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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:31 am 
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First name: David
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The Torres FE 14 guitar has always intrigued me, and having read about it for decades I finally had the chance to see it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Spanish Guitar exhibition around 1991. What struck me initially was that though this guitar had always been described as "paper mache" it was really made of cardboard, what we would term "poster board", or the 1862 equivalent.
The guitar is housed at the Museo De La Musica in Barcelona and this past summer at the Romanillos course I got to know Joan Pellise' a talented young Spanish luthier and an employee of the Museum in it's documentation section. Joan has been kind enough to share his observations of the instrument via the internet along with our own Joshua French who has visited the Museum and made a close examination of the guitar and its internal structure.
The guitar was first published in Tom and Mary Ann Evans book "Guitars from the Renaissance to Rock" and subsequently in the Romanillos books on Torres, the Metropolitan Museum Exhibition and Alicante Exhibition catalogs. It was most recently included in Waldner and Grondona's book which features the best detailed photos of it ever published.
One of the tasks was to first go through all the literature and capture every described detail of the construction. For instance, the cedar reinforcements described in some books have been observed by Joan and Joshua and clarified by them as later additions and thus I will leave them out in my replica opting to use a somewhat thicker material for the rims. On the original these have failed and thus required the additional structure.
A lot of explanation has been offered as to why Torres made this guitar and I wish to refrain from speculation and offer only observations gleaned from working with the materials and see what can be learned though the experience.
The first task was selecting the board, I finally settled on a hard 2mm poster board material that I had salvaged from work and used over the years to make patterns. I had considered creating a 2 sided form in which to laminate up thinner pieces of board but decided first to try the familiar technique of hot pipe bending.
A test worked very well:
Attachment:
CardboardTorresI 006.jpg

The best results seemed to be had when the iron was a bit cooler (to eliminate scorching) and completely dry material.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresI 002.jpg


Attachment:
CardboardTorresI 003.jpg

Here's the back, this was easy enough.....
Attachment:
CardboardTorresI 004.jpg

In the days where lumber processing was a lot of work, I can see where inexpensive pre-thicknessed sheets of material might have been very attractive.
The board bends very easily and quickly on the iron....much more so than wood and though the sides relaxed a bit more as they cooled, this should not be a problem in assembly as they are quite flexible and easy to conform to the side profile.
I'll be using fish glue to put this together and don't want to have the moisture disturb the cardboard so I'm doing a test for adhesion on a sample of material that I've sealed with shellac.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresI 001.jpg

....no problems, as the glue worked very well. Thus I'll be sealing the board both inside and out with a dark shellac.


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Last edited by David LaPlante on Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:38 am 
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Hey David,

I will definitely be following this build with great interest!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:56 am 
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Dave, This will be an interesting build and I'm glad you are doing it. The results will be interesting--very interesting in my opinion. I applaud your effort, it takes a deep historical interest to spend the time replicating a cardboard Torres guitar.

I'm curious what your personal motivation is on this project, is it to replicate a famous historical piece or to gain insight into what Torres was up to with his unconventional build, or both?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:01 am 
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Here is my spec sheet on the guitar along with a preliminary sketch of the rosette.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresII 001.jpg

Though many good photos of this guitar have been published, all of the pictures of the rosette are indistinct.
The BWB borders show well enough, along with the half herringbone pattern at the center, it is the portions between them that seem to be rather undefined as areas that are darker and lighter.
My drawing:
Attachment:
CardboardTorresII 002.jpg

And my interpretation in maple, rosewood, ebony and mahogany.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresII 003.jpg

I've intentionally added a bit of asymmetry to this, having seen it on several of Torres' examples.


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Last edited by David LaPlante on Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:04 am 
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This is fascinating David and I'll be following your progress as well.

Thanks for posting this! [:Y:] [clap] [clap] [clap]


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:39 am 
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Marc,
Initially it is two things.
First, I love the aesthetic of this guitar. The slightly longer and rather more slender body than the later guitar (SE 114) that I copied coupled with the archaic peg head and very simple appointments give it a wonderful look. There are other guitars which have this (FE 12 for instance) but none have been so thoroughly documented as this one.
Secondly, though I'm tempted to make it in nicer materials, the potential learning experience seemed more accessible if built on the original scheme. I can also use up some materials that are otherwise not quite up to snuff for a regular instrument!
And right at the moment, the thought process is what I'm finding to be the most interesting facet.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:53 pm 
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Dave ;
is that Brazilian poster board? oops_sign

sorry! idunno
Your going to have your own museum of Torres guitars soon!

Nice to have you share this !

Thanks!
[:Y:] mike

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:28 pm 
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This is a great project, Dave. Glad to see you doing it. It has always intrigued me too, but I sure had nto thought of building one. Keep us in the loop.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:37 pm 
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Yes, most interesting stuff Dave.
Thanks for taking the time to share your journey with us here.

Cheers

Kim


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:10 pm 
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Thanks all, I'll keep posting pics as this proceeds.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:13 pm 
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Good luck! I am sure it will work well. I think too that there is a chance Torres was looking for cheaper alternatives, instead of proving smth. Carboard is easy to bend, does not crack, no need to age or join or smooth or etc etc Torres always had issues with both getting decent wood and making money.

Btw, what sort of cardboard is it anyway?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:40 pm 
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Its a rather stiff wood pulp type about 2mm thick.....actually rather hard. It may be 20 or 30 years old as I salvaged it from being tossed at work (Museum Graphics dept).
It has a nice white paper finish on both sides which once sealed with shallac should give a nice amber color and harden the surface.
Initially I bought some 100% rag board which was nice but way too spongy....I can always use it to make top masks......


