If you go shopping for an acoustic guitar, the chances are you'll be greeted with many variations on the same theme – a contoured wooden box with a hole between the bridge and the high end of the neck. The Bouillez (pronounced Bull-yah) dares to be different. Its creator Dan Bouillez has lopped off the fixed soundboard of a cheap, kick-about acoustic and replaced it with a floating one that gives the instrument a striking look and unique tone. With a great-sounding prototype in the bag, the self-taught musician and engineer has just started to build the very first production model.
Dan Bouillez believes that having sound come out through a hole in the soundboard at the front of an acoustic guitar is impractical and inefficient. He says that his patent-pending design takes clarity, volume and true frequency to a new level, producing a bright, warm sound, crystal clear tone, and improved response to every pluck of the string.
"The Bouillez was conceived some time ago and the first prototype was built from scraps in my garage and a 60 dollar guitar to confirm my concept and innovation would work," the guitar's creator tells Gizmag. "The sound that the Bouillez generates is so much different than a run-of-the-mill acoustic guitar because of the technique, structure and soundboard material used to generate the sound."
The first prototype rose from the ashes of a cheap dreadnought guitar. Its soundboard was completely removed and structural changes made to the inside. Much of the rest, such as the back and sides and the neck, remains intact, though Bouillez has added an after-market archtop tail piece that brings a touch of style to the proceedings, crafted a custom scratch plate and installed some Barcus Berry Breeze IV acoustic guitar pickups, under the saddle and inside the instrument.
According to Bouillez, the new floating soundboard is held in place by the "downward and tensile force of the strings. There is no hardware used to hold it in place. The soundboard is simply pressed against the neck block and tail block inside the body. This gives the sound board freedom to flex and vibrate with the strings. Because the material is about 1/10 the thickness of a typical wood soundboard it vibrates extremely well at high and low frequencies."
He recently designed and built a new adjustable bridge and revised the soundboard support before heading to Insight Sound Recording Studio in Loveland, Colorado, to compare the prototype's tone, presence and response with that of a standard acoustic. You can judge for yourself how the Bouillez shapes up by listening to rhythm and lead played by guitarist Mike Rowell on a Washburn, and then on the Bouillez prototype.
After an unsuccessful outing on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter last month, Bouillez is currently financing, building, tweaking and testing the first instrument proper ahead of a limited, built-to-order production run.
Work has just begun, and it's expected to take a while yet, but Bouillez is looking to improve on the prototype's volume, sustain and resonance, and is using what the locals call Beetle kill (Ponderosa Pine reclaimed from Colorado forests after being attacked by the pine beetle) to construct his new instrument. The fingerboard will be made from reclaimed spalted wood sourced from southern Asia, which was originally tongue and groove flooring.
"Though these woods are not considered the highest quality woods in the guitar industry, it will help me determine that the design will stand up to use, and help me perfect the design before I start mass production," he reveals.
Bouillez plans to have another stab at crowdfunding in the new year, taking lessons learned from his first outing, building on the improvements made to the prototype, and armed with the first made-from-scratch instrument.
In the meantime, have a look at the video below for a taste of things to come.
Source: Bouillez Acoustics
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