Can I use a heavier string gauge other than the Phosphor Bronze Lights you ship the guitars with?
Yes. You can go up or down one gauge, usually without needing to readjust your truss rod, however if you use a much heavier or lighter gauge this will put different amounts of tension on the neck so an adjustment may be needed. When changing string gauge allow some time for the guitar to settle and then if needed have the truss rod adjusted by a qualified technician.
Should I loosen the strings on my Seagull if I'm going to take it with me on vacation?
Yes. It is a good idea to loosen the strings just enough to reduce tension on the neck. This will avoid extra stress which can cause damage to the headstock if the guitar case is dropped.
Can I use Steel strings on my Nylon string guitar?
No. Putting Steel strings on a Nylon string guitar can add extra stress to the guitar top and may cause the bridge to lift. These guitars are braced differently and steel and nylon strings are not interchangeable.
What do you recommend I clean my Seagull with?
Do not use any wax based products on the guitar, especially on the top! This will cause unwanted wax build up over time which will impede the top from vibrating. Instead use a small amount of soap based guitar polish sprayed on a cloth (never directly on the guitar) and gently wipe off your guitar. For the fingerboard we suggest removing the strings and applying Lemon or Danish oil to a cloth and then working it into your fingerboard. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess. This should be done once a year on rosewood or ebony fingerboards only. Doing so not only cleans, but conditions your fingerboard against cracking and keeps it from losing its luster.
What does "hand-made" really mean?
We recently came across a disposable plastic lighter that was being promoted as a “Limited Edition”. Likewise we find ourselves surrounded by products that are touted as being “handmade” and when it comes to guitars you’ll have a tough time finding one that isn’t described as handmade. Our dictionary defines handmade simply as: “made by hand, not machinery”. If you accept that definition then it’s safe to say there is no such thing as a handmade guitar! In any case our recommendation would be to forget the whole “handmade” thing and focus on more relevant considerations such as: finish material, type of wood used (and whether it is genuine), and most importantly how does it feel and sound to you.
What is the difference between Cedar and Spruce?
Cedar tends to produce a warmer sound and ages faster than spruce. Spruce is brighter and ages more over a longer period of time. Visually, cedar is darker in color with a fairly tight grain pattern. Spruce tends to be very blond with a slightly wider grain pattern. Click here for a complete description of the function of these tone woods in guitar tops.
What is "cold-checking"?
Cold-checking refers to that spider web like effect that sometimes occurs in wood finishes that have been subjected to severe temperature changes. It is also common in older instruments where the finish has dried out to the point of becoming brittle. For many years we have worked with our finish supplier to develop a lacquer formula that retains a degree of elasticity and resists cold checking.
What is a truss rod?
A truss rod is an adjustable metal rod that sits inside of the neck, underneath the fingerboard. The truss rod is used to adjust for changes in the neck caused by humidity or changing string gauges. Seagull guitars employ an advanced double-action truss system.
When should the truss rod be adjusted?
Your truss rod should be adjusted when your neck develops a bit of a bow in it. The reason for the bow is a combination of the string tension that is constantly applied to the neck along with changes in relative humidity. Humidity is the most important part of this equation. Wood reacts to changes in relative humidity when it absorbs or loses moisture. Absorbing moisture causes the neck to expand which results in a back-bow in this case loosening the truss rod slightly will allow the neck to return to its original form. When a neck dries out it will under bow, which can be treated by slightly tightening the truss rod (Click one of these for either a : pdf or jpeg diagram). WARNING: Over adjusting your truss rod can cause irreparable damage to your guitar and therefore truss rod adjustments should only be handled by a qualified guitar technician.
The fret edges are sticking out of the side of the neck. Why? And what should I do?
This is not nearly as big a problem as some people make it out to be. Once again the culprit here is humidity. In the case of the protruding fret edges this is because the fingerboard has dried out slightly and shrunk. The frets are metal (nickel/silver) and do not shrink from a change in humidity. The problem is easily fixed by a good guitar tech with a file.
Seagull – Acoustic Guitars for Modern Times
Thanks for visiting the Seagull home page. You’ve dropped in at a particularly exciting time for Seagull guitars as we have recently introduced the new compound-curve top design throughout the Seagull line. If you resisted the urge to click on the compound curve link, we’re tempted to say that we have been working on this for over twenty years and that’s certainly true considering our relentless commitment to product improvement. However, this is something more than the culmination of twenty years of design updates. This is a new acoustic guitar design concept that we have been working specifically towards for the better part of three years now.
