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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 beautiful 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.

Select Pressure Tested Solid Tops
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 select pressure tested solid tops. Each solid top is made from a single layer of Spruce or Cedar and is pressure tested to ensure its highest level of rigidity and stiffness along with maximum harmonic vibration. The extraordinary wood used in Seagull guitars 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.

Custom Polished Finish
The new Custom Polished finish is used on both high gloss and semi gloss guitars and not only provides extra protection against scratches and pick marks but is aesthetically the most beautiful acoustic finish the company has ever produced. The resistance to the common wear and tear of guitar playing that is provided by this new finish is applied without sacrificing the incredible sound of these instruments. Unlike “thick” polyester finishes which deaden the natural sound of a solid top, the Custom Polished finish allows the top to breathe and vibrate freely bringing out the true tone of the wood. This in turn promotes the ever important process, known as “aging”, in which the guitar will actually sound better the more it is played over time. Buffed and sanded between each coat, the unparalleled beauty of the Custom Polished finish is reminiscent of the traditional French polish of the 19th century. This new finish gives the semi gloss a gorgeous satin sheen and the high gloss a lustrous shine as well as accentuating the natural wood grain of the instrument. The labour intensive combination of applying the finish, the wood filler and the intricate process of buffing gives these guitars the benefit of added protection and a stunning new look all their own.

Reverse Headstock
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 Coastline Series Seagulls. Honduras mahogany is the traditional choice for acoustic guitar neck construction and all of the Maritime 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.

The Heel
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.

Neck Pitch
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. 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.