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Welcome to the Mark Usherovich website
Mark is building fine, handmade concert classical guitars since 2004. Currently located in Ontario, Canada.
Mark recently developed new model of Double Top guitar with solid wood core.
It has extremely powerful protection, and a wide tonal range. It is super loud, and unbelievably easy to play. Double Top guitar could be available in two scales: 645 and 636 mm, and cedar or spruce top skin options.
What is a Double Top Guitar
The double top guitar is a modern spin on the traditional classic guitar. What sets them apart is their soundboard sandwich construction. This design consists of two thin and light outer sheets with a core in between them. The outer sheets are called the “skins” and the core is made from either Nomex or wood fillers. The two skins are
made from cedar or spruce and range in thickness from .05mm to .07mm. As such, they are super thin and light by themselves. However, when stacked on top of each other with a Nomex core in between, you get a great soundboard that is very stiff and strong enough to hold the pressure from the strings. Moreover, the soundboard is still very light and quite sensitive to vibration. As a result, one can achieve greater volume and sustain as well as improved dynamics and playability. Nevertheless, it takes a lot of skill, accuracy, and precision to make one of these guitars. As such, most good quality ones can be hard to find.
The double top guitar was created by German Luthiers Matthias Dammann and Gernot Wagner. One idea of what inspired their guitar design is the airplane wing construction. Such construction being a wing comprised of two outer surfaces and a core connecting those pieces together.
Double Top Guitar Meaning
The term “Double Top Guitar” refers to a special kind of guitar built with a sandwich style soundboard structure. The soundboard is comprised of two thin pieces of cedar or spruce and a Nomex or wood filler core in between them.
What is a Double Top Classical Guitar
A double top classical guitar is a regular classical guitar with a special type of soundboard. The soundboard is a sandwich of two sheets of wood with a Nomex or wood filler core in-between those two sheets. Such soundboard design allows the classical guitar to achieve better sonic qualities with easy playability, and a fuller sound. All without compromising on the power output. These are powerful concert instruments with very strong projection. They are perfect for stage performances and competitions. They also make wonderful accompanying instruments for various music genres.
Double Top Guitar Sound
The double top guitar sound is powerful, thick, and rich with plenty of volume and sustain. It houses well balances dynamics with an overall unique sound that many musicians find to be amazing for them. As such, many regard the double top guitar as having numerus advantages.
Although there are many benefits with double top guitars, there are also some with single plane or traditional guitars. These being mainly availability and affordability. Such qualities make them a good choice for beginners or students as they come at all sorts of prices. In terms of sound, traditional guitars can sometimes be known to produce a beautiful mellow sound.
Double Top Guitars for Sale
It is very rare to find double top guitars for sale. Many times, it is not easy to find a good quality guitar available at all. Such is the case because it takes a lot of time to build a good quality guitar from scratch. This is also why some Luthiers may have a waiting list of up to 15 years. Although taking a lot of time to make, double top guitars sell quickly, even without a price discount. However, there are some rare times when a discount is given, and double top guitars go on sale. Such cases usually occur when a Luthier is selling to their friends or family.
Nomex Double Top Guitar
Nomex is a popular composite material made from kevlar and it is used for double top guitars. This material is overall light in weight and takes the form of a honeycomb with varying diameters and heights. Nomex is used as the core that is glued in- between the two outer layers for the soundboard. It is an essential part for guitar as it
strengthens the soundboard.
The idea to use Nomex for double top guitars was proposed by Gernot Wagner a few decades ago in Germany. However, the technique has now been mastered by many professional guitar makers.
Classical Guitar Double Top
Many Luthiers offer classical guitars with a double top soundboard. Such offer provides the option of the loud and protrusive sound of double top guitars with the overall complexion of the classical guitar. This option is unique and provides powerful results in a beautiful frame. It can be the right choice for many concertizing musicians. Nevertheless, it takes a lot of dedicated work to create such guitars.
Can a Double Top Guitar be Repaired?
Aside from the body, it is usually not possible to replace the soundboard on double top guitars. Such is the case because the construction of these soundboards is very complicated. The layers are thin and fragile with there being very little extra wood for correcting imperfections. In some cases, however, they can be repaired depending on
the type and amount of damage present.
The most problematic situation is if one or both of the skins have separated from the core. Many times, this kind of issue occurs because of glue failure or there being a lack of wood supporting the bridge area. In these circumstances, the soundboard is usually just replaced.
Another type of problem could be that the Nomex core gives out when there is a lot of tension in one particular area under the bridge. Usually, this means that wood fillers should have been used instead of Nomex for the core.
The third type of problem that may occur would be if there is external damage to the soundboard from some sort of impact. In this case, there could be a dent or hole in the soundboard making it look like a scare. In such scenario, one possible action of course could be filling the damaged portion with a new piece of soundboard. However, the
downside with this option would be in cosmetics because it is very hard to match the old wood pattern to the new. So, the repairs would be visible.
