(No, specificality it isn't a real word.) Luthiers often tout signature features or processes that we say
make our guitars sound better, look prettier, last longer, or make our customers happier than
those of the builder next door.
Of course, we really make it this way just because we want to.
Here are some of the design features that are part of the VanDruff signature:
Parabolic arched soundboardóOne of the few modern improvements to really catch on is the domed soundboard.
Many current builders coax a normally flat soundboard into a subtle but uniform spherical dome by assembling it
in a concave work board. The slight curvature has little effect on vibration, but it greatly strengthens the
soundboard against the ravages of humidity and the tendency of the strings to cave-in the soundboard.
VanDruff soundboards aren't spherically domed. They are built on a work board that is straight
from the head to the tail, but curved in a parabolic arch from side to side. I chose this approach because
1) the neck, fingerboard, and bridge are easier to fit if the soundboard isn't curved in both dimensions;
2) bending the soundboard only across the grain (the weaker direction) does not add as much overall stiffness to the top; and
3) because of 2, I can use a higher arch that gives more protection against humidity changes.
Arched backóVanDruff guitars have significantly curved backs that also taper from head to tail.
A curved and tapered body generates a smoother, wider frequency response. It is also stronger which allows
me to make the back thinner, lighter, and more responsive. I think it looks nice, too.
Scalloped bracesóBraces strengthen the soundboard to prevent string tension from ripping the guitar apart.
Braces, unfortunately, add mass, which negatively affects tone. By scalloping the braces
(they look like miniature suspension bridges), I can reduce mass in the areas where it would be most detrimental.
Scalloped braces are desirable on most guitars with the possible exception of dreadnoughts,
especially when they are going to be played with a heavy hand.