Sonic Sitka Q&A for Timeless Instruments

Luthier Facts :
Name: David Freeman
Location: Saskatchewan Canada

Status?: Currently Active
Note: (RIYL) Recommended If You Like

What attracted you to the Sonic Sitka Project?
The idea of being part of a study on the sound development of a guitar intrigued me . All my career I have been working on developing sound.. in the building process, But watching it over years change is something that is difficult to keep track of .

Has this project changed/challenged your approach to guitar building?
I tend to use wood that is not as stiff as this top. So I tried to make the top carry a higher percentage of the load. I usually balance this evenly with the braces. The top seems up to it. I also tapered the treble side of the body to get smaller sound waves happening on that side keeping the bass large so it can make bigger sound waves. This was an idea that was part of a lecture I gave but have never had opportunity to try it.

Should people care about this project?
Yes, it will be interesting to see how sound changes.

What are you learning from your participation in the Sonic Sitka Project?
Luthiers get excited about such a project. There are so many ways to go about something… ( I already knew that) . More on this when we see some of these guitars.!

What do you hope to learn from looking at the data collected over the next couple of years?
I want to see the data , I would really like to sit play each guitar every year to make My own intuitive assessment.

Do you anticipate collaborating more with other project participants on new designs or refinements?
I have done this a few times in the past it is a good exercise to keep the ruts of production leveled.

How important do you think using “alternative” or “sustainable” woods is going to be within the next ten years?
Huge Importance. I have been experimenting with alternatives for 23 years now. It takes the pressure off the Traditional woods allows New Looks to be accepted by the public.

How do you see guitar building evolving in the 21st century?
More people doing it , wanting “ the best wood” but some don’t know how to properly obtain “ the best sound from such wood” . So people need to entertain alternative wood. Wooden sound has its own quality, that synthetics can’t mimic. They have their own characteristics. One day 3 piece tops will be common place, cuz trees will be small. “It is an insult not to use all of the tree, not just the best cuts” is a quote of a supplier friend . There are lots of great guitars built from “ lesser woods”

Do you believe that we are holding back the evolution of music?
No we are accommodating it. A few years ago a classical bulder was telling me the steel string had far to go before it would match a classical in playing & sound. So that is one area I have tried to evolve.

Should we be deconstructing old instruments for their valuable hardwoods and build new instruments that are completely original?
It depends on the condition of the instrument. I would prefer the old instrument myself. Just build a new guitar from new material.

Should player’s techniques and needs be the driving force behind design and innovation?
Yes they need the proper tool to do the Best job the simplest way .

Do you think that luthiers need to keep making guitars based on well-established designs or should they expand the sonic possibilities of the instrument?
EXPANSION That has been my philosophy always. The design is MINE. I draw from many sources ,, new old.

Should players’ technique and needs be driving design and innovation or should luthiers simply strive for innovation?
Innovation is good if it is useful. The musical instrument is a tool first not an art piece. If it is a great innovation … a player will discover & develop the technique to play it. If some one just want to hang it on their wall… then it should look great too!

Pictures ©2009 David Freeman

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