In The Workshop

During the 120 -150 hours each guitar receives before completion, a vast array of hand skills and techniques are employed.  From evaluating the engineering properties of the wood used through to spray painting, each step must be mastered.


Side Bending

Side bending is done on a hot pipe, with water to produce steam.  It is more labour intensive than modern side bending machines, but produce a product that is uniquely hand made.



Neck Carving

Each neck is hand carved to the customers requirements.  Each fingerboard has rolled edges for comfort.
 

Anatomy of a Howman Guitar

Wood

Quality wood is the starting point of the Howman guitar sound.  Buillding with the best materials available gives the guitar stability and longevity as well as a more predictable and controllable sound.
 
Soundboards

Sitka Spruce is used almost exclusively for the soundboards and brace stock.  Not only the quality and stiffness, but the sustainablility of the available boards, makes it an ideal choice.  Cedar is used on smaller bodied steel strings as well as nylon strung guitars.  It is better suited to lower tensioned instruments and imparts a warm bass sound that pervasive, regardless of bracing strategy.

Back and sides

Whilst Indian Rosewood and Mahogany are available, a variety of domestic and imported timbers are also used as back and side materials.  Timbers such as Tasmanian Blackwood, Queensland maple, Blackbean, New Guinea Rosewood and New Guinea Wallnot have been used.  Although more difficult to work, figured pieces are available.


 
Necks

Necks are exclusively Mahogany due to the stability and strength to weight properties.  A laminated heal and a scarf join at the peghead are used in preference to a one peice neck for strength purposes.  the peghead is veneered with an exotic hardwood, typically matching the fretboard and bridge.

 
Fretboard

Several timber species are used for the fretboard.  Woods such as Ebony, Rosewood and Macassar Ebony are available.
 
The Soundboard

The most critical area of sound production is the top of the guitar.  The layout and carving of the barces used to reiforce the top is the way the guitar gets it basic 'voice'.  the bracing is such that it still allows free vibration of the top of the guitar, while still maintaining the guitars structure under the stress of around 80kg of string tention.

The classic X-brace pattern is the start point of all Howman guitars bracing patters.  It has proven its success over almost 100 years at withstanding the long time stress of string tension.



 

The flexibility of the X-brace design allows a great variety of guitar voicings using the same basic pattern.  Simplistically, by varying the angle of the large X-brace and changing the taper of the braces, the balance of the bass and treble response of the top can be adjusted.