27. In the Moment

Lulu Reinhardt improvises a new tune and shares some stories on the Carolan guitar.

Carolan Guitar

Great excitement as Carolan gets to spend an hour with Lulo Reinhardt who is performing at the Djanogly Theatre at Nottingham Lakeside Arts on his current tour. Lulu is a leading proponent of Gypsy music and has been wowing audiences worldwide with his virtuoso guitar playing and innovative compositions that crossover with jazz, latin and even celtic music. This is perhaps no surprise given his pedigree as the great-nephew of the legendary Django Reinhardt.

Lulo is generous with his time, joining us in the green room after his soundcheck to get to know Carolan.

He also tells us some stories about his own guitars. Lulo’s guitars are imbued with personal meaning, being named after his grandchildren. And with a fourth on the way there is, naturally, a need to hunt for a new instrument to add to the collection. There is perhaps a lesson for all of us here (or at least…

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26. Photo shoot

Carolan strikes a pose. Time for the official photo shoot.

Carolan Guitar

Carolan’s been very busy since Nick added the finishing touches, making friends with guitarists and admirers alike, many of whom will feature in future blog posts. Despite a busy social diary the team manged to book a slot for Carolan to attend a studio so we could capture some photos of our baby.

front1back 2

Some close ups of the Celtic knotwork on Carolan’s soundboard …

front side anglefront from side 1

bottom to top

We can’t stop looking at the lovely figuring in the flamed Maple on the back and sides. The use of light coloured woods all round gives a very distinctive look, Carolan certianly stand out in a crowd …

back side angle

Headstock 1

… and we can’t stop playing with the removable soundhole on the top, as discussed in blog post 19: Smell. Guitarists who have played Carolan often say it sounds better for the player with the soundhole taken out. It’s like your own personal monitor!

side soundhole coming outside soundhole out

… and finally, we’re still checking…

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24. Stairway

An interview about the Carolan guitar (and a quick tune too of course) published on the Computerphile YouTube channel.

Carolan Guitar

Carolan arrives back at the Mixed Reality Lab. The team gathers round. Strings off. Out with our phones. The big question is how well do the patterns scan?

General relief as initial tests are promising. All of the patterns can be scanned, though the headstock logo can be a bit tricky and has to be approached face-on due to possible interference from the protruding tuning pegs, while one of the three repeated codes on the front appears to be broken and may need some cleaning up. Further testing will explore the impact of shadows and reflections under different lighting conditions from natural daylight to bright stage lights.

So it seems that we have a working interactive guitar. Now we need to build its history. Fortunately for us, Sean Riley from the Computerphile YouTube channel is stopping by to record an interview. He even takes time out to play a tune himself. In respect of the time-honoured tradition…

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20. Brace yourself

Bracing stuff – and pretty much any pun you can think of about bracing – as we head inside the Carolan guitar to take a look at how our design has challenged tradition.

Carolan Guitar

Anticipation is running high within the team. All the codes are designed. All the laser cutting and engraving is complete and passed on to Nick. So our job is done. We now nervously await and brace ourselves for the completion of the guitar. We’re not the only ones bracing ourselves, however, as Carolan’s Soundboard and back panel are currently having internal wooden struts fixed to strengthen and reinforce them against the enormous tension exerted by the strings and the neck. Without these the guitar will warp, fold and collapse into a splintered mess.

The placement, shape and size of these bracing’s are paramount to how strong the guitar is, but also what it sounds like. Minor adjustments can dramatically change how the soundboard resonates and therefore the tonal quality of the guitar. There are different bracing techniques for different types and styles of guitar, but the X-Bracing pattern devised by C…

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