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Making an Archtop Guitar

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Drak, ever gonna build an archtop? I just ordered the book. My first book on guitar building, but I figured I really know nothing abour archtops...

The winter before this past winter, I broke my shoulder and had to recoup for a few months at home. I spent a lot of that time studying archtop construction on-line, looking up as many models and as much information as I could find...there is a lot of information out there really.

I bought most of the woods I need, quartered and booked Spruce, Walnut, and Myrtle amongst others...

And then I decided to just hold off for awhile for several reasons.

Building an archtop, especially your first, will probably take a year and a half, that seems to be the average from the many sites I read, and you have to be pretty focused on just that. For your first one, more time is spent building the various jigs and forms that actually constructing the guitar, so it's kinda like if you build one, you'll be building more (of the same model, cuz your forms are made for that one size).

So I asked myself if I really wanted to go thru that, put everything else away and just focus on that alone, and even if I finished it, would I use it enough to warrant spending a year and a half and stopping my other projects for it (of which I have a lot underway already :D )

And my answer to myself was, 'not yet'. I am sort of slowly and steadily working my way toward it, at a pace I'm comfortable with, because I do this sheerly for the fun of it, and I have many other projects I'm working on that I didn't feel like giving up for one jazz guitar and a dozen molds, hehehe.

Actually, when I honestly thought it over to myself, the surprising answer was that I'd much rather build a Dobro first, I am a slide guitar FOOL and I know I would use a Dobro that I built way more than an archtop jazz guitar, considering the time investment involved and the net worth it would mean to me personally.

So, there is the challenge of it from a guitar builder's standpoint, the challenge of constructing one and having it playable and all that, but at what price?

The price, for now, is too high for me, I'm not really 'that' interested in doing one...yet. :D

Sorry for the lengthly answer, but I really did think it over for some time while I was researching it, and I kinda surprised myself when I thought it out and decided the time investment was more than I was willing to commit to right now, I'm having a freakin' blast building what I'm building right now, still very happy building my weirdo electrics/chambereds/holloweds... B)

...and my knees buckle at the sound of a good slide guitar, I absolutely love playing slide guitar to death...I don't quite get the same reaction trying to play jazz (in my case, blues dressed up to look and sound like jazz, hehehe, y'know, 'SRV jazz' :D )

So, I looked at it from a few different perspectives, not just from a guitar-builder challenge perspective.

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thanks for the response, Drak. But for now I only bought the book.....

It's definately a good reading.

If I ever start building an Archtop I will not buy my wood from Stew Mac.. man.. those blanks are soooo expensive.

I might build me a thickness sander.....

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I got all my woods from the 'bay.

The 1" quartered Spruce billets I can't remember his name, but it's quality aged stuff for about $50.00. He sells his wood as guitar wood too, so he knows what the deal is. Just use Spruce as your searchword and plow thru the bites. Most spruce hits will be guitar related I've found.

Quartered Myrtle I got from Cook Woods who I've dealt with repeatedly.

Quartered Walnut I got from CAWoodnut, he has the BEST Walnut I've ever seen on-line, it's tremendous stuff, although I think he doctors the pics to be a little more colorful than real-life, the quarterdness of it and the figure cannot be denied.

He sells incredibly thick beautiful hunks of Claro, which he harvests locally to him (he's in CA) And he thickness sands the pieces too. He might offer resawing services, can't really remember tho.

Also he is a tremendously nice guy and a closet guitar builder. B)

I don't know why folks dog the 'bay so much, I have met/talked to some of the hands-down nicest people I've ever met doing deals on the 'bay. Most of them (but not all) were wood suppliers too. I've had one really bad experience on the 'bay (a vintage Fender amp, so that's not surprising), the rest were pretty damned good. Some were extraodinarily good.

When I buy wood off the 'bay, I always ask the seller if he offers resaw services, it's soooo convienient to have the guy cut it in half for you already, and most have done it for a really nominal fee...wood guys are cool... :D

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I have the Benedetto book too. While I like the way he cuts out the maple boards to create the neck, I don't like or recommend his drill press method to remove wood from the tops to get the initial depths cut.

I also have "Blue Guitar" which isn't really about guitar building, per se, but there was a nice picture that showed a carved top that had been routed to "stair step" the initial shape for the carved top.

Keep in mind that I haven't built an arch top yet. It's on the list of things to make. But I would experiment with the router before attempting drilling the million holes like Benedetto does.

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I orded the Benedetto Book last week and it should be here tomorrow. I'm planning on taking MUCH less than a year, though, Drak. I'ma have to crack down and focus hardcore on it. I've got a potential customer who wants one, but I told him I have to learn how to build one first...

I'm excited to get the book, as I love archtops, and I just yeah...gotta build one. I guess I'll see how arduous of a task it may be when the book comes...

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That's cool.

BTW, there are LOTS of different websites about building archtops...spend some time with a good search engine or two, you'll find lots of great information and tips to help you along your way.

I don't think I could build one just reading that book, too limiting. Benedetto is great, but a book is a book, use the web to augment the info there. :D

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