March 2017 | Music Trades Digital Magazine
Tom Bedell recently spent some time visiting with folks at Music Trades at the 2017 Winter NAMM show. Bedell explained the nuances of the new Sound Profiling and Hand Tuning program. In this short excerpt from the digital version of the magazine, they dig into this fascinating new technology and how it is revolutionizing the guitar building process at Bedell Guitars.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN a hand-built and a factory-built guitar? Typically, a factory guitar is produced to a precise set of dimensions, with the thickness of the top, back, and sides held to a consistent spec. With a hand- built guitar, luthiers exploit the unique character of each piece of wood, shaving some thinner, some thicker, to optimize resonance. The guitar builders at the Breedlove and Bedell facility in Bend, Oregon are bringing the hand-built approach to the factory floor with a new “Sound Profiling” technology.
The inspiration for Sound Profiling came as Tom Bedell, CEO, began visiting forests around the world in search of sustainable tone woods for his guitar factory. Seeing up close the enormous variations in growing conditions in even a single forest convinced him that wood was inherently inconsistent. “Every piece of wood has its own character.
Like people, they are all different,” he said. From this revelation, he decided to redesign his construction process around the character of the wood, resulting in “Sound Profiling.” While luthiers evaluate wood by flexing or tapping it, Sound Profiling involves a more precisely quantifiable approach. Blanks for spruce tops, or rosewood, mahogany, or bloodwood backs and sides are weighed and measured for resonance and flexibility. The measurements are to determine an optimal thickness. Stiffer, denser wood is planed to a thinner dimension; softer, more flexible wood is left thicker. Tops and backs are also matched to optimize performance.
The raw materials handling department at the Bedell/Breedlove operation is out- fitted with precise measuring equipment and a computer that generates columns of numbers that define the personality of each piece of wood. Players may not grasp what the numbers mean but, Bedell said, they will appreciate the finished product. “We’re making the best sounding guitars we ever have,” he added.