Jump to content

My First Acoustic


Recommended Posts

so...

Ive ordered a few books on acoustic guitar making because i want to take on a new challenge over the break and I've thought about it and amp making just is not for me. First i wanna start out picking what types of woods to use for everything and i wanna get a list of tools that i will need for the job. i have a very nice workshop to use(any non acoustic guitar specialized tool i could possible want.) but i have no bending iron molds or anything, although, i have all of my electric guitar making tools. Also, i don't really play the acoustic guitar, so i have no ear for what a good acoustic guitar should sound like. Is their something i should be looking for or like most things does it come with experience? also i will be building left handed.

Also, although I've ordered a few books does anyone have any recommended books or sites for me to read.

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 139
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

so...

Ive ordered a few books on acoustic guitar making because i want to take on a new challenge over the break and I've thought about it and amp making just is not for me. First i wanna start out picking what types of woods to use for everything and i wanna get a list of tools that i will need for the job. i have a very nice workshop to use(any non acoustic guitar specialized tool i could possible want.) but i have no bending iron molds or anything, although, i have all of my electric guitar making tools. Also, i don't really play the acoustic guitar, so i have no ear for what a good acoustic guitar should sound like. Is their something i should be looking for or like most things does it come with experience? also i will be building left handed.

Also, although I've ordered a few books does anyone have any recommended books or sites for me to read.

Thanks

Sounds like your planning well. I would recommend you look around over at the OLF and MIMF as well as here. There are several people who have been building acoustics here and seems like more are starting all the time.

I would recommend you spend the time to make your jigs and molds. I believe you will find with the right tools making an acoustic is really more fun and accurate. The best way to make an acoustic difficult to build is to not use good jigs. Most of these tools/jigs/molds you can make yourself and make it a little less taxing on the pocketbook. The shop you have access to should prove to be gold for making them. These are the ones I would consider a must; body mold (don't make it too thick, as it will make using it difficult), side bending form (if you buy a heat blanket for about $100 you will never have to fight the task of bending, a wise investment right out the shoot), brace radius jig (probably best to make it with 15' and 25' rad.), 15' and 25' sanding dishes (match your radius jig), a binding jig (laminate router support) there are a few basically three main styles that seem to work well, choose the one that suits your available space, go bars and deck (if you want to use a vac. clamping system that is an option, but a go bar deck and your sanding dishes are very smooth and effective), a nice shooting board is handy also, if you plan on making your own bridges from scratch make templates and jigs for that also (might be easier to purchase a more standard pre-shaped for your first couple), circle cutting jig (rosettes).

Shop tools that you may consider purchasing, or maybe you wll luck out and they will be available in the shop you are working in. Thickness sander, this is a SUPER slick tool for thicknessing many parts you will use (backs, sides, tops, rosettes, veneers, binding, purfling, headstocks (if you have an open end model the list goes on). bandsaw is super handy, but I find 14" to be a min. for most tasks and accuracy.

Hand tools to think about. Larger plane for jointing and shooting, small hand plane for other smaller jobs, basic scrapers, Chisels, small hand saw, buy a bunch of small spring clamps (for kerfed linings) these are the little 1-1/2" guys you can buy for about .25 cents each(buy about 40), most of your neck tools are pretty much the same acoustic or electric, bridge pin reamer is handy (choose 3deg. or 5deg., I have always used a 3deg.). Learn to sharpen your tools so they are always deadly sharp.

I am sure I am forgetting somethings, but as you look around at the different jigs and methods others use. You will pick up on them. Whatever you do... Ignor bad advise given by people who will tell you they worked around this or that jig. You can build without using good jigs, your results will suffer and you will make it much more frustrating. There are many versions of jigs to work through say binding or bending, choose te one that seems the most effective and run with it.

Peace,Rich

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yea, my dads is a big time hobby wood worker so in my basement i have access all of the tools i need to resaw(huge new laguna bandsaw cuts AMAZING) and clean up boards, along with tons of hand tool, routers, saws etc.

also where do you get those sanding dishes and ill have alot of money around holiday time to buy specialized tools.

thanks for all of your help, i'm sure ill be coming back for tips.

