Corduroy's Acoustic guitar build (tutorial)


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12-09-2004, 09:28 PM
Some people have expressed interest in having an acoustic build on the site so here you go.

This guitar is being made for an Illinois musician that is getting ready to record his 1st album. He needs something that will sound good in the studio and on stage as well as just something to practice with and all of those things are taken into account when we decide on a shape, size, sound hole placement, materials... Everything an acoustic makes a difference. From the shape of the headstock to they type of finish.

After many many MANY hrs teaching him how to figure out what he wants from his guitar, we decided the best materials would be:
Cocobolo back and sides
Curly Sitka Spruce top (cutting permit 70203 tree #2)
Honduras Mahogany neck
Mahogany back bracing
Spruce top bracing.
Standard sound hole (only because of looks. Offset would have given him a better sound for his purposes)
Goncalo Alves binding.
Ebony Fret board and bridge.
KTM9 finish

Something to keep in mind as I work through this is that some people take mathematic equations, and science and stuff and apply that to every aspect of guitar building. Other people just go on intuition and do what feels right to them. Both ways work very well for some people and not at all for others. I build by intuition so I do a lot of it by saying "that looks right" and "that feels right"

We decided that for the body size he needed something with a unique body style. When compared to the Martin Dread, he wanted a larger lower bout (for more bass) a smaller waist (for more balance) and more rounded upper bout (easier to hold) so what I did was I measured out how tall I wanted it to be and how wide I wanted the upper and lower bouts to be then I drew half of the guitar freehand. and this is what I ended up with.

Then I folded the paper over it's self and cut it out so that I would have a symmetrical shape.Here is is with all the bracing drawn on. Be aware that I put the back and top bracing on and I also drew a couple different styles of bracing just in case he and I decide we want to do something other than martin style bracing.

edit: It looks like it won't let me post pics from MSN so I'll do the rest from photosbucket instead. Sorry about the links.

edit again: I got the links fixed. If you feel so inclined you can rummage around the rest of my pic site to see a bunch of pictures of the other guitars I'm working on right now too.

12-09-2004, 09:41 PM
This guy want all the "good stuff" you get from a hand made guitar. He wants the enhanced sound and the attention to details but he doesn't want the "hand made look." So that means I had to make some special tools and molds to help keep everything as consistent as possible.

Today I made a mold and bent his sides.

I started with 4 pieces of MDF that I screwed together to make a solid block.

Then I drew the outline of his guitar onto the top piece. Looked at it and made some final adjustments to make sure it was what we need.

THen I cut on the line with my bandsaw, Took all the screws out and started putting together my jigs. The inside portion will be what I use to bend the sides with. The outside will be what I place the sides in when I go to assemble the guitar.

Once my molds are made I get to start bending. When bending cocobolo with molds you soak it for about 5 min, then you wrap it with wet paper towels and tin foil.

Then you slowly heat the wood wrap it around the molds and clamp it down.

This method doesn't use as much heat as bending with a hot pipe so the wood won't just stay where you want it. You have to leave it clamped for a while. So I'll be able to take the sides out and see how they look in a week or so.

On a side note I did deliberately make one side a little bit smaller than the other. This is because when the guitar is perfectly symetrical the sound waves will collide with each other inside the guitar and you will get wave cancellation. Basically this means the guitar won't sound as good.

12-09-2004, 10:04 PM
this looks great. I can't wait to see the progress.

12-09-2004, 10:34 PM
^ Me too.

Just out of curiosity, how much do the materials cost, and how much will you charge for the finished product?

12-09-2004, 10:59 PM
This guitar will cost me about $800 to build after you figure in the cost of jigs and tools that I will have to make speacial for this instrument.

I won't tell the price of this particular guitar because I promised the (future) owner I wouldn't tell anybody. I will tell you that the blackwood guitar that I posted in the gallary got me 2k and an all expences week long trip to London. My prices will range from $800 low to $5000 high. My hourly wage comes out to about the same on every guitar and it is less than minimum wage. Some things take much longer to do than others and some materials can cost a LOT of money. Those prices will go up significantly in 2 years (after I complete my apprenticeship in the UK) I probably could raise my prices some now (given the length of my waiting list) but I don't feel it's fair to charge people Top dollar when I have only 2 years building experience.

Edit:I guess I couldl tell you that the blackwood guitar that I posted in the gallery got me 2k (mostly went to materials) and an all expenses paid week long trip to London.

12-10-2004, 01:15 AM
Finally, a good accoustic building thread. Good job Corduroy. When you finish your apprenticeship will you be making electrics aswell?

Also, is this guitar be an electric/accoustic? Considering this is for the studio?

12-10-2004, 05:29 PM
Corduroy - What do you heat the wood to bend it with because I would really like to know for when my friend and I begin our acoustic project.

Also, if I were to use a mold that was just the outer part and use a hot pipe and bend it around that would it work?

Finally, would a cutaway prevent the loss of sound (where you need one side smaller) from happening?

12-10-2004, 08:55 PM
Yes, nice one Corduroy.

Finally a "making an acoustic thread"
I will follow this with excitement:)

12-10-2004, 09:27 PM
Originally posted by xifr
...When you finish your apprenticeship will you be making electrics aswell?

Also, is this guitar be an electric/accoustic? Considering this is for the studio?

I do make electrics. The actual construction posses of an electric is really pretty simple. Unfortunately my knowledge of things like switches, caps, pots, and pickups is all very basic. I'm sure it wouldn't take me long to learn that stuff but I've been really happy playing fender, Gibson, and Gretsch electric guitars so I haven't seen the urgency of trying to improve on there already very good designs.

The guitar I'm building in this tutorial will be fitted with a b-band bridge plate pickup but that won't be done untill after he has recorded the album. It is always best to record your acoustic with a condenser Mic because they give you more depth and color.

12-10-2004, 09:53 PM
Originally posted by Bother
Corduroy - What do you heat the wood to bend it with ...

...If I were to use a mold that was just the outer part and use a hot pipe and bend it around that would it work?

Finally, would a cutaway prevent the loss of sound (where you need one side smaller) from happening?

I'll answer those in order.

1 To heat the wood (when using a mold) most people use a silicone heating blanket. That is the easiest but the blankets cost a LOT of money. $300 for a whole set up (including a power supply or shutoff switch) I can't afford that so I heated the waist (cos you have to bend that 1st) with a blow torch set very low. You have to be careful when you do this because it's easy to scorch the wood. I wouldn't even say I recommend it but I've had a lot of practice and it was a cheap way to go. After I got the waist clamped down I turned on my stove to burner and slowly rolled the upper bout over the burner and clamped it, then I rolled the lower bout and clamped it. So long answer short, I used a blow torch my stove to heat the wood.

2 Yes just the outside will work just fine.. Actually you don't need a mold at all if you are using a hot pipe. Just make a cardboard cutout of half the guitar and use that as a template to bend it too. Perhaps when I have some time I'll add a little section on bending with a pipe to this thread.

3 the cutaway will *help* prevent some of the wave cancellation but it won't eliminate it. This guitar will have a cutaway before it's finished but I still made an effort to make the treble side just a little bit smaller than the bass side and I made the back just a little bit smaller than the top. We are only looking at less than 1/8" total difference and it's not something most people will be able to see even when they are looking for it. The difference (in sound) between symmetrical and asymmetrical guitars is also very small but in this business a lot of very small things is what gets people to buy your guitars over a Martin.. However you don't need to worry about that on your 1st. It won't be symmetrical no matter how hard you try. After you have built 5 or 6 you will start to be able to see how things relate to each other and you will be able to modify for the sound you want. Most builders do make their guitars symmetrical because that works well for them. I am the exception there.

12-10-2004, 11:49 PM
Cutting the neck
Here is the block of wood that I start with

At the moment I'm cutting 4 necks. I cut them 7/8" thick to begin with. The big block on the end will be turned into heelblocks and end blocks.

To do my part to help save the environment (I'm kind of a hippy that way) I do not use 1 peice necks. These ones will be 5 piece but sometimes I will do laminate necks too. Whatever I have material for. The multiple piece necks are stronger and more stable than one piece necks anyway. It takes a lot longer to do it this way but you help save the supply of honduras mahogany (which is endangered)

Here I'm cutting the scarf joint for the headstock

once cut I take the piece I'm using for the headstock and cut it down to 1/2" thick. This will get thinned down more when I smooth it out.

Here I'm prepping the parts for gluing. The joint has to but perfectly otherwise you risk a broken headstock.

Finally I add some tightbond (wood workers glue) let it sit for a min to soak into the wood and I clamp it.

12-11-2004, 08:09 PM
lookin good. keep the pics comin ;)

12-12-2004, 02:29 PM
do you have a website to get your name out there?

12-12-2004, 02:45 PM
man, that is amazing...

*runs upstairs to play acoustic guitar*

12-12-2004, 03:24 PM
is that a grizzley)sp?) bandsaw?

12-12-2004, 07:04 PM
Nope, It's a 14" P O S harbor freight special. Cost me $250 brand new last year. It's really good for the price and I would recommend it as a good 1st bandsaw for the beginning luthier on a budget, but it is definitely not top of the line. Grizzly saws are a lot nicer than this. It will, however, keep me going for the next 2 or 3 years but eventually I'm gong to get a 18" Delta so that I can resaw a 2pc back. Right now I can only go 6" tall instead of the needed 8

12-12-2004, 07:14 PM
Originally posted by DarkHorse85
do you have a website to get your name out there?

No website yet. I guess I just haven't needed one. So far I've been fighting people off with a stick because I'm trying to do this and keep a real job and then I through is the whole single father of 3 kids into the mix. I'm sure after I start doing this full time I will need to put up a web site, but on my current work schedule I have people waiting a more than a year to get there guitar and I don't want it to get much longer than that.

12-15-2004, 09:45 PM
I realized today that I didn't really prepare you guys with this thread. I just kind of jumped into it. So I'm going to step back and explain some of the preliminary stuff that I do before I start bending sides.

When I build a guitar I start completely from scratch. To give you an idea of what I'm working with here is a pic of one of my stacks of wood. I have a lot more than this.

After I get an idea of what type of music the person is going to be playing and why they really want to have there guitar do I make some suggestions for types of material. In the end the choice is their's but most of the time people really don't know what they want. In this case the customer had a specific piece of cocobolo in mind before he even approached me about building a guitar for him.

So now I have the back and side ready and it's time to pick the soundboard that will complement it best. I went though my stacks of spruce tapping on each board and listening to it ring. Then I found the 2 that complemented the cocobolo's tone the best. 1 was Master grade Sitka. No color, straight grain, 32 grain lines per inch, no runnout and most importantly it sounded perfect. The other board was what I like to call "character wood" Under normal grading standards it would have been graded very low but this is so different that it becomes a class all it's own. It has curl (like curly maple) wavy grain, tones of color and it came from a world famous tree known for producing the best tonewood in the world today.

He ended up choosing the one with color because of how it matches his back and sites.

After we got the top now it's time to choose things like headplaits,f retboard, bindings... All that stuff. Here is one of the hundreds of pics I took for him so that he could see how his back and sides and top would look with various bells and whistles.

I hope none of this was too boring for any of you. If you have any questions about terminology or what we look at when we grade wood, or the characteristics of certain material or anything like that feel free to ask. I brushed over this pretty fast just because experience tells me that choosing materials doesn't interest too many people.

12-16-2004, 12:59 AM
^ Actually, I would like to know how to grade woood and what makes good tonewood. Also, can you tell if the wood is good in a guitar with a finsih on it? I've heard that you can knock on it to see if it has any dead spots.

12-16-2004, 12:39 PM
Isn't cocobolo dust toxic and extremely irritating? How do you adjust to this? amazing guitar, it's one beautiful piece of artwork:cheers:

power freak
12-16-2004, 12:50 PM
Originally posted by pooch0072
Isn't cocobolo dust toxic and extremely irritating? How do you adjust to this? amazing guitar, it's one beautiful piece of artwork:cheers:
I think you use fume extractors and dust masks.

