Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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josswinn
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Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:16 am

As I said in my introductory post, I am new to guitar making and am being taught one-to-one by Roy Courtnall, author of Making Master Guitars. I expect it to take 20-30 days in total and have so far spent just four days with Roy. My time permits only one or two days a week working with Roy so it won't be finished until early next year. It will be walnut back and sides, cedar neck and a lattice spruce top.

Needless to say, it's a fantastic experience and education and I am documenting it as a reminder of my learning; what to remember, look out for, and to do when I come to build a guitar on my own. I intend to publish a blog of all the photos (there will be hundreds!) with descriptions and cross-references to his book when the guitar is complete, but thought that members here would be interested in seeing a few photos from the first four days.

ImageDay 1: Gluing the neck to the head by Joss Winn, on Flickr

ImageDay 2: Making the solera by Joss Winn, on Flickr

ImageDay 3: Cleaning up the head slots by Joss Winn, on Flickr

ImageDay 4: Shaping the head by Joss Winn, on Flickr

tom3949
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by tom3949 » Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:03 am

That's really cool. Look forward to seeing more of this.

Welcome to the forum.

bftobin
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by bftobin » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:38 pm

Thanks. I really enjoy seeing these builds.

lifewithasong
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by lifewithasong » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:39 pm

This is wonderful!!
Esse quam videri

vesa
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by vesa » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:24 am

Thanks Joss.
Why not continue this thread?
Many of us has made their first ones with ¨Making master guitars¨ in the lefthand and a chisel in the right, so it is interesting to follow how the live teaching situation is.
Greetings and thanks from me to Courtnall and good luck with the project.
Vesa Kuokkanen

Antonio Marin nr. 813 1995 (Bouchet)
Vesa Kuokkanen 2016

sphsieh616
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by sphsieh616 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:01 am

I've subscribed this thread,
Hope to see more photos of your newborn guitar.

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:17 am

I'll post one or two photos in this thread taken each day I spend making the guitar with Roy. I'm in his workshop for two days next week and then once a week from 9th September.

Imbler
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by Imbler » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:42 pm

Thanks for posting, I'll be looking for future pics!

Steve Toscano
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by Steve Toscano » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:28 am

As per others. Thanksnfor sharing. Will keep an eye on this. :)

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:29 pm

Day 5 (Courtnall book pp.177-184): Today, I cut the 'V' joint and carved the heel. We began by meticulously marking out the 'V' joint starting from the centre of the 12th fret mark, masking off the lines so they were clearly visible. You can see how it compares to a neck that Roy had previously made:

ImageDay 5: Marking out the V joint by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Careful cuts were made with a tenon saw to produce the V where the sides will be wedged. In his book, Roy illustrated a method involving a 2mm slot for the sides, which he no longer uses, having switched to the Romanillos method illustrated on p.184.

In the photo below, I am starting to carve the heel, having finished the foot. The cuts for the wedges are visible but the wood has not yet been removed. The front cut is wider than the saw blade, because the two cuts were not perfectly symmetrical and so I slid in a piece of veneer and re-cut it slightly forward, salvaging the problem.

ImageDay 5: Cutting and carving the foot and heel by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Earlier, I said that my guitar will have a lattice top, but I can elaborate a bit more about the design on which it is based:

For the past few months, Roy has been working with a close friend and guitarist, Rob Johns, to develop a concert guitar that retains the traditional Spanish sound but has greater projection. The basic features of the design are a rigid back and sides laminated with veneer and a lattice soundboard no thicker than 1.3mm. There are 18 (2x9) 2mm wide struts, half of which are capped with carbon fibre.

Roy has produced several guitars based on this design over the last few months that have been loaned to local guitarists. I have played two of them and done a blind comparison with my Torres copy. I also attended a recital by Rob Johns in a local church, where he played a rosewood and spruce version. On the basis of these experiences, I was eager to make my first guitar based on their design, too.
Last edited by josswinn on Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Jlrexach23
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by Jlrexach23 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:40 am

I am currently reading the book, awesome to see your posts

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:52 pm

Day 6 (Courtnall book pp. 183-190). Today, I finished shaping the heel and made the 'log' of the central motif for the rosette. I also made spool clamps (p.147) for the solera and started to make a mould out of MDF for the laminate sides of the guitar.

I used two steel rulers to clamp the 1mm square strips of wood together, smearing glue over the top of them and then clamping a piece of wood on top. This picture was taken before the glue was applied. There's tape on the rulers because apparently the steel would discolour the wood.

