Guitar Top Bracing

Filed Under: Foster Jazz Guitars » Guitar Options » Guitar Top Bracing

I would like to explain some of my ideas on bracing a top for an archtop guitar.

The braces provide support from the string tension that is placed on the top. This keeps the top from caving in due to the downward pressure of the strings. Braces also transport the string vibrations throughout the sound board. When the string is plucked the vibrations travel down through the bridge and top and go directly to the braces. The braces vibrate and send the vibrations to the areas of the top that they make contact with. The type of bracing that you choose will greatly effect the way your guitar is going to sound and respond. I offer two types of bracing patterns on my archtop models. These are the two that I have found to be most effective in creating a strongly voiced instrument.

Parallel Bracing from Foster Guitars

Parallel Bracing

Parallel bracing is the oldest style of bracing pattern that can be found on many old world instruments and early archtops. This bracing pattern creates a very loud voice that sounds great when driving rhythm in a big band. It also an excellent choice for finger style players. On a traditional parallel bracing pattern the sound that is produced is very loud and bright acoustically but doesn’t have much warmth in the bass end. To remedy this, I have moved the bass side brace out closer toward the bass side f-hole. This creates a guitar with a fat bass end while maintaining the punchy bright high end of a traditional brace.

X Bracing from Foster Guitars

X Bracing

X bracing is another popular style of bracing pattern that I use. It has a different sound acoustically as does the parallel brace and is a much weaker design structurally. The tops on an X braced guitar have to be carved slightly thicker than parallel to ensure structural integrity. This bracing pattern is an excellent choice for players who want a darker and softer sound. It sounds great for finger style and for modern bebop players who like a rich warm tone with a lot of depth. Because more of the top vibrates with X-bracing, the guitar is not quite as loud and punchy acoustically as the parallel variety.


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