Samo Sali

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About Sali Guitars


Sali guitars are special
Traditional procedures
Science behind Sali guitars

Pictorial overview of making guitars



Sali guitars are special

You can recognize most of our guitars at a first glance due to specific shape of our guitar head:


Head shape for all Sali guitars except for the steel string guitar


Head shape for Sali Acoustic (steel string guitar)


Sali guitars enable high dynamic range of playing along with natural timbre. The tone color, loudness and sustain are well balanced in all registers. Due to their high response Sali guitars can be equipped with nylon strings which sound softly, naturally and convincingly. This is more true also because of carefully designed directional characteristic of guitar body, which ensures optimal projection of the sound towards the auditory.

Sali guitars are finished with shellac and have reinforced neck with carbon-fiber strips which prevent deformations due to humidity and temperature variations. In year 2014 we started to use truss rods in all our models. This enables fast, simple and elegant corrections of eventual neck deformations. This means that playability of the instrument will not change during the seasons, as well as over time in general. The materials used for Sali guitars are only of first or high quality. This ensures that both life time and performance of the guitar are something on which you can rely.

Resonant frequencies of Sali guitars are engineered in a way which results in highly consonant (pleasant) sound. This is achieved by additional trimming of braces or adding small masses at certain locations on a sound board during the building process as well as once the guitar is completed. Sali guitars are special because their frequency response  is similar to the response of a high-end guitar from the simplified picture below. One can see that the following is true for the resonant frequencies of a high-end guitar in comparison to a low-cost guitar:

  • Peaks are relatively high for good guitars

  • The shape of peaks is sharper for a good guitar in comparison to a bad one

  • Peaks form rather consonant than dissonant intervals (see our "rule of consonance-dissonance")

(please note, that the above explanation is stated highly simplified)



Traditional procedures

Sali guitars are made by traditional procedures which comprehend the use of hand tools and techniques for wood working, finishing with shellac, etc. Skilled luthiers in the past developed techniques for guitar building to the extreme point and enormous details of their tradition are built into our high quality instruments.

We buy wood for our guitars on places with long tradition in this business. Our wood is naturally dried for at least 5 years in steady conditions under our control before we use it in production process. The quality of wood is 1st grade or high grade. We use the following types:

  • spruce or cedar for soundboards

  • mahogany (khaya, sapeli), cedar for necks

  • Indian rosewood or flame maple for backs and sides

  • ebony for fingerboards

  • rosewood for bridges



All Sali guitars are hand made. We spend approximately 150 hours on each instrument. However it usually lasts 5 months in order to complete one guitar. This is due to time-demanding finishing with French polish (if demanded by a customer) and all necessary adjustments of both saddles, fretboard, etc. once the guitar is finished. Each instrument is an unique product, usually made for a known customer. Because one guitar is treated by only one pair of hands and eyes, we are able to control all phases of work. Our approach ensures quality and we trade this quality for your security with pleasure.


Precision of guitar making does not affect only its appearance but also its sound. We are carefully focused into perfect matching between different parts. This enables thin layers of glue, thus your Sali guitar will vibrate without any unnecessary loses of sound.

Very important part of a guitar is its neck with fingerboard. Sali guitar has a reinforced neck which prevents undesirable deformations due to string tension on one side, and humidity and temperature changes on another side. The neck reinforcement is performed with carbon-fiber strips which are extremely light and strong, thus your Sali guitar will be a joy in your hands. A two-way truss rod enables quick and accurate neck adjustment if necessary.

We can achieve so desired low string action at all frets because the neck relief of Sali guitars is calculated with engineering precision and worked with accuracy. Consequently the playability of our guitars is something which enraptures.

Science behind Sali guitars

Several years of different researches performed at Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Ljubljana and later in Samo Sali's workshop enable that Sali guitars are well balanced combination of tradition, hand making, precision and science.

The influence of machining process on the acoustic properties of guitar

The wood tissue in any tree mainly consists of cells which are parallel to the tree's stem. These cells are sensitive to deformations which always occur during hand working or machining with machine tools of any wooden workpiece. Samo Sali defined the influence of planing, sanding and milling on the acoustic properties of wooden resonant boards. In planing the way of cutting the wood cells is different than in sanding and milling, and consequently each cutting process affects acoustics of a thin wooden board in a different way. All these findings are encountered in process of making Sali guitars.

