Vibration and acoustic measurements of guitars with applications to luthiery, synthesis, and audio effects

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Integral to the music-making process is the instrument being played by the musician. Musicians are particular about their instruments, often searching long and hard for the sound they desire. Instrument makers regularly aim to build an instrument with a specific sound to support a given style of music or a player's preferences. However, the acoustic effects of these design changes are not well understood, and systematically testing the auditory effect of geometry or material changes with physical instruments is highly costly and time-consuming. This thesis explores methods designed to allow researchers and luthiers to more easily study design and material changes to instruments, providing a framework for auralizing the sound of an instrument that does not physically exist. Particular emphasis is placed on the acoustic guitar and its construction. Vibration and acoustic measurement methods for analyzing stringed instruments and their components are discussed. In particular, low-cost tools, such as impact hammers, accelerometers, and microphones, are presented, along with an augmentation of a laser Doppler vibrometer to perform scanning measurements. A purpose-built wood measurement device is presented with analysis to measure the internal material parameters of the wood. Simulated vibrational responses from finite element models are compared to the measurements with an optimization routine to predict the material parameters more accurately. A signal processing method is presented to process an electric guitar pickup to sound like an arbitrary virtual acoustic guitar. This method relies on the measured or simulated bridge admittance of the electric and acoustic instrument and provides an opportunity to study the sound of an instrument before it is constructed. Lastly, four studies into the guitar and its acoustics are presented. The first two focus on the construction process of acoustic guitars, the third looks at the influence of neck resonances, and the fourth explores the vibratory behavior of a resonator guitar. This thesis provides a framework for future studies into the construction and sound of stringed instruments, focusing on guitars.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2023; ©2023
Publication date 2023; 2023
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Rau, Mark Gregory
Degree supervisor Smith, Julius O. (Julius Orion)
Thesis advisor Smith, Julius O. (Julius Orion)
Thesis advisor Abel, Jonathan (Jonathan Stuart)
Thesis advisor James, Doug L
Degree committee member Abel, Jonathan (Jonathan Stuart)
Degree committee member James, Doug L
Associated with Stanford University, School of Humanities and Sciences
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Music


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Mark Gregory Rau.
Note Submitted to the Department of Music.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.

Access conditions

© 2023 by Mark Gregory Rau

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