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Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Elmin Basovic » Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:07 am

Freeman Keller wrote: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


I am realistic, I wasn't really broke when i bought the mats and I don't want a cheap guitar. I'm convinced that I'm going to make a great guitar, wood working is in my blood
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby JC Whitney » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:22 am

... and don’t forget to post pics of how it goes, here on the mimf. You’ll find that you have a lot of people rooting for you.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:49 pm

Elmin, building a great guitar is like the journey of a thousand miles - it begins with a single step, which is building your first guitar. It will hopefully be enjoyable, will be a great learning experience, and you'll get a playable guitar that will look pretty good and sound like a guitar - it might even sound pretty good. A few people, after many, many steps, will build great guitars. Most, like myself, will go on to build (hopefully :D ) better and better mediocre guitars, learning a lot and enjoying the process.

Don't worry about greatness or perfection - just take that first step.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Bryan Bear » Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:07 pm

Read read read. There is a lot of information available these days. Some of it good, some of it bad. When I was first getting interested in this craft, I read everything I could find. For a while, I didn’t even understand large parts of the discussions. Over time, I started understanding the vernacular and was better able to understand the more esoteric concepts being discussed. That really helped me pick through the good information and the speculative info.

Read through the library and archives here as well as the new builder faq linked above. Look up the instructions on the stew Mac site for their kit. You can read them for free and it is a good place to get a handle on what is involved. The Cumpiwno book (along with the amendments to it on his website) is a must read; I don’t use many of those methods anymore, but the could not have gotten started had I not read it.

Lastly, be careful of YouTube for guitar making. There are some great videos and some that will hinder your development. It can be hard though know which is which when you are starting out.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Elmin Basovic » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:14 am

https://ancient-warlock.blogspot.ba/201 ... -saws.html

my first wasted cash haha
I might only cut out the neck this month cause I'm going away for a few months end of november and I haven't started making the jigs nor did i print the plans ._.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Elmin Basovic » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:19 am

Got a question, should i make a detachable neck or should I make the heel block (i don't know if it's called that way but i'm thinking about the block inside of the guitar right under the top plate and fretboard) and the heel out of one piece and then slide the sides into pre cut pockets?
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:12 pm

YOU NEED TO GET A BOOK TO GUIDE YOU. WE CANT WALK YOU THROUGH THIS STEP BY STEP. ITS TOO COMPLEX.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Elmin Basovic » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:14 pm

Barry Daniels wrote:YOU NEED TO GET A BOOK TO GUIDE YOU. WE CANT WALK YOU THROUGH THIS STEP BY STEP. ITS TOO COMPLEX.


okay, i was just asking for someone to say what they think is best, i didn't ask you to guide me
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Freeman Keller » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:18 pm

Elmin Basovic wrote:https://ancient-warlock.blogspot.ba/2017/11/the-saws.html

my first wasted cash haha
I might only cut out the neck this month cause I'm going away for a few months end of november and I haven't started making the jigs nor did i print the plans ._.


Most fretwire fits a 0,023 inch slot - usually that takes a special saw

Elmin Basovic wrote:Got a question, should i make a detachable neck or should I make the heel block (i don't know if it's called that way but i'm thinking about the block inside of the guitar right under the top plate and fretboard) and the heel out of one piece and then slide the sides into pre cut pockets?


Most steel string guitars have detachable necks fastened to the body with either a wood working joint (so called "dovetail") or bolted on using some sort of bolts and metal inserts. Most nylon string guitars have the sides inserted into slots in the neck heel - called a "Spanish heel". With the detachable neck you "set" the neck angle to the body to achieve the proper string geometry and can adjust it in the future if and when it becomes necessary. With a Spanish heel you build the geometry into the neck as you build the guitar, it is difficult to change in the future.

As several of us have pointed out before, this is all well explained in books like Cumpiano and your plans will indicate which neck joint is used on the particular guitar you are building.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Freeman Keller » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:23 pm

Elmin Basovic wrote:
Barry Daniels wrote:YOU NEED TO GET A BOOK TO GUIDE YOU. WE CANT WALK YOU THROUGH THIS STEP BY STEP. ITS TOO COMPLEX.


okay, i was just asking for someone to say what they think is best, i didn't ask you to guide me


okay, since you ask what I think is best - if you are building a steel string guitar the best and easiest joint for a new builder is a bolted mortise and tenon. If you are building a nylon string guitar either choice is good but the Spanish heel is traditional and thats what I think is best.

see page 12 and 13 of Cumpiano & Natelson (which in the future we will just refer to as C&N)
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Bryan Bear » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:25 pm

Elmin Basovic wrote:
Barry Daniels wrote:YOU NEED TO GET A BOOK TO GUIDE YOU. WE CANT WALK YOU THROUGH THIS STEP BY STEP. ITS TOO COMPLEX.


okay, i was just asking for someone to say what they think is best, i didn't ask you to guide me


My short answer would be. Use a bolt-on butt joint or bolt-on mortise and tenon. The Spanish heel construction has its place but you have a better chance of being able to recover from your mistakes with a bolt on neck. That is just my opinion. If you get 12 luthiers (not that I consider myself a luthier) in a room, you'll get at least 25 opinions on what neck joint is best <G>. I'm sure you will get several, seemingly, conflicting answers to this question. . .

Disassembling a guitar and measuring it will not everything you need to know. You will not learn things like neck angle or how to build it in, the many ways to approach top arching. . . All of these things are related and if you just start building, you will spend a LOT of effort trying to find ways to fix the geometry issues you built in. We want to avoid having you make any unrecoverable errors in planning.

Often beginners ask questions that are difficult to answer because they are so broad. They may not seem so to the asker, but formulating a concise answer is almost impossible.