This is truly an amazing thread, I am not really much of an acoustic player myself, but I like projects and stuff like this.


12-16-2004, 12:58 PM
Originally posted by pooch0072
Isn't cocobolo dust toxic and extremely irritating? How do you adjust to this? amazing guitar, it's one beautiful piece of artwork:cheers:


I like to say that there are 2 types of luthiers. The ones that are allergic to cocobolo and the kind that will be. Cocobolo isn't the only wood that can cause sever reactions. They have found that walnut, and mahogany have a tendency to cause cancer with prolonged dust inhalation. The key to being safe when working with any type of wood is to wear a dust mask and then shower after you are done working with the wood.

I don't have a reaction to cocobolo yet but there are other woods that just touching them make my hands swell. I were a ventilator, a tyvek (sp???) suit, and laytex gloves when I work with them.

12-16-2004, 01:05 PM
Mahogany dust can cause mild asthma. Found that out by personal experience

12-16-2004, 02:35 PM
Originally posted by TGM
^ Actually, I would like to know how to grade woood and what makes good tonewood.

Corduroy posted this in another thread
pretty interesting (link)

12-17-2004, 04:30 PM
When grading spruce (and most other top wood) there are several things to look for
Well quartered
Number of grain lines
straight grain
even spacing of grain lines
knots and other defects.

Well quartered. A perfectly quartered board is when you cut the board at a 90 degree angle to the grain. All guitar tops should be well quartered and the closer to 90 degrees the better. Most people think that well quartered spruce looks nicer but the real reason for it's importance is for strength

Stiffness - as a general rule the stiffer the top the better

Number of grain lines - as a general rule the more per inch the better
color - usually you want to avoid color and when it is present you want it to be even

Runnout - This is hard to explain so I took the explanation from the luthier library link that f-3 posted for us.

Wood that is split with a wedge divides along the weakest part of the wood. When wood is cut by a blade, the wood fibers are torn along the path of the blade. Runout usually occurs in wood cut by a saw blade. Wood that is split with a wedge will be stronger than that cut by a sawblade and is preferable for tonewood.The reason is that in split wood, the wood fibers run all the way through the piece. In wood cut by a sawblade, the wood fibers are cut short by the blade and do not run all the way through the piece of wood.Runout can be detected when planing a piece of wood. Planing against the grain will pull the blade into the wood causing gouges. Visual inspection of the edge of a piece can also show runout where the grain of the wood is not parallel to the edge the whole way down the board. A soundboard with runout will also be noticably less stiff on the end of the board where the wood grain terminates before the end.

Having too much runnout will make the wood too weak but it also kills the tone and causes dead spots in the wood.

straight grain - the straighter the better. This is because it's easier to work with and because it is usually more stable.

Compression. This is with you get really wide dark grain lines. This is something that most people think is ugly and therefor it's is avoided

Silk - this usually only happens when a board is very well quartered. It is a crossgrain pattern that makes it so the wood looks more 3 dimensional and kinda silky or shiny. Sorry but that is the best I can explain it without a pic.

Even spacing of grain lines - this is pretty self explanitory

knots and defects - we don't want them so we try to avoid them.

So these are the things that people look at when they grade wood. Notice that sound quality is nowhere to be seen on that list. That means that just because the top cost a lot or is of a master grade doesn't mean that it will sound good. Earlier I said that under normal circumstances the board I'm using for this guitar top would be low grade. That is because it has lots of color, wavy grain and wide uneven grain line. However, this is the nicest sounding board I have ever gotten my hands on (and it cost a lot of money too) so as a luthier I overlook the cosmetic imperfections in order to get a better sounding instrument.

12-17-2004, 04:58 PM
hm I have another question:
does color have any effects on the tone?
Do the grain lines which are differently colored than the others have a different stability etc resulting in something unwanted, or is this only a cosmetic thing?

I actually think, the "character wood" you have there looks absolutely gorgeous :)

12-17-2004, 05:17 PM
No the color doesn't affect the tone. Most of the things that wood is graded on doesn't affect the tone. Color has nothing to do with tone neither does silk, compression, number of grain lines, or how evenly they are spaced. Most of the time knots and other defects wont affect the tone either. The only things that have a major influence on toner (that are part of the grading scale) are runnout, stiffness, and well quartered.

12-17-2004, 06:50 PM
kind of a strange grading system, since tone is what it's all about :)
where does it come from?
Is there something like a (national?) luthier organisation who set it up one day or something like that?

12-17-2004, 07:33 PM
So I've been working overtime at the metal shop (my day job) so I haven't gotten a lot of time to build but I have joined the top this week. I'm having some problems with my camera right now so some of the pics I show might not be of this guitar that I'm using for the tutorial but they show the same thing as what I'm doing on this guitar.

I find that joining the top and the back is the hardest part of the building process. If you don't get everything exactly right then you have to take it apart and start over, otherwise you end up with a week joint and the top (or back) can split in half.

The 1st thing I do is clean the edge of the boards with a wood plain. I get them relatively stright and make the boards so that they line up "pretty good" Then I stack the 2 boards that will be joined together on top of each other while I sand them smooth with a flat edge. I like to use a level because they tend to be a little more straight than most other "straight" edges.

After I sand a little I hold them together and try to shine a light through them. If I can see light poking through the seem then it is not good enough. Once I have it so that the seem won't show light I look at them from the end to be sure that the edged line up well on both sides (not just the face). Once I'm happy with the way the joint looks (sometimes this can take a really long time) I get them ready to glue.

To glue the boards I clamp them down to a work board so that they overlap just a little bit.

Then I prop them up so that I can get some glue in there. I use Hot hide glue for spruce because it is the easiest to undo, it holds the stronges, it pulls the grain together as it dries, and it dries very hard therefore it is good for tone. I use epoxy for the cocobolo because the oil in cocobolo makes it so that most other glues won't hold.

So after the glue is applied, I (keeping them clamped so that they would overlap just slightly) lift the inside edge of the boards and then press them down toghether. This gives me the pressure I need to keep the seem tight. Then I clamp my straight edge down over the seem to keep it level and I add more clamps to keep everything from slipping.

(this one is acctualy the top I am working on for this guitar.)

Unfortunately even with all of this sometimes the seem doesn't sit right. After careful inspection I decided I didn't like this seem. I thought it looked like the hide glue had cooled too much before I got it clamped (you have to work really fast with hide glue) and I was afraid the seem wasn't good enough so I decided to take it apart and try again. To take it apart you need a lot of water and a lot of heat. An clothes iron is what I usually use for this kind of stuff. It's not the best tool for the job but I have one and I don't iron my clothes so I guess the price is right.

Here I'm ironing the seem to loosen the joint.

So I got the boards apart and set them to the side to dry out again and tragedy struck. Remember what I said about lots of heat and lots of water? Well does anybody know what happens when wood dries too fast? It cracks!!! I live in South Dakota and right now the temp sits around 15 degrees. With my gas heater sucking the mousture out of the air my house has a relative humidity of about 10 percent. That is really low. I keep 1 room in my house at ~40% but I didn't bother to set the top in there and so it dried too fast and now I'm being punished. I was able to cut out the bad portion and still have enough wood to make the guitar (barely) but the seem won't be in the middle. Torres (one of the most famous classical builders of all time) used tops like this all the time. He said that the tonal quality was far more important than the look. Given the character of this top I think that I can get by with the same reasoning but I have to check with the customer 1st. He might decide he wants a different top. In the meantime I went ahead and rejointed the top and the new joint looks good.

Here is the money shot. Sides and top

12-17-2004, 11:40 PM
Originally posted by F-3
kind of a strange grading system, since tone is what it's all about :)
where does it come from?
Is there something like a (national?) luthier organisation who set it up one day or something like that?

I don't know exactly where it came from. There is no national organization that sets the guidelines. What 1 person will say is a near master top another might say is an AA (relatively low grade) top. There really isn't much consistency. More than anything they are just trying to give people a general idea of what they are getting.

The reason they don't grade on sound quality is because it's a lot of work to tap each board and rate the sound, Especially when people look for so many different things.

In the end, if you have certain things you look for, then it's best to work with 1 or 2 harvesters a lot so that they can learn what you want and when they find "the good stuff" or what you will think is good they will let you know. Until you get a good relationship with the harvesters it's hard to get exactly what you want.

12-18-2004, 08:53 PM
This has nothing to do with the guitar I'm in this tutorial, but I've been working on some inlay work on another guitar for a few weeks. I accidently cut the cutaway out of the wrong half of the guitar (friggin south paw players) so I fixed the damage and inlayed over the top of the seem. So I figure I'm proud of myself and I'll just post the inlay work here, as the way you do inlay work is pretty universal.

I will apologize ahead of time, but my photo's bucket account is full so some of these pics I have to give links to my MSN account for you to see them.

Here is the shell

Now I have to break off little chunks. I want to have them as big as possible but I do have to grind them flat and that usually means I can't get pieces any bigger than 1" square.

Then I grind them down 1st till I'm sure they are flat and then I take care of making sure they are the right thickness. This part takes a long time. The pieces get really hot and it burns your fingers, and you usually end up sanding off the tips of them as well. Plus it smells band and the dust from the shell is really dangerous so you have to use a dust mast AND as soon as I finish grinding I have to go straight to the shower otherwise I'll break out in hives.

And after about an hr of grinding 3 1" sections of shell are ready.

Now that I have the shell preped I start cutting it and matching it to my pic that I drew

Edit: I think I have the pics working now. I forget that not only will this site not display MSN photo's but they also won't let you link directly to the pic.

12-18-2004, 09:11 PM
Here is where I cut the shell for the inlay. Just a board with a v notched in it and a jeweler's saw. Nothing fancy.

Once I have everything cut I need to start routing the body. I just draw a line where I want to rout and use a dremel tool to do the touting.
Here I am inlaying the roswood that is supposed to look like a branch.

So after I got the shell for the bird all fit together I traced around it on the back of the guitar, Then I routed out the area for the shell to go. After making it so that everything fit the way I wanted it to, I had to sand a 15' radius into the back of the shell so that it will match the radius in the back.

Then I mix epoxy and start to put the pieces in place.

and I use ebony dust to fill in the cracks

After the epoxy has time to dry I have to work on leveling the shell, however, I'm not just sanding it down so that it is the same hight as the wood for the back. So I have to carve it down leaving some places higher and some lower. This is because the abalone shell has layers of color and I want certain colors in certain places, so I have to try and control that.

Once I have everything close to the way I want it (it isn't going to be exact for a while yet) I sand the whole back down with 120 grit sandpaper, then 180, and then 220. Once the gouges and scratches are sanded out, I mix some system III epoxy and coat the back with it.

This is what it looks like now.

Once the epoxy has had time to dry I'm gong to inlay some leaves on the branch. THey will be made out of maple that I died green. The reason I epoxied over the whole back 1st is because I don't want the die to bleed onto the back when I add the finish.

Edit: Oh yeah... After I have everything inlayed I will still have to go engrave the shell to add details and shading.

12-18-2004, 10:02 PM
What do yuo do with the finished guitar?

12-18-2004, 10:17 PM
The guitar in the pic only has a sealer coat of epoxy on it at the moment. Some people will use this for a finish but I don't like the way it looks.

The finish I use depends on how I want the guitar to look and sound and what the guitar will be used for. My personal favorite finish is shellac because it sounds the best, but it isn't as durable as others. I also use an oil finish quite frequently but if somebody wants a good mirror finish you need lacquer. I'm kind of a hippy so I go the eco friendly rout and use KTM 9 water based lacquer. It's a lot harder to use than regular lacquer but it's better for the environment.

The cocobolo guitar that this thread is supposed to be about will have a KTM9 Lacquer finish.

12-18-2004, 10:46 PM
holy crap that bird is freakin awesome

12-18-2004, 11:19 PM
Woah, so it broke and you made it look like a branch? LOL nice save.

If not you suck.

