Sonic Stika Project – Pics & Info

The Sonic Sitka Project – Denis Merrill & Friends


Here are some pictures of both finished and in progress guitars that will be on display at the show in April.  Enjoy!
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.Check out Herron Guitars’ Sonic Sitka Page –

 What is the Sonic Sitka Project?

The Sonic Sitka Projest (SSP) is entirely about the sound of the instrument and time; how the sound changes and IF it changes, how quickly it changes.  Ergo, how does the sound  change in a group of similar instruments.   We examine the different ways they were constructed, look for similarities of traits and postulate if construction, glue, design, fabrication or craftsmanship influenced the change in sound that we can document.  What we're asking is does sound change over time in a way that influences our perception/appreciation of the instrument?  How long does that take?  Is there a way to speed it up, because the principal value of old instruments for a player is how the old ones sound compared to the new ones.  Can I make a new instrument that has the sound of a $100,000 instrument that used now unobtainable wood.  At what point do we add back in value based on the luthiers skill rather than the material?  We know that we don't know why sound changes.  Why don't we know the answers to some of these questions?  The rainbow we are chasing here is a vintage sound using materials that are in good supply and techniques that are easily mastered, incorporating state of the art glues and finishes, with the goal of providing the player what they need and reducing maintenance so an instrument is trouble-free for 50 years.  The physics of the vibration of a string dictates construction aspects for the instrument to be played with frets.  The need of the performer to have an established timbrel range and a certain amount of volume along with ease of playing are things that influence the design.  Construction methods are just a method of accomplishing these two goals.  Things that have changed are the glues and fasteners and finishes, and the range of materials available to create these items.  The market demands having a shiny, durable waterproof  finish that is easily repaired or speeds up the manufacturing process. That directly affects how much an instrument costs to make and its availability.  Current manufacturing trends are to reduce to an absolute minimum the amount of hand labor involved in making an instrument at every step and to win in the marketplace through volume, and through volume to out-compete for resources.  We could easily never make another guitar at all and just recycle and rebuild existing instruments.  No other guitars need to be made the way they've always been made, but there is a great need from players to experience newness without sacrificing the best the past has to offer in sound.  Nobody wants to play those crappy old instruments - they're a pain to play, but they sound fantastic.  Do we need to keep making the same old guitars or do we need to expand the availability of the sound of these instruments so that their vintage value is a mere curiosity for the collector, having no influence on the marketplace anymore. 

Things that rarely asked or addressed at a conference:  how to market, better business plans, how to get a business loan, is competition good for you, how to develop new markets, social networking, what happens when you're not in the stores and people can't find your product, how do you set prices, what makes a master luthier, how do you establish yourself in this business, should there be an accreditation system, how do we get more participation by women, why isn't there more original thinking?  Do you believe that we are holding back the evolution of music?  Should we be deconstructing old instruments for their valuable hardwoods and build new instruments that are completely original?  Players' technique and needs should be driving design and innovation, instead, we refine endlessly.