Welcome to the home of the Leonardo Guitar Research Project, a European Union funded project to research opportunities for making guitars with non-tropical woods.
The project is a partnership between two renowned guitar making schools (The Centrum voor Musiekinstrumenten Bouwen (Cmb) in Belgium and the Ikaalinen College of Crafts and Design (IKATA) in Finland) and luthiers from France and the Netherlands. The project is approved and funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme of the European Commission and the Commission’s Lifelong Learning Program,
We aim to demonstrate that everyday common woods can be used to make great sounding and beautiful looking guitars. By broadly sharing our findings we hope to achieve a mindset change that will benefit everyone in the long run; providing luthiers with a broader and more secure supply base of guitar woods; musicians with highly desirable instruments; and at the same time help minimize loss of valuable tree species and animal habitats for future generations. To understand what is driving us, click on the background link.
Our Research Approach
The project started in Summer 2012 and over the course of the project we will construct around 30 classical and steel string acoustic guitars using non-tropical woods not normally used for guitar making. A number of workshop visits take place amongst the partners where luthiers, teachers and students exchange research ideas and best practices and develop together innovative making techniques.
The finished guitars will be assessed and compared with guitars of the same model made from tropical woods in a series of 'blind tests' using both a panel of expert musicians to play the instruments and live audience listener tests. Along the way we will also test the stiffness, responsiveness and vibration patterns of the top plates, sound-boxes and finished instruments to see if there is a correlation with the expert player and listener assessments. Details of the testing program can be found here (add link). The guitars will be exhibited at two international guitar festivals in Summer 2014; Cordefactum in Belgium and the Tampere Guitar Festival in Finland.
Sharing Our Results
The research finding and innovative techniques developed will be shared across the international guitar community from Summer 2014 onwards via publication in guitar journals and through presentations and exhibitions at relevant guitar and environmental events.
If you are interested to follow the progress of the project so far you can do so via this website. Do check out the the section on log books (provide link) where our luthiers and students show you the progress of their guitars via their photo journals. Any questions, comments or ideas you may have can be posted on the website forum and will be welcomed by our researchers.
We are also planning to set up a network focussing on the use of sustainable non-tropical woods in guitar making. It will be open to anyone anywhere, especially luthiers, environmentalists, wood suppliers, other researchers and indeed anyone with an interest in guitars and concern for our forest environment. If you are interested then sign up for our Newsletter by clicking on this link. (provide link).