12-19-2004, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by [T]ketikra
Woah, so it broke and you made it look like a branch? LOL nice save.

If not you suck.

Yeah... Too bad it took more time and money to salvage this back than it would have taken to just start over. I would have spent about 3 hrs and about $25 (because bubinga is cheap) getting a new back ready. It took me a good 2 days and cost me about $30 to do the inlay, and I'm still not done with it.

The only reason I fixed this one is because the person that is getting this guitar also has me makeing a bass out of the same board and therefore I cant get a new back. It's the whole sentimental value thing.

12-19-2004, 01:43 PM

12-19-2004, 02:28 PM
the inlay looks great so far.

Qould you recommend a dremel for inlay work?

12-19-2004, 03:02 PM
Originally posted by chrisb0109
the inlay looks great so far.

Qould you recommend a dremel for inlay work?

Do you mean a brand of dremel tool? or just Do I recommend one in general? I use a dremel brand too but only because that is the 1st only I have seen. the bits I use are specialized router bits that I get from work. I ended up having to by a special chuck tip for the dremel so that it could take the bits.

When routing the cavity in the the headstock or back or whatever, it is important to have a uniform depth all the way across. If you get low spots (or high ones) then you will end up with week spots and that can result in a broken guitar. It is possible to get everything just right using chisels but it's really hard and that is why I use a dremmel for that part.

As far as cutting the shell... I don't like the way dremmels and/or lasers cut it. You can tell by looking at the edge of the shell that it was cut with a machine and it doesn't look as good.

Did that answer your question?

12-19-2004, 03:15 PM
Sot of.

I currently use chisels for inlay and would like an easier, more exact method. I have looked into dremels (the tool, not necisarily the brand.) and was wondering if that would be an appropriate tool for inlaying. Obviously, alot of people use them. Would you recommend the actual dremel brand or some other brand?

12-19-2004, 03:27 PM
Yeah... Dremels are good for inlay work. Almost (but not quite) essential. I like the dremel brand (and would recommend it) because of the accessories. There are a million different types of jigs and tools that will only fit the dremel brand and because of that, I recommend getting the brand name. You will also need to get the little stand that will control the hight of the tool because going freehand with a dremel is no better than using chisels.

12-19-2004, 03:38 PM

I think that will probably be my next purchase in the area of tools.

12-20-2004, 10:19 PM
Inlaying the rosette.

The thing about building rosettes is that it doesn't matter if you make 1, or 100 it takes the same about of time because of the possess that you have to follow to make them, so this rosette is from my stack that I have on hand.

To inlay the rosette, you first rout around the inside diameter of the rosette, and then the outside. Once you do this you can either rout out everything in the middle or you can carve it out with a chisel. I usually rout it out and then use a chisel to even out and high spots and clean up the edges.

Once the channel is ready You 1st do a dry run installing the rosette to make sure it fits right, then you add glue and press it in again and finally clamp it down and let it dry.

12-20-2004, 11:54 PM
This is one of the most interesting threads I have seen in a while. . . a couple questions if you dont mind (I dont know if they have been asked or if you have stated them already):

1. How long does it take you to make these guitars normally?


2. How easy is it to find the right products? Meaning the best blocks of wood and whatnot?

12-22-2004, 01:56 AM
this is going to be an amazing guitar, just look at the way the grain flows with the body. the rosette is really cool too. whats that herringbone strip in the middle made from?

12-22-2004, 07:21 AM
The herringbone is made of a bunch of little sticks glued together.

12-22-2004, 02:45 PM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
The herringbone is made of a bunch of little sticks glued together.

hehe i know that, i was asking what kind of material the little sticks were.

12-22-2004, 04:27 PM
^^ I'm not sure but. I think they might be maple. I get them here.

12-22-2004, 05:02 PM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
^^ I'm not sure but. I think they might be maple. I get them here.

your PM box is full, but thank you for the pricing advice and the website.

12-24-2004, 02:29 PM
Bracing. It's what separates the men for the boys in the guitar world. Bracing is what makes a hand made guitar worth the money.

In a factory they get a board, have a CNC machine cut the braces to the right size, shape, ect... and then they glue them to the top and back according to factory specs. Sometimes this method works great but more often then not it is marginal at best.

The 1st reason the factory method is so lacking is because of the way they carve their braces. braces should always be carved from split billets of wood Remember a week or so ago when I was talking about runnout in guitar tops? Well you have to avoid that in bracing too. here are some pics to illustrate why.

Here is what I use to split the braces. Just a chisel a block of wood to beat on the back of my chisel and the block of wood I will be splitting.

Here I am splitting it along the grain. This is the easy part. I can look at the grain and know that it is going to split somewhere inbetween the grain lines because that is where the week places are.

The more difficult part is when I want to split it against the grain. If the tree twisted as it grew then the week points in the wood will twist also making it so that when you saw the wood you could be cutting the grain short and making a very week brace. That is bad.

See how this did not split long and strait (like I needed it too) that is because of runnout. The runnout in this piece of brace wood is bad enough that I'm gonna throw the whole block of wood out. The strength to weight ratio for this wood isn't very high so I would have had to leave the bracing way heavier than is I like. Now the runnout in this board would have never been discovered in most factory guitars because they have a machine doing this job using router bits and saw blades. When you hand build your guitar and you split your bracing then you can make the bracing much smaller and still be sure of the streigth. Smaller bracing means a more responsive better sounding guitar.

12-24-2004, 02:48 PM
Originally posted by jono034
This is one of the most interesting threads I have seen in a while. . . a couple questions if you dont mind (I dont know if they have been asked or if you have stated them already):

1. How long does it take you to make these guitars normally?


2. How easy is it to find the right products? Meaning the best blocks of wood and whatnot?

Jono, I didn't see your questions untill now. Sorry about that.

How long does it take to build??? Well there are a lot of factors that go into that. What materials, how much of the process they want hand done, cutaways, inlays... I could do a very basic guitar out of mahogany in around 30hrs if I already had all my jigs and molds made of the the instrument. For the gutiar I"m making in this thread I don't have any molds and jigs premade, and it's out of difficult material plus he wants a custom headstock inlay *and* the wavy grain on the top of this guiat is proving to be a pain in the neck. I'm anticipating around 100 or more hrs will go into this guitar.

As far as finding materials... That depends on where you live. I know a bunch of luthiers that run to there local hardware store once a month and look through the stacks of hardwood. They find everything they need this way. Unfortunately I don't live in an area where this is possible. I have spent hundreds of hrs building good relationships with importers and harvesters so now I have no problem finding what I need. I tell the people I work with what I want and they tell me if they have it. I also get emails from them from time to time saying "I have this set that is perfect for you." That is an advantage of working with the same people all the time. I've mentioned it before but I'll say it again. I get almost all of my materials from people on Mario is the guy that hosts the site and he is the best spruce dealer I have ever come across. He is also about the nicest person on the Planet. I get most of my hardwood from Whitespruce (grant) off that site too. And there are always a million other people willing to help you find what you need at the best possible price. What I cant get from there I get from They are easy to work with and have some of the best prices on the net. As a bonus they give a discount to the members of the mario's luthier forum because mario helps supply there spruce. Finally if I cant find it there I look to and between these places I manage to find everything I need.

12-26-2004, 11:45 AM
Remember how I promised I would show you some bending on a hot pipe. Well here you go.

When you bend with a mold you get what is called springback. That is when the wood wants to return to it's original flat shape. So these sides have had a couple weeks to level out a bit and now I'm going to use a hot pipe to fix any place where it doesn't want to sit in the right place all on it's own.

To heat the pipe I use a blow torch. When I 1st started doing it I would just make a little fire in the pipe with sticks, but a blow torch is much easier.

As is always the case I start in the middle, then go to the upper bout and then I do the lower bout. As I work I am constantly checking the shape up against a patter I had drawn up previously.

After I get the sides pulled into shape I now have to get the cutaway ready. I'm doing a florentine cutaway which means it will be pointed.

1st I have to mark where I'm going to have to cut the board. Then I have to flatten out the end of the board that will later be bent in the opposide direction from what it was bent originally, Then I cut it, dip it in water, and bend it around the pipe. After it is wrapped around the pipe I take let it cool that way so that I will keep its shape.

tongue untied
12-27-2004, 12:17 AM
wow, thats lookin frickin awsome man, good job. you know, if ur a luthier you should do this with every guitar you maek, post it on ug, i will always come back to see wat your doin, its quite fantastic

12-28-2004, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by tongue untied
if ur a luthier

I think he's completing his apprenticeship....I remember him posting somewhere...

But yeah, this is freaking amazing. Great job.

01-03-2005, 02:06 PM
CorduroyEW, you're an animal. Easily, one of the best threads I've seen on UG.

Carl, even though I've just now bumped this thread ;) , if Corduroy is done with this and it starts to make it's way onto page 2, can you archive this thread ?


01-03-2005, 04:10 PM
Sure thing...I dont think It will make it that far back though...its that damn cool.

01-03-2005, 04:12 PM
^ Agreed. But, it was nearing the end of page 2 when I replied to it ;)

01-04-2005, 06:08 PM
I'm really glad you like the thread.

I want you all to know that I haven't forgotten about this or anything but my work on this guitar will be kind of off and on because I'm working on 5 other guitars at the moment as well. I'll have another update here soon though.

01-04-2005, 06:29 PM
this guitar is looking awesome...too much work for me to do

hey corduroy...where can i get a tab for that song "swim" the stuart davis cover? i keep listenein to it over and over its soo nice. man i need to learn it. can u help me out

01-04-2005, 07:40 PM
Yeah go here.
This is the Stuart Davis fan page. He is by far my favorite musician in the history of the world. If you cruz the site there are tones of videos and mp3 and stuff. All very good. You can even get a copy of the version of swim that the tabs come from.

01-04-2005, 09:23 PM
Yup. Thats what I did. Hope you have fun with it. It's an asome song to play.

Hey... I was wondering if you would delete your last 3 posts on this thread? I wonna keep it about the guitars because I don't think people are really gonna want to read our conversation about Stuart Davis tabs. THe post where you asked where to get them is cool but if we could get the last 3 cleared off...


01-05-2005, 08:34 AM
you have to tune your guitar like this: D# G# C# F# A# d# as opposed to this E A D G B e.

Anyway this is one of the best threads herem 'tis really interesting. keep up the good work.

01-05-2005, 10:21 AM
Last night I glued some thin strips of cocobolo onto the sides to add stiffness and to help prevent them from from splitting if the guitar gets dropped.

To glue them I do the normal serface preparation you have with any wood. Which means sanding and clearing off all the dust. But then with cocobolo (because of the oil in it) I have to rub it down with denatured alcohol until all the oil has been lifted from the gluing surface.

01-06-2005, 03:18 PM
Although I'm going to take you threw the process of building this one guitar beginning to end. There are still a lot of things that you won't get to see. Like how to dye the thing without a spray gun. Well... you happen to be in luck because I just happen to be dying another guitar right now. Rubbing them with dye is a lot different than spraying them and it give a much different feel. I think it makes the guitar seem like it has a history. Anyway... here you go.

here is the gutiar
I use pondered dies that are mixed with denatured alcohol and shellac. I've found that it works best to apply the pouder directly to the guitar body then run a rag with the alcohol over the guitar and then seal it with shellac. It helps to even the colors out a bit. If you mix it all and then apply it then you end up with straight lines because the shellac dries too quick and prevents the colors from bleeding together.

I want the color to be darkest around the sound holes so I put it there 1st then cover the rest of the guitar. This one will have a red base coat and then black over the top.

and then I cover the thing with shellac. I used to mix my own shellac but I have recently been told about Zinsser bulls eye shellac. It is the ONLY pre mixed shellac that is suitable for guitars. I'm trying it for the 1st time on this guitar and I really like it. Because I want the colors on this guitar to bleed together I am jut going to rub the shellac on with a rag. This is what it looks like after it gets the sealer coat.

and this is what it looks like after I install the bindings.