If you are already a Seagull player you may be concerned that we’ve been busy fixing something that wasn’t broken. If that’s you, please take note that we haven’t abandoned the Seagull attributes that got us here in the first place. Many familiar Seagull attributes remain, such as, the Seagull tapered headstock, the use of wild cherry back and sides, the unique shape of the Seagull body is only slightly changed. You can also rest assured that Seagull guitars continue to feature luthier-grade solid tops and genuine lacquer finishes.
Another tradition that we’re sticking with is that of maintaining our commitment to the outstanding value that Seagull guitars are known for. Putting professional-quality musical instruments into the hands of musicians—experienced as well as aspiring—at reasonable prices means there is a greater chance of more great music being made and this is arguably our ultimate reward—besides becoming fabulously rich and famous of course.
For an excellent example of the new Seagull design in action we highly recommend a copy of Peppino D’Agostino’s latest release “Every Step of the Way” which features the first commercially available recording using one of the new “Peppino Signature model” guitars which employ the new compound-curve design.
In 1982 Robert Godin and a few friends produced the first Seagull guitars in the Village of LaPatrie, Quebec. The concept for the Seagull guitar was to take the essential components of the best hand-crafted guitars (such as solid tops and lacquer finishes) and build these features into guitars that could be priced within the reach of working musicians.
Of course there is much more to a great guitar than a solid top with a special finish, so we produced this illustrated guide to help you gain some understanding of the basic elements of a great sounding acoustic guitar.
A guitar produces sound as a result of the vibration of its strings. What's not so obvious is the role that the guitar top plays in amplifying these vibrations. In fact, the vibration of the top is the most important factor in a guitar's sound. Solid top guitars offer richer sound and wider dynamic range (they play better at both soft and loud volume levels). The most interesting thing about a solid top guitar is that it will actually sound better over time (see AGING). All Seagull guitars are made with solid tops. Each solid top is made from a single layer of Spruce or Cedar. This extraordinary wood comes from trees that are hundreds of years old. The tight, straight grain in this wood produces a unique combination of strength and flexibility. The top is strong enough—in the direction of the grain—to withstand the pull of the strings, while at the same time it's flexible enough—across the grain—to vibrate freely.
Cedar Top or Spruce Top?
We are often asked to recommend one of these tops over the other. Both Cedar and Spruce share the same virtues in terms of better sound and the ability to age. In the end, this is a totally subjective question that can only be answered by playing the guitars.
How about this? You buy a new TV and it's great but it keeps getting better the more you watch it! Okay, that's not likely to happen with your TV but it will happen with your solid top guitar. A solid top vibrates much more freely than a laminated (plywood) top. This results in richer tone, better dynamic range and better balance of tone. Not only does a solid top sound better initially, over time the vibrations from playing the guitar result in the top vibrating more and more freely. This phenomenon is called 'aging' which means that the more the guitar is played, the better the guitar will sound. It is important to remember in order for a guitar to age it must be played. A guitar left in its case for 5 years will get older, but it will not 'age'.
A top starts as a single piece of wood, which is sliced open—like a book—and then glued together. This technique is called 'bookmatching' and results in an even grain pattern across the top of the guitar.
Genuine Lacquer Finish
All Seagull guitars are finished with genuine lacquer. This finish protects the wood without impeding vibration or the wood’s capacity to improve with time (aging). We now offer four different applications of lacquer in the Seagull line.
This is our basic satin finish, which involves four coats of lacquer. This treatment leaves an incredibly light protective layer, which is exceptionally responsive. The process for this finish takes four days—one coat per day—with hand sanding between each coat. Most of the models in the Seagull S-Series feature the semi-gloss finish.
The GT finish is the same as the finish featured on the semi-gloss models but in this case the top is buffed to a high luster. This is achieved using a new technique that produces a high-gloss look using the same ultra light lacquer featured in the semi-gloss models in the rest of the S-Series. There are now four GT models available.
The cedar top Artist Series Seagull guitars feature this same lacquer, but in this case, hand-polished to a beautiful luster that sits between our semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes. Inspired by the finishes used on the finest violins, this treatment results in a very thin protective coating that promotes the maximum possible response from the guitar’s top.
It requires almost two weeks in the finishing department to apply this premium treatment. Eight very thin coats of lacquer are applied—with sanding between each and buffed to a beautiful high-gloss luster. This finish is featured on all of the spruce-top guitars in the Artist Series as well as the M6 and M12.
Each Seagull neck starts out as a single piece of Mahogany or Silver Leaf Maple. The wood is cut at a 45 degree angle after which the top piece - the Headstock - is glued back on with the grain reversed. This is an essential step in the Seagull process for creating incredibly stable necks.
