February 2011 Master Class

February 26, 2011

Hosted by Lewis Bauer

Master Class Featuring Ervin Somogyi

Ervin Somogyi

Mr. Somogyi was LINT’s very first Masters Class presenter in February 2002.

 Bo Walker, LINT President, opened the meeting announcing we have caps with our logo for sale. Most, if not all, were snapped up quickly. If there is an interest, Bo indicated we can also make shirts with the LINT logo. Further information will be forthcoming on our website. Stay tuned.

Chris Jenkins opened the learning portion of the meeting with a brief bio of Mr. Somogyi saying “he’s been around forever” and began his luthier career when there were few if any luthiers. He is known for his techniques in “voicing” the guitar and is openly willing to pass along his knowledge to those of us who want to know the fine points of working with any guitar’s unique sound.

Mr. Somogyi is a soft spoken individual who reduces complex sound issues into easily understood concepts. He sprinkled his presentation with a few jokes, antidotes and told a good story teller or two. His early self description of himself was a “skinny hippy guitarist who wanted to make guitars.” In the early 1970’s there were no books or experts in the field to learn from. He learned by doing and making mistakes. Many would-be luthiers simply dropped out and few stayed. His longevity is a testament to his perseverance as a luthier and applauds those that undertake luthiery; sticking with it to complete a guitar. It’s a challenge to keep interested in luthiery, to keep fresh and keep learning something new so as not to get bored.   

There were many questions asked of Mr. Somogyi; too many to comment in detail. Those who want to possess his wealth of knowledge in luthier are directed to his two books – “The Responsive Guitar” and “Making the Responsive Guitar.”    These are the highlights of his presentation:

 [1] The guitar is an air pump, guitars tops must move and breathe. He likens the making of a guitar to structural engineering. The construction elements must resist forces i.e. bracing which forms the structure. His holy grail is to have a stiff but light weight top. Thin and flimsy is good.

[2] A guitar top which is properly braced is a vibrating plate. Braces are an organizer of vibrational activity. The vibrational modes are monopole, cross dipole and long dipole.

[3] The structure of the sound box is the key to facilitate the production of sound. Mr. Somogyi used a simple music box sound mechanism to demonstrate this. He placed and moved it over a guitar top so we could hear the variations in sound production.      

[4] Cube Rule – the load bearing capacity or stiffness of the material is a cube function of its height and the linear function of its width. Modest changes in bracing height effects the stiffness.

[5] Impedance – resistance in the material to the transference of energy from one material to another or from one form to another. The bass and treble sides of the top fight each other. The design of the top bracing can be thought of as matching the impedance of the materials in order to allow a remarkable cooperation of the parts of the guitar.  

[6] The guitar back is like a lung. It allows the guitar to breathe.

This year’s Masters Class was attended by 25 members and guests.

 Steel and Classical guitars were showcased by our members and guests. Mr. Somogyi referred to them during his presentation and discussion of what makes a responsive guitar.

 At the end of Mr. Somogyi’s presentation, Bo Walker presented him with a LINT luthier’s apron