Edited by carousel182
Link to comment
Share on other sites

got my first book in the mail today, A Guitar Makers Manual by Jim Williams, it looks like a good book but does not explain the radius of everything from what i have read so I'm still confused with that. Are the inside and outside of the guitar radiused or is it just the outside? Also i still haven't found an easy way to make a sanding dish. Other than that I'd be ready to start now. but I'm going to wait until i find out more on that.

Im planning to use honduran mahogany sides and back, western red cedar or sitka spruce soundboard (what ever's cheaper, I don't want to waste that much money on my first build because i plan on building many more), mahogany neck, nothing too fancy for binding, probably plastic. east indian rosewood fretboard(if i can finda reasonably priced piece).

thats all for now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are the inside and outside of the guitar radiused or is it just the outside? Also i still haven't found an easy way to make a sanding dish.

Yes, if the outside is radiused, then, the inside radiused too.

just place the back on the sanding dish and glue the radiused braces.

I made my sanding dish with the router just like the picture on the other tread.

but you can buy them in lmii if you don't wanna make your own.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aye, thanks a lot this is tough for me for some reason. I'm working on my dishes now though. its gonna take a long time to do them but they should be nice, and they wont cost 100 bucks a piece

also i resawed my mahogany sides and put them through the sander and now they're at .090" i think I'm going to do a maple binding or something to contrast the rosewood

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bring the sides down to .080", .085 max.

As for building with dishes, I reccomend reading through various threads in the MIMF.com library, for example, and letting it all sink in. Took a while before I really wrapped my head around how the things work, but I wouldn't want to build without them now...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I second Mattia's recommendation on the side thickness. You would be supprised at how much easier it is to bend the sides when they are a few thousandths thinner.

Two dishes, as mentioned both concave, one about 15' for backs, and one about 25' for tops works great. I use my dishes to radius the rim, for glueing the braces, I actually used my dish to attach a top with the rim in my mold yesterday (worked really great with a spot on fit).

I have looked through Jim Williams book. It is not a bad book at all. I would recommend building the binding jig he has plans for in the book. The side bender he shows is good, but bulbs will be a little tuffer to bend with than blankets. If you do use bulbs supliment the heating with a heat gun and use foil and tape to seal the wood in the slats (also with bulbs, you are better off doing one side at a time, and don't do binding with the sides-* if memeory serves he recommends dooing all at the same time). Heat blankets would be a wise investment. To develop the radius on your bracing make a jig like this one-link. Actually have a look around at the other jigs on this page-link.

Do you plan to follow Jim Williams book for your construction? and is it going to be a steel string or classical. His neck joint shown in the book is not what I would recommend for your first. I would be curious to find out what style neck joint you are planning. This is one area you can probably get some good feedback from fellas around here as to what method they prefer (personally I am a bolt on fan, for many reasons, and I have built a steel string using the method shown in Jim Williams book).

Peace,Rich

P.S. Keep the questions coming. It is great to see a guy really doing his homework, planning well, and just asking the VERY GOOD :D questions to clear up some of the blanks from these books. Also, feel free to drop me a PM if you are looking for a soundboard (I have quite a few in Sitka, Lutzi, Englemann, Redwood, Western Red Cedar). I can also help you with bindings, bracing stock, bridge blanks and such.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot man. Ill bring those sides down to .080"

also, why do you need to radius the rim of the guitar if the back of it isn't radiused?

he mentions no molds from what I've read so far. I kind of want to bend it by hand, i think it would be more fun to do; if thats a problem though ill definitely make the jig.

I might follow Jim Williams book for construction but theirs a lot of things I'm probably going to change. I'm definitely still open for suggestions on anything. I actually was planning on looking up dove tail style joints, but as its my first acoustic i think ill go for bolt on if its easier. Also I am planning on making this one a steel string. But i do have another book coming which might clear things up a little more.

Also thanks a lot for that page with all of those jigs on it there are a lot of good ones there

For bracing on the back he says you can use mahogany but on the top he mentions no wood except for spruce. Im on the east coast so i doubt most of those woods (Sitka, Englemann, Redwood, Western Red Cedar) are readily availably to me, but i do have a large supply of maple mahogany walnut etc.

most of them are suitable for back wood. Are their any good soundboard woods on the east coast? Also does everything on an acoustic HAVE to be quartersawn?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot man. Ill bring those sides down to .080"

also, why do you need to radius the rim of the guitar if the back of it isn't radiused?

he mentions no molds from what I've read so far. I kind of want to bend it by hand, i think it would be more fun to do; if thats a problem though ill definitely make the jig.