The Tapered Headstock - Tuning Made Easy
Tuning can be a pain-in-the-neck (sorry). You may have wondered why it is that even after you have carefully tuned each string, it is often necessary to go back and make further adjustments on a few of the strings. This is because the neck moves slightly as you change the tension of the strings. Therefore you don't just tune the strings, you 'balance' the neck at the same time. The tapered headstock on Seagull guitars provides straight string pull, which minimizes the neck twisting effect. This insures that it will be easier to get your guitar in tune and keep it that way. This is particularly advantageous for the growing ranks of players who use open tunings.
The Seagull Neck
Neck crafting is an art and the luthiers who sand each Seagull neck to our exacting specifications take their ‘art’ very seriously. Comfort, sound, and stability, are the three key ingredients that we want in a guitar neck. Comfort is especially important these days because acoustic players are playing all over the neck—not just open chords below the third fret—a slim comfortable neck not only accommodates playing all over the neck but also reduces fatigue. On the other hand, the vibration of the neck is an important contributor to the sound of the guitar and if the neck is too slim the guitar will suffer in the sound department.
Silverleaf Maple and Honduras Mahogany
Silverleaf maple has a density very close to that of Mahogany. We first began experimenting with Silverleaf maple in acoustic guitar necks about ten years ago and have found it to be remarkably similar to mahogany in weight, density and most importantly response. Silverleaf offers a couple of bonus advantages in that it is less porous than mahogany which provides a very smooth feel and it is an ecologically friendly choice in that it is plentiful and grown locally. We currently use Silverleaf maple on the necks on the S-Series Seagulls. Honduras mahogany is the traditional choice for acoustic guitar neck construction and all of the M-Series and Artist Series Seagulls feature Mahogany necks.
Double Action Truss System
Most guitars employ an adjustable metal rod inside the neck called a truss rod. The truss rod is typically used to straighten the neck when it becomes slightly bowed from string tension and changes in humidity. In the event of a neck becoming back-bowed the traditional fix is to loosen the truss rod and allow the string tension to pull the neck back to its ideal form. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work which is why we adapted a new double-action truss rod in Seagull necks. The new rod bends in both directions, which provides unprecedented control over the neck whether it is under-bowed or over-bowed. Click here for complete instructions on the double-action truss system.
Did you ever notice that a guitar that sounds perfectly in tune needs to be re-tuned slightly when passed from one player to another? This has to do with the fact that different players place varying amounts of weight and pressure on the neck and this affects tuning. Years ago we discovered that this problem could be alleviated by inserting maple dowels through the heel of the neck. This reinforcement makes the neck several times stronger.
In order to enjoy all of the advantages of a well-crafted neck, a great deal of care must be given when joining it to the guitar body. The angle of a guitar’s neck attachment—often called 'neck pitch'—plays a crucial role in the instrument’s tone. Simply put; if the neck is too far back the guitar will lose its bass and sound tinny. On the other hand, if the neck angle is too far forward, the guitar will lose its high frequency response and sound muddy. The Seagull neck attachment system insures consistent neck pitch. It also produces the added advantage of a superior neck/body energy transfer because the neck is attached to the body with a clean wood-to-wood connection. There is no glue to impede the vibration between the heel of the neck and the guitar's body.
Compensated Seagull Saddle
Seagull guitars feature Tusq nuts and saddles. The fully compensated saddle helps Seagull guitars to play beautifully in-tune all over the neck.
Seagull Body Styles
Seagull guitars come in three basic body sizes. The full sized body is used through most of the line including the cutaway models. Slightly smaller than a typical Dreadnought size guitar, the Seagull is narrower in the upper bout. This shape discourages unwanted boominess in the sound and is one of the factors that results in Seagulls being such excellent recording instruments.
The folk sized body shares its dimensions with those of a classical guitar and projects more midrange. The Folk models work beautifully for fingerstyle playing and solo guitar.
The third Seagull body style is the compact body used in the Seagull Grand and in the Grand Artist. The small body is tuned to produce a very clear fundamental which makes it another excellent choice for fingerstyle playing.
The Seagull story wouldn't be complete without mentioning La Patrie. La Patrie is a small village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. This is where the first Seagulls were made in the early eighties. Today, La Patrie has a population of about 475 and about half of these people are guitar builders. These folks take a great deal of pride in the guitars they build. Pick one up and you'll see why.
Seagull M6 Gloss Guitar Mahogany Body, Solid Spruce Top
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