OK my tangent is over. My next update with be about the right guitar.

01-06-2005, 06:58 PM
^ That's a beautiful finish man, and they're the colours of my footy team. :)

01-06-2005, 07:50 PM
Looks great! Do you have many of these guitars for yourself to play? How much do they cost to make?

01-06-2005, 08:24 PM
Right now I have 2 that I keep for myself. Had 3 more but they were stolen. I want to add a few more to my collection but I never seem to have enough time., but I do keep my prototypes so that means that the little beauty that I just finished staining will be mine when it's done.

The price of materials can very a LOT depending on what I'm building with. A basic mahogany guitar with a AAA sitka spruce top and nickel tuners costs me about $500 (give or take) but I have spent more than $2000 on materials for guitars too.

01-06-2005, 08:37 PM
and wat does the basic guitar sell for when you make it man???

01-06-2005, 08:42 PM
about $1,000

01-07-2005, 10:27 PM
Stop posting in this thread and get to work dammit!

Heh, great thread, well done with it. I must say I like that above finish. It's very cool.

Do you sign your guitars, or have a name on the headstock for instance?

01-07-2005, 10:37 PM
I put my signature on the inside of the soundboard and I also put it on the the tag. I like to do custom inlay work on the headstock rather than a logo or or a name because that makes it more personal. I've done everything from native american totems to a naked woman. For the guitars I make for myself I usually don't inlay them at all. Mostly because I HATE INLAY WORK but partly because I really like a plain guitar.

01-08-2005, 01:23 AM
Can you give me a better picture of the soundholes on the side? they look really freaking cool with the green contrasting and all.

01-08-2005, 09:09 AM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
I put my signature on the inside of the soundboard and I also put it on the the tag. I like to do costume inlay work on the headstock rather than a logo or or a name because that makes it more personal. I've done everything from native american totems to a naked woman. For the guitars I make for myself I usually don't inlay them at all. Mostly because I HATE INLAY WORK but partly because I really like a plain guitar.

Yeah, you can't go over the top with an acoustic. Function over form. Yeah,

01-09-2005, 01:45 AM
i've noticed that almost all of your guitars have that unique soundhole. i was wondering what effect does that soundhole shape/position have on the overall sound? how does it compare to the traditional round hole, does it make it brighter, bassier, more trebly?

01-09-2005, 01:25 PM
Originally posted by muzgash15
i've noticed that almost all of your guitars have that unique soundhole. i was wondering what effect does that soundhole shape/position have on the overall sound? how does it compare to the traditional round hole, does it make it brighter, bassier, more trebly?

The shape size and location of the sound hole make all the difference in the world. Moving it completely changes the structual integrity of the guitar (makes it more stable and it stays in toon better and there is less chance of neck resets later) but there are also differences in sound too. Sound waves travel in a straight line. Once they get to something like a hole then they just stop. If the hole is close to the bridge then that reduces the amount of bass you can get but increases the treble because bass waves are long and treble waves are short. Think of the string length on a bass guitar compared to a regular guitar. Why do you think they make them so much longer??? well moving the sound hole away from the bridge has the same effect.

The problem you run into is that there is no free ride. You always gain one thing at the expense of another. When I move my sound hole away from the bridge I get better lows but it is at the sacrifice of the mids and highs. So I have to find a way to effectively control the vibration of the top so that I can regain the areas of sound and leave out the ones I don't want. Then means adding thickness to some places of the top and thinning it down in others. Using body shapes that are different than most luthiers use. I also put the braces in different places and add thickness and stiffness in different places, and I have my special elevated back bracing that I use in guitars that will benefit from that.

This is what the top bracing in an offset soundhole guitar looks like. It is aranged so that I get LOTs of sustain, and lots of high end and lots of celerity. It also give me a tight well rounded bass. It's great for recording but doesn't sound that good just playing (unless you pair it with my special back bracing and over sized upper bout)

and this is similar to the "normal" top bracing that gibson used in there guitars 20 or so years ago. Bracing a guitar like this and putting the sound hole there makes it so that you get almost no sound production from the upper bout. Bracing like this gives you a nice well rounded "traditional" tone but it is somewhat lacking in clarity and sustain (when compared to offset soundhole guitars.)

this is the floating back bracing that I use on some of my offset soundhole guitars (when there primary purpose will not be recording.). It gives additional musical overtones and bass but takes away some of the sustain, and celerity.

This is normal back bracing

If you check my sound clips the guitar I use in swim is this one
THis guitar is an OM (ish) sized guitar with mahogany back and sides and standard back bracing.

and the guitar I use in ME
THis guitar is East Indian Rosewood, has the same sized waist and lower bout as the other guitar but the upper bout is 1" wider and has a cutaway. This guitar also has my floating back bracing. I like sitting down and playing this guitar better than my other one. It sounds more musical to me, but the one I used in swim sounds better for recording

both have offset sound holes but both sound very different. due to the bracing and back and side material. I don't know if this helps clear anything up or not. If you have more questions just ask.

01-09-2005, 03:15 PM
wow thats a lot more explanation than i expected, thanks

it makes sense to me my only question is how do you know how what you do will effect the sound? you mention making the top thicker in places to get the sound you want, how do you know exactly where to place those thicker spots? it just seems to me that everything is so precise it'd have to be really hard to know exactly what the guitar will sound like until it's finished.

01-09-2005, 03:37 PM
It all falls back on experience. As I build I am tapping every piece and listening to how it sounds, then I sand a little more off and tap it again. Shave a litter here and shave a little there and making notes of how it affects the sound. Then I take my observations and combine them with my knowledge of materials, and the behavior of sound wave, and then I experiment. The reason I always keep my prototype guitars is because I never know what they are going to sound like when I'm done. I can guess, and so far every one of my guesses has been right but I'm sure that I will guess wrong some day too. That is part of coming up with something new. If I end up with a guitar that I don't like I can always give it to my kids, or I can take it apart and try and figure out why it didn't work the way I thought it would. So no matter what happens I win.

So the short answer to your question would be that we don't really know how a guitar is going to sound until it is strung up, but our experience will make it so that we can accurately guess.

01-09-2005, 11:41 PM
wow.. this is some really amazing stuff.. how many guitars, about, have you built? this takes a LOT more effort than building a solidbody electric, thats for sure.
you are very good at this! i find it to be nothing short of amazing.

01-11-2005, 12:11 AM
next time when i own my own musical instrument company, can i hire u as my master luthier, haha

01-11-2005, 08:51 AM
fukin amazing man

01-12-2005, 10:51 PM
WOOOW. Just wow. thats pretty cool, the bending part reminded me of when i went to Steinway Factory and watched them bend a Grand Piano.... its tuff, for the piano they needed 10 guys though and a hugeeee clamp mechanism. lol awesome job!!!

01-14-2005, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by twelvestringtex
wow.. this is some really amazing stuff.. how many guitars, about, have you built? this takes a LOT more effort than building a solidbody electric, thats for sure.
you are very good at this! i find it to be nothing short of amazing.

At this point I have actually completed 11 guitars and when I'm done with the batch I'm working on now I will be up to 16. I'm still pretty new at this. I started my 1st about 2 years ago and that one took me nearly 9 months to build. The fact that I had a new born baby strapped to my chest for the majority of the time did make it take a little longer. Once I finished the 1st it was like a bad coke habit. I just couldn't get enough and I couldn't know enough. I think I *started* to understand how the guitar works, and how 1 thing might affect another somewhere between guitar 3 and 6. I'm still not really good... Sure I can get the sound I want but I suck at the finishing, and I need to develop a little more patients so that I don't dent and ding the wood as often. I'm getting there tho.

The actually building an acoustic gutiar is more difficult and time consuming than building an electric, but I think you need to know a lot more to do a good job making electrics. There is so much behind the electronics that completely baffles me. Then I look at others here (like zombat, power freak, chrisb and the list goes on and on) that know so much and understand so well. I can only hope to learn in my lifetime what some of you kids know at age 15.

01-16-2005, 09:57 PM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
Sure I can get the sound I want but I suck at the finishing

dont sell yourself short, i think your finishes are cool, most of the ones ive seen are pretty unique. besides you have what seems to me is the hardest part figured out (getting the sound you want)

01-18-2005, 07:00 PM
Corduroy, that guitar is lovely. I have to ask though, on the picture where you show the bracing for the type of soundholes you make, that body looks a little crooked and bent, i'm guseesing that this has some purpose. you said earlier making one side bigger than the other will balance out the sound, but this looks pretty crazy.

01-18-2005, 07:20 PM
That one is actually for a prototype I'm working on (the same one you see later with the splash of color). Most of my guitars with the offset soundhole are *not* smaller on one side than the other, like the one pictured. I only used that pic because it was the only one I had of my bracing, which is still VERRY similar to the bracing I use on my "normal" offset sound hole guitars. There are 3 big reasons I am making the treble side smaller than the bass side.

1 is that this guitar will have fan frets and because of compensation and bridge placement issues I thought that this would work better.

2 is that with the odd body shape it should substantially reduce wave cancellation inside the guitar I and should be able to hear new sounds (I'm hoping for mids). I don't know what those will be until I string it up and play it. There is a good chance it will sound horrible but I figured there was only one way to find out.

3 is that the smaller the side is the stiffer it will make the top in that area. Because of the way the top is braced this will work with the body shape to give me a fuller sounding bass and a brighter treble.

01-18-2005, 10:17 PM
Back to the guitar that this tutorial is supposed to be about.

The next step (after the ribs on the sides) was constructing the heel block. I have several different types that I use. On this guitar the artist plans on playing on the high frets a lot. For any of you that play much on the high frets of an acoustic you will notice that rather than ringing really well these notes tend to plunk and they don't sound very good. That is because of a lack of support under the fret board. To fix the problem of the plunking high frets I am going to make this heel block a little more like a classical.

Grain orientation on the heel block is really important and because of this I end up having to cut the thing into little bits and then glue it back together in the right way. Don't worry... It doesn't hurt sustain. Actually, this heel block improves it.

Once it's glued together then I cut out the area where the neck is going to fit into it and I have to sand a radius unto the top so that it will follow the contour of the side

After I have it glued to one of the sides I have to get it ready for the cutaway. This means more marking cutting carving, and sanding.

01-18-2005, 10:19 PM
Once that is fit I glue it and start getting then next seam ready. I start with a square block of mahogany for this seem but I have to cut, carve and sand it to fit the contour of the sides which is actually pretty hard with this piece.

Here is my "assistant" helping make sure the clamps are on there good.

once that block is glued to the cutaway I have to do a little more fine tuning and then glue the other side to it. I still haven't found a good way to clamp this portion together. Here I used lots of clamps holding other clamps in place and the occasional stick, shim, or wedge jammed into the right places to make sure I don't have any gaps.

01-18-2005, 10:21 PM
Once that dries I go to the end block. I'm using spruce for this guitar, sometimes I use mahogany. This is just a matter of cutting, gluing sanding and shaping.

01-19-2005, 04:07 PM
That's looking nice! I'm excited to see how amazing it is when done. Nice assistant too! :)

01-19-2005, 11:07 PM
looks really nice man... i wish i could build an acoustic...

01-21-2005, 11:05 PM
I have to say first off that guitar is going to look amazing, and that whoever the owner is very lucky. I would kill for a guitar like that.

But also, do you know any good books that will guide you through building an acoustic? Ive always been interesting in learning, and I figured that you might know of a book or two.

01-21-2005, 11:20 PM
the one book that is an absolute must have for any builder is Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson.

02-05-2005, 09:30 PM
Lets see... Where did I leave off?

Altho we call them flat top guitars they are not really flat. Martin builds a 25' radius into the top of their guitars, other companies go more or less. The more radius you have the stronger the guitar will be but it does have an affect on tone too so this one one of those thing that has to find balance. Rather than just use a radiused top, I like to have my top at a perfect 25' dome. I like the affect it has on the sound, and it makes for a stronger instrument that is less likely to warp with years of string tension but it does take a bit more work to attach the bridge and the neck. We will get to *that* later tho...

