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Report from magazine “AKUSTIK GITARRE” april 2002

 

“Challenge”

 

             ATELIER TRAUDT - CONCERT GUITAR “ARTIST SPECIAL” 8-STRING Artist_Special_8String_1

 

  by Franz Holtmann

If six strings is not enough for you, then there is help. Cornelia Traudt builds concert guitars with extra wide necks and with extra strings, whatever your wish may be.

 

The "Elsässerin" is for the attentive reader of Akustik Gitarre nothing new. We reviewed one of her fine instruments in the January 2001 edition. Today we are testing an 8-string concert guitar.

 

Construction

The "Artist Special" with six-strings was reviewed in the January 2001 edition. The instrument that we will now review has an extra wide fingerboard for the two extra strings on the rosewood for the body. There exists also a twin sister in mountain plum wood, the same wood of her region that she used for the 6-string model we previously tested. But right from the beginning: the visual impression of the tester is that he has to do with a larger version of a normal guitar. That is not correct, especially in regards to the body dimensions. The dimensions are the same as a normal concert guitar and it is only the wider neck and the larger head for the extra mechanics which give the initial impression.

A fine massive rosewood is used for the lightly curved two-part mirrored bottom joined with a narrow inlay. A green decorative strip encloses the entire borders beneath the accustomed binding of rosewood. The best mountainArtist_Special_8String_2 spruce with a fine structure was chosen by the luthier for the top. The top is finished off with a fine filigrane bracing. Also work on the inside of the body is of the highest caliber. The rosette of the soundhole mirrors the accents of the rosewood colors used in the head, body and bridge. The bridge is wider due to the two extra strings and has a bridge bone and reinforced with bone as well. The neck is carved out of cedro and the head is sandwiched on both sides with rosewood. The somewhat unusual flat planed fingerboard of ebony extends on the treble string side over the soundhole, and on the bass string side it is lightly angled from the 12th fret up to the soundhole. This reduces some of the weight; but you can order one with a straight fingerboard. The 20 shiny polished frets of average caliber are especially well worked and show the fineness of her work. The high-quality gold-plated mechanics from the Schaller company with ebonywings and black rollers, assure an easy and precise movement for tuning the instrument. Cornelia Traudt shows once again with this 8-string model the beauty of her handwork. The Artist Special has a 65 cm string/neck length and is finished with hand polished shellack and a Hiscox Pro case.

 

Tone and playing characteristics

Ok, you do need time to get this 8-string, 4x4 string mechanic instrument up to the right tuning. Even experienced players need time to get used to this surfboard sized fingerboard and the position of all the strings and how to reach them. It takes time to find yourself on the fingerboard and to discover the extra tone arsenal that you have at your fingertips which is truly something special. Whether this extra fingerboard mass influences the overall tone of the instrument was not possible to define because we had no other normal instrument from Traudt for a direct comparison. The memory of another test a few months ago however did leave some impression that some difference was there. Along with the neck is the resonance of the body due to the free swinging open bass strings. Here the player will find the necessity to use more string damping/muting, but on the other side depending on the particular key of the piece played is this extra resonance very attractive and useful and wished for by the player.

Taking just the normal number of strings into consideration, one is pleased with the compact and long singing tone of the treble strings, and the positive articulation and sympathetic resonances. On the other side the "normal" bass strings, without the two extras, have a good round sound which gives good foundation to the trebles. Gentle rounded contours give a plastic and rounded articulation in the bass frequencies a very good note; wonderful overtones actually lift the originally plucked tone by the arms and enrich the entire tone development. This living tonal breath is accompanied by a smooth and long swinging sustain. The extra notes available on the D7 and A8 strings are also to be used and not just as sympathetic free-swinging strings, but they do require a wide stretching abilitiy on the part of the left hand. The reaction of a plucked note is somewhat slower than the upper strings but that has to do with the fact that the tension is lower and also that the string is somewhat heavier and thicker. The thicker the string the more time necessary for it to begin swinging. This is particularly true of the A8 string, but again perfectly normal, and even under this aspect the power of the sound and the clear tone development is excellent.

Even with a relatively low string adjustment and a strong picking stroke there was little extra fret noise. Those players who are used to supporting the thumb of the right hand on the edge of the fingerboard near the soundhole are out of luck, because this version of the Artist Special with its angled fingerboard does not allow this. An 8-string instrument needs a fundamental change in the playing technic and the hand positions, as well as the interpretation fantasy for the new tonal possibilities which one begins to hear after only a short time with this instrument.

The tonal character of the Artist Special can be seen in general as fine and sophisticated, and in no way crass, as some other guitars, which act more like a rustic player searching for a quick success. Her strengths want to be discovered and do not show themselves at first glance. In her there slumbers rich facets in tonal color for the player with a good developed technical ability. The Traudt building concept is more for the musical fine gourmet, who enjoys letting the flavours develop on the tongue. It is no wonder that we now draw parallels with the fine cooking, some say the best cooking, of the Elsass region. Can something like this also influence the artistic handwork?

Technical data

Artist_Special_8String_3

Typ

Concert guitar

Model

Artist Special 8 String

Scale

65 cm

Soundboard

Mountain spruce, massiv

Back/sides

eastindian rosewood, massiv

Neck and head

Cedro and rosewood

Fretboard

Ebony

Number of frets

20

Width at nut

73,5 mm

Width at 12. fret

83,2 mm

Soundmachine

To inquire

Bridge

Rosewood with bone

Nut and bridge-nut

Bone

Finish

Shellac - handpolishedr

Special

8-string variation

Price

to inquire (Hiscox case inclusive)

Facit

Cornelia Traudt knows how to impress even with this 8-string Artist Special. From the best hand working fundamental soil springs wonderful fruit, that makes the mouth water. This instrument offers a fine tonal culture with a harmonic overtone spectrum and good tonal development. The extended tonal spectrum of the lower registers opens more possibilities in the performance of historical music, for example the arrangements of lute tablature from the Barock period, as well as the modern tonal concepts of someone like Egberto Gismonti, who plays a 10 to 14 string guitar. Those who are looking for a new challenge can find it with this instrument built by Cornelia Traudt. A visit to Elsass is worth it, especially if you take time to enjoy some of the special food. From a pleasure seeker recommended -

Vive la petite différence!

 

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