ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

4aMU4. Designing and testing of new guitars by criteria of applied physics and psychoacoustics.

Michael Kasha

Ctr. for Music Res. and Inst. of Molecular Biophys., Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL 32306-3015

This program represents the interaction of the authors as designer of new guitars, with skilled luthiers as developers, and musicians as evaluators. The ultimate goal is the development of the full brilliance and power which the instrument should be capable of, using models derived from the elementary laws of vibration mechanics. The aim is to enhance the response of the four-octave range of the classical six-string guitar by introducing structural asymmetry, borrowing the principle inherent in the violin family of instruments. As a guide, the standard formulation of the boundary conditions, and the frequency dependence of mechanical impedance, are incorporated---all this within the construction limitations imposed by the luthier, the materials, and the aesthetics of the instrument. The Backhaus criterion of brilliance is adopted, wherein the harmonic spectral intensity distribution is targeted in which the fundamental is dominant, and with decreasing intensity of higher harmonics. A specially designed anechoic chamber has been constructed for testing real-time harmonic spectra of string instrument pairs: conventional versus new designs (taking into account variations of player technique). Measurements will be made to compare with the Backhaus criterion. Ultimately, the judgement of musicians and of the general spectrum of musical auditors will decide the success of this program.