So anyway my next step will be to radius the sides to match the dome that the top will have. I just use a block plane and shave it down until it fits into my radiused work dish.

Here is the way if fit before I started cutting the radius in.

Here I'm using a block plane to shape it

This is how it fit after I finished.

02-05-2005, 09:34 PM
cutting the kerfed linings for the guitar.

Usually people like to use spruce, basswood, or mahogany. My wood of preference is mahogany. No real reason... I just like the way it looks.

So the 1st thing I have to do is cut a bunch of strips to the right size, then sand them smooth.

Then I set up a jig on my band saw to cut the kerf.

After than there is a variety of things you could do to make the linings look nice. Most people cut them to a triangle shape. I, however like the extra weight on the sides of the guitar because it helps with projection, so I just glue them on (backwards) and then sand off the rough edges. Some people think it looks sloppy but I like they way it looks. It's got a rustic feel, and if you haven't noticed by some of the other guitars I've posted pics of, I really like the rustic look and feel.

So now that I have the linings cut, I prep the sides of the guitar with denatured alcohol again (I have to do this before I glue anything to cocobolo) then I add the glue and clamp them down with clothes pins. If there is a section that is particularly hard to get into place then I might use a small C clamp but most of the time clothes pins are enough.

02-05-2005, 09:54 PM
Once the sides are ready to go, the kerfed lining is on, and the final radius has been sanded in I can start gluing the bracing onto the top. I don't want to glue the bracing onto the top before the sides are ready because small himidity changes can easily crack the top if you have the bracing glued on but it isn't glued to the sides. Therefor, I glue all the bracing on over the course of 2, days, then I shape it and glue the sides to the top the day the glue dries.

I already shoed you how I slit the braces for maximum strength. (that is something that nearly all hand builders do but most manufacturers don't do) and now it's time to start laying out and shaping. 1st I use a block plane to square out my spit braces, and to get them to roughly the right size. Most of the braces on this guitar will be just over 1/4" wide and just over 5/8" tall to start off with, except for the transverse brace which is usually 1/2" wide by 5/8" tall. However, because this guitar has that thick block under the fretboard I am making the transverse brace 3/8" wide and 3/4" tall

Once all the bracing is cut, radiuses and rough shaped I start gluing it on. I like to start with the x brace, then to the transverse brace, then down to the finger braces, then the bridge plate, and finally the tone bars across the bottom. The reason I do it in this order is because the x braces, and the transverse brace are structural. They go on where they have to go in order to support the neck and the bridge. On the other hand the finger braces and the tone bars are just there to control the sound, so I can tap the top, listen to how it sounds, and then make educated guesses as to here the best positioning for the fingers and tone bars will be. The tone bars control the greatest amount of sound from the guitar so and that is why they go on last. My method seems to work well for me. Other builders like to do it in opposite order that I do and that works for them.

tongue untied
02-05-2005, 10:00 PM
man, this is looking sweet , i love your guitars

03-10-2005, 06:05 PM
The back bracing.

The person wants my back bracing on his guitar. My back bracing is very similar to the Schneider back bracing used on some classical guitars, but I modified it slightly so that it would be able to stand up increased string tension of a steel string guitar.

The advantage of this back bracing is that it gives you a warmer, woodier sound. The disadvantage is that the instrument won't be as loud, and it won't be a durable so if it takes a blow to the back it is more likely to cause sever damage.

I have already joined the halves of this back together and now I'm using a regular clothes iron to heat the back (but avoiding the glue joint) and press it into the 15' radiused work dish that this back will be living in for the next week or so.

Once the back has been molded I glue a reinforcement strip of mahogany over the seem. (sorry, no pick of that)

Next I take the top and sides and place them over the back and trace around it so that I can get the outline of my guitar, and then I cut the back about 1/4" bigger than the outline.
Here I'm using a block plane to round off the reinforcement strip, then sanding it smooth.

And now I'm ready to start laying out the bracing. I've cut all the bracing pieces to their starting sizes, and lay them out so that I can visualize how it's all going to work together.

And now it's time to start the dirty work. Where the X shaped arched bracing will go I have to glue some veneer to the back to help prevent cracking and to help hold the dome. Usually I use rock maple for this, but this time I chose to use some of cocobolo scraps I had left over from the back.

So anyway... I now cut a chunk out of the reinforcement backstrip, glue the veneer, then glue on all the tone bars, and then I have to start shaping the braces so that the weight, and strength will be in the right places.

03-10-2005, 06:11 PM
^ i hate you and your skills!! :p:

i could probably do it myself if i had the tools and the knowhow. i would be capable, but i wouldnt know how to go about it and what steps to do. ill stick to building and customizing electrics thank you (even though i just buy necks and bodies cause i cant be arsed makin them)

03-10-2005, 09:08 PM
Originally posted by Calum_Barrow
^i could probably do it myself if i had the tools and the knowhow. i would be capable

Yeah, you could. It really isn't that hard to do. It just takes lots of time. I don't think there are any regulars on the GB&C that couldn't make a fantastic acoustic. In fact, I think there are a lot of people that could do a lot better than I do. I'd hate to have to try and coplete with somebody like zobat if he ever decided to make acoustics.

here is a quick shot of the arched X brace being glued together. This X is actually made from 9 little pieces of mahogany glued together and then smoothed and shaped.

tongue untied
03-10-2005, 10:09 PM
^ looking good man

i laughed my ass off when i saw your "assistan" whenever i try to play guitar i get "asistants" trying to help me out to. there great till they break somethnig, lol

03-11-2005, 01:46 AM
Oh what a cute baby!

Anyway, enough of that, cool luthier-ing. You're the best. Keep up the mad work.

03-11-2005, 02:01 AM
It looks great, keep up the good work man.

BTW, do have a massive workbench or do you work on the floor?

03-11-2005, 11:54 AM
Haven't looked into this thread for a while...
But as everyone already said, it's just absolutely (incredible)

I'm getting problems when I try to find all the stuff and tools I would need if I ever get to build one. After all the reading I did, I might say I know the very basics. But that is in english, I have no clue how the words are translated to german. If I would ask a guy in a home depot alike shop if they have plane, they will tell me to check the next airport ;)

anyways ... :cheers: keep going!

power freak
03-11-2005, 01:03 PM
Originally posted by F-3
I'm getting problems when I try to find all the stuff and tools I would need if I ever get to build one. After all the reading I did, I might say I know the very basics. But that is in english, I have no clue how the words are translated to german. If I would ask a guy in a home depot alike shop if they have plane, they will tell me to check the next airport ;)

If you don't know the words take a picture or describe the tool to someone in a hardware shop. Its embarrassing but at least you get the tools!


03-11-2005, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by power freak
If you don't know the words take a picture or describe the tool to someone in a hardware shop. Its embarrassing but at least you get the tools!


hehe...I actually know the word for plane, it was just a nice example :p
But for spokeshaves or saw types ... I have no clue. But the pic method might work :)

03-11-2005, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by TGM
BTW, do have a massive workbench or do you work on the floor?

LOL... I have a small work bench in my basement where I do the really messy stuff, like grinding shell, routing and sanding, but I so most of the gluing, clamping and brace shaping on my dining room floor.

03-11-2005, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
dining room floor.

couldnt have thought of a more convenient space myself :rolleyes: couldnt you have done it on your garage floor or something? dont lots of guitars and tops litter your dining room?

03-11-2005, 05:21 PM
:haha :haha :haha

There really is a good reason for doing it in the dining room... It has to do with climate control issues. I have to keep everything at 40% humidity and I have to keep the temp pretty moderate and I can't do that in my garage so I do the work in my dining room and store the stuff in one of the spare bedrooms.

03-11-2005, 05:22 PM
^ ahhhh i see now. i forgot about humidity and such matters.

03-12-2005, 03:12 PM
So here we have the arched x brace. It has been glued together and carefully shaped to be exactly what I want it to be. Believe it or not this is the product of about 4 hrs work.

Before I glue that brace on I need to finish fine tuning certain parts of the back. Remember those veneer stripes I glued down? Well I have to go shape them. I want the back to be stiffest in the middle and flex around the outside and I want to control exactly where it bends and vibrates. Here I am marking where the arched bracing meets the veneer. The area just inside this line will be the thinnest spot on the guitar.

When It's all marked I start carving, and shaping, but I stop frequently so that I can tap the back and listen to how it is shaping the tone. My goal is complexity of tone, I'm not looking for a specific pitch (altho many luthiers do.) When the back sounds the way I want it to I sand the surfaces and prepare it to glue on the X.

03-12-2005, 03:16 PM
^ are you trying to use it to order a pizza or something? thats what happens when you work for hours on end. you go crazy!!

im guessin your tapping it and listening for the right tone etc.

03-12-2005, 03:18 PM
I'm just listening to how it sounds in general. Trying to find that complexity of tone I was talking about.

03-12-2005, 03:19 PM
^ oh yeah, didnt see that in your post :bonk:

can you order food on it though? :rolleyes:

03-12-2005, 03:21 PM
I still having figured out how to do that. Maybe I'll get that feture on my next prototype.;)

03-12-2005, 03:23 PM

wish i had an acoustic that had a phone in it...

BTW, is this guitar for a customer? or is it for you?

EDIT: read your first post..

03-12-2005, 05:56 PM
now thats two handed tapping! lol!

03-12-2005, 10:38 PM
Looking awesome man will we get sound clips?

(btw...your my ava now..haha)

03-12-2005, 11:31 PM

I don't know if I'm gonna get the chance to get some sound clips of this one or not. If *I* don't get any recorded I should be able to get the guy I'm making it for to let me know when he gets some suitable stuff up online... Don't know for sure how long that is gonna be tho.

And now I finally get to glue on that X brace.

I only have 8 of my deep clamps and I need 2 for each leg of the brace. I also need to push the back into the radiused dish otherwise the back will loose it's dome. So I just used a couple regular clamps, a 3ft stick, and some legos to hold the back down in the center.

Here it is all glued together.

and I just realized that I never did show you guys a good picture of what this back actually looks like. So here you go.

03-12-2005, 11:49 PM
^ That is a stunning set of Cocobolo, a beautiful grain. You're using it for the back and sides right? That guitar is going to look great when it is finished.
I am amazed by your work. The amount of effort you must put into these is incredible.
I still dont get how you shape the sides though. You soak the wood, put it on the mold, then clamp it down?

03-13-2005, 12:07 AM
^Yup. The cocobolo will be the back and sides. The guy I'm making this for was really happy when he saw this set. It was one of those things where he saw it and just had to have it.

To bend the sides I get them wet (usually this just means running them under water, not soaking them) and then I heat them. Typically I use a blowtorch and a piece of aluminum pipe, but this time I used the mold so I actually ended up heating the wood with my stove top. In a perfect world I would have a nice silicone heating blanket but those are expensive and I don't have any money so I make due with what I do have.

03-13-2005, 01:19 AM
Chris are one sick puppy, man.

This thing is just rediculous, lol

Keep it up :cheers:

03-13-2005, 12:42 PM
Man you are insane, props to you looks like it gunna be a fine guitar,

03-13-2005, 12:46 PM

i was wondering if you could take off a stain? my guitar is a stained mahogany, but i really like the look of what you did. i was wondering if i could remove the current stuff, and changehow it looks. could i just paint over it?

i meant the guitar with the offset soundhole.

03-13-2005, 12:52 PM
^ if you paint over what? the plain wood? anyway, it would have a quite large effect on the tone if you painted it. dont know which way though. corduroy will help you with that. id say leave it, if its only the looks you want.

03-13-2005, 02:16 PM
Originally posted by Smitherz

i was wondering if you could take off a stain? my guitar is a stained mahogany, but i really like the look of what you did. i was wondering if i could remove the current stuff

The finish on an acoustic guitar has a significan't affect on tone. If you refinish your guitar it will sound differant, so if you like the way your guitar sounds now, then it's best not to touch it. If you don't mind altering your tone, then you could either strip the finish on your guitar now and dye the wood, or you could add finish over the top of what you already have. Either way would work.

