1st acoustic guitar build - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 07-23-2018, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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1st acoustic guitar build

Ok, I've mentioned this many times over the last couple of years and it's finally to a point where I can post photos. Over the last 30 years or so I have replaced tops, backs, done fret jobs, inlay, glued braces and lining, refinished, made bridges, saddles, and nuts, replaced tuners, and all kinds of repairs, etc. but this is the first guitar I've built from scratch.

I cut all the wood for this including resawing the back/sides/top, cutting the binding and bracing from lumber or billets, etc. Along the way I've designed and built my own modular cantilever side bending fixture that will accommodate sizes from Jumbo down to 0, possibly smaller like a Ukulele. I'll post photos of the side bending fixture later and also built all the forms, fixtures, templates, and jigs for the build. I started the build a couple of years ago just working an hour in the evening, sometimes two, and some on weekends, but I put it aside and didn't touch it for about 8 months.

I'll tell you ahead of time that it sounds good, is bright, has great sustain, and plays very easily with good action. But it may be a while before I make a video of it being played.

Back and sides - Honduras Mahogany
Top and bracing - Sitka Spruce
Neck - African Mahogany with Maple and Honduras Mahogany center pieces
Headstock, rosette, arm bevel, heel cap, and tail wedge - Walnut burl
Headstock inlay - Zebrawood
Fingerboard, bridge - East Indian Rosewood
Binding, purfling - Zebrawood and Maple
Sound port lining - Macassar Ebony
Solid lining - Honduras Mahogany
Side braces - Honduras Mahogany
Finish - Shellac (French polish), measured just over 1 mil at the bridge

The neck is bolted on and I devised a way for it to be completely removable. It can go from tuned to pitch to neck off in about 5 minutes. In the week that the guitar has been tuned to pitch it is holding its tuning as good as my other guitars. The intonation still needs some minor tweaking but I'll play it a while before working on it again.

Assuming I like it enough to play in church I'll install a K&K Pure Mini pickup. If I decide to just play it at home and with friends I'll save the pickup for a future guitar.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of the build and some of the finished guitar.
Back bracing with Padauk glue strip -
1st acoustic guitar build-022-back-bracing-padauk-strip.jpg

Top bracing -
1st acoustic guitar build-023-top-bracing.jpg

Gluing the back in place -
1st acoustic guitar build-024-gluing-back-.jpg

Finished guitar. I didn't want a super high gloss finish but rather decided to do an old world vintage patina. Nothing against the super high gloss finishes but I have 5 guitars with high gloss finish and wanted this one to be different. Now that I've done it this way I like it even better than I thought I would.
1st acoustic guitar build-025-build-1-front.jpg

1st acoustic guitar build-026-build-1-back.jpg

1st acoustic guitar build-027-build-1-rosette.jpg

1st acoustic guitar build-029-build-1-sound-port-cutaway.jpg

1st acoustic guitar build-030-build-1-headstock.jpg

1st acoustic guitar build-032-arm-bevel-zebrawood-junction-detail.jpg

So feel free to comment, ask questions, critique. I have about 1,500 photos of the build and good documentation but these few photos tell the story just fine, I think, so I'll spare you the copious extras.

Enjoy!
David

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post #2 of 28 Old 07-23-2018, 10:24 PM
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David, I can't say but one thing and that is (WOW). I never knew you were that good. I know you do YT so play us a tune.

I do have one question. I have never seen a guitar with a hole in the side so what is up with that?

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #3 of 28 Old 07-23-2018, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Don! That's a sound port and enables the player to better hear the instrument. Most of the sound is normally projected out of the sound hole and away from the player. But the sound port allows the player to hear without leaning over and further deadening the sound with his/her body (smothering the guitar inhibits vibration which kills sound).

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post #4 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 12:28 AM
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Amazing!

I have no idea what it is, so I'll just call it a dent...I see from your pic description that it's an "arm bezel." What is that for? Just a place to rest your arm?

⚡ Anthony
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post #5 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 07:50 AM
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great attention to detail, great design, interesting purfling! but not near enough build pics!


also, looking forward to your bending jig....

