STEP 1 - Type of construction
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Type of construction
Here you choose among Classical and Flamenco construction. The Stradivarius Model and the Small Body construction model are my variations on the standard classical guitar construction. Keep in mind that the main difference between a classical guitar and a Flamenco guitar is the height of the strings on the fingerboard (action). Flamenco playing allows for a lot of string buzzing and actually, string buzzing is expected in Flamenco playing. It is also true that the woods used for the back and sides of Flamenco guitars are typically clear woods like Cypress but it is also true that a more versatile type of Flamenco guitar is gaining popularity called Flamenco Negra, Black Flamenca. Negras are built using dark woods for the back and sides thus making the instrument more usable for the classical repertoire.
The Image Below depicts the two F-holes on the top of the Bellucci Stradivarius Model. These allow for an unequaled separation of voices and projection.
Below are the typical measures of Bellucci Concert Guitars. Still, small changes will be implemented when sound and overall tone is improved. This is common when using certain tone woods that resonate better at certain measures. Tap tone is used to decide accordingly. The changes are practically speaking unnoticeable.1. Upper bout width: 29.5 cm (11.8 in.)
2. Lower bout width: 38 cm (15.2 in.)
3. Body length: 50.3 cm (20.12 in.)
4. Nut width: 52 mm.
5. Width at the 12th fret: 62 mm.
6. Body depth in the upper bout: 9.7 cm. (3.88 in.)
7. Body depth in the lower bout: 11.2 cm. (4.48 in.)
8. String height at fret 12: 3.6 mm. (0.15 in.)
STEP 2 - Guitar shape
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The shape of the Guitar has no perceivable impact on the quality of the sound. Modern guitar
construction techniques allow the luthier to compensate for the cutaway by adjusting the bracing accordingly. Therefore, feel free to choose the best type of cutaway
solely based on you sense of aesthetic or based on the ease of play you are seeking. Naturally, the cutaway will make
access to the higher positions a lot easier. The traditional cutaway
and the venetian cutaway are the most generous because the work of your
left hand is unhindered all the way to the 19th fret.The indented
cutaway is the more discrete type of cutaway and allows for ease of play
all the way to the F# (fret #14) thus covering the most used frets in
the classical guitar. If you are selecting the shape of your Acoustic guitar, then "Classical" will mean the "Classical Acoustic" shape.
STEP 3 - Number of strings
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Number of strings
Andres Segovia used to say that "six strings is plenty".
I agree, but it is also true that great masters like Narciso Yepes and Göran Söllscher have expanded the repertoire beyond the realm of the six
The extra strings add an amazing sustain and resonance, even
if you were to perform the standard repertoire on a 7, 8 or 10 strings
instrument. 10 string guitars are the way to go if you like Baroque or antique music since the extra 4 strings will allow you to stay within the original tonality of teh work and/or allow you to transcribe otherwise impossible pieces. My favorite configuration is the 7-strings guitar.
STEP 4 - Back & Sides
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Back & Sides
A Concert Guitar will sound fantastic no matter what the price tag on
the wood selected for the back and sides. Some species have an acoustic
edge with respect to other species, but only neck to neck comparisons
can reveal the differences. The price tag on wood is often dictated by
the rarity of the wood or the labor involved in shaping it. I recommend
that you choose the back and sides according to your personal taste
regarding color and figure. As a rule of thumb, keep in mind that the
darker woods deliver a deeper sound with larger bass. Brighter woods
excel in clarity and separation of voices. Naturally, this is a very "generic" classification but it will help you narrow down your options.
Acoustically, the differences are actually quite minute and most people cannot tell the sound of one
species from the other. My personal favorites are: African Blackwood,
Indian Rosewood, Indonesian and Brazilian Rosewood, Cocobolo, Macassar Ebony, African Padauk,
Maple, Bloodwood and Ziricote. Read A LOT more regarding Guitar Tonewoods HERE
STEP 5 - Select the top
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Select the top
The most used species for the top on a Classical Guitar are: Cedar, Spruce and for the past 15 years or so Redwood and more precisely Sinker Redwood.