On the guitar you were asking about I used
Aniline dyes ( that are alcohol based. These are a powder that you mix with denatured alcohol, then I seald them with Shellac ( but on a guitar you can't use just any shellac. You have to mix your own. after the color is seald in then I sand is smooth, and cover it with true oil for the clear coat. Shellac for the clear coat would probably look and sound better but it takes a long time to do a good job french polishing a guitar.

03-14-2005, 02:08 PM
that wood is amazing. what kind of sound does it produce if you used it all round?

like the use of Duplo bricks and that plastic kitchen thing in thats one of you tapping it :p::haha

03-19-2005, 11:51 PM
^^You like the dubla blocks eh? I was kinda proud of myself for that one. LOL

When you say "used it all round" do you mean used it for the top too? If I did that I would end up with a guitar that was really quiet, but sustained forever. Hard woods don't make good guitar tops and cocobolo is about as hard as you can get. The overal tone of cocobolo is really similar to Brazilian rosewood, but in my opinion better because the high end is more "sparkely" sounding.

03-19-2005, 11:59 PM
So after I have all the bracing glued on and carved to shape, I then have to get the sides ready for the back to get glued on. This means I have to glue on more kerfed linings, and put notches in the linings so that the bracing can fit into them.

Ones everything is ready, I clean my gluing surfaces with denatured alcohol, the apply the glue to the sides, and to the back. I'm using tightbond for this and whenever gluing with tightbond you have to give it time to soak into the wood , then put the back on and clamp it down.

After it comes out of the clamps it looks like this.

03-20-2005, 12:10 AM
Now it's time to get started on the bindings. I use some speacial router bits to rout the binding channel, and then this guitar will have purflings too so I also have to rout a purfling channel. This is what it looks like after it's rounted for bindings and stuff.

The bindings on this Guitar will be Goncalo Alves (sp???). Because I cut my own bindings from raw lumber I am able to bookmatch my bindings so the figure will be exactly the same on both sides of the guitar.

Here I am double checking to make sure I have them bookmatched and layed out right for bending. After all, I don't want to go threw all the extra effort of bookmathing these if I then go and bend one backwards so that the grain doesn't math up...

Now It's time to get down to business... I wrap the binding in a paper towel dump water on it, and then wrap everything in tin foil. Then I turn on my kitchen burner and heat the area up that will be at the wast. Once the wood is feeling a bit flexible, I clamp the waist into my mold. Then I use a clothes iron to heat and bend the upper bout.

03-20-2005, 12:12 AM
Wow this is really coming along well, what else will you do to the body?

EDIT: That back is so sexy. :liplick:

03-20-2005, 12:12 AM
That guitar is turning out stunning man. I can't wait to see this when it gets finished. :cheers:

Maybe someday I could build an acoustic like that... :(

03-20-2005, 12:18 AM
Originally posted by TGM
Wow this is really coming along well, what else will you do to the body?

The body still need to have the purfling, and binding glued on. I also have to do some fine tuning with the top and back thicknesses. That will involve taping on the top listening to the way it rings and then sound a little material off. This helps me to control the overall tone of the guitar.

One that is finished, then it's just a matter of sanding it down, filling the pours, and Applying the finish. Then I get to start working on the neck again.

03-20-2005, 12:29 AM
^ What's purfling?

03-20-2005, 10:14 AM
ON the inside of the guitar that notchy stuff thats like binding on the inside

wait that might be kerfing or somethign im confused

03-20-2005, 01:01 PM
^Yeah. That is the kerfed linings. A kerf is a cut with a saw. Kerfed linings literally means linings cut with a saw. The purpose of those is to give more gluing surface when you try and glue on the top and back.

The purflings are the decoration in between the body of the guitar and the bindings. Lots of guitar don't have them at all. Usually purflings are made of colored wood, fiber, or shell. I'll give a better explanation when I get around to actually installing them.

03-20-2005, 01:15 PM
Maybe this will make it more clear...

03-20-2005, 03:45 PM
good explanation mnbaseball91!

this guitar is really coming along well!! is the neck store bought or made???? thinking of making a birdseye one in a while for an upcoming project(ill keep you all posted when i decide to strat it!) is it easy to make necks by hand or will buying one be better?

03-20-2005, 04:19 PM
^I'll be making the neck. I already did the scarf joint for the headstock, and I think I posted pictures of that early on in this thread.

Making necks isn't nearly as difficult as one might imagine, the only hard part is slotting the fretboard.

03-20-2005, 05:24 PM
yeah i remembered the diffrence right after i posted..but did not wana edit again. and i thought herringbone was made of little sticks

03-20-2005, 05:43 PM
^you thought right. Herringbone is made of a bunch of little sticks glued together. Herrinbone is really just that sorta diagonal black and white alternating patter that they use. This guitar has a herringbone rosetta, but I don't like herringbone purflings because I think they look a bit over the top.

03-20-2005, 08:46 PM
The other day I was thinking it would be cool to build a guitar that is kind of a cross between a flat top guitar and an F style mandolin. I figured I'd use the horn, and bride and tailpiece, like a mandolin but the top would be flat and the overall size would be similar to a jumbo acoustic. I got out my overhead projector pins, a ruler and a compass and started jotting down a rough sketch. Tell me what you think, ok? Keep in mind this is still just a very rough drawing but I kind of like it.

03-20-2005, 08:48 PM
wo thats quite interesting i kinda like it...the only thing to me that i dont think flows is the "eye" shaped sound hole, maybe if it was a wee bit smaller or so..i like the curled spot on the top left like the mandolin has though.

03-20-2005, 08:55 PM
^yeah... I wasn't sure about the eye shape either... I was thinking it looked kinda creepy but figured it would be easier than my other option which would be a D shape. I guess I could do an oval sound hole, but I want something a little more striking than an oval, you know?

I'm also thinking of making the lower bout a bit smaller on the treble side. Kinda like I did on my prototype, but I'm not sure.

03-20-2005, 08:59 PM
Would it be possible to make a soundhole that looks like an ? hole, or even double ? holes. It might help the mandolin look a bit, and would be somewhat original. Ya might even get weird sound characteristics from it.

03-20-2005, 09:08 PM
I love the F hole look, but unfortunately it isn't going to work on this one. The farther the sound hole is from the bridge, the more bass response the guitar will have, and guitars with a tailpiece tend to be lacking it bass to begin with so I decided that whatever soundhole(s) I have, they will be located above the waist.

So it sounds like the eye shape hole is out. What about multiple sound holes? Maybe 2 teardrops in each bout?

03-20-2005, 09:10 PM
^IMO the tear drops would look very nice.

Have any ideas for a headstock design?

03-20-2005, 09:19 PM
Yeah. The headstock is going to be the same shape as this one

and it is either going to be inlayed the logo on this site
or some other phrase from the language that is known as "is"

03-21-2005, 01:20 AM
That's really interesting, that guitar would really be eye catching. And two teardrops on each bout would be great too, but the eye isn't bad.

Thanks for the explanation of prufling, all I got on was a decoration around the border.

BTW, did you draw that design on your floor? Your poor floor must take abeating. ;)

03-21-2005, 01:39 PM
^ greese pencil?

And awesome idea cord. would the double tear drops really weaken the top? seems like it would need special bracing patterns too.

maybe like a really curving cresent moon for the sound hole

03-21-2005, 01:41 PM
^ you could use normal brace patters i would think as long as you place the tear drops between the braces. youd be alright then.

03-21-2005, 01:45 PM
thats what i thought but you could not have the leaf braces there and that would prob really weaken it

03-21-2005, 01:57 PM
^ it would weaken it yes. but not as much as if you removed or cut say the main X braces. you dont want to be going doing that to your dads J-45.

03-21-2005, 03:27 PM
Originally posted by TGM
BTW, did you draw that design on your floor? Your poor floor must take abeating. ;)

My floors really do take a beating, but no I didn't draw on the floor. I have a couple big pieces of polycarbonate that I draw this stuff on. Having it clear makes it easier when I'm ready to transfer the image to paper.

And awesome idea cord. would the double tear drops really weaken the top? seems like it would need special bracing patterns too.maybe like a really curving cresent moon for the sound hole

Weakening the top is more from soundhole placement rather than the number of them. I can beef up the upper bout pretty well anyway because very little sound comes from that area of the guitar.

Because this guitar will have a tail piece the stress on the top will be different than with a pined bridge. A pined bridge pulls up and you get your sound from the bridge rocking frontwards and then backwards. For a bridge and tailpeice all the pressure is pushing down and the sound is generated from the bridge moving up and down. Because the concepts behind why you get sound is so different, I'm gonna have to brace this lots different than a regular flat top. Unfortunately I can't build it like a regular arch top either because I'm not going to be carving a top for this. That means I'm gonna have to start the bracing ideas from scratch too. So I guess this one will be very much a cordi original.

03-21-2005, 07:06 PM
oooo its gonna be a trapize tail piece?

03-22-2005, 02:57 PM
^I don't think so. It's gonna be kinda like a tailpiece on a violin. Only I'm making it out of cocobolo instead of ebony.

Here is a revised version of the guitar, and I have the material I'm going to be using for the back sitting under the drawing. The soundholes I have drawn on there are not exactly the right shap but they are close enough to give you an idea. They aren't big enough to let the guitar breath tho, so I'm also going to add a side vent on the upper bass bout.


Unfortunately I don't even know if I'll be able to build this one any time soon. I'm hoping to convice a certain person to let me do it but if they say no, then I might have to wait quite some time until I have the time to make myself another guitar

03-22-2005, 07:16 PM
^A certain person? Would that be your wife?

It looks great way better than any other acoustic i've ever seen. If that were mass produced you may be able to sway me away from bass playing and towards acoustic playing.



03-23-2005, 12:41 AM
^^The wife is a really good guess but this time it wouldn't be her that stops me. I'm making this guitar for the Stuart Davis Rock auction. ( I'm building the guitars for the people that bid $10,000. A well known author has already bid 10K so I know that I have to get started on 1 guitar and I might be doing more. The problem is that Stuart is on tour right now and he hasn't given me any indication as to what he wants this guitar to be, so I've been comeing up with ideas. In the end, if he wants me to do some run of the mill guitar, then I will... I'm just hoping I get to use this design.

03-23-2005, 01:46 AM
The concert at your house will be performed on a very expensive hardwood, hand-made acoustic guitar that is engraved in IS (a language Stuart himself constructed) with a phrase of your choice, signed by Stuart and GIVEN TO YOU at the end of the night along with the recording.

Is that you making the guitar? That is VERY interesting.

03-23-2005, 07:30 AM
I would have thoughht doing something like this you'd want to get you're name across, but no-where on there is you're name mentioned as the creator of the guitar that the winning bidders going to get. Or am i justy very blind?

I'm still loving that design, reminds me of Carl Thompson basses even though they are very different.

If you do build a guitar to that design don't forget pictures for all your beloved UG fans :P



03-23-2005, 10:12 AM
^He does mention my name in his road journals back in late february but so far that is the only place. When he started this rock auction he hadn't secured the deal with me so he couldn't put me up on the site or mention my name, and now he is on tour and can't really get to the site to change things. Once things get rolling I will get my own section on his website so that I can post my progress. We figure that will draw the interest of potential bidders, and it's going to get me a lot of exposure. So we both win.

03-23-2005, 11:59 AM
Wow, that's really cool. Are you going to make this your profession or is it already?

03-23-2005, 12:08 PM
^ its already his profession. hes makin this for a guy; read his first post.

03-23-2005, 12:43 PM
^^^actually, it isn't my profession yet. I still consider myself to be in training and I do this in My free time. That would be the time I have in between taking care of my 3 kids and working 50hrs a week in a metal shop. I don't think it's gonna be too long before I'm able to be confident making this my profession but when that happens I'm going to have to charge enough to actually make money on these things. Right now I usually only break even. It's kinda like having other people pay for my college tho, so I guess I don't mind not making money off it right now.

