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Looking To Start My First Acoustic - Is A Kit The Way To Go?


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First off, tried a search, but not having much luck since "kit" is too short for the search engine. I'm sure this has been addressed, but rummaging through past posts I'm not finding much. Links to previous threads are fine.

I'd really like to build an acoustic. I usually do all my building in summer, as I don't have a true shop, I do most of it outside. So the plan is to spend the winter reading and learning as much as I can, and acquiring the tools needed for the unique tasks building an acoustic presents - (at least unique to someone whose gear is setup for furniture and electric guitar building.)

The plan is to construct a traditional smaller guitar (A triple O, I guess?) to a set of plans. Is this a good start? I've always liked the smaller acoustics, but is it better to start with a dreadnought or something? Little in the way of frills, and certainly not try and do anything "out there" for my first build.

It seems (at least to someone with little knowledge of an acoustic) that the major benefit of a kit is pre-bent sides, (and getting everything in one place) but I'd really like to learn to bend my own wood for use in wooden bindings on my electrics anyway, so obtaining the gear to do this is something I need anyway. I'll probably practice wood-bending this winter (as I can probably do that inside without much trouble) with much of the scrap I have on hand. (I've been practicing resawing since I got access to a bandsaw.)

But outside of that, is a kit the way to go, or would I be better off suited just buying lumber and having at it like I do for my electric builds? (Pretty much the only thing I don't start with raw lumber for is the fretboards and fret slotting) I'm less interested in having an instrument in a timely fashion, or even a playable instrument, as I am learning how to do this properly.

What's the equivalent of Melvyn Hiscock's book for the acoustic builder? A recommended reading list? Should I be reading elsewhere online?

Also - I've got enough warm weather here (and many of the tasks I can accomplish indoors) that I imagine I can get some necks made (both for this planned build and a couple of electrics I'm thinking of working on) at least as far as the rough sanding - but if I end up leaving an unfinished neck (I spray outside) for 6 months in my house, am I asking for trouble? The temperature inside here pretty constant, and the humidity is usually the same (pretty dry) during the winter, but as the seasons change I know things can get wonky here - nothing that wreaks havoc on my finished instruments, but still enough that some of my temperamental builds (The bass with flatsawn mahogany neck) need a little TLC. My lumber yard supplies me with very well seasoned wood, however, and this would obviously not be under string tension. I usually finish with KTM-9 - would doing the epoxy grainfill help? Should I just leave off leveling the board until I pick the project back up again in the summer, or is this whole thing (starting a neck now) a bad idea?

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First off, tried a search, but not having much luck since "kit" is too short for the search engine. I'm sure this has been addressed, but rummaging through past posts I'm not finding much. Links to previous threads are fine.

I'd really like to build an acoustic. I usually do all my building in summer, as I don't have a true shop, I do most of it outside. So the plan is to spend the winter reading and learning as much as I can, and acquiring the tools needed for the unique tasks building an acoustic presents - (at least unique to someone whose gear is setup for furniture and electric guitar building.)

The plan is to construct a traditional smaller guitar (A triple O, I guess?) to a set of plans. Is this a good start? I've always liked the smaller acoustics, but is it better to start with a dreadnought or something? Little in the way of frills, and certainly not try and do anything "out there" for my first build.

It seems (at least to someone with little knowledge of an acoustic) that the major benefit of a kit is pre-bent sides, (and getting everything in one place) but I'd really like to learn to bend my own wood for use in wooden bindings on my electrics anyway, so obtaining the gear to do this is something I need anyway. I'll probably practice wood-bending this winter (as I can probably do that inside without much trouble) with much of the scrap I have on hand. (I've been practicing resawing since I got access to a bandsaw.)

But outside of that, is a kit the way to go, or would I be better off suited just buying lumber and having at it like I do for my electric builds? (Pretty much the only thing I don't start with raw lumber for is the fretboards and fret slotting) I'm less interested in having an instrument in a timely fashion, or even a playable instrument, as I am learning how to do this properly.

