Arpeggione top (soundboard) making

In this video you will see the process of making a soundboard for one of the new arpeggione. It will be my new personal instrument. The history of this deck is very surprising.

Many years ago, when I was just beginning to make guitars, one of the old masters told me that very good soundboards could be made from the beams on which bells in Orthodox churches were hung. And if I find such a beam when restoring a church, it would be good luck. In those years I sometimes traveled to old places in Russia and even looked at ruined churches. But these beams were very high and of course it was not so easy to get them.

Then I forgot about the idea. The time of Internet trading began and good material for decks became easy to find.

I will tell you briefly about why old wood is better for musical instruments.

There is a concept in musical instrument acoustics: the acoustic constant. It is the correlation between the density of the wood and its stiffness. And the higher this constant is, i.e. the lighter the wood and the stiffer it is, the better the sound of the soundboard will be. Spruce has the highest values of acoustic constant. And that is why the European tradition of making musical instruments uses this wood.

Over the years, irreversible changes occur in the microstructure of the wood . And this index becomes even higher. This is known as natural ageing. And it should not be confused with drying. Drying is needed to remove moisture. By the way, high-quality wood for musical instruments is dried only in natural conditions.

So many years passed and we started producing arpeggione. And then it turned out that in my friend’s workshop there were the very same beams on which the bells used to hang. And they are about 300 years old.

Such luck! And how the further process of making the soundboard looks like you’ll see in the video.