The NOVA Guitar

Bunker Guitars Custom Shop NOVA construction
Dave Bunker
Dave Bunker


The AT-Nova guitar is a fully hollow body archtop guitar conceived and built-in 1993. This guitar is a full range, dynamic guitar that will accommodate styles from light jazz, to country, to hard rock and roll. (You will find more information about the AT-Nova in our Custom Shop.)

The AT-Nova design created considerable controversy at its inception. Many people, including the venture capital force behind its development, thought it was just another of my wild dreams. They were right.

Before The Nova

Guitars manufactured before the AT-Nova used bent and stressed sides and tops. In most cases, these instruments were “posted”, meaning they were supported by a solid wood wedge extending through the guitar’s body. But this was a manufacturing flaw that compromised the benefits of hollow body design by reducing natural acoustics.

Popular guitars like the Gibson ES-335 used posted or wedged archtops, but they lacked the pleasing wood tones desired by many guitarists. So instruments of this design were “hollow body” in name only. They were just another electric solid body guitar with a pretty face in terms of tonal differences. I always felt that no guitar should ever defeat its natural acoustics. So I rejected the option of bending or stressing wood so familiar to many designs.

A New Concept

I chose instead to rout Bunker Guitars out of solid block to preserve the wood’s integrity. I hand-selected solid blocks of quality wood, carved the outside ring (or sides), and left the ring in its natural, unstressed state. Retained inside the ring were the neck heel block (i.e. wood around the neck pocket to support the neck mounting) and a smaller butt block for support. The butt block gives its support at the end of the guitar body, farthest from the neck, because the guitar’s weight is supported here from a strap hook. It also provides extra strength required when a trapeze style bridge is used where the string tension is at the end of the guitar.

Trapeze Bridge
Trapeze Bridge

I determined that a carved top from one solid piece of wood was superior to a pressed top piece through acoustical testing. So a carved top was glued onto the ring and machined for the neck pocket, the bridge holes (if wanted), and the brass wishbone tie piece.

The Wishbone Bridge

The Wishbone Bridge System was another idea that I conceived and tested for many years before applying the concept in AT-Nova prototypes. It is based on what we call the “Wishbone Bridge Neck-Through” design. Without touching the inside top or back of the guitar frame, a square laminated beam extends through the guitar’s sound chamber from the neck pocket to the bridge. Structural integrity enhances sound without dampening tonality. This beam connects directly to the brass wishbone tie piece, which connects to the topside bridge. It’s an engineering and acoustic breakthrough that keeps all of the string-pulling pressure off the guitar top and lets the bridge do what it was meant to do: i.e., vibrate and oscillate the guitar surface. It’s a design that creates a genuinely warmer, wood-tone sound, and it is now a standard feature of the AT-Nova.

Stump to Stage: Logging Maple for Bunker Guitars
Dave's Climber, Steve
Stump to Stage: Logging Maple for Bunker Guitars
Tree Showing Quilted Wood
Stump to Stage: Bunker Guitars Tone Woods
Finished Block Sausage Quilt
Stump to Stage: Manufacturing at Bunker Guitars
Three BAT Bodies To Paint
Dave Bunker

Dave Bunker

Dave has been building guitars for more than 60 years. He has introduced many innovations that are now considered features of the finest, custom-made instruments.

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