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Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:34 pm
by Elmin Basovic
so I bought an old classical guitar and I've disassembled it to take the measurements off it.
I've read somewhere that the width of the sides of a steel string guitar should be 12.7cm
as you can see on the pictures my guitars sides are less than 12.7cm
here are my questions:
1. I'm planning on making the sides 12.25 cm in width so that the top and the back make it 12.7 cm
do i need to make the sound box (guitar body ) bigger? do i need to make the sound hole bigger?
2. The heel is around 8.8cm and it would be ugly if i just left it that way but it seems kind of awkward when i just make it a little longer without making the neck longer and then I'd need to make a 22 or 24 fret guitar instead of 19, right?
3. And then I'd need to move the bridge a little, right?

thanks for your help in advance

here are the pictures of my guitar or what's left of it. don't mind the stars, I bought it a week ago to start my first guitar
https://ancient-warlock.blogspot.ba/ there you can find the pictures

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:55 pm
by Barry Daniels
That looks like laminated wood. Not big enough and not worth trying to build with. If you want a successful project get some quality guitar woods and get a book and plans to guide you.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:01 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Barry Daniels wrote:That looks like laminated wood. Not big enough and not worth trying to build with. If you want a successful project get some quality guitar woods and get a book and plans to guide you.

I know I said it was cheap i think
but I'm not that great with cash right now cause I've spent all on wood for the guitar, I bought black limba for the sides back, I'm thinking about buying a black limba top too, beech neck with a palisander fret board and mother of pearl for fret markers

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:13 pm
by Barry Daniels
Oh, I thought you were going to make it out of parts off the old guitar. OK then, you still need a plan for your new guitar. You should not use the classical guitar as a guide to make the steel string. Different guitars. You need a plan.

Use spruce for the top.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:50 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Barry Daniels wrote:Oh, I thought you were going to make it out of parts off the old guitar. OK then, you still need a plan for your new guitar. You should not use the classical guitar as a guide to make the steel string. Different guitars. You need a plan.

Use spruce for the top.

can't someone help me get those plans for let's say fee? I'm broke

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:55 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Elmin Basovic wrote:
Barry Daniels wrote:Oh, I thought you were going to make it out of parts off the old guitar. OK then, you still need a plan for your new guitar. You should not use the classical guitar as a guide to make the steel string. Different guitars. You need a plan.

Use spruce for the top.

can't someone help me get those plans for let's say fee? I'm broke

or could someone measure their guitar? I'm really trying to make this right

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:27 pm
by Bryan Bear
There are a lot of parameters that go into getting the geometry right on a guitar. Some are easily changed while others will have an effect on other aspects. Beyond the geometry issue, most things will have some effect on tone but don't worry too much about that on your first guitar. On the early efforts you should be focusing on doing the best job you can on the construction; don't worry, it will end up sounding like a guitar and you will love it.

While you surely learned a lot by dismantling this guitar, I don't think it is a good idea to just use measurements you took form it to make your first. Especially so if you are going to be making a different type of guitar! It would be one thing if you just planned to replicate what you dissembled, but without knowing enough about how one change may effect another you are asking for trouble.

Get a complete plan that you know is already successful to work from. Use the measurements on the plan; do NOT measure from the drawing itself. Also, get a good book and follow its methods. There are several approaches and they all work but you don't want to use bits from one method and pieces form another until you understand how these things go together. Some operations will require a certain technique down the line where another won't. Grabbing different techniques from different places can set you up for problems further down the line that you don't yet know how to anticipate.

Sorry, I forgot to submit this after I typed it out and I see there are now several responses. . .

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:34 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Bryan Bear wrote:There are a lot of parameters that go into getting the geometry right on a guitar. Some are easily changed while others will have an effect on other aspects. Beyond the geometry issue, most things will have some effect on tone but don't worry too much about that on your first guitar. On the early efforts you should be focusing on doing the best job you can on the construction; don't worry, it will end up sounding like a guitar and you will love it.

While you surely learned a lot by dismantling this guitar, I don't think it is a good idea to just use measurements you took form it to make your first. Especially so if you are going to be making a different type of guitar! It would be one thing if you just planned to replicate what you dissembled, but without knowing enough about how one change may effect another you are asking for trouble.

Get a complete plan that you know is already successful to work from. Use the measurements on the plan; do NOT measure from the drawing itself. Also, get a good book and follow its methods. There are several approaches and they all work but you don't want to use bits from one method and pieces form another until you understand how these things go together. Some operations will require a certain technique down the line where another won't. Grabbing different techniques from different places can set you up for problems further down the line that you don't yet know how to anticipate.

Sorry, I forgot to submit this after I typed it out and I see there are now several responses. . .

thx, I think that I'll try to replicate this one and if i sell it I'll get the plans

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:36 pm
by JC Whitney
Perhaps look at it this way - a good book and set of plans will cost significantly less than what you have invested in your woods, and will help to insure that you end up with a finished product worthy of all of the time and effort you’re going to put into it. Even if you have to put off starting to raise a bit more cash, it will be worth it in the long run.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:53 pm
by Bryan Bear
Elmin Basovic wrote:can't someone help me get those plans for let's say fee? I'm broke


You can find some free plans online. You'll need to have a few copies printed. the Grellier plans (google it) come to mind as good free to download plans. There are, I'm sure, others I'm not thinking of right now.

The plans should have measurements listed for all the critical components for you to follow. You can use the drawing to copy your body shape but use the measurements for everything else. Often plans list the scale length but don't give the fret placement measurements. Find the fret calculation tool on the Stewart McDonald website or look for the W-fret program here on the MIMF (I think it is still available here).

