Acoustic steel string guitar

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Peter Wilcox
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Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Mark Swanson
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Mark Swanson »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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rosette1.jpg
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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rosette3.jpg
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Mark Swanson
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Mark Swanson »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Mark Swanson
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Mark Swanson »

Sure, same thing!
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

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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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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glue-side.jpg
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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bottom-mock1.jpg
top-mock-1.jpg
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Dave Sayers
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Dave Sayers »

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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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Dave Sayers
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Dave Sayers »

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.

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Peter Wilcox wrote:12's, probably 80/20 bronze.
:shock: Err, how thick did you say you left the top?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Acoustic steel string guitar

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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