To prevent the core from breaking, a good idea is to use an all-wood or balsa wood core instead of Nomex. These kinds of cores use wood that is stiffer and glue that is more stable. As such they are much stronger and more reliable. A guitar with these types of cores is also easier to repair if anything does happen.
Double Top Guitar Builders in The USA
The double top guitar originated in Germany. However, it quickly spread to the USA and established a good market for itself. Now, there are many good Luthiers concentrated in the east cost and in the north west offering many options with double top guitars.
In the US, there are many traveling musicians who need powerful instruments for their work and pleasure. They are also interested in trying new options and working with contemporary grade equipment. As such, the double top guitar is a great option as it utilizes modern technology to achieve ample sound and performance.
Double Top Guitar Building
The double top guitar building process is fascinating. However, it is also very long requiring many hours of accurate work with proper tools and precision. Some of these tools include a vacuum table for leveling the skins, a vacuum clamp table for gluing the Nomex core, and good quality drum sanders for thickening the skins. Good
measuring instruments such as calipers are also necessary.
Within the building process, there are many nuances. These are usually to do with the thickness of the inner skin, the core layer, and outer skins. Many experiments have been done to achieve proper results for guitars by varying all of the elements above. However, this is not the end of the process.
After the double top is made, it has to be braced accordingly. There should be enough wood to develop proper pitch and tones for every note but not too much to where it becomes stiff.
The whole bracing system is responsible for high and low pitches for every note. As such, it is a delicate balance that is hard to master. However, it can also show the level of craftsmanship and product quality. When done right, it is a delight but there are some problems that can occur when the process is done incorrectly. One such problem is stiff or fragile sound. Another is sound boominess where the instrument might have too much eco in the body instead of fundamental notes. Too many overtones is another potential problem in louder instruments like double top guitars. Due to their power, they may create a noisy and messy sound.
Traditional vs Double Top Guitar
Although traditional guitars have a more natural, mellow sound with sweet treble and bass, they are not as loud as double top guitars. The main reason for their sound differences is the soundboard designs. The traditional guitar or Spanish guitar has a single layer soundboard made from Spruce or Cedar. Meanwhile, the double top guitar has 2 thin wooden layers and 1 core layer.
Another difference between these two types of guitars is that the traditional guitar requires a longer scale. This longer scale is needed for the strings to fit tighter which allows for more vibration in the soundboard. However, on the more modern instruments, there are shorter scales. Although the scales are short, they can still create enough vibration in the soundboard to produce the right notes. Such feature is possible is because of the thin and light construction of the double top soundboard.
The differences between these two types of guitars allow them to be more specialized in one area over another. Traditional guitars are great for recording, practicing, and appreciating the tonal qualities. Overall, they are a fine instrument. On the other hand, double top guitars are great for preforming in large concerts or at huge auditoriums.
They are also better for traveling musicians who go on tours or competitions. Nevertheless, it is all about individual needs and requirements.
Double Top Guitar Soundboard
The double top guitar soundboard is a complicated piece of engineering. Although it has many nuances, the general build consists or layering a Nomex or wood filler core in-between two thin pieces of Spruce or Cedar. As for the bracing, it has stiffening braces that can be layered in different configurations. This is another area for personalizing the guitar. Overall, this design of soundboard is extremely efficient as it can produce a loud sound but weigh 15-30% less than solid top guitars and have a higher stiffness coefficient.
How It All Began
Mark Usherovich started making guitars in 2004 in Jerusalem, Israel. The timbre of bowed (violin and cello) and percussion instruments had a tremendous influence of the tonal characteristics he preferred in the guitar. Before he started building guitars, Mark made wooden skin drums as a hobby. This helped him to feel the rhythm and dynamic nature of musical sound. Later on, he was able to incorporate these qualities into his guitars.
Mark’s more serious study of the guitar began when he met Tom Blackshear from San Antonio, Texas, whom he is indebted to greatly for sharing his knowledge and experience with Mark. Tom passed on his unique fine tuning technique, and in many other ways helped Mark understand the acoustic nature of how guitars work: how to tune the body resonances, and how to control the direction and quality of the sound as its produced. As a result, Mark was able to use this understanding to develop his own construction by combining the sound of traditionally built instruments with modern ideals of power, dynamics, and playability. To this day, Mark and Tom remain good friends.
Among the old traditional guitar makers, Mark finds the most interesting and inspiring Santos Hernandez, Antonio de Torres, and Miguel Rodriguez. Mark’s guitars are lightweight, and have an immediate response and a thick, bold sound. His instruments are one-of-a-kind works of art. They combine playability and response with tonal warmth and power.