03-23-2005, 12:55 PM
how long do they take you to do on average? it looks like a pretty time consuming job. and how much does it cost you to buy the materials?

03-23-2005, 01:04 PM
It's not uncommon to spend as much as 100 hrs on a guitar. It would take a lot less time if I had more power tools and better hand tools. With the right equipment I could do what takes me 100hrs in about 20 but then the guitars wouldn't be nearly as hand done. and materials very a lot depending on the guitar. I've built guitars that cost me more than $2,000 in materials, but for something similar to a martin d18 but upgrading to wood bindings, bone nut and saddle, ebony fret board, and master grade spruce top, it costs me somewhere in the area of $600 sometimes more or less depending on what materials are going for at the time, then you have to factor in mistakes too... I make a lot of them and I end up throwing a lot of stuff out so that often raise the price by 1 or 2 hundred as well.

03-23-2005, 01:06 PM
ahh, thought it would take a long time to hand make em. you do a very good job though, keep up the good work.

04-01-2005, 01:07 AM
im coming to the point where i can see the completion of my twelve string, and you have inspired my next project to be an acoustic, but i tell you what... im rather confused/ignorant about a few seemingly very important things:

1.whats the bass/treble side, where is it, and how can i affect the sound with its construction

2.whats upper/lower bout, where is it, and how can i affect the sound with its construction do i know how to make and where to place the bracings? important is the radiused back? and what effect does it have on the sound?

ive been meaning to replace my acoustic for awhile now, and im always looking for a challenge, so i thank you for inspiring me to believe this is possible!

04-03-2005, 11:42 PM
So the binding channels are routed and it's time to actually install the bindings

I start by laying them out and making sure the figure matches. Then I wrap them in damp paper towels and tin foil.,. I bend the waist with a hot pipe, and then clamp them onto the molds I used for the sides, and then use an iron to bend them the rest of the way around the mold.

Before actually installing the bindings, I have to install the end cap.

Once everything is ready I tape the bindings and the purflings in as a dry run so that I can be sure they are all the right size and that the corners are mitered so that they look nice. This is actually pretty tough because I'm dealing with 7 little strips of material getting pushed into 3 different little channels and I have to do it all at once. After I do my dry run I have to actually glue them in. This means taking it all off, putting the glue on and then trying to get it all back in before the glue starts to dry, and I have to try and not turn the whole guitar into a big sticky mess. If there is a spot that is hard to get to pull into place and can't be held with tape, I use a clamp to hold it.

After The glue has time to dry I take everything off and scrape the guitar down with a catenate scraper. This is one of the areas of building that is risky because it is really easy to slip and do significant damage. Because it is so risky you have to go slow... Scraping and sanding can take several hrs before it's done.

and here it is scraped, and ready for it's finial sanding and finishing.

04-04-2005, 12:09 AM
Getting the inlay ready.
I start by preparing the shell. This involves breaking it into chucks, sanding one side flat, gluing the flat side to a board, then sanding the other side until I have them all the right thickness. As a side note, if I bought pre ground shell for this inlay it would have cost me arounds $80, the shells only cost me $6 each at and these 3 shells should be enough to do 4 or 5 large inlays. That means I'm going to saver about $350 but I do have to spend a whole day doing a very miserable job.

Once the shell is ready I get several copies of the the image I want to inlay and I cut out each little section of the picture and glue them to the shell. I usualy have to keep color and grain orientation in mind when I pick out which pieces of the inlay will get cut from which shell.. After the bits are glued to the shell, I hold the pieces down on a board that has a V cut into it, and I cut the shapes out using a jewelers saw. As each piece get cut out, I lay them onto a picture of the inlay.

04-04-2005, 12:12 AM
Now the the shell is ready lets get the headstock ready. I'm gonna inlay the headplate before I glue it to the neck because it's easier when you have a flat working surface. Now I need to lay out the whole headstock onto a copy of the picture so that I can be sure the inlay doesn't get in the way of the tuners and stuff. Then I glue the pick to the headplate, I get my dremel tool and rout the picture out.

04-04-2005, 12:27 AM
Originally posted by twelvestringtex

1.whats the bass/treble side, where is it, and how can i affect the sound with its construction

The bass side is the half the guitar that is where the low E is, the treble side is the half the guitar that has the high E. Some people build both sides symmetrical so it doesn't really matter which is the bass and which is the trouble until you get to the bridge compensation and the nut. I, however, don't build both sides the same. When the guitar has a cutaway you should have that on the treble side which obviously affects how you put the guitar together. I also use asymmetrical bracing in an effort to get high notes that are more complex and bass notes that are warmer, than a "normal" guitar.

2.whats upper/lower bout, where is it, and how can i affect the sound with its construction

The upper bout is the area above the waist of the guiar. It's main purpose is to add structural support for the neck. It doesn't produce sound.

The lower bout is the large area below the waist. This is the sound producing section of the guitar so you have to build it keeping that in mind. do i know how to make and where to place the bracings?

This is a big question. To start off the best bet is to get some blue prints and build according to what they tell you. Then after that you can apply your knowledge and start changing the bracing a little. As you get a better understanding you will be able to make some more radical changes. important is the radiused back? and what effect does it have on the sound?

Radiussing the back is really important, and so is radiusing the top. If you don't radius them then the guitar will have a hard time holding it's shape, and it will shag your intonation when it shifts. It also makes the guitar so that it is more likely to crack. So yes... Radius them so you don't end up with those problems.
Yes it does affect the tone as well. More radius means more bassy, but less clear. Less radius makes for brighter highs with more clarity.

04-04-2005, 12:30 AM
so in that case... any tips on where i can get one of those radiused dishes?

04-04-2005, 12:49 AM
You can buy the radiused dishes from [url][/url} for about $80 each and you will need 2 of them. 1 needs to be 15" and the other needs to be 25". Later you might want to get some other radius but it's good to start out with the industry standard before you start changing it up. You can also find them on Ebay for about halve the price. Another option is to make them yourself for about $25 each.

Altho the radius is important you don't need to use a dish. I don't want to get into explaining how to do it without one here and now, but in my next build I'll be bracing the top with out a dish so I'll post pictures and an explination of that when I get to it. Should be sometime in the next week or 2.

04-04-2005, 05:44 AM
$80 for sanded shells? **** Corduroy your in the wrong business. Seriuosly i can get those shells from the beach well maybe no the first 2, but still this get rich quick scheme is gonna work.

04-04-2005, 09:09 AM
^Finding, and prepairing the shell isn't as easy as it looks. Trust me... If I had $80 to spend then I would be buying my shell instead of grinding my own

04-04-2005, 06:03 PM
sounds like a good idea with ebay, ill look into that, but ive got time until im going to be ready to start. i am waiting untill i get my summer job. so im going to be quite attentive in your threads from now on. thanks for doin such a great job answering those questions.

04-04-2005, 06:53 PM
Screw Martin, if I had the money I would buy a guitar from you. You make some magnificent guitars.


04-05-2005, 11:33 AM
id buy one if i was in the USA. then sell it for thousands when he becomes the next CF Martin or whatever. i love Corduroy's guitars though, so id just buy one cause i like it anyway.

04-05-2005, 06:05 PM
yeah i think investing in a CourderoyEW guitar is a great idea just make sure your successful cord, or else!!!

04-05-2005, 10:12 PM
Calum have fun living to be 179 before you sell that

O cool the fourms got edited there is now no clear form button on the quick reply opition

04-10-2005, 05:20 PM
A quick update.

I've done more sanding and I've sealed the grain with epoxy. Here is what it looks like now.

04-10-2005, 05:24 PM
That looks beautiful.

04-10-2005, 05:28 PM
That is absolutely beutiful :O:O That is so sweet.

04-10-2005, 05:38 PM
Truly inspiring.. :)

04-10-2005, 05:42 PM
thats looking really realy nice man..whats the back and sides?

04-10-2005, 06:13 PM
The back and sides are cocobolo, which is my 2nd favorite wood. It sounds really similar to brazilian but with more sparkle. I actually like it better than brazilian.

neox the cow
04-10-2005, 06:18 PM
That is quite amazing Cord. I hear cocobolo is toxic though? Just random stuff I hear down at the guitar shop.

04-10-2005, 06:30 PM
Yes. It is toxic. Toxic enough that warmoth won't make things out of it anymore. When doing "dusty" stuff I wear a mask, and you have to take a shower as soon as your done working with it but there are worse things. A lot of people are really allergic to it. Luckily I'm not.... Yet.

neox the cow
04-10-2005, 06:38 PM
Ahhh I see. I imagine it would be wise to change and wash your clothes as well. Well that is a very beautiful guitar, keep it up. You either have a natural talent for it it seems or are just really good. Either way rock on. :)

04-10-2005, 08:20 PM
whens this guitar have to be done by, do you have some crazy stupid deadlines (like those hot rod reality shows where they expect us to believe that 5 guys can do a complete body off restoration includeing body work and painting in one week)??
the next reality show, american guitar, staring Courderoy:D

04-13-2005, 03:06 PM
ohy .... the binding is just gorgeous.
Keep it up, looking amazing .... :eek:

04-13-2005, 07:38 PM
Cocobolo is toxic? So what if the coating wears off? Won't the wood part be exposed and like, hurt?

04-13-2005, 07:46 PM
^ I think it is just the dust, when you are cutting it. But I think it is just irritating when you are exposed to it, not cutting it.

04-14-2005, 02:10 PM
Originally posted by Mascot
Cocobolo is toxic? So what if the coating wears off?

More than anything it's the dust. You don't want it to enter into your body. The oil can cause problems too but you clean the oil off the serface so then that isn't a problem, and really... It takes a really long time for the oil to soak into your skin. I use cocobolo for fretboards quite often and I've never known of anybody having a problem with skin irritation, but if somebody has a bad enough allergy I'm sure it *could* be a problem.

05-04-2005, 06:59 PM
Cord, will you ever make these guitar to very interested! how much for one like your building now roughly?

05-04-2005, 07:44 PM
^I thought he said he does sell them. I think I remember reading $1000+ based on what went into it.

05-04-2005, 10:06 PM
The grain on the back of the guitar i have to admit, is quite amazing. It just looks realllly pretty.

05-05-2005, 08:28 AM
what happened to the Bird Cord? it seems to have dissapeared!

05-05-2005, 12:13 PM
^That was on a completely different guitar if i recall correctly.



05-05-2005, 01:07 PM
Yeah... It was a differant guitar. I've got a couple pics of it up in the gallery now and if you click on my sig you can hear a quick sound clip of it. It isn't a good sound clip tho, becase I typically play right handed and that one was left handed.

Godofshred, I do sell guitars. The price depends on what materials are going for at the time that I start building. Because I'm still relatively new at this I mostly just try and get money for materials and then enough extra to cover my butt if I make any mistakes. For a guitar similar to a martin d18 (but with nicer components) it's gonna cost $1200 (630 quid) give or take about $200 depending on what kind of deals I can find on materials. To get any of my guitars you have to get on my waiting list tho.

05-05-2005, 03:16 PM
how much is shipping?

*EDIT* correction SAFE shipping!

05-21-2005, 11:16 PM
I'm not sure... I charge actual shipping and that changes depending on where in the world the gutiar is going.

The finish on the guitar has has over a month to dry now... Now it's time to start buffing it to a shine. I use rotten stone and a rag. Pretty simple really... After it is buffed smooth it gets a spit polish.

05-22-2005, 11:29 PM
Now I'm using no7 polishing compound. It's car polish but it leave a great shine

Here is what it looks like now... Almost perfect. The kinda cloudy spots are just the glair from the flash. You can also see the couch relecting in the back... Almost ready for the neck...

05-22-2005, 11:32 PM
^ That looks really cool, man.

05-23-2005, 01:11 AM
Is the only finish on that epoxy? How do you apply that?

