Different bracing types?

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JoeBoultJoeBoult Frets: 2
Alright guys?

I've been playing electric for donkey's years, and a couple of years ago I pulled the trigger on a beautiful Faith Naked Venus. But I don't know jack about acoustic guitars.

Can you guys tell me the reason you'd use a different bracing system over another? Is there a reason it isn't just "one suits all"?

Cheers!
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 19060
    edited July 1
    There are essentially two bracing ‘patterns’ - X bracing and fan bracing. X bracing is the most common on steel strung guitars and provides enough strength to allow the top to withstand high levels of tension. Conversely fan bracing is the norm on classical guitars with nylon strings. Both PRS and Taylor have developed fan bracing variants for steel string use in recent years - claiming it allows greater vibration.

    The braces can also be ‘scalloped’ - where material is removed to lower their weight, without overly compromising their stiffness - which usually yields more volume - but sometimes less sustain.

    Personally I wouldn’t chose a guitar on anything other than sound - the ‘theories’ about bracing characteristics are all well and good - but there are exceptions which disprove some the rules.
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  • JoeBoultJoeBoult Frets: 2
    Thanks man, appreciated. So is there any reason you wouldn't for example put X bracing on a nylon string guitar?
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 19060
    JoeBoult said:
    Thanks man, appreciated. So is there any reason you wouldn't for example put X bracing on a nylon string guitar?
    Nylon strings have lower tension and don’t produce the volume that steel strings do - so heavier bracing would be inappropriate.

    Steel strings on a standard classical would cause serious damage as they aren’t designed to handle the extra tension.
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  • KilgoreKilgore Frets: 1258
    Ladder bracing 

    Historically, cheap guitars particularly 20's to 50's used ladder bracing. Lots of old time blues folk and country were produced with ladder braced guitars. It went out of fashion, but is undergoing a bit of a revival with 'vintage' inspired guitars.

    V Bracing

    Introduced by Taylor earlier this year. Their marketing hype claim it is a 'revolution' in guitar construction ( better intonation, better sustain)
    I haven't played one so I can't really comment
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3865

    There is also the position of the bracing to consider.

    Martin and now making quite a few guitars with what they are marketing as "forward-shifted" bracing.  As far as I know, it's actually a return to the bracing on the pre-war holy grail guitars.  They changed the bracing around the end of WW2, but in recent years they have figured out that the pre-war configuration seems to sound better, and are making more guitars with it again.

    Initially it was just the high spec vintage reissue type things that had the "forward-shifted" bracing, but it's worked it's way down the range, and it's now standard on the D18 (since 2012?), and now on the "re-imagined" D28.

    What do makers like Lowden use?  They have a different sound to a lot of the US makes.  I would imagine there is something in the bracing that plays a part in that.

    As others have said though, just find a guitar you like the sound of.

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  • JoeBoultJoeBoult Frets: 2
    Cheers all, really informative.
    Don't worry my first two criteria for any guitar are how comfortable it is to play and how good it sounds, but I've always wondered because I never knew anything about bracing!
    Awesome responses!
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  • barry2tonebarry2tone Frets: 29
    JoeBoult said:
    Cheers all, really informative.
    Don't worry my first two criteria for any guitar are how comfortable it is to play and how good it sounds, but I've always wondered because I never knew anything about bracing!
    Awesome responses!

    Thanks Joe for getting a good and informative thread going.

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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18822
    There are essentially two bracing ‘patterns’ - X bracing and fan bracing. X bracing is the most common on steel strung guitars and provides enough strength to allow the top to withstand high levels of tension. Conversely fan bracing is the norm on classical guitars with nylon strings. Both PRS and Taylor have developed fan bracing variants for steel string use in recent years - claiming it allows greater vibration.

    The braces can also be ‘scalloped’ - where material is removed to lower their weight, without overly compromising their stiffness - which usually yields more volume - but sometimes less sustain.

    Personally I wouldn’t chose a guitar on anything other than sound - the ‘theories’ about bracing characteristics are all well and good - but there are exceptions which disprove some the rules.
    There are a bunch of alternative bracing patterns but I'm not sure they are going to be necessarily better, just different.




