Finally we have a new guitar page up for the McClaren P-8 nylon crossover guitar!
This guitar has come together through over 12 years of experience in making classical guitars and steel string guitars. Bringing the best of both to make this nylon crossover guitar.
The Aim for the new McClaren P-8 Nylon Crossover Guitar
I was starting to see a trend of singer / songwriters that usually play steel string guitars, picking up classical guitars for some songs. And some musicians even playing nylon string guitars exclusively. The guitars a lot of people were playing were cheap guitars, that had wide fingerboards and were in general, difficult to play.
So my aim for this design was to make a nylon string guitar, that sounds and looks beautiful, but also to have great playability. The guitar needed to appeal to a variety of musicians, such as jazz guitarists, singer / songwriters, classical guitarists and most importantly guitarists that want to play live. Therefore it needed a good pickup.
Early on, I wanted to speak to a guitarist that covered a lot of genres that could help advise me on what would work and what wouldn’t. That person was James Girling. James is a very good guitarist that plays both classical music and jazz music, either playing a classical guitar or an archtop guitar. Even though he will be playing a classical guitar, he wont always be playing classical music with it. You will notice that a traditional classical guitar has a very wide fingerboard to that of a steel string guitar or most other guitars for that matter. So we wanted a guitar that would be easy to transition between a steel string guitar and our new design. We put the fingerboard nut width at 48mm and added a wide camber to the fingerboard, to give it a similar feel to a steel string guitar.
Another aim was to make this guitar sound great plugged in and being played on stage. A couple of years of research into pickups and trying so many out, led to a mixture of two pickups in one. Finding a pickup that sounds great for nylon strings is very difficult. A lot of the time, the sound can be quite ‘zingy’ and not natural sounding. So I was very happy when settling on this pickup as the one we chose gave a very natural sound similar to the nylon acoustic sound. It gives you the options to change the levels on board the guitar, and also the mix between piezo and microphone. The pickup also provides volume control as well as a phase switch.
Similar to the rest of the McClaren Performance Series, this guitar is built to last the rigours of day to day playing, touring and playing live. It has a finish that protects the guitar very well, which is needed when being carried to each gig. Many of the performance series guitars are with customers that are out on tour all the time. The necks of these guitars are reinforced with carbon fibre, this means the set up wont be effected as much with humidity as those guitars without reinforcement.
Another important consideration in the design of any guitar, is the tonewoods you use. For this guitar, I wanted a reliable wood for the back and sides, one that would be stable, easy to travel with, and will also sound great. So we decided to go with Indian Rosewood back and sides for the McClaren P-8. The soundboard had to provide me with a naturally warm sound, which would work well with the pickup we are using. Therefore a Western Red cedar top was our main choice. Because there is less tension from nylon strings, the neck material doesn’t have to be as strong as that of a steel string guitar. Therefore Spanish Cedar is a good choice for its light weight and strength abilities.
The only thing left in the design was the shape and feel of the guitar. I decided to go with one of my own designs from my Concert Classical Guitars, but added a thinner body depth and a cutaway to the treble side. The neck also has a similar feel to a steel string guitar, in which it is more ‘C’ shaped rather than a traditional classical ‘D’ shape.
The guitar starts and finishes like most my builds. Beginning with work on the soundboard, then the back, neck and finally the sides. The parts can then be put together, and the guitar starts to take shape. The next parts such as the binding, fingerboard and bridge are made over the next few days. Leading to final sanding. The guitar is then sprayed with a Polyurethane finish, which is at least 3 weeks of work. Once I’m happy with the finish, the frets can be installed, the tuners in place, and the bridge glued to the soundboard. The pickup is installed and then I trial string the guitar, and set the guitar up ready for the customer.
Sit back and listen
After all the hard work of designing the guitar, making it, the joy comes when you get to sit back and listen to your guitar being played.
The evaluation after you’ve finished a guitar is very important, and even more so, on a new design. Since we spent so much time talking over ideas and drawing up plans, I was pretty certain that we would have made a great guitar, so it was nice to get amazing feedback from James Girling to back it up. Since then I’ve shown the guitar to lots of guitarists who have all been impressed with its playability, acoustic sound and plug-in sound, as well as its aesthetics.
Go check out the McClaren P-8!!