Acoustic steel string guitar

Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:31 pm

I've never made one - did an Irish bouzouki and acoustic bass, electric guitars and basses, but never an acoustic guitar. I made the top plate a few years ago (douglas fir) and a four piece back (alder). I started on it again a few months ago with a neck (alder), fretboard and bridge (osage orange) and sides (alder), then got side-tracked again. This challenge will force me to complete it. I'm just making it up as I go along. I plan on no top bracing except the bridge and bridge plate, and a couple of adjustable struts from them to the heel block. I imagine it will sound terrible, so I'll make the back removable so I can fiddle with adding or changing bracing as needed. I expect it will be a disaster, but it will be fun, interesting, and a learning experience for me.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Mark Swanson » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:04 am

Why don't you brace the top? It would be best if you followed a more conventional top bracing plan for your first, or you could be asking for troubles.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:55 am

Mark Swanson wrote: you could be asking for troubles.


Exactly. "Troubles" is how I learn. The guitar may not even be playable - that's OK - for me it's the journey, not the destination. Of course I can do that because I'm fortunate in that I don't depend on it for a living.

I made the bouzouki with conventional (guitar) bracing, and the bass with slightly unconventional bracing. Now it's time for a wild hair. :lol:
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:50 pm

Here are the materials I have on hand. The body outline I traced from a Mexican classical I have, though it's going to be a 14 fret steel string. I still had to modify it a bit to make it fit on the wood.
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materials-on-hand.jpg
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:54 pm

I bound the sound hole on the other acoustics, so I figure it's time to try a rosette. I drilled some holes in my router base a la Cumpiano, then cut some circles into a piece of lacewood.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:08 pm

I sliced them out on the band saw - I have 3 chances to screw up. I don't know if I'm going to inlay it whole, or cut it into sections with dark lines between, or add purfling rings. I'd like to be able to dye the lacewood, but then when I scraped or sanded it down I'd lose the color. I guess I'll experiment a bit. Any suggestions appreciated.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Mark Swanson » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:51 am

If you want to get a clean inlay, cut the ring in one spot, you can place the cut under the fingerboard. The route your recess just a wee bit smaller, and squeeze the ring together at the cut. It'll pop right in and be snug.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:09 pm

Thanks Mark! My recess is just a wee bit larger due to the spacing of the holes I drilled in the router base, but it works great anyway - just a larger gap under the fretboard.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Mark Swanson » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:55 am

Sure, same thing!
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:45 pm

I decided on the simplest possible rosette - a single circle of lacewood.

First, the recess.

rosette4.jpg


Initially I made the grain in the same direction as the top.

rosette6.jpg


Then I decided it would give more strength to the top (it needs all it can get without bracing) to go across the top grain. I still have to thin it down and glue it in.

rosette5.jpg
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:17 pm

The rosette, such as it is, done. The finish should bring out some contrast.
rosette7.jpg

Now on to more interesting aspects of the build.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat May 03, 2014 2:07 pm

Progress this week. I glued on the head and tail blocks. One of my consistent problems with building, is doing things out of order, making subsequent steps more difficult. I should have drilled the head block for the bolts while I could get it in the drill press, and drilled the tenon before I started shaping the neck. Oh well, it turned out ok.

glue-heel-block.jpg


bolt-neck.jpg


bolt-neck2.jpg
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat May 03, 2014 2:18 pm

Glued on the linings and glued the sides to the soundboard. The linear scorches are from my bending "pipe", made from ribbed dog food cans.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat May 03, 2014 2:25 pm

Views from the top and the backside. The fretboard and bridge aren't finished - just laid on for looks. I extended the bridge plate laterally - the only planned brace along with the bridge - to try to prevent the fir top from splitting. I'll put some diamond patches along the center seam.
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top-mock-1.jpg
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Dave Sayers » Sat May 03, 2014 2:38 pm

If I may ask, what strings are you planning to use? Only they could influence the tension on the bridge, which may pull up the top behind the bridge.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat May 03, 2014 4:44 pm

12's, probably 80/20 bronze. I got 30 sets for $30 some years ago and still have some left. I could use silk and steel for lower tension if needed. I am going to have some struts from the bridge to try to avoid it tipping forward and doming the top toward the tail - that is the purpose of building this. We'll see.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Dave Sayers » Sun May 04, 2014 5:39 am

Struts should work, planned properly I think. I know I've used struts, or spars in mine. Being a bit of a cheapskate I went to a boot sale and bought a biggish pop up tent with carbon fibre poles for £4 , about $3.50. They work a treat in compression over short lengths. The six string I'm building has a strengthening strut running from neck block to tail block made from an old aluminium arrow. I look forward to seing more.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Jason Rodgers » Mon May 05, 2014 10:25 pm

Peter Wilcox wrote:12's, probably 80/20 bronze.

:shock: Err, how thick did you say you left the top?
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Mon May 05, 2014 10:31 pm

Just under 1/8" - probably more like 7/64 or 0.11.
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Tue May 06, 2014 3:19 pm

Peter Wilcox wrote:Just under 1/8" - probably more like 7/64 or 0.11.


Oops - that's the side thickness. The back is 1/8", and the top is .135" +/- a few thousandths. I thought I'd make it a little thick to start with, since it won't be braced in the usual sense. I can sand it thinner, especially toward the edges, if necessary.
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