    We have to consider what bracing does- which is to assist maintaining structural integrity whilst allowing the string to excite the soundboard/body system.
    I've played a few guitars with different brace patterns- none have been an improvement over X bracing.

    Even a traditional X Bracing pattern can be fucked up too- I know someone who decided to laminate their braces with strips of spruce and rosewood and then scalloped.
    It looked absolutely amazing and he did a great job at making it look pro.
    It also managed to overly stiffen the instrument and it killed the sustain completely and made the resonant frequency very high, so it sounded plinky.

    X Brace with traditional materials is a solution that does not require overthinking imho.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 1651
    octatonic said:

    Even a traditional X Bracing pattern can be fucked up too- I know someone who decided to laminate their braces with strips of spruce and rosewood and then scalloped.
    It looked absolutely amazing and he did a great job at making it look pro.
    It also managed to overly stiffen the instrument and it killed the sustain completely and made the resonant frequency very high, so it sounded plinky.
    That's a very old style of bracing, most famously done by the Larson Bros (30's -40's makers) but it's supposed to be incredibly difficult to do well.
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  • artiebearartiebear Frets: 99
    There is a plethora of bracing type, from wood used, shape { George Lowden's dolphin brace , a variation on scalloped bracing ) to the type of glue used.

    Mentioning Lowden they use an A brace design, which Fylde claim to have designed in the late 70's. 
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  • Jez6345789Jez6345789 Frets: 961
    As has been said choose a guitar you like the sound of,  playability to a certain degree is something that can be tweaked through a good set up. Yeah if the neck is to fat or too skinny then its never gonna be great. I did this to compare my cheapy, Adirondack Cort. which is a super cheap underrated guitar for the money but it's interesting to see it's not made much different to an old style Martin, bracing is thinned and scalloped inside.  Bridge is beefed up a bit and a few things modded but for a budget guitar, it does that dry sweet tone. Cort is on the right


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  • AliGorieAliGorie Frets: 299
     Both PRS and Taylor have developed fan bracing variants for steel string use in recent years - claiming it allows greater vibration.

    The braces can also be ‘scalloped’ - where material is removed to lower their weight, without overly compromising their stiffness - which usually yields more volume - but sometimes less sustain.

    Personally I wouldn’t chose a guitar on anything other than sound - the ‘theories’ about bracing characteristics are all well and good - but there are exceptions which disprove some the rules.
    We studied 'bracing system's' at luthier college and u quickly realize there's very little that hasn't been attempted.
    When the much heralded 'Torres' inspired X + fan was heavily marketed  which convinced the many it was a 'NEW' thing anyone who'd have any knowledge of bracing design - just rolled their eyes and watched the 'sheep' perform as only sheep can.
    viz
    httpwwwmagillsnetAssetsBashkin0000Btopbracejpg


    Mike Bashkin developed his 3 fan design as far back as the early 2000's - as an alternative to the typical 2 diagonal 'tone bars' Martin style, in that area the standard X brace - heres an other maker who employs 'fan tone bars' .
    Without the hype.
    **********************
    On an other 'note' - Ive got tradie X braced (and 'voiced') Bourgeois - Spruce & EI Rwood and a Cedar topped EI rwood Lowden with it's 'parabolic' but non scalloped profile. Some may say - Very different guitars.
    I don't concur, why - I've been playing for over 50 yrs and have developed a my playing 'sound'. Given that AND my string choice (Newtone MC's & DR Rares), I and others can't tell the difference between them and occasionally I'll record stuff - (quite well) and on listening back much later, I cant say tell which guitar I played when recording!.
    This is merely MY experience.
    So if the guitars from a reputable builder and good acoustic design philosophy + reasonable structural / materials warranty -
    It's much of a muchness.







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  • JoeBoultJoeBoult Frets: 2
    I did not expect such a big response haha thanks guys! I think I've basically got a perfect reference for bracing systems now
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