Herringbone vs. Non-Herringbone Guitars... Do they sound different?

Posted by Jason Witt on


There is some controversy amongst players (even builders) about how a herringbone top purfle might affect tonal differences on a guitar.  Various luthiers have different opinions on what affect if any there may be, some going as far as stating there is absolutely no difference in sound between a herringbone and non-herringbone guitar.  While others, with decades of building experience provide an assured opinion that the top routing for the inlay increases ease of top movement, by thinning the top at the outer edge of the rim where it is attached to the kerfing.  Some builders also note that the material used to fill the rout (herringbone, Abalone, etc..) will have a different affect based on density of the material.

With a custom D1HA herringbone model from Collings, we are presented here with the perfect opportunity to compare this particular theory side-by-side with an otherwise identical D1A Collings.

While we do not suggest that you should or should not take this conjecture as fact, we do believe the recording speaks for itself, in that you can hear a difference.  There is a noticeable increase in responsiveness with the herringbone model.  The guitars used in this recording were built with the same tone-woods and bracing, same neck profile - with the only difference being the herringbone top purfle.  Considering how consistent they are at  material selection and construction methods at Collings, this exercise supports our same experience in commissioning custom models from other builders over the years.

Now you decide...

(Over the years, this post or one like it has been taken to task on several forums, where some regard it as a deliberate sales technique. For those who have experienced our customer service efforts first hand & defended our integrity, many thanks. For those who have not had the pleasure, here is a our mission statement published in another post: Ultimately our goal is to match your needs and skills with the instrument that will best satisfy your expectations. We offer an exhaustive amount of personal attention to each customer to achieve this goal. Our promise is to answer every question to the best of our knowledge, and spare the typical salesmanship practices of the marketplace. In most instances our efforts lead to rewarding, long term personal relationships with musicians all around the world. These statements best define our culture, and who we are. If you are looking for hallmark customer service, honest advice combined with a high level of expertise, you’ve come to the right place.)



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