Composite Acoustic Guitars
Not all acoustic guitars are made from just wood.
Composite Acoustic Guitars (CA Guitars) were born from an idea by Ellis Seal in 1997, creating carbon fiber guitars in a shed during his spare time from his full-time job working as an engineer for Lockheed Martin.
His idea was to provide an acoustic guitar that didn't have any of the drawbacks of the traditional wooden guitar; anyone who has a wooden acoustic guitar will be familiar with the constraints that come with it, especially problems associated with temperature changes or humidity. Frequent tuning, action and playability problems, wood splitting and soundboard bellying, and changes in sound are all part of the deal.
Carbon fiber instruments however, like the Composite Acoustic range, do not suffer from these problems as carbon fiber is tolerant of temperature changes and humidity. It is also a more robust material than wood, stronger and immune to problems of swelling or shrinking and can easily be molded into more cutting edge and comfortable designs than is possible with wood.
In 2005, with additional investment Composite Acoustic Guitars further improved their manufacturing operation, bringing improvements to their product line and introduced several new models and body styles to the line-up. The guitars are at prices comparable to wooden instruments.
However, Composite Acoustic Guitars were not the first to produce a composite guitar.
In the 1960's Ovation Guitars started production of its round back guitar, replacing the wooden back and sides of the instrument with a rounded bowl made from a fiberglass material called Lyrachord.
The Soundboard and neck, unlike the Composite Acoustic Guitars design, were still made of wood. The first Ovation Guitars production model was the Balladeer in 1966, and since then they have produced an array of nylon string, 12 string and various models of 6 string guitar.
Later, Ovation created the top of the range Adamas range with a composite soundboard made from a birch and carbon fiber laminate. All the Ovation models were also available as Acoustic-Electric models making them even more popular in recording and live performance circles.
The rounded bowl, although helping the sound projection from the guitar, meant the instrument was not the easiest thing to keep on the lap as any owner will tell you.
Many manufacturers such as Aria, Crafter and the Vintage Synergy range have since followed in Ovations footsteps (you'd think they would have patented this idea!!).
But it doesn't end there...
Blackbird Guitars from San Francisco present The Rider Nylon and Rider Steel String guitars. Featuring a hollow neck and a sound port at the head it provides a big sound in, what is claimed to be, a small nearly indestructible body.
The result is a guitar as much at home being used for travel as in the studio or stage. The guitar is a one-piece, hollow body, neck, and head construction which transforms the entire guitar into a sound box
The RainSongs body, neck and soundboard are all made out of pure graphite and are claimed to be the only graphite acoustic guitars in the world:
RainSongs are made entirely without braces for greater acoustic volume and clean, detailed tone. The theory behind this is that bracing can result in unwanted overtones a degree of deadening of tone and detail, and a limitation in volume.
Other carbon fiber guitar manufacturers well worth checking out include the UK based Orchid Guitars which include a full carbon fiber body and neck, and the Canadian Schwartz Guitars which feature a carbon fiber soundboard with some truly, absolutely fabulous inlays.
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