What's the equivalent of Melvyn Hiscock's book for the acoustic builder? A recommended reading list? Should I be reading elsewhere online?

Also - I've got enough warm weather here (and many of the tasks I can accomplish indoors) that I imagine I can get some necks made (both for this planned build and a couple of electrics I'm thinking of working on) at least as far as the rough sanding - but if I end up leaving an unfinished neck (I spray outside) for 6 months in my house, am I asking for trouble? The temperature inside here pretty constant, and the humidity is usually the same (pretty dry) during the winter, but as the seasons change I know things can get wonky here - nothing that wreaks havoc on my finished instruments, but still enough that some of my temperamental builds (The bass with flatsawn mahogany neck) need a little TLC. My lumber yard supplies me with very well seasoned wood, however, and this would obviously not be under string tension. I usually finish with KTM-9 - would doing the epoxy grainfill help? Should I just leave off leveling the board until I pick the project back up again in the summer, or is this whole thing (starting a neck now) a bad idea?

I would suggest that you build a kit. stew mac and lmii has them.

one book that I have and like very much is the cumpiano one. one other option is A Guitar Makers Manual By Jim Williams. both are great and are packed with useful information.

be careful about gluing the top and back if the humidity is high, 45% or lower is my choice. and in my town humidity levels go down to 11% in the dry season. if a guitar survives here, i think it'll survive anywhere.

Edited by Hector
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I'd also suggest a kit from LMII, they will send it to you in pretty much any state you want (everything straight, plates joined, sides bent whatever). To cut your own backs & sides from rough requires a good high bandsaw (for resawing the backs) and a thickness sander....about $2k up front for those alone.

I'd order it with no dovetail in the heel & heel block, just ask them to leave it large...and go with one of the bolt-on neck joints. There are many different kinds.

For bending, make yourself a mold and a Fox-style bending form, and get yo bad self some heating blankets. The mold is really required for keeping everything organized, and if you build more than one or two you'll be glad for the heating blankets.

Make a radius dish too, 25' radius is not a bad one to start with for both top & back. I tried going without one on my first build (using a radius "beam" instead) and the results were not the best.

Use Tru Oil for the neck...a very winter- and indoor-friendly finish! You don't want it moving around a lot due to humidity changes.

+1 on the Cumpiano book...although he doesn't use a mold (I would) and I'm not particularly fond of his neck joint.

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+1 on the Cumpiano book...although he doesn't use a mold (I would) and I'm not particularly fond of his neck joint.

exactly!

I can't build without a mold, and I don't like his neck joint too, but I'm curious about his hardware based neck joint. maybe i'll try it in some of my acoustic builds I got going on.

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Go to kitguitarsforum.com

Great site with usefull info on building kit guitars

I would say that you need to figure out every step and then look at what else LMI will do. Im having them do my fretboard slotting and I may just buy an off the shelf bridge for the first one or 2 guitars I build. I also have a Martin reject neck for my second build, its 1 3/4 though, too small but what the hey. Saves lots of time. Have them thickness sand the top and back and sides also. It would cost you $30.00 for that anyway. Get a second set of bracewood for backup.

Depending on your materials/tools, you could do the rosette, or play it safe and have them do it. It would run about $100 for a Dremel setup, which works for me.

You may need a bending iron/ heat blanket for touch up, not sure if the sides are bent to glue up stage. Nothing wrong with putting 'parts' together for your first or second guitar. :D Like they say, it will take 5-10 to get a feel for it. Ive heard lots of good comments from thier kits, I always wonder if I should have started that way, but I got my 2 carpathian spruce tops for $30.00pp, so I couldnt argue with that.

Make the positive mold before you make the negative and see where the wood bends to!

And remember, the kit has plastic trim, you can get maple or whatnot for like $8.00 a topset.

Good luck.

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