Rule of consonance - dissonance

Each guitar tone has its spectrum. A sample spectrum of empty 1st string is shown in figure below. The tone spectrum shows us which frequencies (i.e., frequency components) are contained in the plucked tone and how strong they are. There is certain music theory which says that some combinations of tones are pleasant (consonant) and another ones are unpleasant (dissonant) to the human ear. We can apply this theory for a situation within any guitar tone. Some combinations of frequency components inside the tone are consonant and another one are dissonant. In well-sounding guitars the portion of consonant combinations of frequency components is large, and portion of dissonant combinations of frequency components is small  in comparison to low-quality guitars.




Frequency response of the sound board

The most important part of a guitar is its sound board. Due to non-homogeneity of wood, which means that density of wood tissue varies over the board, the acoustic properties of each wooden board in nature are different. Each sound board has certain number of wooden reinforcements (called braces and fans) and we are able to calculate their locations. Some places on a sound board are highly inappropriate for gluing the braces because they can block vibrations. In contrast, some places are ideal for brace gluing because adding the mass and stiffness at right locations can increase acoustic response of the board. Due to already mentioned non-homogeneity of wood the appropriate and inappropriate places for braces and fans are different for different sound boards. Adequate measurements and methods for calculation of optimal position of braces and fans enable beautiful sound of our guitars. To implement these methods some braces and fans must be curved with accuracy about 1 mm before gluing onto the soundboard.

Measurements of sound board

The luthiers in the past (e.g., Amati, Stradivari, etc.) developed a method named "tap toning" by which they established the response characteristics of the board. We developed an expert system for measuring the response of guitar sound boards. This system enables us to predict which frequencies in any tone spectrum of the finished guitar will be emphasized and which ones will be diminished.


Guitar tone depends much on sound board

"Tap-toning" method can be modified in order to produce a high-end quality guitar. Namely, under certain circumstances we can tap the sound board only at a specific location although its response will be characteristic for a whole sound board. In addition, we found out that tonal characteristics of the guitar can be correlated with characteristics of certain range of guitar's frequency response.

Tone improvement

According to the board's response the luthiers in the past performed additional removing of wood at certain locations to achieve optimal response which means loud and pleasant sound. Sometimes it is necessary to perform additional corrections for a completed guitar as well. If so, we rely on a method which enables these corrections by removing the wood through the sound hole.

Pictorial overview of making guitars

The neck with heel block and guitar head. With a proper selection and orientation of wood we
determine stability of the neck.
Sawing the slots into neck's heel to make room for the sides. Our method is traditional and accurate.
Rough completion of the heel is made by hand with chisel and sanding paper. We know what will fit into guitarist's hand. Routing a channel for a rosette and its integration into the sound board. Only high accuracy and knowledge about wood-cutting ensure aesthetic quality.
Gluing the sound board and neck together. A proper pressure must be used during gluing procedure.. Bended sides. Bending iron  (not shown) was used. Particular care must be taken in order not to break only 2 mm thick sides.
Sides with kerfed lining. This serves for fixation of
both sound board and back. A proper width of linings
is crucial for sound quality.
Jointed sides, neck, sound board and end block. Many details are important for following procedures like gluing of braces, etc.
Fingerboard glued onto neck and soundboard. Fingerboard profile is machined later. A certain curvature (relief) must be achieved in order to
prevent string buzzing. We make this profile with our tools which were designed with special care.
Completed bridge for Sali Classic model. Similarly, as in guitar neck the wood grain orientation is crucial. The surface which faces the soundboard must be completely flat.
Bracing pattern of Sali Classic model. Braces are carefully positioned and trimmed to ensure optimal frequency response function of a guitar. Back board ready for gluing. Braces are shaped with chisel, they are also slightly curved on the surface which is glued to the back board. Dimensions of braces affect tone colour of the instrument.
Finished fretting job; slots for frets are made by hand
into a fretboard. Fretboard has a certain curvature which is made by hand. Frets are positioned with accuracy less than 0.1 mm. They are hammered into a hard fretboard. After that they are leveled with a flat tool. Crowning of each fret follows. The last phases are sanding and polishing of frets.
Rough filing of neck profile. This profile affects how the guitar is played, therefore high accuracy and smooth transitions over whole neck length and width must be achieved.
Grooves for purfling and binding. In this phase the sound board can be damaged beyond the repair if wood fibres are torn at the board edge. After curving the bindings. These are curved like sides on a bending iron. Gluing them into the routed grooves is a demanding task which has to be performed quickly and accurately in order to achieve tight and strong joints.
Before finishing (guitar is fine sanded and cleaned). Several different grains of sanding paper is used
in order to remove all types of scratches and small damages. This procedure can take up to 8 hours.
After finishing with shelllac.
A detail: guitar head, typical for Sali guitars.



Sali Guitars, modified on March 29  2015