I might follow Jim Williams book for construction but theirs a lot of things I'm probably going to change. I'm definitely still open for suggestions on anything. I actually was planning on looking up dove tail style joints, but as its my first acoustic i think ill go for bolt on if its easier. Also I am planning on making this one a steel string. But i do have another book coming which might clear things up a little more.

Also thanks a lot for that page with all of those jigs on it there are a lot of good ones there

For bracing on the back he says you can use mahogany but on the top he mentions no wood except for spruce. Im on the east coast so i doubt most of those woods (Sitka, Englemann, Redwood, Western Red Cedar) are readily availably to me, but i do have a large supply of maple mahogany walnut etc.

most of them are suitable for back wood. Are their any good soundboard woods on the east coast? Also does everything on an acoustic HAVE to be quartersawn?

The back is usually radiused (generally a stronger radius than the soundboard- like 15' vs 25' for the soundboard). The concept is to match the radius of the top or back when you sand the edge of the top or back side of the rim.

He does not used molds in his book. If you are going to build using spanish style joint as he shows in his book, you will need to build the workboard just as he shows. The whole guitar is build around that board, and it is critical. Jims book is good in many respects, but many of the methods do not take advantage of slick methods used by most builders today. Molds are a gem as are radiused dishes, and bolt on joints offer many advantages most notably flexability in fit-up and adjusting down the road. Bolt on method is outstanding IMO, dovetail and glued straight tenion are good, but why not take advantage of a bolt ons flexability.

I use Spruce bracing top and back. You can use other woods, but Spruce is easy to carve and tune, as well as offers outstanding weight to strength ratios. It does not take a lot of wood to make your braces so I would recommend you use Spruce for your first. As far as grain orientation. For your soundboard you want straight grain, minimal face runnout(tops should be cut from split wood), little compression, very well quartersawn wood that has very good stiffness. Back wood is more less critical, but closer to quarter does not hurt. I have use flatsawn quilted sapele for backs and sides, and it works just fine, so it is not mandatory that wood for back and sides be dead quarter. I do generally try to use wood that is closer to quarter for sides if I can.

Like I mentioned in my post above. If you have any trouble finding woods for your project drop me a PM and I will help you out. Just figure out what you want to use (you should use what you want, don't use woods you don't prefer because you think they are too hard to find). For instance; I can shoot you a split block of bracing stock (Lutzi) for $5, a good grade soundboard your choice Lutzi, WRC, Sitka, Engleman for $20 (if you want a very high grade, $40, but mind you that is visually higher in grade, it won't sound or work better). Shipping across the country is not that bad because these woods are light. So choose the woods you want to use, no need to choose anything less.

P.S. I am only offering these woods to Carousel182, I am not offering to sell to everyone (don't have time).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot for the offer man, i might pm you when i figure out what I'm doing 100%

I have another book coming as well so i might be using his methods rather than Jim William's. I don't think i like the idea of the guitar shaped work board at all, it seems like a much better idea to use molds

I understand the concept of radiusing the outside of the top and the outside of the back, but what about the inside of each of those, how would the inside(which is being glued to the rim of the side as i picture it now) be glued to a radiused rim if it isn't radiused?

Also, is radiused the right word, and can it be used as a verb :D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot for the offer man, i might pm you when i figure out what I'm doing 100%

I have another book coming as well so i might be using his methods rather than Jim William's. I don't think i like the idea of the guitar shaped work board at all, it seems like a much better idea to use molds

I understand the concept of radiusing the outside of the top and the outside of the back, but what about the inside of each of those, how would the inside(which is being glued to the rim of the side as i picture it now) be glued to a radiused rim if it isn't radiused?

Also, is radiused the right word, and can it be used as a verb :D.

You start with a flat soundboard or back. You then attach braces that have been shaped to the proper radius. The soundboard or back are held in place by the braces, and thus you achieve your radius. This shape is the same on the top or back of the soundboard or back set. Your rims have to have this same radiused to match the soundboard or back set when you glue them together.

Peace,Rich

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you plan to follow Jim Williams book for your construction? His neck joint shown in the book is not what I would recommend for your first. I would be curious to find out what style neck joint you are planning. This is one area you can probably get some good feedback from fellas around here as to what method they prefer (personally I am a bolt on fan, for many reasons, and I have built a steel string using the method shown in Jim Williams book).