Before you start, you will have to spend some time learning how to approach certain tasks and tooling up to do them. This is time well spent even if it doesn't feel like it. Some things you'll want to consider:

Make sure you read up on and understand the concept of compensation and intonation before you place the bridge.
You'll need to decide how you will tackle side bending and practice before you use expensive woods.
Neck carving is not as bad as you think it is.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:01 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Bryan Bear wrote:
Elmin Basovic wrote:can't someone help me get those plans for let's say fee? I'm broke


You can find some free plans online. You'll need to have a few copies printed. the Grellier plans (google it) come to mind as good free to download plans. There are, I'm sure, others I'm not thinking of right now.

The plans should have measurements listed for all the critical components for you to follow. You can use the drawing to copy your body shape but use the measurements for everything else. Often plans list the scale length but don't give the fret placement measurements. Find the fret calculation tool on the Stewart McDonald website or look for the W-fret program here on the MIMF (I think it is still available here).

Before you start, you will have to spend some time learning how to approach certain tasks and tooling up to do them. This is time well spent even if it doesn't feel like it. Some things you'll want to consider:

Make sure you read up on and understand the concept of compensation and intonation before you place the bridge.
You'll need to decide how you will tackle side bending and practice before you use expensive woods.
Neck carving is not as bad as you think it is.

thanks, it's a great help. Bending won't be that hard, I'll take off the sides and make the bending tool, only thing I'm not familiar with is the compensation and intonation but I'll get to that eventually

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:06 pm
by Elmin Basovic
one last question does a guitar need back radius?

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:12 pm
by Bryan Bear
You'll get a lot of good advice here. People come to this craft from lots of different backgrounds and with lots of different goals. Tell us more about yourself and you will get even better advice.

Do you have previous woodworking experience?
Do you have access to an equipped woodshop?
do you have access to anyone with experience in luthiery?

What drives you to make a guitar?
What are your guitar making goals?
Have you worked on or repaired any instruments?
What type of guitar do you really want to make and why?

I'm not asking for specific answers to this list of questions. These are just things to think about. The advice might be different for someone who is a life long woodworker who wants the challenge of making a guitar than for a musician who wants something specific but can't find it in a factory guitar. . .

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:18 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Bryan Bear wrote:You'll get a lot of good advice here. People come to this craft from lots of different backgrounds and with lots of different goals. Tell us more about yourself and you will get even better advice.

Do you have previous woodworking experience?
Do you have access to an equipped woodshop?
do you have access to anyone with experience in luthiery?

What drives you to make a guitar?
What are your guitar making goals?
Have you worked on or repaired any instruments?
What type of guitar do you really want to make and why?

I'm not asking for specific answers to this list of questions. These are just things to think about. The advice might be different for someone who is a life long woodworker who wants the challenge of making a guitar than for a musician who wants something specific but can't find it in a factory guitar. . .


I'm a pretty good woodworker and not such a great player. I guess I wanted to make something useful and myb sell it if it turns out good

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:28 pm
by Bob Gramann
If you haven't already been there, the new builder's FAQ viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4 is worth the trip.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:39 pm
by Peter Wilcox
For your first guitar I would highly recommend this book (I used it for several instruments):
https://www.cumpiano.com/our-guitarmaking-textbook

and here is a used copy that won't break the bank:
https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/guitarmak ... iq=5414407

It has plans and dimensions for both steel string and classical guitars. Cumpiano's website has updates and alternate workarounds:
https://www.cumpiano.com/gtt-updates--commentary

And no, you don't need a radius dish.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:48 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Peter Wilcox wrote:For your first guitar I would highly recommend this book (I used it for several instruments):
https://www.cumpiano.com/our-guitarmaking-textbook

and here is a used copy that won't break the bank:
https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/guitarmak ... iq=5414407

It has plans and dimensions for both steel string and classical guitars. Cumpiano's website has updates and alternate workarounds:
https://www.cumpiano.com/gtt-updates--commentary

And no, you don't need a radius dish.


thanks, so i don't need a radius dish for a steel string guitar nor do i need one for a nylon string guitar? awesome

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:25 pm
by Peter Wilcox
Elmin Basovic wrote:
thanks, so i don't need a radius dish for a steel string guitar nor do i need one for a nylon string guitar? awesome


You can just cut the radius into the braces, and they will radius the top and back when you clamp and glue them. It's explained in the book, which goes into step by step detail in the entire construction process of both steel string and classical guitars.

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:30 pm
by Elmin Basovic
Peter Wilcox wrote:
Elmin Basovic wrote:
thanks, so i don't need a radius dish for a steel string guitar nor do i need one for a nylon string guitar? awesome


You can just cut the radius into the braces, and they will radius the top and back when you clamp and glue them. It's explained in the book, which goes into step by step detail in the entire construction process of both steel string and classical guitars.


you sir are my new God hahaha just kidding, thx a lot

Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:30 pm
by Freeman Keller
Elmin, don't decide to build a guitar because you are broke and want a cheap guitar - the materials will cost you several hundreds of dollars and you will easily spend several hundreds more on special tools (assuming you have a basic workshop of hand tools and a good router). Buying the Cumpiano book will be a small but necessary part of your expenses. He had good plans in the book - if you want to build something else then, again, plan to spend the money to buy good plans. Oh, and plan to follow them.

And don't think that you will be selling your first guitar - with luck you will build a serviceable and playable instrument and you will learn a lot that will apply to your second and third and... When I got up to about 6 I gave a couple away to family, after about 15 I finally decided to sell a few for basically what I had in them (and maybe a six pack).

My first couple were built from kits (figure 500 bucks or so) but the big advantage is that several operations are done for you which require special tools (bending sides, mitering the fretboard, planing the plates). As I progressed I bought more and more tools (and more books and more plans)

Be realistic about this and enjoy the ride