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:36 am 
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David, as you can probably guess, I await the outcome of this with baited breath!

Colin

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:21 am 
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David,

A good friend of mine in Brazil made a cardboard guitar a few years ago complete with a french polish. It sounds just as good if not better than his other guitars. Keep us updated on your progress.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:50 am 
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Wow David,
Ths is exciting! Kinda like having a new baby in the family, can't wait till it's born. Please post many pictures.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:15 pm 
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Here is the neck being worked up for this guitar.

Attachment:
CardboardTorresIII 002.jpg


It's Spanish cedar with the heel and foot being four pieces of wood in a stacked configuration. Note the arrows to match grain direction as well as the sequence numbers to keep the pieces in their proper order.

The peghead is joined in the traditional scarfed configuration.

Attachment:
CardboardTorresIII 004.jpg


Brazilian rosewood head veneer with the peghead profile.

Attachment:
CardboardTorresIII 001.jpg


Attachment:
CardboardTorresIII 003.jpg


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:22 am 
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David LaPlante wrote:
Here is the neck being worked up for this guitar.

Attachment:
CardboardTorresIII 002.jpg


It's Spanish cedar with the heel and foot being four pieces of wood in a stacked configuration. Note the arrows to match grain direction as well as the sequence numbers to keep the pieces in their proper order.



Ah, sometimes it's the simplest of things that make a big difference. I was unhappy with discontinuity on my last stacked heel. Partly this is what led me to working with the current run of one-piece necks. This small step will make a huge difference. Thanks!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:18 pm 
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Lookin' good! I just hope your shop doesn't have a leaky roof oops_sign .

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:36 am 
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The neck is out of the clamps, has been trimmed on the band saw to profile the head and heel block and is now in the side slotting jig.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 004.jpg

Cutting the side slots with a flush cutting saw.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 005.jpg

Here is the side slot detail.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 006.jpg

The heel is profiled where it will meet the sides and given its preliminary shaping.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 007.jpg

Grondona and Waldner state in their book that FE 14 has a foot which is "larger than usual" so, based on my experience with SE 151A and SE 114, I've made one that is somewhat wider, longer and thicker than in those two other examples....here is where having the guitar available to peer inside would be quite useful..I guess if I do get to see it someday I can see how good my guess was. I've also added the typical pencil line Torres used to mark the center line of the neck block.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 008.jpg

The peghead tip has gotten it's preliminary shaping as well.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 002.jpg

The neck completed thus far.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 009.jpg


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:55 am 
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OK, back to the cardboard (wierd) part of the project.
It looks like Torres used shellac or varnish to seal the exterior of the material, and seeing that I will be using a waterbased fish glue, I've decided to seal the pieces prior to assembly both on the outside as well as inside. Based on my previous glue test on a sealed piece of scrap I'm confident that this will allow me to add linings and bracing to the guitar without softening and disrupting the surface of the board.
I'm using an amber shellac with a soft brush to seal the inside of the sides.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 010.jpg

Given that there will be a lot of stuff glued to the inside surface I'm giving it a good strong coat.....this shoud also help bond the layers of the cardboard together as I'm allowing it to soak in somewhat.
Note also the typical Torres pencil marks at the waist bend.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 011.jpg

The exterior is getting several wiped on layers of finish that produced a nicer result than brushing, here are the sides. I'm liking the color that the shellac has given the board which is somewhat reminiscent of Cypress.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 012.jpg

As I wiped the shellac on the back it developed nearly a grain painted texture.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresIV 013.jpg


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:08 pm 
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Looking good.

I can't think that there is anything that is going to happen in the build process that represents an amazing surprise, so the payoff here is all going to come at the end-- how does it sound? Judging from Grondona's recordings in his book, there is no reason why it shouldn't sound great! So, is it just the soundboard? Or the builder's skill? (No questions on this point.)

As I mentioned to Waddy, it makes me want to pull out a sheet of pink coral formica!! bliss beehive beehive beehive

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:42 pm 
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I think my granddaughter would appreciate pink coral Formica back and side set. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:47 am 
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Looking good, David! If anyone here can pull this off I'm sure that it's you. I'm looking forward to the whole thing, seeing it progress and getting the reveal.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:08 am 
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David, I'm late to the party, but let me say this is all fascinating!
Do keep us posted on your progress as well as your thoughts.
Thanks for sharing this,
Steve

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:06 pm 
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Here is the top getting braced, I had a nice old and stiff piece of German spruce which had some wavy grain features making it a bit less desirable appearance wise but perfect to be worked thin as is the top on the original.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresV 001.jpg

Detail:
Attachment:
CardboardTorresV 004.jpg

Neck mated to the sides to check the fit:
Attachment:
CardboardTorresV 002.jpg

Attachment:
CardboardTorresV 003.jpg

OOOPs, I realized that I needed to have the heel incorporated with the back in this design, so I cut out and sealed a new one....it's a perfect grain match with the sides!
Attachment:
CardboardTorresV 005.jpg

In preparation for the assembly I've prepared the internal components, top glue blocks (peonies), the typical triangular Torres
rib blocks, end block and the described "long" rib blocks for the top bracing.
The back center strip, sort of a half hexagon is also shown along with the back bracing. It is somewhat thicker than usual and I'll notch the bracing over it rather than cut it to accept the braces to take advantage of its longitudinal stiffness.
Attachment:
CardboardTorresV 006.jpg


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