First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

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DavidKistner
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First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

This is my 3rd build, but my first acoustic attempt. It's clear to me that this will be a totally different challenge than the electric builds, so I hoped to run my ideas by you veterans here. I've always appreciated the help I get in this forum. The first two builds would simply not have worked out without your help.

I'm hoping to build something a bit similar to the 000-18 1937 Golden Era Martin which has solid Mahogany back and sides with a solid Adirondack Spruce top. I've always liked using wood from my area of the United States in my builds. Instead of Mahogany, I'd like to use reclaimed old growth timber Black Walnut (I would use tonewood quality wood). Here's some specs:

Scale Length: 24.9''
Number of Frets Clear: 14
Number of Frets Total: 20
Fingerboard Width at Nut: 1-3/4''
Fingerboard Width at 12th Fret: 2-1/4''
14-fret 000.
Body Length: 19 3/8
Upper Bout: 11 1/4
Lower Bout: 15
Upper Depth: 3 11/32
Lower Depth: 4 1/8

HERE ARE MY 4 QUESTIONS:

1. Does this build sound reasonable, or am I headed down the wrong path here?

2. The 1937 Martin uses Adirondack Spruce. Would this be a good match for Black Walnut? I know the Walnut is roughly between East Indian Rosewood and Mahogany in frequency.

3. If not the Adirondack Spruce for soundboard, then what would you suggest I consider? I'm willing to "think outside the box" here.

4. How would the sound be affected if I adjusted the depth on this build (both deeper or shallower....I'm just curious here).

Thanks in advance for your advice and help.
- Dave

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Mark Swanson
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Mark Swanson »

That's a good plan. The questions about wood I don't think that you need to worry about much as long as you use good quality wood. Sure, the different types of spruce do sound different but all of them will make a good guitar and none of them would make the guitar a bad instrument if you use it- for example sitka or lutz or red spruce, all will work for you. And make it any depth you want- the main thing, for your first acoustic, is to do each step as good as you can before you move on- the quality of your work and how the guitar is put together will matter most at this point.
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DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

Thanks Mark, I feel better about it now. I always worry my build ideas are crazy until I run them by the forum here. Sounds like great advice, to just do the best I can each step of the process and not stress too much over wood choice. Thanks again!!!

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Patrick DeGreve
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Patrick DeGreve »

Hi David, your plan sounds great. I am new to this (I have been building about two years), but I am building my 6th walnut acoustic guitar now for the local materials challenge. I like walnut very much. It bends well, holds its shape, and has a warm sound. Three of the walnut guitars were OM models, which is very close to the 000 you are building. I have used Engleman, straight sitka, and bearclew sitka, and they all sounded nice. The Engleman was a little warmer, but the sitka was brighter, and I think louder. Take your time and have fun. Please post some pictures when you finish.

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Bryan Bear
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Bryan Bear »

What Mark said!
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Chuck Tweedy
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Yes, good plan.
It's refreshing to see a newbie building a good ol' standard instrument for their first.
Seems like most try to change the face of lutherie with their first guitar - I sure tried, and failed. :-)
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

John Hall
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by John Hall »

actually the lower bout is 15 3/16
John Hall

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DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

One more question. What neck join would be best, the dovetail or the bolt on?

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Barry Daniels
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Barry Daniels »

There is no best. A dovetail is a little more complex to build and assemble. A mortise and tenon or a butt-joint are easier for a first timer.
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Rodger Knox
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Rodger Knox »

What Mark said about the wood, it all depends on how the pieces work together, there is no "species" recipe.
Making it deeper will improve the bass, but not by much. There are more effective ways of improving the bass, such as reducing the size of the soundhole.
I'd go with the mortise and tenion for the neck.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon

DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

I need to order a set of plans for this guitar (000 in a 24.9" scale length). There are so many places to go for plans, it's overwhelming. Can you point me to a trustworthy source? I thought getting a good set of plans would be the easy part. I'm worried I might get a bad set of plans. Thanks for helping me with this.