Cedar was introduced in guitar construction by the Spaniards. Spanish builders used Spanish Cedar which has a wilder grain than Canadian Cedar but is practically identical when it comes to sound characteristics. Cedar is the ideal tonewood to achieve the often referred to as the "Spanish sound". It has a clear
tone, warm sound and excellent sustain.
Spruce on the other hand is the most traditional instrumental wood with a punch few woods can equal. The legendary Stradivarius violins
from Cremona, Italy were built with Spruce. I offer German Spruce, Sitka, Bearclaw and Canadian (Engleman) Spruce.
Port Orford Cedar is very similar to Cypress. The grain on Port Orford Cedar and its amazing odor make it my favorite tonewood.
Redwood is similar to Cedar with many of the characteristics of Spruce, like a
crisp punchy sound with lots of overtones.
Sinker Redwood, and Sinker logs in general, are pulled from the bottom of
lakes and rivers. Sometimes, scuba divers are needed to achieve the
extraction. Most of these logs are hundreds of years old. Due to a
series of factors (the logs were too big and heavy to be pulled out of
the rivers or the logs were caught by currents and were sucked to the
bottom) these logs were trapped by the muddy buttons of these water beds
and this created like a time capsule where the wood was preserved in
fantastic humidity conditions that made the wood season in a slow
natural way during many centuries. Some of the logs are selected for
musical instruments construction. The sound that these woods produce is
unique and the grain has a beautiful coloration that changes according
to the type of mud present in the water bed. I use hardwoods such as Maple, Cocobolo, Bastogne Walnut, Rosewood and many other varieties that add tremendous beauty and perfect separation of voices.
STEP 6 - Rosettes
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Bellucci rosettes are among the most beautiful rosettes you will see
anywhere. They are all handmade using a mosaic technique where each wood
making the pattern acts like a pixel on a conventional TV screen. The rosettes come
in all-wood, wood and pearl, all-pearl and lute type.
They all require
countless hours of work to complete but add amazing beauty and
personality to the instrument. The Russian Rosettes are handcrafted in Tula, Northern Russia and are amazingly beautiful. When you choose any of the rosettes I offer, I match the marquetry to have perfect complementation throughout the decoration.
STEP 7 - Marquetry
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Bellucci guitars are decorated using marvelous wood marquetry to enhance
all her lines and put an accent on specific parts of the construction.
The marquetry requires over 35 hours of highly skilled labor to be made
and it takes the guitar to unsuspected levels of beauty.
serves a structural purpose, because it allows for the woods to expand
and contract absorbing the energy generated thus preventing the wood
from fissuring. The design of the marquetry will match the rosette of your choice. Marquetry also serves a structural purpose since it allows for wood to expand and contract depending on the relative humidity.
STEP 8 - Fingerboard material
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I strongly recommend and am a big fan of African Blackwood. This is the
hardest wood on the planet and, being a practically non porous wood, it
does not loose nor gain humidity. Therefore, it never shrinks or curves
and stays straight for centuries. Ebony is practically identical to African Blackwood and is often considered the number 1
choice by guitar builders the world over. Snakewood is worth every buck because it will make you simply speechless such the beauty of its grain (Image Below)
Ebony is more oily and porous than African Blackwood and it is always a great
favorite in guitar fingerboard construction. The other best choices to
African Blackwood are Rosewood, Maple and a large variety of Tropical
woods like Cocobolo, Ziricote and Bocote make the ranks as great
alternative fingerboard material. Maple also looks terrific. All these fingerboard options can be selected at will and will look great when they match the back,
sides and bridge. From a practical point of view, I recommend you choose the wood that pleases your aesthetic taste best because all the woods I offer for the fingerboard perform marvelously when it comes to keeping the neck straight for ages. The Carbon fiber truss rod is always a highly recommendable add on.
STEP 9 - Bridge
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The shape of the bridge has no impact on the sound. The way the top is thinned does have a direct effect on sound and each bridge is thinned differently to maximize the sound of the guitar it is mounted on. How thick or thin the bridge is reduced is decided based on tap tone exclusively and no 2 guitars have an identical bridge. Choose the one that better fits your personal taste. If you have other shapes in mind, please choose either one and then contact me to discuss your ideas.