Peace,Rich

+1. I would recommend using a dovetail or a bolt on joint. and highly recommend using molds for the sides.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would recommend you spend the time to make your jigs and molds. I believe you will find with the right tools making an acoustic is really more fun and accurate. The best way to make an acoustic difficult to build is to not use good jigs. Most of these tools/jigs/molds you can make yourself and make it a little less taxing on the pocketbook. The shop you have access to should prove to be gold for making them. These are the ones I would consider a must; body mold (don't make it too thick, as it will make using it difficult), side bending form (if you buy a heat blanket for about $100 you will never have to fight the task of bending, a wise investment right out the shoot), brace radius jig (probably best to make it with 15' and 25' rad.), 15' and 25' sanding dishes (match your radius jig), a binding jig (laminate router support) there are a few basically three main styles that seem to work well, choose the one that suits your available space, go bars and deck (if you want to use a vac. clamping system that is an option, but a go bar deck and your sanding dishes are very smooth and effective), a nice shooting board is handy also, if you plan on making your own bridges from scratch make templates and jigs for that also (might be easier to purchase a more standard pre-shaped for your first couple), circle cutting jig (rosettes).

Shop tools that you may consider purchasing, or maybe you wll luck out and they will be available in the shop you are working in. Thickness sander, this is a SUPER slick tool for thicknessing many parts you will use (backs, sides, tops, rosettes, veneers, binding, purfling, headstocks (if you have an open end model the list goes on). bandsaw is super handy, but I find 14" to be a min. for most tasks and accuracy.

Hand tools to think about. Larger plane for jointing and shooting, small hand plane for other smaller jobs, basic scrapers, Chisels, small hand saw, buy a bunch of small spring clamps (for kerfed linings) these are the little 1-1/2" guys you can buy for about .25 cents each(buy about 40), most of your neck tools are pretty much the same acoustic or electric, bridge pin reamer is handy (choose 3deg. or 5deg., I have always used a 3deg.). Learn to sharpen your tools so they are always deadly sharp.

As an aside, this is a nice list of things to have for the build, especially the molds, jigs, the heating blanket being a good investment so people know it is worth buying early and not after several unsatisfactory builds, etc. Some of that is not real obvious to newbies like me, so thanks for compiling it into one place!

-Cheers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been working on this radius dish jig for a while now but i can find a way to make the rails for the router to rest on, is their any site with templates i can copy, i cant find an accurate way to get a 15' and a 25' radius on a board

If you can't make the methods described in other topics work, you can buy radius templates. radius gauges

They offer templates with both concave and convex patterns on each for $18. If you buy these use them to create your brace routing jig as well as your rails for your routing dish making jig. They can be used down the road to check your radius on the finished jigs, dishes, and then your guitars after you have finished them(this is a handy way to tell if anything is changing due to humidity or tension). If you decide down the road you really don't need them anymore you should be able to sell them to someone else for say $10-12 (these are very useful tools for anyone who builds or is just starting to make jigs as you are).

Peace,Rich

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think i just realized something about the bracing that i didn't realize before. also ive made the discovery that in the book there is a template for the bracing which should be about 25' radius

I think Jim Williams had a template with the 15' and 25' radius shown on one of his full size drawings. Don't worry too much about the radius being absolutely correct (close is good enough) because these numbers are not written in stone.

