuts.....but it sounds great!

    'm
  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    bob,
    can you post pictures of your guitars? both the busatos and the repros?

    -alex
    Www.alexsimonmusic.com
    Learn how to play Gypsy guitar:
    http://alexsimonmusic.com/learn-gypsy-jazz-guitar/
  • gitpickergitpicker Beijing/San Francisco✭✭✭✭ Favino, Favino
    Posts: 204
    Ya Bob! Not to sidetrack from the thread topic and maybe this isn't the most appropriate place but I'd be interested in knowing more about your guitars. Do you have a webpage or something? If not I can ask you about your guitars in a PM.

    In keeping with the topic, what does an oval hole Selmer weight roughly? I know there is always some variance. Any idea how much weight the internal sound chamber adds to a Mac?
    www.dougmartinguitar.com
    Live life and play music like it's your last day on earth. One day you'll be right- Russel Malone
  • Tom LandmanTom Landman Brooklyn, NY✭✭✭✭ 6 strings
    Posts: 92
    gitpicker wrote:
    In keeping with the topic, what does an oval hole Selmer weight roughly?

    According to the Selmer/Maccaferri issue of "Vintage Guitars", a 1950 Selmer (#808), which was the guitar used for their test measurements, has a weight of 1800 grams (or 3.968 lbs).
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,240
    Yes, the mention of guitar weight definitely gets my attention ;) it's really important to capturing the sound.

    1800 grams sounds about right for that Selmer.

    One of the best Favinos I've ever played is 4.52 lbs (#561) and I think about half of that was the massive ebony fingerboard - which - all in all - is not a bad place to add some mass if you're intent on doing it.

    Re: pictures/website etc. A website is coming - hopefully in a few months. I keep a pretty small commercial footprint on this board because Michael & Josh don't pay any rent when I sell guitars. What I could post in keeping with the thread is a brief snippet of an etude Michael played on the Mahogany-laminated/spruce Tony Weiss Busato (3.61lbs) and the Holo Selmer Bench copy in Walnut/Cedar (3.06lb) It should be a fairly small file - under 2 minutes.

    Michael, is that OK?

    And is there anyone else out there with guitar weight.

    *edit*

    OK - I had a pocket voice recorder on hand when Michael and Josh had that Weiss Busato in house. Michael played an etude on it and then on my Selmer Bench copy (the 3.06 lb. one). The recording isn't too great - not exactly done with Neumann mics direct to disk ;) but it actually does a fairly good job of capturing the sound of the instruments.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • phil_gphil_g UKNew
    Posts: 28
    another one for you. My ALD petit bouche standard model is 3.94lbs
  • Dr. HallDr. Hall Green Bay, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 65
    My Gitane DG-320 is right at 4 lbs. Hmm.
    -Stefan
  • pmh425pmh425 Middle Island, NY✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 86
    My Dell'Arte Sweet Chorus (12 fret D Hole - Solid Walnut with a Spruce top and Rosewood Neck w/Ebony fingerboard) is 4.25 lbs. It does have a McIntyre feather transducer installed so there is a little extra weight from the end-pin jack as well as the added hardware
    -Peter
  • conradconrad Toronto, CanadaNew
    Posts: 23
    This topic is fascinating and thanks for it, guys... I've always found the same. Weight in the wrong places or just overall weight seems to suffocate the potential of an instrument. I recently found this in an example of the new Dell Arte Music Link Pigalle, which seemed overbuilt or somehow not meeting this weight/balance criterion. It really was a mediocre guitar, I must say, but only one example in their new endeavor, I guess.

    Anyway, what do the Ciganos weigh, Michael? ... or anyone who knows...

    Thanks,

    Conrad
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