Scalloped Braces?

I don't recommend one system of bracing over another. I just want to show what they mean when they say a guitar has "scalloped" braces. Guitars should be judged by the way they sound, not by the terms used in construction or their advertising hype. Different types of bracing results in different sound factors which I'll try to basically explain.

Martin developed the idea of "scalloped braces". The image below shows how their early top braces were "contoured" or "scalloped" even though they didn't call them "scalloped braces" at the time. It was near the end of World War2 that Martin quit contouring their braces and started leaving them full height throughout their length. We refer to the guitars made before the change to straight braces as "prewar Martins" and those with straight braces as "post-war Martins"

Why Martin changed bracing is open to debate. Maybe they didn't have the manpower during the War to spend time contouring braces. Maybe it saved money. Maybe they were concerned about strength of the top with the increasing popularity of heavy steel strings. It don't matter why they changed really. What matters is that they did change the bracing late in the year of 1944. All guitars made from the beginning of 1945 to 1976 have "straight" top braces. Beginning in 1977, Martin started reissuing countless old styles and has been making both straight and scalloped brace guitars ever since.

Here's a classic "scalloped" brace pre-war D-18 Martin top:

Notice the small bridge plate and the scooped out areas on the lower diagonal braces. Also the lower ends of the big cross braces are scooped. All the upper braces from the X to the neck are identical. These are the braces one can see through the sound hole so one has to look inside the guitar with a mirror to see if it's braces are straight or "scalloped". Here's a "post-ww2"
straight braced D-18 top:

Note that the braces are straight and check out the size of that rosewood bridge plate. The effect of that large bridge plate and those straight braces is to dampen the bass response of the guitar in favor of the highs. The straight brace guitars give a clearer treble response. They were popular with the folk singers of the 50's and 60's while the "scalloped" braced guitars were popular with bands who did not have a bass and needed a guitar to deliver driving bass runs.

You get clearer and cleaner highs out of a top with straight braces and you get increased volume and more bass out of the same piece of wood using the scalloped braces.

Subsequently it's just a question of what kind of sound do you want. Loud muffled bass or soft bright clear treble?

That does not mean all guitars with straight braces will automatically have less volume and less bass than another guitar with scalloped braces! It just means the guitar you hold in your hand would sound different from the way it does if it had the other bracing system.

The moral to the story (if there is a moral) is to select your guitar based on the sound you hear coming from it. Just don't expect a big dreadnought guitar with scalloped bracing to sound as sweet, bright and crystal clear as a smaller bodied guitar with straight bracing and don't expect the small bodied guitar with straight braces to deliver booming bass.

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2. How to Adjust Necks and set Intonation for proper playing action.
3. How to Set UP electric Guitars.
4. Taking Care of Guitar Finish
5. Fretboard care and Treatment (Fret Polishing, etc.)
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