I have the book open right now and am looking at page ten. If you look at his recommendation for the steel string soundboard thickness, he recommends .125". This is "safe" but generally a bit thick if you are using a reasonably stiff sitka or Lutzi or most euro spruce. I usually find .105"(+/- .005") is reasonable, and have gone .090" on very light sounboards. If you use a Redwood, Western Red Cedar or possibly Englemann you may be closer to .125"(+/-.005"). On page 11 he shows chiseling out your rosette as an alternative to using a router, I wouldn't recommend that (better off with a router). On page 12, in photo #12 he shows leveling the rosette with a chisel (be cautious if you do this and be SURE that chisel is extreamly sharp and under control). It is safer to make your rosette closer to the required thickness and use a scraper. On page 12 he describes making the steel string bracing. He actually makes no mention of radiusing in the steps, actually he tells you to sand the glueing surface flat. Take note of the shims he has below the ends of the X braces, these are a method he is using to try to develop the radius under the soundboard, however it is not a very even foundation while clamping. This is where your radiused dishes will be a better tool for you. A quick note about the brace shaping on page 13. The scallops and dimensions are pretty good (he suggests 1/2" tall by 3/8" wide stock, I have been using 1/4" wide with good success). A good thought when you are considering strength in bracing, adding height to your braces increases strength much greater than by increasing width. This is an important thing to keep in mind while carving, you can remove width with small changes in strength, but if you bring down the height you are going to lose strength very fast (adjust slowely). Another thing to think about is the points at which your braces meet another part (say brace end and kerfed lining, or brace meets brace). You will want the brace ends thickness to either be less than the thickness of the soundboard it is attached to or inlet into the other part to avoid creating stress risers. This same rule should be applied to your bridge plate, and it is a nice touch to try to "feather" these parts out to make really nice smooth transitions to the soundboard (kinda making the transition "invisable" or softer), good concept on bridges also. Also place a small thin piece of Spruce overlapping the point at which the X brace is joined (a cap), this will improve stability of the brace joint. Take a peek at page 39 photo #9, this is an example of how he is inlettingthe thicker brace ends at the linings. Personally I don't use individual tentallones and just chisel out a small bit of the lining to inlet a brace. While I am on this page (39), take note of how he marks the profile on the back of the rim. This is a PAINFUL method, use your sanding dish suspended over the body to reference the radius (don't forget the difference in body depth between the neck and tail- your radius dish should be blocked up to represent the difference in the depths at each end). I made a little marking device (small piece of wood with a bit of pencil lead on one end) to transfer the radius profile to the rim. Flipping the page to 40, I don't recommend clothes pins to attach your linings (they are weak and are difficult to use with triangular linings). In photo #12 he shows how he sands the radius into the rim with a board that has the radius. This can work, but is not as reliable or straight forward as a sanding dish.

I better stop flipping through the pages now.

Peace,Rich

Link to comment
Share on other sites

today i spent over 2 hours completing my jig and making one of the dishes the first one is 20' the second will be 28'

also... Does the bracing naturally give the guitar an arched shape from tension or something? and then you just sand it down to what it needs to be.. this book i have now doesn't really explain what the bracing is at all, so I'm kinda confused, hopefully the next one will clear things up more, right now all I'm doing is making jigs, tomorrow I'm going to make my Go-Bar system and the other dish, if I have time. iIll post pics tomorrow

Also another thing i noticed was he said the gluing surface of the bracing on the back is supposed to be radiused but he doesnt mention anything about the front bracing, is their a reason for this or did i just skip over it

Edited by carousel182
Link to comment
Share on other sites

today i spent over 2 hours completing my jig and making one of the dishes the first one is 20' the second will be 28'

also... Does the bracing naturally give the guitar an arched shape from tension or something? and then you just sand it down to what it needs to be.. this book i have now doesn't really explain what the bracing is at all, so I'm kinda confused, hopefully the next one will clear things up more, right now all I'm doing is making jigs, tomorrow I'm going to make my Go-Bar system and the other dish, if I have time. iIll post pics tomorrow

Also another thing i noticed was he said the gluing surface of the bracing on the back is supposed to be radiused but he doesnt mention anything about the front bracing, is their a reason for this or did i just skip over it

To answer your question about bracing. You shape the glued side of your braces to the desired radius. When you attach braces that are shaped to the radius they hold the sounboard in that shape. When you match the radius of the bracing to the rim and glue the sounboard to it, again the shape is held. This is how you develop your radius. Take note of this jig-link. This is just about the best jig I know of to get route the radius on the side of your braces that you will glue to your soundboard.

If this is still confusing, I will take pictures in the next day or two and show you exactly how this all works.

Nice work on your sanding dishes! Keep up the good work :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks a lot man,

i think i get whats going on perfectly now, what type of sand paper should i put on my discs do you think? and how much actually sanding needs to be done if the shape is already their from the bracing.

Another thing iv want to know is, if its a good idea to get the shape of the bracing template from sanding a piece of wood down on the radius board with sand paper, and then use the copy router bit to make a copy of it that has a straight edge instead of a curved one because of the spherical shape of the dish

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...