Building An Acoustic Guitar
For over 30 years I have been building acoustic guitars using all kinds of woods. I have used exotic woods like Bubinga, Rosewood, Koa, Mahogany, Cocobolo and Zebrawood. I have used local woods like Maple, Cherry, and Walnut. I have used Sitka Spruce, Engelmann Spruce, Cedar, Appalachian Spruce, Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Koa and Bearsclaw Spruce. Regardless of the combination the sound of every finished guitar has been sweet music to my ears. My guitars are built to last and sound good for many years to come. Like a fine wine they get better sounding as they age. I am proud of the guitars I build.
The basis for any fine instrument is good quality wood that has been aged and dried properly. In the hands of a skilled luthier this raw material can be made to make wonderful music. I have been buying my guitar woods from the same supplier for over 30 years. They are located in Cambridge, Ontario and always stock the very best woods.
In the early days I would steam bend the sides using a heated steel pipe and rolling the damp wood back and forth. Now I use a steam bending machine that evenly controls the heat and prevents scorching. The jigs and molds are different for the various guitar shapes and sizes.
The neck blank is cut to size, planed and glued up. I use a lot of Brazilian Mahogany for my necks because it is much more resonant. However it is denser so it makes for a heavier neck. The sustain is great and it finishes up beautifully. I also use Honduran mahogany as well as maple, cherry , ash and walnut.
The rough shaped neck ready for sanding and finishing. A stain will be applied and a lacquer finish will then be sprayed. By this point the truss rod will be installed and the fretboard will be glued to the neck. I generally do the fret installation after the finishing stage. The fretboard radius will be done just prior to this.
The back is now glued to the sides and the soundbox is nearly complete.
Some final scraping of the bindings followed by final sanding and this soundbox is ready for the spray booth. I only use nitrocellulose lacquer on my acoustic guitars. It is simply the thinnest finish available, hence less reduction of the wood's natural vibration ability.
Finally the neck is fitted to the body and the bridge is located and installed. A lot of fine tuning is done at this point. It is slow, tedious work at this stage but critical to getting a guitar that plays and sounds good. Tuners are usually Gotoh from Japan. I have used these for 30 years with never a problem. The saddles and nuts can be bone, Tusq, or synthetic.