ImageMaking the planks for the log by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I needed five planks for my log. Here they are after being glued (the long plank was cut into two):

ImageThe individual glue planks by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Unfortunately, the motif didn't work as planned and I will have to make the log again. The 1mm strips of wood I'd ordered were not uniformly 1mm square and when the planks were put together, the motif was out of alignment. Oh, well. I learned a lot and the whole process was surprisingly simple providing the materials are cut to the right size in the first place!

After some scraping, I finished shaping the heel with a rolling pin and abrasive paper:

ImageSanding the heel by Joss Winn, on Flickr

And made sure that the critical surface of the front of the wedge slot was flat:

ImageChecking the front of the wedge is flat by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I then applied shellac to all the surfaces that will not be glued and marked the centre line of the neck so that it will be visible after the sound board has been glued to the neck.

ImageMarking the centre line by Joss Winn, on Flickr

That's the neck finished for now. The playing area still needs to be worked on, but work on the head and foot is complete. I've learned that a great deal of work goes into the neck, requiring a range of carpentry skills: measuring, marking, planing, cutting, carving, gluing, filing and sanding. I'm already eager to start another and apply what I learned the first time.

Finally, the 24 spool clamps were cut on the band saw and pillar drill from two rolling pins and some 6mm threaded steel:

ImageThe spool clamps for the solera by Joss Winn, on Flickr

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:23 pm

Day 7 (Courtnall book pp. 218-219; 226-229). Today, I cut the MDF mould to the plantilla shape for when we laminate the ribs and I cut the outline of the jig for when the ribs are bent (p.232). I then prepared the two halves of the walnut back for gluing by following the same method as the soundboard. I ensured the grain of the two book matched halves were nicely aligned and planed the two edges on a shooting board, before gluing and clamping. The main thing to remember is which side is which when planing the edges, checking for a tight joint, planing, checking, planing, checking and so on. A mark across the two halves makes aligning them easy and two crosses on alternate sides of each half helps to ensure the right edge is being planed. The two halves were glued, clamped and wedged tight.

ImageGluing the two halves of the back by Joss Winn, on Flickr

The back of this guitar will be laminated for rigidity. We were going to use two layers of cherry veneer but Roy has some burr walnut and I thought that it would look nice to see the burr of the walnut through the sound hole and sound port, so we prepared one layer of cherry to glue to the walnut back and then a layer of burr walnut to glue to the cherry.

In this photo, the cherry is on the left, laid out on grease proof paper so that it doesn't stick to the board it will be clamped in. Likewise, the burr walnut is on the right prior to gluing. Clamps are on the ready.

ImagePreparing to laminate back veneers (left: cherry, right: burr walnut) by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Clamping board, grease proof paper, cherry, glue, walnut, grease proof paper, board and lots and lots of clamps:

ImageLaminating the veneers by Joss Winn, on Flickr

We then turned to work on the walnut ribs/sides. First I cut the wood and carefully planed it to the correct width. They were supplied 2mm thick so I then used a scraper plane to reduce them to about 1.8mm to make bending easier. Here's a photo that shows two groups of shavings. The shavings on the left were after we sharpened and adjusted the plane.

ImagePlaning the ribs by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Roy made his own thicknessing caliper with plywood and steel reinforcements. I will make my own too for about £10 in materials, including the dial gauge.

ImageChecking the thickness of the ribs by Joss Winn, on Flickr

With both ribs planed to the correct thickness, we marked the point where we expect the waist of the bouts to be. The strip of paper is the length of each finished side and shows were each bend will be.

ImageMarking out the centre of the waist by Joss Winn, on Flickr

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tom0311
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by tom0311 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:50 pm

Very cool. The book is excellent - I'd love to get 1 to 1 time with someone like Roy. What an experience. Interested to see the progress.
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.”

Malto069
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Location: Meander Valley, TAS, Australia

Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by Malto069 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:40 pm

Hi Joss,

Great to follow your progress. I've just started a build using Roy's book (and plans he kindly emailed to me). I've started with the neck, whilst concurrently joining soundboards / backs, making the Solera and spool clamps. I haven't progressed these items in 3-4 months - so seeing your progress is good motivation (and the fact the shed is no longer < 10C at night)

I've often looked to alternate sources of information and approaches in starting my first classical, but find I keep coming back to Roy's book - the other sources of information confuse the issue more often than not ;-)

Looking forward to more posts and the blog as work progresses.

Matt

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