STEP 10 - Scale length
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Regarding 650mm or 640 mm guitar scale (relative separation of the frets), keep the following rule
at hand: If the distance between the tip of your thumb and the tip of
your little finger is equal or less than 9 in. when fully stretched, use
640 mm. In over 33 years teaching and playing the classical guitar and
having worked closely with such great teachers as the Spaniard José Tomas and the Uruguayan Abel Carlevaro, it came clear to me that often
hard to polish musical passages were not the fault of the player but a
fault of the scale used for the fingerboard. I believe 640mm ought to be the standard for the scale and not 650mm. Most players find 630mm to be "the perfect fit" and I must say that it is indeed very comfortable. 615mm is simply too good to be true and I've built a few and they are amazingly easy to play. Tremendously comfortable for young players or players with normal to small hands. The good news is that the left hand adapts to changes in the scale really fast and no adaptation period is really necessary.
STEP 11 - Radius
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The radiused fingerboard has been around the acoustic and the electric
guitar since day one. The same is true for most instruments of the
Stringed family of instruments (violas, violins cellos, bass). The Radius makes barre and left hand stopping a lot easier. When you
relax the left hand, you will notice that the natural shape is with a
slight curve on all 5 fingers. The radius follows this natural curvature of your fingers when they are in their natural relaxed state. The radius does not require an adaptation period and your playing will not need to adapt when you switch from flat to radiused. Still, I believe that you will not want to go back to flat once you "tasted" the goodies of the radius.
STEP 12 - Elevated fingerboard
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The elevated fingerboard is an idea I developed based on the arch top
guitar and the stringed instruments family in general. The flying portion of the fingerboard is only a few millimeters
away from the top and unless you know it is there, it can easily go
unnoticed. The elevated fingerboard allows the top to be free from all
restrain. Thanks to the elevated fingerboard the top of the guitar vibrates more fully allowing some mid frequencies
to be created in the upper section of the top. The Elevated fingerboard
works perfectly with the armrest and the violin tie. I highly recommend it.
STEP 13 - Number of frets
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Number of frets
When Agustin Barrios Mangore composed his legendary tremolo, Un Sueno en la Floresta (A
dream in the forest), he pushed the limits of the guitar by introducing a
high C on the first string. The way he performed the work was by gluing
a matchstick on the fingerboard where the 20th fret belonged. When
guitarist John Williams first recorded the work in his LP "From the Jungles of Paraguay" he glued a matchstick to the fingerboard. In his later recordings of the work he had a
20th fret added to his guitar or had his guitars built with an extra 20th fret. Typically the 20th fret only covers the first, second and third strings. At present the 20th fret has become a recurring request in
custom guitar construction.
STEP 14 - Position markers (optional)
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Position markers (optional)
Position markers are useful to both the beginner and the seasoned pro. I once heard one of my teachers say "Life's too short to play without markers !". Most players use one position marker on the 7th fret. I find that a single marker on fret 7 makes all the difference in the world. The 7th fret is perhaps the most used fret past the 5th fret, visually, it is halfway to anywhere else on the fingerboard. The complete set
of position markers include markers on frets 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17 & 19.
STEP 15 - Type of bracing
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Type of bracing
1) Hauser: It is perhaps the most traditional type of bracing for the classical guitar.
It consists of a set of measures first introduced by the Spanish Luthier Antonio Torres
and later taken to its perfect format by the German luthier Hermann Hauser III.
Hauser delivers the "typical" Spanish sound better than any other
bracing system. Below you can appreciate the standard Bellucci/Hauser fan Bracing:
2) The lattice is a concept based on the A frame of grand pianos. The back and sides
are kept rigid by means of a sturdy A shaped frame and the top is
thinned as much as possible to allow the top to vibrate generously.
Lattice delivers a lot of volume, clear trebles and great separation of
voices. The sound is not as "woody" as with Hauser. The mid ranges are boosted and the overall sound is very clear. Lattice Sound has been John Williams' sound for the past 30 years.
3) The double top with Nomex is also known as hollow top or composite top, consists of a sandwich
type of construction where a thin layer of synthetic fire retarding
material (Nomex, image below) is inserted between two super-thin tops (any wood combination is valid).
with Nomex makes the sound of the guitar stay up longer before it
decays. It brings about balance in the voices.
