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Bracing for f hole Gypsy guitar

ShawnShawn Boise, Idaho✭✭✭✭
Curiosity killed the cat. I'm planning to make a new soundboard for a D-Hole guitar I have. However, I'm wanting to make it into an F Hole style guitar like the Dell Arte Swing 42 shown below. Does anyone know what the top bracing looks like on these guitars? I'd assume it has 4 braces similar to a selmer and two braces between the f holes more similar to an archtop (due to the f hole location), but I'm not 100% sure. Any ideas?



  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    edited May 2011 Posts: 794
    A 1950s f hole Castellucia I had the privilege of working on this winter had three ladder braces only. One at either end of f holes and one under the end of the fingerboard. Three total. Bridge does not sit on a brace of any kinds, braces were pretty light. Top was thicker than selmer style. 2.8mm to 3.4mm.

  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 794
    I realized this morning that the f holes in the picture you show are closer to the neck than the Castellucia I worked on. On the Castellucia, the f holes are closer to the middle of the top and the bridge sits on an area between the f holes. The bracing was as I described previously but now that I look closer at your picture, the Castellucia bracing could easily be different from the one in your picture. There would certainly be room for a more bracing in the bridge area of the Dell Arte. The Dell Arte layout would certainly allow for more Selmer like bracing. So, not all f hole Selmer style guitars are created equal.

    Which brings up a good point, there really are considerable variations to these "gypsy" guitars. I measured top thickness on a 60 year old D hole Castellucia last night. It was a uniform 3.5mm throughout , quite thick compared to a petite bouche Selmer style, often 2.1 to 2.5mm. That may not sound like much of a difference, but keep in mind stiffness varies with the cube of thickness. This Castellucia, like the f hole version, has only three braces and no support under the bridge yet the top arch was perfect, no caving at all, no doubt because of the thicker top. And the tone..... my gawd, it is tremendous. Large, woody, deep, clear, very loud, rings like a bell on solos, dry and crisp on rhythm. Serious mojo and any one hearing it would say it has a true "gypsy" guitar sound....., yet is different in construction in many ways than a five brace petite bouche.

    Here is a picture of the f hole Castellucia on the bench. You can see the lighter area immediately above the lower red strap where the bridge sits. The red straps are roughly where two of the braces are, the third is up under the end of the fingerboard. By the way, this is also a great sounding guitar with characteristics similar to the D hole described above. You could do a lot worse than trying to replicate this guitar.

  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,651
    Craig, you've pretty well described my Castelluccia D hole, from the same era. How about a photo?

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
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