Voicing a guitar

What is meant by voicing a guitar?

Voicing a guitar is a technique of “tuning” the top or soundboard and also to a lesser extent the back by selectively trimming/carving the braces and tone bars and listening to the changes in response vibrations of the top to taps/knocks while held around the fretboard area or hung by the sound hole.

voicing a kasha type classical guitarclassical guitar bracesThe aim is to produce a full, rich, well-balanced range of tones or sound frequencies, from the lowest bass to the highest trebles plus possible overtones (octaves) and partials (harmonics), depending on the guitar type.

Luthiers tend to develop their own “sound”, certain tonal qualities that they strive to perfect.

As well as reinforcing the thin, delicate top, preventing it from distorting out of shape by the string tension, the braces and tone bars also serve to distribute the vibrations of the bridge, to the various “nodes” or areas of the top. Here, depending on the voicing done, the vibrations at various frequencies resonate freely producing good volume or are suppressed reducing volume relative to other frequencies. The bass side of the top should be more “floppy”, requiring less thickness to the top and “looser” braces, the treble side a thicker top and stiffer braces. Particular attention is also needed around the perimeter of the soundboard and at the outer ends of the braces and tone bars.

Although vital to the final sound qualities of a finished guitar, there’s really no great secret to voicing a guitar. However, one cannot simply be shown how to voice a guitar once and then you’re good to go…

Every guitar design is different, as every component e.g. the top, the braces, sides, back etc are all made from individual tone woods. These have their own characteristics and all respond uniquely to the carved reductions by the Luthier during voicing. It is something that can only be learnt through experience.

Here is a little insight from a genius…