Soundwell Modification

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Would it be worth the effort to enlarge the holes around the soundwell in my Johnson guitar? I remember someone over on the "other" website did this mod by cutting the circles into a trapezoidal shape. The primary thing I do not like about this guitar is its lack of bass.
Thanks,
David

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Comments

You might try a maple bridge insert on a # 14 spider (if it doesn't have that combination already). :)

Hi Gregg,
This guitar already has a quartarman cone/14 spider/bone nut/maple bridge on it. I am also using EJ42 strings. There is no comparison between the bass on the Johnson and my McKenna! Maybe I am trying to do the impossible. Any other suggestions?

Thanks,
David

Lefty:
Hi Gregg,
This guitar already has a quartarman cone/14 spider/bone nut/maple bridge on it. I am also using EJ42 strings. There is no comparison between the bass on the Johnson and my McKenna! Maybe I am trying to do the impossible. Any other suggestions?

Thanks,
David

Yes, take OUT the soundwell! Make it an open chambered instrument. I am going to do THAT with MY Johnson, which has at this point, all the hot rod stuff cept for a NEW and heavier and shorter tailpiece.

I don't ever expect a Johnson, hot rod or not, to compare to a McKenna, or Beard, etc.

But, it CAN be the best reso it can be! Mine barks a bit now, and volume will INCREASE when I remove the soundwell. But, I am not all that picky about the bass end of a reso, anyway. And what I have, is fine for me. I use nickel wound John Pearse strings, too. I like bright!!!! :D

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The Sun's Shining, The Bird's Are Singing, N My Glass Is Half Full. That's My Story, And I'm Stickin To It!

Lefty:
Would it be worth the effort to enlarge the holes around the soundwell in my Johnson guitar? I remember someone over on the "other" website did this mod by cutting the circles into a trapezoidal shape. Thanks

David,
I believe the conversion of a Johnson reso's soundwell to parallelogram/trapezoidal openings you're referring to was done by ResoNation member "Geoff'; he's uploaded some of the photos of his work into his personal gallery in the ResoNation Album, so I'd suggest you take a look. Hopefully, he'll see this topic soon and comment on the results of his work... but I know from his previous posts about it he seems to be quite pleased with the outcome. You can also contact him directly by sending him a PM (personal message) here.

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Erik@AdvancedMusicTechnology.com

Geoff's picture

Lefty,
I'm the one that made the trapezoid holes in a Johnson soundwell (see my photo album) I also have done all the things that you have as well, including centralising the cone seat to the guitar centerline by routing the seat, this also trued up the seat as it was very uneven - about 3/16" difference between highest and lowest point. I intend to try a raised palmrest cover one day and raise the bridge a bit higher, I think it's called "loading the cone".

Larue,
If you take out your soundwell I'd be very interested in the results, could you post photos as well? How do you intend to support thr tone (or cone) ring? Will you glue braces across the back and glue in soundposts?

I was impressed with the improvements in the volume, sound and tone of the "Johbro" after all the hotrodding, I realise you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but I'm having fun and isn't this what it's all about?

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Geoff Sandland,

Canberra Australia

larue:
...Yes, take OUT the soundwell! Make it an open chambered instrument. I am going to do THAT with MY Johnson... ...I don't ever expect a Johnson, hot rod or not, to compare to a McKenna, or Beard, etc... ...and volume will INCREASE when I remove the soundwell

I definitely would NOT recommend anyone other than an experienced musical instrument repairman, having several specialized tools and fixtures, attempt to remove the soundwell from a Johnson wood-body reso. Although it can certainly be done successfully (I've done it to a couple of them), unless you have the proper tools and woodworking skills you can easily end up causing major, nearly irrepairable, damage to the instrument.

Even with all the necessary tools and fixtures to make it as easy and risk free as possible, removing the soundwell is still a lot of work to do right, and based on my experience won't make much improvement in volume, bass response or overall sound unless you replace the soundwell with a stout 'cone support ring', along with additional bracing, support posts and/or baffling. If you don't know what you're doing and/or try to take shortcuts by not adding the necessary cone support and bracing to take over the structural role of a soundwell, you could very likely end up with an instrument having LESS volume and tone after the modification, and unable to withstand normal string tension without the body being permanently damaged.

A Johnson (or Regal) import reso can be made into an exceptional-sounding instrument, with great bass response, but IMO the number of manhours and materials cost required to achieve this on a 'one-off' basis without specialized tools and fixtures doesn't make much sense.

Thanks to everyone for the replies! I tend to agree with Eric as far as completely removing the soundwell. Relative to my walnut McKenna, this quitar is built like one of those rubber-band powered balsa-wood airplanes that I used to fly as a kid :shock: . Nevertheless, I will probably cut out the holes using the same pattern that Geoff used on his and post my results back to this thread.

Thanks again!

David

I removed the web between every other hole on my 60DS without removing the cone, I used a rotary saw. I am not at all convinced that it made enough difference to be worth the trouble.

Before doing any modifications, maybe you could experiment with different guage strings (bass). A lighter guage bass string may resonate a little different on your particular guitar which may be more to your liking to what you now have. Brother Oswald used to use a .042 as a bass string (but this was in A tuning). :)

Before you do any major mods, try removing the screens to see if your bass response increases. It worked for me.

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