Last edited by TimPa; 07-24-2018 at 07:56 AM.
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post #6 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 07:52 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AmishElectricCo View Post
Amazing!

I have no idea what it is, so I'll just call it a dent...I see from your pic description that it's an "arm bezel." What is that for? Just a place to rest your arm?
It's there to ease the sharp edge when you play for a long time. After 30 minutes or so that edge gets to where it doesn't feel very comfortable. So in 1989 a Luthier named Grit Laskin added an arm bevel for a client and the idea took off.

I didn't have a guitar with a sound port, Florentine cutaway, or arm bevel so I decided to add all three to this build.

David

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post #7 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 10:31 AM
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Beautiful work. How does it sound? I know nothing about guitars but that appears to be a parlor or maybe a jumbo. I would guess it has a rich sound.
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post #8 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Kerry! It's a Grand Auditorium so it's about the same size as a Dreadnought or D-28 Martin except the waist tucks in a bit more and the body is about 3/4" shallower top to back. The shape is as you say, like a Jumbo, but a little smaller but it's larger than a Parlor.

It has a very balanced sound string to string and is very bright. I'll do a video in a few days and post that. I'm trying to get a friend to play for the video but he's reluctant to get in front of a mic, though he is far better than me, so it might be me plunking away.

David
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post #9 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 11:17 AM
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That's beautiful! A true piece of art.
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post #10 of 28 Old 07-24-2018, 05:54 PM
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Beautiful! Would love to see more pics of the build!!

Sent from my Moto E (4) using Tapatalk
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post #11 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
Ok, I've mentioned this many times over the last couple of years and it's finally to a point where I can post photos. Over the last 30 years or so I have replaced tops, backs, done fret jobs, inlay, glued braces and lining, refinished, made bridges, saddles, and nuts, replaced tuners, and all kinds of repairs, etc. but this is the first guitar I've built from scratch.

I cut all the wood for this including resawing the back/sides/top, cutting the binding and bracing from lumber or billets, etc. Along the way I've designed and built my own modular cantilever side bending fixture that will accommodate sizes from Jumbo down to 0, possibly smaller like a Ukulele. I'll post photos of the side bending fixture later and also built all the forms, fixtures, templates, and jigs for the build. I started the build a couple of years ago just working an hour in the evening, sometimes two, and some on weekends, but I put it aside and didn't touch it for about 8 months.

I'll tell you ahead of time that it sounds good, is bright, has great sustain, and plays very easily with good action. But it may be a while before I make a video of it being played.

Back and sides - Honduras Mahogany
Top and bracing - Sitka Spruce
Neck - African Mahogany with Maple and Honduras Mahogany center pieces
Headstock, rosette, arm bevel, heel cap, and tail wedge - Walnut burl
Headstock inlay - Zebrawood
Fingerboard, bridge - East Indian Rosewood
Binding, purfling - Zebrawood and Maple
Sound port lining - Macassar Ebony
Solid lining - Honduras Mahogany
Side braces - Honduras Mahogany
Finish - Shellac (French polish), measured just over 1 mil at the bridge

The neck is bolted on and I devised a way for it to be completely removable. It can go from tuned to pitch to neck off in about 5 minutes. In the week that the guitar has been tuned to pitch it is holding its tuning as good as my other guitars. The intonation still needs some minor tweaking but I'll play it a while before working on it again.

Assuming I like it enough to play in church I'll install a K&K Pure Mini pickup. If I decide to just play it at home and with friends I'll save the pickup for a future guitar.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of the build and some of the finished guitar.
Back bracing with Padauk glue strip -
Attachment 364110

Top bracing -
Attachment 364112

Gluing the back in place -
Attachment 364114

Finished guitar. I didn't want a super high gloss finish but rather decided to do an old world vintage patina. Nothing against the super high gloss finishes but I have 5 guitars with high gloss finish and wanted this one to be different. Now that I've done it this way I like it even better than I thought I would.
Attachment 364116

Attachment 364118

Attachment 364120

Attachment 364122

Attachment 364124

Attachment 364126

So feel free to comment, ask questions, critique. I have about 1,500 photos of the build and good documentation but these few photos tell the story just fine, I think, so I'll spare you the copious extras.