All the advice I have given you are thinks I wish I knew when I started out. I made my first instrument (a long neck dulcimer) without any plan and an incomplete (born of my own hubris) understanding of how the geometry works. I eventually got it done, but boy did I waste a lot of wood and time. Then I found this place and started reading and slowly understanding. I made a second one and it came out a lot better but still a long way to go. . . About halfway through that project, I started reading C&N. By the next instrument (and a lot of reading from several sources) I was able to ask better questions. One thing I found helpful when I came to a question was to look through the archives for related discussion to try to answer it first. After doing that, I found I had a better understanding of what I wanted to know. Then I could ask a more pointed question that would get more focused discussions started.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:44 pm

Sorry if I came across so grumpy. Let me try to explain why I so strongly reacted this way. Back about 50 years ago I wanted to build a guitar in a bad way. I had no idea how to do this and there was literally zero information available. Yet I knew that people were making guitars in factories. I took a piece of mahogany paneling that was left over from the building of our house. I cut it out in the shape of the guitar, including the neck. I made another one for the back. Then I stared at these two flat pieces trying to figure out how to turn that into a 3D guitar. I quickly realized this was a doomed effort so I stopped. For another 10 years I searched endlessly for some piece of information. About 1973 I found one page in the Whole Earth Catalog that talked about a guitar school in the northeast US, which may have been Charles Fox's school. But there was no contact information or any real leads. About three years later I was in a bookstore and saw a book on the top shelf that my eyes were immediately drawn to. It was Irving Sloane's "How to Build a Steel-String Guitar". I literally started shaking. I took the book down and carried it in both hands to the check out counter. Then I took it home and read it cover to cover, twice over the next two or three days. In the back of the book was information about a store in NYC that sold guitar wood. I built my first guitar with this book and it didn't sound very good but looked fine, and this lead to much more.

Now the situation is vastly different. There are dozens of books, videos, U-Tube videos, free plans, dozens of suppliers, luthier schools, classes, etc., etc., etc. I have seen people build very good guitars for their first effort using these resources. I have taught and mentored a number of new builders. So I get very frustrated when new people do not do just a little leg work to find and use these resources, but instead come to online forums expecting to be spoon fed. For one thing, there is no one right way to build a guitar. So you will get all kind of suggestions thrown at you which may be conflicting. There are lots of methods, schedules, plans, so you need to pick one pathway and stay on that until the build is complete. And the best way to do that is get a good book and follow it religiously. The other option is finding a local builder or school who will guide you. If you have a thorny problem then by all means come on a forum and get some ideas from experienced builders on that specific problem. But you would be better off to stay away from the forums until you get some foundation established and know the right questions to ask. A place like this can be a bit confusing to one without this foundation.

Again, sorry for my directness or whatever you want to call it.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:40 am

Elmin, you are sending very mixed messages to a group that is trying to be supportive but honest. You seem unwilling or unable to buy plans or a book. And yet that is a tiny investment ($20 plans, $30 book) compared to what it costs to hand build a guitar. There is NO WAY you can build a guitar for less than what a Chinese factory guitar costs. Some are even quite nice. Look at a used Eastman, for example.

You can expect to spend 100 hours of your time and $600-$700 in tools and materials on your first guitar. And you probably will love that guitar, but consider it a practice guitar. In some ways it will be better than most factory guitars, but especially in the fit and finish it probably won't compare to a really cheap $300 guitar from a mega music store. So building is not a way to get a nice guitar. And as long as our trade relations with China radically distort the market hand building guitars is not a business to make money at.

If you want a decent guitar for not a lot of money, making it by hand is not the way to do that. If you want to learn how to do what most of us consider the pinnacle of fine woodworking you are going to have to at least be prepared to drop $20 on a set of plans.

We welcome you to the passion and craft that is fine instrument making. But this isn't like dabbling in Arduino robotics, learning how to color anodize aluminum, or any of dozens of fun maker pastimes. Unfortunately building guitars take a fairly large investment in tools, shop space, supplies, and learning materials.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Rodger Knox » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:54 pm

Randolph is right on with his advice. C&N and a set of plans will give you a good chance of building a playable guitar that will sound pretty good. What he didn't mention is the option of spending 300 hours to build and $200 on tools.
Having the proper tools saves a lot of time. As an example, a reamer for the bridgepin holes is about $70 at StewMac, but that task can be accomplished with a small round file that only cost a couple of dollars. The reamer takes about a minute per hole, the file takes about an hour per hole.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Elmin Basovic » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:49 am

guys, I'm taking it slow, I've printed the plans, 1:1 ratio and they are nice, i've read a dozen let's say free ebooks on how to build a guitar, I'll buy C&N but not now cause soon I'm going away and this month I'll just prepare the neck blank, I have a lot of other work to do
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:36 pm

"The reamer takes about a minute per hole, the file takes about an hour per hole."

Buying the right tools does make life easier, but sometimes you can make tools that work as well as those you buy. You can grind a 3 degree edge on the tang of a common mill file and use it to ream the holes in about a minute or less. Trevor Robinson's " The Amateur Wind Instrument Maker" has information on making homemade reamers for reaming woodwind bores - certainly good enough for bridge pins.
Guitar making can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. One of the best makers working today built his first on his kitchen table.
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:56 pm

Clay Schaeffer wrote:One of the best makers working today built his first on his kitchen table.


I don't recall telling you that story. 8-)
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Re: Making my first steel string acoustic guitar

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:51 pm

Clay Schaeffer wrote:
One of the best makers working today built his first on his kitchen table.


I don't recall telling you that story. 8-)


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