Acoustic Guitar Notes #1:
Thoughts on Guitar Playing and Construction
by Eric Schoenberg
The Problem, the Experiment, the Solution
About 30 years ago I started to zero in on the OM as the ideal instrument for the fingerstyle (among others) player. At the time I believed that the only good guitars were the 12-frets, specifically the 000 size. But a few short years later, when I was playing piano rags on the guitar, the 12 frets on my beloved 000-45 just didn't cut it. I bought a 14 fret, 1937 000-45 for the then gigantic price of $1200, but ran into a conundrum: the short scale didn't cut it either. It was then I thought about the OM-the OM's the closest thing out there to the 12-fret 000, and worth a try. The success of that experiment has lasted until the present, only challenged now by my long-planned and at-last-achieved second experiment, the 12-fret 000 cutaway. Prototype #1 is a resounding (pun intended) success, a guitar that improves, in some ways, on the OM, yet retains the access to the higher frets.
Another Wonderful Discovery
I've been suspecting for a while that it's more the long scale than the 000 body that delivers the big sound. After all, 00's are deeper than 000's to make up for loss in air cavity of the smaller perimeter. In the shop now is a very beautiful 00-42 from 1899. This is the second 00 from this period to come in, and it is fascinating to see that it has a 25.25" scale, instead of the usual 24.9". As a result, it is gigantic sounding, with tons of punch and clarity. What a fabulous new bit of guitar-design lore! The 00 was humongous in those days when size 2 and 1 were the norm, so it stands to reason that the first 00's would have turned up with a longer string length for the bigger body
The New Schoenbergs
Schoenberg Guitars is now based in Tiburon, California, in a great little shop in the historic part of one of the most beautiful towns on San Francisco Bay. The shop does double duty as the new & vintage store called Eric Schoenberg Guitars, and as the showroom for the new line of Schoenberg Guitars, which are being manufactured in Lexington, Mass. under the direction of Julius Borges. Under construction now are the first batch of the new model, the 12-fret 000 cutaway (we call it the Standard), a couple Soloists, and the prototype 12-fret 00 Cutaway (long scale). The prototype Standard is here for all to see and try. Some of the new optional features include French polish finish, bar frets and two-piece turn-of-the-century style neck/peghead joint. These guitars are very light; as guitar design goes more-and-more modern, Schoenberg Guitars go deeper into the past!