Leonardo Guitar Research Project
Network Newsletter / March 2015
Welcome to the first edition of the LGR Network Newsletter where we want to share with you the progress we have been making on our project.
The LGR Project is a partnership between 3 guitar making schools, a lutherie knowledge centre and 4 independent European luthiers who are researching the possibilities of building acoustic and classical guitars using sustainable, local non-tropical woods. The project is funded by the European Commission.
We have now completed the evaluation of the results from the first phase of the project. The evaluation study was carried out with professional musicians, expert listeners and public audiences using both blind and non-blind testing. The key conclusions are:
1) Blind testing consistently shows that non-tropical woods can be used to make guitars equal in sound acceptance to those made with tropical woods.
2) However, under non-blind conditions, sound preference for the non-tropical wood guitars is majorly reduced by around 50%. This appears to be due to the visual nature of these non-blind tests where aesthetics and preconceptions about tonewoods strongly influence sound perception.
A new page on our website contains a summary of the results and test methodology:
The fully detailed publication will be published shortly.
The results have been shared publicly during lectures at two guitar festivals; the Dutch ‘Gitaarbouwersmeeting’ in Barneveld in October, and at the Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin in November 2014.
A number of the guitars were exhibited in these festivals and received excellent feedback from builders and players alike. During the Holy Grail Guitar Show interviews about the project were recorded for the on-line guitar magazines Laguitare.com and Guitar Channel, interviews can be viewed on the video page of our website. We have also been invited to exhibit some of the guitars at a future Frankfurt Musikmesse.
The Finnish guitar magazine Riffi also published an article on the project following the Tampere Guitar Festival (FI) in June, where we gave a lecture, and also ran an audience test with the guitars, as we did in the Cordefactum Guitar Festival in Belgium in May 2014.
The second phase of the project was kicked off during a meeting of the project board members in Ireland in September (thanks to Chris Larkin for setting up the event and the tour of his workshop). The building of the guitars for this second phase is now about to begin, we now have an aligned guitar building program that will be carried out across the 3 participating schools, (Cmb/CVO Belgium, Ikata Finland, and Newark College UK).
The guitar building and research programme is designed to gain further insights into the roles played by aesthetics and tonewood preconceptions on sound preferences between tropical and non-tropical guitars. In addition we will also research the physical aspects, workability and finishing characteristics of non-tropical woods. The 3 participating schools will now build a series of classical and steel string guitars. Matched guitar pairs (one using non-tropical wood, the other in tropical wood) will be built by master students to a strict set of criteria that will enable the guitar pairs to be assessed at the end of the project in Spring 2017. Other students of the 3 schools who wish to make only a single non-tropical guitar are encouraged to do so and we would plan to exhibit these at a Leonardo Guitar Event in 2017.
Note for those people who already subscribed as Network Luthiers:
If you want to join the research or you have interest in building a fully non-tropical guitar using local sustainable woods, and would like the opportunity to exhibit the guitar at the 2017 Leonardo Guitar Event, then please visit the Network Luthier Page on the website or get into contact with us.
Luthiers who what to join the research by making non-tropical guitars, (among other research possibilities) and who want to share there knowledge and experiences with the Network, can still subscribe as Network Luthier.
Other activities for this following quarter include starting up the work to develop a longer term sustainable supply of non-tropical woods for guitar making, a venture that we want to do together with wood suppliers and forest management experts. On a new web page we recently started to make a database with addresses of luthiers ( who build with non-tropical woods) and wood suppliers who can offer these alternative woods. Please contact us if you have any information about luthiers and/or wood suppliers…
We are also organising several workshops in the 3 schools during the project, the first will take place in Finland in March, where students from the 3 schools will come together for an intensive week of learning and research focussing on finishing techniques.
If you have enjoyed reading this Newsletter and want to follow progress regularly, then visit the LGRP website and join our Facebook page.
The LGRP Team