4) The All wood Double top, is a variation to the doble tapa Contreras. It is extremely powerful.
It consists of a second top (Spruce, Cedar or Sinker Redwood) that runs parallel to the
first one halfway between the top and the back. It is the system that
better seems to show what one would expect a double top to look like.
The 2 tops are connected through the sides and the transversal wood struts
and the resulting sound is full and very powerful. It is my preferred
type of bracing and augments volume and sustain exponentially.
Let me clarify that all the above types of constructions make for world
class concert instruments. It is likely that if none of these sound
familiar, than you always played on a Torres (the system that Herman
Hauser later perfected). The other systems are more expensive because
more time is required in the preparation but they are not better nor
worse, they are different. So that you can refer to sound in order to to
decide, keep this in mind: John Williams' sound until 1986 was Hauser.
John Williams' sound since 1986 is Lattice. Andres Segovia's and Narciso Yepes sound from
the 1980s until the end of their lives is Double top.
STEP 16 - Tuners
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The Schaller tuners are the Hauser style model and are probably the last
set of tuners you will ever buy for your custom guitar. They come with
Ebony buttons by default. These will last a lifetime and will continue to work perfectly way after your descendants inherited your Bellucci guitar. German quality of manufacture is worthy of every praise. By far the toughest tuners ever manufactured and definitely the most precise rolling mechanism for a perfect guitar tuning.
The Luxury tuners
are Gold plated
for precise tuning and come with a variety of buttons to match the rest
of the construction.
The Vintage Bronze tuners are treated to look aged and carry wood buttons by default. They look very beautiful and fit practically every wood combination to perfection.
The Sloane Bronze Tuners are very elegant and beautiful and come with Snkewood Buttons.
STEP 17 - Armrest & Violin Tie (optional)
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Armrest & Violin Tie (optional)
The armrest helps the player present the tendons in the forearm
at a more efficient angle. It also prevents the forearm from touching
the vibrating top therefore the sound will benefit anywhere from an 8 t a
The Violin tie is an idea inspired in the violin and the
arch top guitar. The strain caused to the bridge from anchoring the
strings is taken to a much more resistant part of the guitar. The bridge
is therefore free to produce sound and the life of the top is increased
exponentially. The violin tie helps the top vibrate more uniformly and
you can expect an Increase in sound of approximately 18%. I consider both the armrest and the violin tie to be great improvements to classical guitar construction and they are the perfect match if you intend to order a custom with the elevated fingerboard.
STEP 18 - Soundport (optional)
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Sound ports have 2 main applications:
1. They allow the player to monitor his sound a lot better. They are sometimes called "monitor holes".
allow the guitar to project the sound omni directionally (in all
directions) This comes in handy especially when playing in contemporary
concert venues and when playing in the recording studio. You can choose
any configuration depending on your personal taste. My personal favorite
is the double sequential sound port.
I also appreciate the fact that the sound port allows the player to gaze inside the guitar body and admire the often hidden beauty therein.
STEP 19 - Inlay work (optional)
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Inlay work (optional)
The mother of pearl & Abalone inlay work adds immense beauty to the guitar. It is a
labor of endless patience and elevates the guitar to an artistic level
of amazing proportions. It is made entirely by hand and will keep you in
awe for hours at a time such is the beauty it displays and such is the skill of the people that make it. The inlay is applied in different parts of the guitar as an embellishment that can take center stage or as a means to accentuate certain parts of the construction like the rosette, the bridge, the headstock, the armrest, the bindings, the tuner buttons and the fingerboard.
These are ordered with months in advance and take hundreds of hours of patient labor to complete. I only commission a few models of each and not 2 are identical.
