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New at Acoustic


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I have built several solid-body guitars and am intersted in trying an acoustic. How does the building process compare? It looks like there are more tools needed, and a whole lot of bending skills to learn.

Also, how does the cost compare to a solid body (for materials - not tools)?

I would assume that a kit would be a good way to get started (I didn't do this with the first electric but it seems to make more sense here).

Any other info would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Dave

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I've done lots of bridge repairs and rebuilt a few tops but never one from the ground up. I've heard good things about StewMac's resonator guitar kits and hope to order one sometime in the new year. Their first line of Delta resomasters was such a big hit that it sold out.

There is more specialized equipment needed in cutting and forming the base pieces of an acoustic. It depends on what floor you want to start on. You could buy precut wood to the right thickness or cut it down yourself if you have access to a thickness planer or large sander. Then you have to steam the wood and form it on a mold. I guess you could use another guitar for a mold and end up with a slightly larger guitar B) . The rest is assembly, glueing and clamping.

But there is an exact science in producing a good sounding acoustic. I recently played my friend's Martin and said, "yep, these guys definitely got a good recipe :D " That guitar just booms! in comparison to my Fender acoustic of the same size.

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I'd go to the MIMF if you want information on accoustic building. I belive LGM is the only user here to have actually built an accoustic, and even he is a serious noob* compared to the majority of posters at the MIMF. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and I belive the bulk of information and advice you could get here would be at best misleading, at worst positively dangerous.

*No disrespect intended, and I hope no offense taken. After 3 solid bodies I still consider myself very much a noob. :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can I again recomend Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology. Its one of the first guitar building books I read. It is a step by step on a very respected way to build acoustics. An amazing amount of libraries have it. Id be doing it now if i had time money and some tools. Visions of the 27" scale maple cutaway jumbo.

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How does the building process compare? It looks like there are more tools needed, and a whole lot of bending skills to learn.

Also, how does the cost compare to a solid body (for materials - not tools)?

I would assume that a kit would be a good way to get started (I didn't do this with the first electric but it seems to make more sense here).

Obviously the building process is different. You have to thickness your soundboard back and sides correctly, brace the soundboard and back, bend the sides and attach them to the neck and tail block, glue in the kerfed lining in the side/block assembly, then you'll need some way of trimming the kerfed lining and sides to match the radiused profile of the back and soundboard, then attach the back and soundboard. The neck is quite similar to an electric guitars' neck, but fitting it isn't. You gotta have the right amount of neck angle for your bridge. Then figure if you want to attach your neck now, or finish the body and neck separately, like if you want a gloss finish on the body and satin for a nice feel on the neck. Then trim away the finish on the soundboard so you can attach the bridge...and binding the body/neck is thrown in there somewhere.

My very first guitar was an acoustic from scratch, I've built ukuleles and a flat-top mandolin and I also worked at Northwood guitars for five months, so I've learned alot about acoustic guitar construction. I definatly recommend a kit, the STEWMAC KIT in particular, it comes with a video too. The StewMac kit is designed for beginners requiring minimal tools. You can actually view the instructions online on the StewMac website, so you could get an idea of what it'll be like.

There different tools in acoustic guitar building, too. Radius dishes for bracing, radius dishes for forming the profile on the sides/blocks assembly, bending iron, go-bar decks for brace gluing and attaching to back and soundboard to the side assembly...though the StewMac kit is designed to require minimal tools.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have just finished building an acoustic. The side bending is nowhere near as difficult as everyone thinks. Read Irving Sloans books as well. I started with his steel string guitar construction book back in 1978. He shows you how to build the speciallity tools you will require for building a flat top.

All you need to bend sides is a hot aluminium pipe with a radius a bit smaller than the smallest radius on your sides. Heat the pipe with a blow torch. It is hot enough when a bead of water "dances" on the pipe. Soak the wood for a few minutes and keep bucket of water and sponge at hand.

Place the side onto the pipe and rock it slowly side to side while pressing down. You will feel the wood start to soften and bend. Keep it wet with the sponge so that it doesn't get scorch marks on it. Have a template that you can check against contantly.

Good luck

Keith

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