05-23-2005, 08:26 AM
^The epoxy is just the pure filler... I used KTM9 waterbased lacquer substitute as well. The finish is stuff I just brush on, and then sand with 400 and then 600 grit sand paper between coats.

05-23-2005, 01:04 PM
thats fantastic, how long till youll have finished you think?

05-23-2005, 08:11 PM
depends on humidity. I need to glue the fretboard to the neck but the humidity needs to be at 40% for at least 2 days before I can do that. For the last month the humidity has been at around 80%. After I get the fretboard glued on it will be I'll be able to carve the neck in about 2 hrs, and then it will take another week and a half to put an oil finish on the neck. Then it'll be done.

05-23-2005, 08:19 PM
how big is your waiting list for those?

05-23-2005, 08:24 PM
Not real long but I make no promises either. Around 6 months to a year.

05-26-2005, 10:13 PM
that looks amazing. cant wait to see it all done.

06-01-2005, 12:24 AM
Mmm, looks good. So shiny.

Your Dell's outer casing is the eact same as mine. :p:

06-01-2005, 12:26 AM
Originally posted by Mascot
Mmm, looks good. So shiny.

Your Dell's outer casing is the eact same as mine. :p:

haha mine as well

06-01-2005, 12:47 AM
LOL. Dell make some fine computers don't they?

06-01-2005, 04:19 PM
Awww, that is looking totally, unbelievably awesome. Its sooo beautiful.

06-01-2005, 06:29 PM
Haha, oh yeah. My Dell is pretty decent, although its more of a family computer.

I see you've got the floppy drive, a CD drive, and a DVD drive, just like me. :p:

Does it look like that in real life? From what I see, it seems to have a fairly red tint to it after you finished it.

Also, how far do you sand? Is it just guessing until you find a the correct amount? Because when I do my future guitar, I don't want to sand too far. You just get a feel for it, right?

06-01-2005, 11:48 PM
Yes it is really that red. As cocobolo ages it turns a nice brown and starts to look like brazillian. When it 1st gets cut it has all sorts of white orange and yellow, right now it's kinda inbetween...

For sanding, I just sand untill it's smooth. Some times you burn all the way thru the finish and have to add more but what can you do... AlGeEater really knows more about finish than I do tho. For any *real* questions you should ask him. The finish is the part of building that I am the worst at.

06-06-2005, 06:27 AM
ive just read this entire thread in one go. good god that is a beautiful guitar. you should win awards for it. your really good at explaining everything as well, you could write a book or something about this, because you explain so clearly. if cocobolo is your second favourite wood, what is your favourite?

06-06-2005, 10:34 AM
^glad you like the thread. I don't know that I'm good enough to write a book or anything, but maybe someday...

My favorite type of building material is African Blackwood. Unfortunately I'm super allergic to it so I won't be using it very often. I hear that Wamara sounds the same as African blackwood so one of these days I'll have to try it out.

06-07-2005, 02:30 AM
That's beautiful, is there any chance that the guy who you're building it for will let you post sound clips?

06-07-2005, 01:58 PM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
My favorite type of building material is African Blackwood. Unfortunately I'm super allergic to it so I won't be using it very often.

now THAT is unlucky!

06-07-2005, 11:21 PM
^^^, lol, yeah. THATS why he wont use blackwood often. right..

lol. it's amazing that anyone can even GET blackwood. (or afford least in guitar sized pieces. even halves)


06-09-2005, 12:10 AM
Originally posted by TGM
That's beautiful, is there any chance that the guy who you're building it for will let you post sound clips?

I plan on taking sound clips of it before I ship it off, so you will be sure to hear it. After the guy records his album I'm gonna try and get him to let me post a clip of one of his songs too but I can't make any promises.

06-10-2005, 04:31 PM
well, you mail box is full so I'll ask here

I would like to make a purpleheart truss rod cover for a strat style neck. The are I need to cover is concave so the cover itself neds to be bent.

How thin will the purpleheart have to be and what would be the best way to go about doing this?


06-10-2005, 07:27 PM
this is so cool

06-10-2005, 08:08 PM
I apologize for adding another useless "Wow, that is freakin amazing" post, but I just read the whole thing straight through and all I have to say is that is freakin amazing!

To make my post worth reading, I'll ask a question: Did the first few guitars that you made sound as good as a guitar that you could have bought for the same amount of money? I need a new guitar but of course I'm a little short on money :).

06-10-2005, 08:20 PM
Originally posted by chrisb0109
well, you mail box is full so I'll ask here

I would like to make a purpleheart truss rod cover for a strat style neck. The are I need to cover is concave so the cover itself neds to be bent.

How thin will the purpleheart have to be and what would be the best way to go about doing this?

I always forget to clean the sent messages:bonk:

Purple hart bends pretty good at around .11" thick, but truss rod covers look better when they are this so I might even think about taking it down to .09 or even .09" I'll get into how to go about bending it in a little while, but for now I gotta get back to work.

The best way I can think of to bend something like this would be to dip it in water, then wrap in in a damp paper towel, and then wrap in in tin foil (like I did when I was bending the sides for this guitar). Then heat it up on a clothes iron and then clamp it into a mold that you carve out of mdf or pine or whatever. apply the clamping pressure slowly and if it feels like it's going to break then give it more heat. To add heat while clamping you can use a heat gun like the ones for stripping paint, or you could use something like a blow torch. If you use a blow torch you will want to be sure you hold it back a ways. Once it's clamped you will want to leave it there for a week or 2

06-10-2005, 11:25 PM
Originally posted by FacingUsAll
I apologize for adding another useless "Wow, that is freakin amazing" post, but I just read the whole thing straight through and all I have to say is that is freakin amazing!

To make my post worth reading, I'll ask a question: Did the first few guitars that you made sound as good as a guitar that you could have bought for the same amount of money? I need a new guitar but of course I'm a little short on money :).

The 1st guitar costs a LOT of money... Well... the tools do anyway. For my 1st guitar I spent about $550 on parts and sand paper and stuff, and then another $1,000 on tools.

So if you figure the guitar cost me $550 then I would have to say that Yes. It was way better sounding than any $550 guitar I had ever played, but I have played a lot of guitars that cost around $1,200~ $1,600 that sound way better than my 1st guitar. After I had built 4 or 5 guitars, I started making guitar that could compeat with the $3000 taylor guitars and the top shelf martin guitars.

So to sum it all up... Don't build to save money. Build because you want to build.

06-11-2005, 12:21 AM
Originally posted by CorduroyEW
So to sum it all up... Don't build to save money. Build because you want to build.

I didn't really want to build to save money; I was trying to find validation for me to build :).

Seeing all the threads here about people who have built their own guitars just makes me want to go out and do it this second; realizing that it's expensive brings me back into the real world :/.


06-11-2005, 12:39 AM
Building guitars is the most fun you will ever have. Do it if you can. It's more than worth it. Even when you find parts of the process that you hate... When you string that guitar up and play it for the 1st time, everything pays off.

07-24-2005, 09:23 PM
any word on your progress cord?

07-28-2005, 10:18 PM
nothing new but I don't want this to get lost yet. The weather has been too humid for the last 3 or 4 months but I'll be working again soon...

07-29-2005, 12:16 PM
sounds good how long is your apprentiseship(sp?) for?

07-30-2005, 12:05 AM
That depends on how fast I learn. Could be a couple months or it could be a couple years.

07-30-2005, 02:23 PM
oh thats cool this whole thread is awesome

10-03-2005, 11:19 PM

10-03-2005, 11:33 PM
It's been a whole summer since I've been able to work on guitars because the humidity has been too high, but the last couple weeks I have been off and running again. I did some more on the inlay. For those of you that read about the inlay work up to this point... Well... i scraped it all because I didn't think the MOP constrasted enough with the abalone.

I when thrue all the steps of inlay that I layed out befor, but this time I used bloodwood instead of MOP and now I'm really liking it.

This is the stuff I'm using for my 2nd attempt at this inlay.
the materials are"
and die

The tools are a block of oak with a V cut into it
a couple clamps
some photocopies of the inlay
a dremel tool with a dentist's drill bit
some jeweler's files
a jeweler's saw
and a fish tank air pump

Here I'm grinding the shell down and getting it ready to use.

10-03-2005, 11:40 PM
agian I cut the paper copy of what I want to inlay into little pits and glue them onto the inlay material. Her I have some of it glued to the bloodwood and I will cut it out with my jeweler's saw

Then I'll use a very small file to get the pieces just the right shape.

and once all the bits are cut out I glue them to another paper copy of the inlay.

once the inlay is glued together I lay it over the headstock,trace it, and use my dremel to rout the headstock so that I can epoxy the shell and wood in.

when gluing it all in I make sure to pack it all tight with cocobolo dust to match then headstock and then later I will carve out some of the cocobolo dust and fill it in with ebony to give the inlay a dark outline.

10-03-2005, 11:46 PM
That's a beautiful instrument so far, can't wait to see the finished product.

-SD :dance:

10-03-2005, 11:47 PM
Now it's time to glue this veneer to the headstock. 1st I have to make sure the end that butts against the fretboard is square. To do this I just use a square and a saw to cut the end of the board off.

Then I have to make sure the end of the veneer lines up with the fretboard. I use a regular file to add the taper I need. For those of you that think you have seen this before, it's because I already posted it in baseball's warmoth thread.

after that ist's just a matter of clamping and gluing. I use blacks of wood in between my clamps and the guitar parts so that I don't dens or scratch my headstock.

10-03-2005, 11:54 PM
I used a band saw to cut the shap of the headstock, then I grab a chisel and sand everything with 220 then 400, then 600 then 8000 grit sand paper. After all that I added a couple layers of true oil to the neck. (sorry no pics of that)

Then it was time to start getting the neck to line up. This one one of the hardest jobs in building and unfortunatly I don't know how to put the steps into words. In time i'll figure out how to explain the whole thing.

After it all lines up I have to scrape the finish off the guitar body where the fretboard will sit. Then I add golue to the fretboard and glue it down.

This guitar has a bolt on neck so part of the gluing putting the bolts in and making sure it's all tight.

10-03-2005, 11:55 PM

The cross looks a little crooked, or maybe its just the pictures perspective.

And whatever happened with the appenticeship/auction thing you had going? I was looking for the thread, and it dissapeared?

10-04-2005, 12:00 AM
....Sometimes I wish Cord was my dad so I would have his super guitar-building genes in me :D

Cord that is beautiful. You are going to be "Ye God of Acoustics" one day.

10-04-2005, 01:12 AM
Christ thats awsome. Don't like the bridge personally but still, awsome guitar.

10-04-2005, 01:29 AM

The cross looks a little crooked, or maybe its just the pictures perspective.

And whatever happened with the appenticeship/auction thing you had going? I was looking for the thread, and it dissapeared?

The cross probably is a bit cooked. I just eyeball that stuff. If it ends up a bit off then people can just say "see, it is hand made" and everybody is still happy.

Lets just say the apprenticeship/auction is taken care of. I'll let loose on a bit more info whe the time is right. I took down the thread beacuse the guitar has been sold.

10-04-2005, 12:33 PM
That's amaizing! I don't know what else to say...

10-04-2005, 01:01 PM
ohhh...myyy....god! cord thats gorgeus! how much fr one like that?

10-04-2005, 01:12 PM
i like that body style, it reminds me of the body style of the Harmony Sovereign guitars like the 1260 (i really want the 1266:()

10-04-2005, 01:12 PM
ohhh...myyy....god! cord thats gorgeus! how much fr one like that?

I'm not sure. That type of curl has only ever been found in 2 trees. Not 2 types of trees. Just 2 trees. The tree that this top came from was 70703 cutting permit #2 and if I'm not mistaken that tree has been all but sold off now. I do have access to the Mother tree of 70203 but I can't make any promise about cost. I'd have to check with my guys.

I base my price on the price of materials at the time of the build. If you are really interested in finding out a price then send me a PM and I'll see what I can find out.

Be aware that there is a bit of a waiting list too.