Try my hand?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Try my hand?

Post by ILTB69 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:42 am

i am considering an attempt at building my own guitar. i was just wondering if anyone had any helpful words of wisdom or reasorces to guide me through the process. Any and all opinions greatly appreciatted as i have much enthusialim, yet am lacking in any experiance 8)!! also i wanted to know if it is possible/advisable to use Eastern Red Cedar in building a guitar? i live in the southeast U.S. and have about 15-20 of the trees just in my back yard! Thanks again to all!


Post by Azalais » Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:07 am

Hello ILT

Do you have any woodworking experience (and/or tools)? You could always start out trying your hand at restoring an old guitar first, to see if you like it...

As for the trees in your back yard... if you harvest and split and sticker them properly, they might be fairly well aged and ready for your kids to build guitars with :wink: (Just kidding... ) You will probably save enough money on your air conditioning and heating bills by leaving the trees growing to buy any guitar top set(s) you might want... I'd put the ax in a safe place and enjoy the shade... :wink:


Post by ILTB69 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:44 am

see! this is exactally why i asked!! :lol: had it been up to me id allready be out swingin a big axe around! 8) Thanks for the advice i guess i should do a little research before i get all gung ho! I guess it does make since to not be able to just go chop down a tree and build a guitar! If you know of any good reasources where i might find a more sound begining (becouse i definatly want to learn!) it would be greatly appreciated! and thank you Azalais for your good humor in the face of my ignorance! 8)


Post by Sasquatch51 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:01 am

Go here:

They have several varieties of kits that will make the task much easier....also they have books and videos on the subject (recommended).


Post by ILTB69 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:16 am

Thank you sasquatch! i used to live in Hotlanta btw! :lol:


Post by Sasquatch51 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:17 am

ILTB69 wrote:Thank you sasquatch! i used to live in Hotlanta btw! :lol:
Yeah? Where are you now?


Post by Azalais » Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:41 am

I guess the good humor is a result of having the same curiosity and enthusiasm myself... I found so many good books and articles and web sites and luthier supply resources that I couldn't resist the DIY urge for long... (I did have quite a few tools and fair amount of woodworking and model building experience, which probably made it worse) One thing I can tell you for sure is that for what you can end up spending on gear, and cut fingers, etc. to complete your first guitar, you can probably justify buying a really nice custom built guitar and have a lot less dust in your house and be playing much sooner... That said, there is nothing quite as satisfy as hearing the first sounds come out of an instrument you have built yourself...

One of my favorite websites is one that is mostly in Japanese. I don't read a word of Japanese, but the photographs are so amazing that you can follow the whole sequence just by looking at the pictures! (I found it looking for a baroque guitar, which is what I wanted to build, but it is really inspiring, and covers lots of the detail work and steps that you need to follow for most instruments) There are some English translations, and you can navigate around to find most things. He also has book lists, tool lists, supplier lists, etc, etc. It's just a treasure trove of fun stuff.


Post by jcrants » Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:43 pm

As for whether eastern red cedar can be used for soundboards, all I can say is that I've never heard of anyone using anything in its genus. It's actually a widespread juniper species (Juniperus viriginianus), while western red cedar is Thuja plicata. The eastern relative is eastern white cedar, Thuja occidentalis, which isn't used in soundboards.

The only eastern species I've heard of for soundboards is red spruce (Picea rubens), while white spruce (Picea glauca) and black spruce (Picea mariana) are not used.

I don't know for sure which species are actually good for soundboards. I think eastern red cedar, white cedar, white spruce, and black spruce are all neglected because they do not grow very large, but I would expect them to have very tight grain without exception. Are they avoided because they make bad soundboards or because it's too hard to get large billets out of them?


Post by Tomas-Lobos » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:56 am


Post by ILTB69 » Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:21 pm

Thanks for the great links! I may not be experianced carpenter or woodworker but im not stupid and i can read directions so im thinking i might actually be able to handle this! Obviously i know i need the raw materials and some directons to start with, but what would you say are the essential luthiers tools? Just typical woodshop supplies or is there some secrect speacial magic machine that i need? :wink:


Post by jcrants » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:06 am

Any decent set of instructions for the novice luthier (i.e, every in-depth guide I've seen in print or on the web) has a tools list and a materials list. I've looked most closely at a book by Irving Sloane ("Classic Guitar Construction," Stirling Publishing 1989), which describes how to make a Torres style guitar. Although no power tools are absolutely required to follow his instructions, a jigsaw would be awfully useful.

I would recommend checking out this book, if you can find it, and/or William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson's "Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology" (Chronicle books 1985). They're both interesting. There's also something out there by Jim Wiliams called "A Guitar Maker's Maunual" (Hal Leonard 1986), but I've never actually seen that.

I'm hoping to make a guitar myself, some day, and being a bookish fellow, I'm inclined to read as much as I can before then. Already, I'm finding a variety of opinions on tonewoods, bracing, truss rods, and the resonating frequencies of the top and back. The violin literature is also potentially useful.

Speaking of soundboards, I'm just going to drop this link Azalais posted in a discussion about spruce vs. cedar, just because I think it's one of the coolest pages ever: After listening to lots of MP3 samples of different guitars on this page, I think I may like spruce a bit more than cedar.


Post by Azalais » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:21 am

:oops: I apologize... I was just trying to delete jcrants' duplicate message, and I think I may have deleted someone else's message in the process... sorry about that :oops:


Post by Derry » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:50 am

give this site a review also,, is free to join and the videos of the building process will give you some idea of what you will be getting into,,

you can also see the tools and fixtures they use for the build,,

a very quality production of the building,,

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