Instinct, experience, and aesthetic judgment play a crucial role.
Concert classical guitar. © 2015 Toby Rzepka. Brazilian rosewood and western red cedar.
One of the great joys of guitar making is breathing new life into material that lived for hundreds of years in the heartwood of a tree. I love the feeling of connection that comes from natural materials, so I tend to use ingredients found in nature. Almost everything in my guitars derives from a plant or animal.
Combining these elements into a sensitive and powerful instrument is a wonderfully complex process that combines linear and nonlinear thinking. As I build, I use metrics to evaluate structural and acoustic properties, but instinct, experience, and aesthetic judgment play a crucial role as well. The most important requirement is that the guitar stirs the soul, something no amount of deflection testing or modal analysis can guarantee.
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A third generation UU, Toby Rzepka grew up as the minister’s kid at the UU Church of Reading, Massachusetts, and went on to work for the Church of the Larger Fellowship. www.tobyrzepka.com