Enjoy!
David
Beautiful guitar. I play guitar myself and always love seeing custom built guitars.
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John
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post #12 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 02:19 PM
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I just discovered this guitar player

Brent Mason is just about the most "Awarded" guitar picker in Nashville. His fingers are flyin' in this number in honor of Jerry Reed. I don't mean to hijack this thread in any way, just to share this amazing talent. I'm a novice guitar picker myself and built my first guitar neck to put on a classical body when I was poor and just 16 years old.


If this doesn't fit here David, feel free to move it and start a new thread!

Enjoy:
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Last edited by woodnthings; 09-09-2018 at 02:24 PM.
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post #13 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 02:57 PM
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Elegant! Building a guitar from scratch? Surely, you aren't stringing us along?
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post #14 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Pineknot_86 View Post
Elegant! Building a guitar from scratch? Surely, you aren't stringing us along?
Thanks! No stringing along though I didn't grow the trees for the wood. I just assembled pieces that I cut off the lumber. Our Pastor played it and said he was impressed. I told him not to be; I was trying to build a rocking chair and got off track somewhere...

David

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post #15 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Brent Mason is just about the most "Awarded" guitar picker in Nashville. His fingers are flyin' in this number in honor of Jerry Reed. I don't mean to hijack this thread in any way, just to share this amazing talent. I'm a novice guitar picker myself and built my first guitar neck to put on a classical body when I was poor and just 16 years old.

If this doesn't fit here David, feel free to move it and start a new thread!

Enjoy:
Brent Mason, Tommy Emmanuel, Richard Smith "East Bound and Down" Jerry Reed Guitar-Man Tribute 2014 - YouTube
Excellent picking! Did you notice when Kerry Marx dropped his pick on his lead run that Brent Mason jumped right in without missing a beat and then handed it back off to Kerry? That's cool stuff! And I love anything with Tommy Emmanuel. Richard Smith is an incredible picker, too. Thanks for posting this.

David
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post #16 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 06:23 PM
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Amazing truly ,,, how long to build?
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post #17 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Amazing truly ,,, how long to build?
Thanks! I took over two years but it sat for 8 months without ever touching it. And at least half the time was building the side bending fixture, radius sanding blocks and dishes, other forms, templates, jigs, and fixtures. If I were to guess at the number of hours on the guitar itself I'd have to say around 200, give or take 15-20. There were times when I would work 2-3 hours every night for 4-5 days on a fixture and then using the fixture took 10 minutes for the intended task. But on the next guitar the fixtures and such are built so it shouldn't take nearly as long. That's the plan, anyway!

David

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post #18 of 28 Old 09-09-2018, 10:21 PM
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Yah, that was cool!

Quote:
Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
Excellent picking! Did you notice when Kerry Marx dropped his pick on his lead run that Brent Mason jumped right in without missing a beat and then handed it back off to Kerry? That's cool stuff! And I love anything with Tommy Emmanuel. Richard Smith is an incredible picker, too. Thanks for posting this.

David
I couldn't tell exactly what happened, I thought he had stepped on the audio cord and it came unplugged. I can't believe l listened to Doc Watson and Chet Atkins for all these years and just discovered Brent Mason a month ago. My other two favorites of his are Alabama Jubilee and Eastbound and down, another Jerry Reed tune. I've probably heard all 3 of them about 50 times each so far .... Vince Gill is another favorite. All real music is played with stringed instruments .... just sayin'
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post #19 of 28 Old 09-10-2018, 01:08 AM
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One of these days I'll see about making a guitar just for the heck of it. I don't play guitar though so I would have much of a use for it.



-T
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post #20 of 28 Old 09-10-2018, 12:07 PM
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Beautiful guitar with some features I've never seen before. I went to school with a guy that builds guitars out in CA (Carbonaro Guitars) and I know from seeing his posts how much work goes into building one.

Also that was a fun video with all the band members having a chance to show their stuff. Thanks for posting that, and for me it added to the thread and didn't take away from the talent shown on this build.
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