Help is readily available at the Musical Instrument Makers' Forum:
This is a very civilized place to ask any question and receive timely
and useful answers. No misbehavior is tolerated.
I suggest that you also go to your public library (or to a bookstore)
and check out Cumpiano & Natelson's Guitarmaking: Tradition and
Technology. It's a comprehensive roadmap to building that does not
overemphasize tool-collecting. Moreover, it is only one approach to
the subject, but it is thorough. I built my first guitar, using this
book as the sole reference.
I haven't made a guitar, but google acoustic guitar plan and there are
lots of pages on that.
Also check out grizzly.com - they have a variety of supplies and
guitar-making kits. Apparently their president is quite an
accomplished luthier (that's the fancy word for a stringed
insturment-maker - try including that in your google searches too).
On a solid body electric guitar getting the neck/action/intonation right
is the tricky part. As a beginner you may want to start out with a kit.
Electrics are easier than acoustics, generally speaking.
There are lots of kits available; Matrin sells acoustic kits. I recently
built the "ultimate tele" using a thinline body from stew-mac and a warmoth
neck. I like it. I'll post a pic on a.b.p.ww.
Luthierie is a pretty specialized kind of woodworking. Some folks study and
apprentice for years to get really good at it - especially acoustic
instruments. You might want to start with a kit. Take a look at the
Grizzly web site and/or order one of their catalogues. The president of
Grizzly is big on guitar building and the company offers several reasonably
priced kits and a lot of tools, woods and accessories.
I built an acoustic guitar in the Martin D-28 style. I was inspired by
Lynn Dudenbostel's guitar / mandolin series on the DIY channel. I
documented the build on my web site here:
I got all of my supplies (except the spruce top) including a full-sized
blueprint at Stewart-MacDonald. http://www.stewmac.com /
Have to say I loved your web photos and the description of the process you
went through. Looks like it came out great too. Have you fixed the bridge
and played it yet?
Building a guitar is at the top of my list for my next woodworking
challenge. I took up the guitar this year (like I need another hobby) and
spend an hour or two every day playing and practicing.
The Dudenbostel series is pretty inspiring. I spent a week at the Adams
School of Woodworking this summer and they're planning on doing a guitar
making class next year. Rather than wing it like you did, I might go this
route instead to get a start on my first guitar.
Thanks for sharing your work.
Gary in KC
The Dudenbostel series was an inspiration for me too. I had been
building solid-body guitars and basses for almost three years, and then
somebody asked me if I would build an acoustic. My response was "no, I
couldn't do that!" Then I saw the Dudenbostel program, and I found
myself saying, "I can do that!"
Here's the result:
I've also built a 12-string guitar and another 6-string
dreadnaught-style guitar this year. If you go to my web site's "Other
Stuff" page, you'll find links to several of my other instrument projects.
The clamping system is called a go-bar deck, and I've found three
sources for the fiberglass rods:
1) Luthier's supply places such as Stewart-MacDonald and Luthier's
Mercantile ($3.50 to 4$ each)
2) A couple of Ebay sellers have sold them on occasion (about $2.50 each)
3) I made some of my own from 3/16" diameter fiberglass rods I bought in
6-ft lengths from Tap Plastics. I get the rubber tips from Luthier's
Mercantile. (about $1.25 each total cost)
I cut the fiberglass rod on the bandsaw, and realized after I did it
that I should have used an already-worn-out blade. The fiberglass is
really rough on saw blades!
I used 2 layers of 3/4" MDF for the top and bottom decks, with 1/2"
threaded rod at the corners, with appropriate nuts, washers, and
wing-nuts. The wing-nuts allow me to adjust the height of the upper
deck. I can lower it when I'm gluing the braces in place, then raise it
when I'm gluing the top and back onto the body sides.
I have a luthier friend who used go-bars made from strips of poplar.
Why? because it's cheap, and easy to make more at any time. :-)
I have built electric guitars and have repaired just about everything on
acoustics. I no longer do guitar repair except with a gun to my head from
former customers who will not take no for an answer. Guitars used to be
built with a few hand tools in small shops. today they are made in large
factories or by independent luthiers in small shops with a varied assortment
of tools. For a beginner it is doable. Be prepared for mistakes and a lot of
patience. Check out www.mimf.com and http://www.stewmac.com/ for advice and
Hope it helps.
Truro, NS, Canada
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