STEP 20 - Electronics (optional)
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The Onboard 4-Band Equalizers/Digital Tuner has no negative effect whatsoever on the acoustic performance of the
instrument. The brand I have been using for almost 10 yeas is Artec and I am very fond of it. Installing the Onboard Electronics, is not just a matter of making a couple of
holes on the ring but a time consuming highly precise labor. The digital guitar tuner
which comes with the equalizer is in my opinion a great plus which you
will find useful many times over. My personal concert guitar has the electronics mounted and I can only start counting the many times that this gadget made my day... I highly recommend it. I also offer The "Anthem Model" by LR Baggs onboard electronics. This is totally invisible. Only the plug in receptacle is visible on the lower right bout. Very discrete.
STEP 21 - Type of finish
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Type of finish
The default finish on all Bellucci concert guitars is the shiny
Polyurethane finish. It is the most used type of finish on guitars
throughout the world and it offers the best protection for the woods. It is also the most generous one of the finishes because it allows you to use practically any polishing compound, cream, wax or spray product to keep your instrument in mint looking conditions. Nitrocellulose is very similar to Polyurethane, it
is a more flexible material but is more susceptible to certain types of cleaning products and will need touch up after a few years especially in those areas where constant friction with the chest and forearm happens. French Polish is the oldest type of finish
and often requested by sound purists especially on the top. Keep in mind
that French Polish offers very little or no protection against sweat or
grease and it requires constant touch ups because it wears out very
fast with body friction and sweat from both the hands and body. Unlike what you may read around, the type of finish has no impact on sound,
therefore, feel free to choose the one that enhances the beauty of the
grain according to your personal taste.
STEP 22 - Truss rod (optional)
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Truss rod (optional)
Bellucci Guitars carry by default a wood truss rod that can withstand
nylon string tension perfectly (it is inserted with the grain perpendicular to the grain of the neck). If you are the type of player that likes
to experiment with different string gauges and tensions I recommend you
add the carbon fiber truss rod. The adjustable truss rod on the other hand comes in handy
for minute adjustments of the action and is highly recommended if you
use different gauges / brands of strings. Still, tinkering with the
adjustable truss rod must be kept to a minimum and is only meant for
small adjustments. If you do not know or are not sure how to use the adjustable truss rod, it is advisable that you let a professional tinker with it. Unlike Acoustic Guitars, the truss rod on Classical Guitars must be cranked very gently or serious damage to the guitar will occur.
STEP 23 - Right handed or Left handed
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Right handed or Left handed
We build guitars for both right and left handed players. The main differences in the construction of a guitar for a lefty is that the order of the fans in the order of the fans on the underside of the guitar top is inverted and the slope of the fingerboard is inverted as well in order to facilitate the stopping of the notes throughout the fingerboard.
STEP 24 - Case (optional)
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The Bellucci hand embossed leather hardshell case is a work of art on its own
right. Built by one of a handful of very talented leather embossers in
Latin America. It takes countless hours of patient labor to emboss a
single case. There are always less and less master leather embossers available and I do not know how long will I be able to supply these cases for my guitars. I recommend you get a hold of the Leather Embossed Case while these are in existence. You will never regret it.
STEP 25 - Nut & Saddle
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Nut & Saddle
Unlike what you may have read elsewhere, the type of material has no impact on the sound. The difference in price
is dictated by the rarity of the material and the labor involved in
shaping it. Horn is my favorite because of the shades and semi transparence of the material. It adds beauty to the bridge and headstock. Still bone is the one material that has been around the longest for both the nut and saddle.
STEP 26 - Matching strap button (optional)
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Matching strap button (optional)
The strap buttons are designed to hold the instrument while standing up to perform. They work with any guitar strap, they are made in wood and are shaped by hand.
STEP 27 - Extras (optional)
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The solid 18kt gold plaque with your name engraved is a great extra. It is often used when commissioning the guitar for a third party. Unless otherwise specified, the inscription will include the Name, Middle initial (if any) and the Family Name of the person that places the order. Upon request the plaque can include up to a few words such as "From Dad With Love". Mail me your instructions for the plaque after placing your order.
STEP 28 - Neck
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STEP 29 - Insurance
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Bellucci Guitars travel in a wood crate with 8mm thick walls and sponge
covered interior. Still, I consider a custom guitar a valuable
investment and spending US$ 59 to cover all possible angles is a worthy
expense. The insurance will cover the cost of a brand new instrument should anything happen to your Custom Guitar while in transit on her way to you.