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Help For A First Timer...

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hello guys,

i have alread succsefully completed my first solid electric guitar build, and im ready to start building my first acoustic,

ive tried doing research on the net, and ive found it to be very limitid!.. at the momment im planing on buying a book of the net, but im not sure which one(s) to get. ive looked on stew mac..

has any one got any ideas of what will be more suitable for a first time ..

thanks alot guys!!

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Cumpiano's 'Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology' is good, if a little dated. Jonathan Kinkade's book gets good reviews too. I have the Cumpiano, and using that to help me understand the isntrument enough to follow the discussions in the MIMF.com library (great resource), I was able to get started in the acoustic world.

There's a ton of information available on making acoustic guitars online (www.mimf.com, www.luthiersforum.com are two great forums for acoustic builders), but you should remember they're far more complex than the average electric guitar, which is a plank, sawn out to a certain outline, with a neck glued or bolted on. That's simplifying things a lot, but electric guitar bodies are pretty simple things, ergo the many, many threads and forums and sites dedicated to their construction.

As for the how and the what, many folks reccomend kits. I built from scratch (well, OK, back/side sets and a top), because I had 6 electrics under my belt, and felt comfortable enough to go at it that way. Also managed to buy materials for three guitars (including initial new tooling, like a bending blanket) for the price of two StewMac acoustic kits.

Edited by Mattia
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Cumpiano's 'Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology' is good


I have that book and it, along with 5 electrics, was enough to get me started on my first acoustic build. It's going good so far (not quite done yet) I still have to make the neck, thats about it.

I find building acoustics is much more fun than electrics. Electrics are just a little boring for me.

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I've bought the following books, in the order I would buy them again in planning an acoustic build:

- Cumpiano: Very good, quite comprehensive but perhaps not enough pictures.

- Benedetto (Archtops): astoundingly good. maybe not ideal as the sole reference for making a flat-top acoustic, but for my money this was bar-none the best investment for practical advice, clear illustrations, and awesome inspiration. It also keeps me very very humble about my own build quality.

- Kinkade: does not add much to Cumpiano and not as complete. Mamny more pictures, but I don't really thinkn some are all that helpful. Oddly I get teh feeling Kinkade doesn't reaaaally know his stuff and the book is more marketing for him than it is help for you and I.

- Williams' "Guitar Maker's Manual" - Decent, but pales compared to Cumpiano. Full sized plans are handy, but poorly dimensioned.

- Koch (electric guitars): decent reference, but scattered, poorly organized, and explanations/diagrams are often unclear. Nearly useless for acoustic

- Siminoff's "Luthier's Handbook" - waste of money, basically useless. You can get more info on this forum and it's searchable

I will say this about buying too many book on guitarbuilding as I did: you can't buy too many books. Sure some of them are proactically useless, but they always color in a few details, think about things a bit differently and round out approaches, and make you a little more comfortable with the whole process. Buy what you can afford, read prodigiously, and then give it a go.

For another thing to consider, my approach is to build an electric first, then step up to acoustic later. Anyhow, happy planning.


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I find building acoustics is much more fun than electrics. Electrics are just a little boring for me.

I find it more satisfying, and more challenging, certainly, but building electrics is never boring. Electrics are sort of relaxing; you can carve it, shape it, smooth it, without having to sit there and ponder whether and how removing that 1/16" will affect the sound. You can also do other things (aesthetically and tonally) with them, although increasingly I find hybrid instruments all the more interesting (think blends of archtops and electrics; almost all my electrics are chambered anyway).

Still, the fact my 'stash' has far, far more acoustic wood than electric wood should tell you something :D

Dave: I must admit I found Benedetto's book a little bit on the thin side, in some ways; not that extensively documented, and less new information than I'd hoped to glean. Maybe if I'd bought it before building 10 guitars (non archtops, though)...

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Cumpianos book, and Kinkead, and a rented DVD that had pictures only, no video, but voice over, forgot who this guys is, but the DVD would be worth the $30.00. It was $12.00 to rent it.

I use kinkeads book ALOT *library checkout), plus stuff learned on 13th fret and this site. I got go bar dishes after talking to a guitar wood supplier, he just started using them, said they are a must, he never could get the backs just right....

Im at around $1500.00+ for tools also, $@#@##@ thats the one thing I hate. Then there is the wood accumulation, I cant use half the stuff I got (beginner), (good deals, really good wood)

I am using flatirons to bend the wood, not a round thingy, but I will use a pipe.

Oh, then there is the construction, man, its like art, its like woodcarving, its gooooood!!!!! It helps power through those "$@#@@ another $100.00 bucks" moments....

base carving braces while watching TV, and putting the curve on em, awsome. Im a woody=)....!

Im transitioning from major tone freak to major, its my tone freak. I look at nice guitars, and crappy ones, to see if I can see the difference. Cunpianos book will have you overbuilding on your first try if you use his measurements, so ask ask ask if you want a good first one..........

Edited by GoodWood
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The DVD is Robbie O'Brien's one, LMI sells it/supplies it with their kit as standard. I have his finishing DVD, and it's pretty darn good, too (for acoustic finishes, mind).

Tooling's expensive, and at a certain point you stop thinking about it in terms of expense, and swith to looking at it as investment; that's the only way I can justify the absurd piles of wood that never quite seem to shrink, ever...

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