Movement is what produces sound waves. Most guitars are made with large, solid chunks of wood for bracing. Some even have different woods and other materials laminated together for added strength. While it does strengthen the structure, it also increases stiffness. Stiffness is directly proportionate to frequency response. Like almost anything, too much or too little is bad, so finding the balance is pivotal. That balance, though, can be very elusive, especially when there are fundamental obstacles (soundhole, string tension, etc) that must be factored in. Like the many generations of luthiers before us, we’ve spent years working on our bracing, testing new theories and pushing the bounds of known limitations. But unlike so many before us, the traditional stresses/compromises of the top have been removed, making a sort of “obstacle-free” canvas, if you will.
Thus, we’ve been able to experiment with different patterns, shapes, and sizes of bracing, whether with our truss-brace system or with a more traditional ‘X’ bracing. These methods allow the luthier to manipulate the ‘voice’ of the soundboard. This is a very useful tool when working with a client who would like to achieve a specific tone.
This brings us to our latest discovery: The LATTICE Brace. What our lattice bracing accomplishes is a uniform stiffness across the entire surface of the soundboard. It’s a lot like tuning a drum head correctly by insuring that each lug is tightened only to the point that the head has a uniform, even tension. This produces the most balance in tone and gives a clear representation of what the individual soundboard ‘wants’ to sound like. Lattice bracing is not new to the guitar world. It has long been used in classical guitar construction. However, it has never been used to its maximum capabilities. With the removal of the sound hole from the top, and the reduction of string tension, we are able to more efficiently exploit the advantages that the lattice bracing provides.
Because of this, Batson Guitars are the only guitars made with the Batson Lattice, our unique, patent-pending bracing structure that is very strong and yet very flexible, and allows the soundboard to pronounce its true voice.
Since the soundboard is like the head of a drum, why would you cut a hole in it? Whether the hole is in the center or in a ‘strategic’ place elsewhere, you are still cutting out an integral portion of sound-producing material. With the Sound Port located in the side, the soundboard moves as one unit, creating a full spectrum of long to short wave-lengths with fascinating harmonic overtones. An additional benefit is a great sound in the ear of the player, as well as the reduction of feedback issues when amplified.
What would happen if you placed a weight on the head of a drum? The sound would be muffled due to the lack of vibration. In the same way, guitars with a one-piece bridge place an unnecessary weight on the sound-board, especially those with a large neck back-set or other cantilevered neck guitars which require an even thicker and heavier bridge – or weight! Our tailpiece system allows only the saddle (which translates string vibration to the soundboard) to rest on the soundboard. An additional benefit is that there is no longer the 163.2+ pounds of string tension trying to hold rigid the very thing that needs to move! Movement is what produces sound waves.
Cantilever Fret Board:
Every Batson guitar has a cantilevered fretboard. This is one more design feature which gives the soundboard freedom to move. Each Batson fretboard is reinforced with carbon fiber to establish a durability which is virtually unaffected by changes in humidity and, therefore, allows the elimination of a massive wooden support structure (being glued to the guitar body). This cantilever also has the added benefit of avoiding the “14th Fret Hump”.
Tilted Frets: How can players benefit from this?
With so many players, these days, playing in “alternate” and “drop” tunings, “fret buzz” has become more and more of a challenge. The solution is more tension, but more tension means longer scale length. Longer scale length on ALL the strings doesn’t always yield the best results. So, multi-scale is a great fit. More tension on the heavy gauge strings gets the “slop” out and reduces the “buzz”. This idea of ‘non-parallel’ frets is not new. Some of the finest luthiers have been doing it for years, and with fantastic results. As part of our on-going effort to improve on the legendary guitar, we just couldn’t ignore this innovation.
So, what’s the learning curve? You might be surprised. Depending on the scale lengths chosen, the angles can be so slight that, even at the “up and down-stream” positions on the neck, just a slight roll of the finger can get you there.