Trevor Gore
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Trevor Gore »

DavidKistner wrote:I need to order a set of plans for this guitar (000 in a 24.9" scale length). There are so many places to go for plans, it's overwhelming. Can you point me to a trustworthy source? I thought getting a good set of plans would be the easy part. I'm worried I might get a bad set of plans. Thanks for helping me with this.
Problem is, a "good set of plans" does not give you all the information you need to make a "good" guitar. None of them will specify the material properties (e.g. the density and Young's modulus) of the wood to use so that the dimensions specified will yield a "good" guitar, nor will they give you the really important stuff like how or what to tune the various resonances to. This is not furniture making!

Having said that, the usual suspects, including one of the sponsors of this site, carry 000 and OM plans that are as good as anyone else's.

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Actually I think if you follow a decent set of plans you can build a "good" guitar. The factories do it all the time. To build a great sounding guitar might take a bit more experience and skill. Many builders are surprised at how good their first guitar sounds. You can make guitar building rocket science, but it doesn't have to be.
You can read a lot of information on how to fine tune a set of plans, glues and finishes, wood choices, etc., but for your first you are somewhat in the hands of the gods. Luckily they are usually kindly folks.

Steve Senseney
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Steve Senseney »

I totally agree with Clay.

One other comment about the difference between a "good" guitar and a better guitar--do all of the steps carefully and correctly. Attention to details about making sure your glue joints are good and fitting the bracing well will make your instrument better.

Expect to have cosmetic problems. You will learn how to hide and correct these with further experience.

DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

Steve Senseney wrote:I totally agree with Clay.

One other comment about the difference between a "good" guitar and a better guitar--do all of the steps carefully and correctly. Attention to details about making sure your glue joints are good and fitting the bracing well will make your instrument better.

Expect to have cosmetic problems. You will learn how to hide and correct these with further experience.
Thanks Steve (and Clay). I'm not trying to be a master luthier my 1st try at an acoustic build. I'm just trying to get pointed in the right direction so I'm more apt to be successful. My first electric guitar build experience was exactly as you describe (some cosmetic problems) but I was so very happy with it anyway, and my son cherishes that guitar to this day. He's a lead guitarist in a band and that guitar gets more playing time than his other 3 expensive "store bought" guitars combined.

If it were not for patient people in this forum, I'd never been able to build that first electric guitar. I know newbies like me don't know squat yet. Thanks for helping all the same.

DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

OK, I just closed my eyes and picked one (set of plans) - the Scott Antes PL31 plan. It is not exactly what I want but I can adjust to what I want (hopefully):

"Auditorium-style, similar to Martin™ “000,”
BL-18.38”, W-9.063”, UB-11.25”, LB-15”, BD-4.125”, OL-39.63”, SL-24.9”, F-20"

I also picked up the "Make Your Own Acoustic Guitar" by Melvyn Hiscock. I used his electric guitar book for my first electric and that was helpful. I hope his acoustic version is good too. So, I'm off and running.

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Okay - stock response to the Antes plans:
The braces are drawn conservatively LARGE.
For that size instrument you can use 1/4" wide x 5/8" tall - assuming you are using vertical grain spruce cut from a split face.

Also check that the "tone bars" connect to the X-legs on the treble side - that plan my be drawn is if it were a transparent top.
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

Chuck Tweedy wrote:Okay - stock response to the Antes plans:
The braces are drawn conservatively LARGE.
For that size instrument you can use 1/4" wide x 5/8" tall - assuming you are using vertical grain spruce cut from a split face.

Also check that the "tone bars" connect to the X-legs on the treble side - that plan my be drawn is if it were a transparent top.
Thanks, I read that same thing when I Googled the Antes plans. I'll adjust the braces accordingly. And yes, I am using vertical grain Sitka Spruce for the top. If anyone else here has helpful insight into the plans, I'd appreciate the "heads up" on what to tweak. Also, I do plan on making the body a bit deeper than those plans call for. Thanks again for the help, I appreciate it.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by Mark Swanson »

And yes, I am using vertical grain Sitka Spruce for the top.
Yes of course but Chuck was stressing that you need to use it for the braces as well.
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DavidKistner
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Re: First acoustic build - 4 questions about this build plan

Post by DavidKistner »

Mark Swanson wrote:
And yes, I am using vertical grain Sitka Spruce for the top.
Yes of course but Chuck was stressing that you need to use it for the braces as well.
OK, thanks, Mark. I will be sure to use Spruce bracing as well. Thanks for pointing this out. I should have all materials here in a few days and can begin. I can't wait.

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