These 25 simple ways to customize your guitar without changing the tone are safe places that you can add your own personal touch without worrying about ruining the sound of the instrument. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to add your own touch. Here they are.
As a new guitar maker, you want to have a nice sounding guitar at the end of the build, but you also want to add some personal touches that make the guitar your own.
This can be a challenge in the beginning, because you may not know how certain areas of the guitar affect the sound.
The best thing to do is focus on areas where you can add detail without having an effect on the sound of the instrument. There are several of them to work with.
Go through this list and take a look at the areas that have little to no effect on tone. Pick out a couple that you want to try out, and use your woodworking knowledge to make them your own. You do not have to add a custom element for everything on this list. However, you can select several or just a few and build a guitar that doesn’t look like it came from a store. Read more “25 Simple Ways to Customize Your Guitar Without Changing the Tone”
Acoustic guitar making should not worry you as much as it does some new builders. If you are overly worried about the build, it will show. It’s a waste of energy to worry about your build, and I will explain why.
Don’t Worry So Much About Your Guitar
There is really nothing to be worried about when you are making your guitar. Sure, there are new things to learn. However, the overall process is something that you can do well even on the first round.
This is what typically gets new builders. They are concerned that they may put in months of effort and have a crappy guitar in the end.
If you go through the whole build thinking you are going to mess it up by making a couple small mistakes, you are wasting your energy. A guitar is not made with a couple big processes, it’s a sum of the small things, which I cover more in depth in the linked post. Read more “Worry Free Acoustic Guitar Making”
One of the most important steps in guitar making is sealing the body. On the body, there should only be one place where air can escape, and that’s the soundhole. As you assemble the sides and the plates, sealing the body well means a better sounding instrument. Here is how you do it.
Guitar Making Tip No. 12 – Sealing the Body
Of all the different steps in guitar making, sealing the body is one of the most important. If you seal the plates to the sides well, the guitar will function better, and sound better to.
Thankfully, getting a really good build on the body is not terribly hard.
It does require some prep work on your end, and probably at least a few dry clamping runs without any glue. I explain why it’s harder to fix Glue Covered Problems in another article.
The better you prepare the plates, and more specifically the brace ends, the easier it will be to get a good seal on the guitar body. As with most things, the details are what counts. You are going to have to spend some time fitting the plates to the sides in order to get the easy gluing seal that you are looking for. Read more “Sealing the Body – Guitar Making Tips”
Acoustic guitar binding is where you get to show off a little woodworking skill and add some beauty to the edges of the guitar. Even a beginner can dress up the body with some attractive binding. These few tips will help you along the way.
Guitar Making Tip No. 11 – Acoustic Guitar Binding
The first part of binding the acoustic guitar is to decide on a design, and route the ledges. If you are very new or this is your first build, you can save yourself some hassle by just doing a single strip of contrasting wood.
If you are making a light colored body, then use Rosewood or Mahogany for the binding wood. If you are making a darker body, then Maple is a great way to go. The more complex that you make the binding design, the more difficult it will be to install everything. It’s much better to execute a simple design well. Read more “Acoustic Guitar Binding – Guitar Making Tips”
My guitar fretboard slotting jig is one of the most popular jigs that I teach in my book on acoustic guitar making. This is more of a fretboard duplicating jig, because it makes exact copies of any existing fretboard that you already have in the shop. I literally made this from scraps after getting the idea, and I have been using it for more than a decade.
Guitar Fretboard Duplicating Jig
Here is the jig. Essentially this is a miter box that allows me to slot the frets. However, there is a secret coming up that makes it very precise.
Fret slots need to be accurate in order for the guitar to sound correct. A simple miter box without anything built in to ensure accuracy is not very user friendly.
The full instructions for this jig are in my book, but most people can make it from what you see here on the site and in the video that is coming up. It’s not an incredibly difficult jig to make, and the time you invest will be returned several times. Read more “My Guitar Fretboard Slotting Jig”
Laminated guitar necks are not much more difficult to make than single species guitar necks, but the difference in the look is worth it. Essentially, you are just making a piece of laminated wood before you do the normal neck making process. The only real difference is the small amount of extra time to laminate the blank.
Making a Laminated Guitar Neck Blank
The first step in making a laminated guitar neck is making the blank. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
If you are a beginner, or you have not done much wood lamination before, go for a simple design done well. The example to the left shows a Goncalo Avles board with an East Indian Rosewood center stripe.
This is one of the classic looks in guitar making, and for good reason. The finished neck will have a nice looking contrasting center stripe when finished, and it gives the neck a good look. This is also a simple glue up, and does not add much time to the build. Read more “Laminated Guitar Necks”
I get asked for practical acoustic guitar making advice all the time. I get it through email mainly, and I really enjoy helping people with their projects. Of all the advice that I can give, there is one thing that always comes up. Guitars are not made with magic. They are not about getting one or two big things right. They are a sum total of how well you perform all the small processes.
This is something I cover in my book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs.
Practical Advice for the Process
Acoustic guitar making is a long process. It’s not something that you can go bang out in a weekend or a few days. You need to know that you are in for the long haul right from the beginning.
That being said, it’s easy to lose track of that fact, and rush to complete each process. The mindset is that the faster you complete the process you are on, the faster you get to the next. This is a recipe for failure every time. The guitar is only as good as the way you make it. You have the ability to make a great guitar, you just have to commit to slowing down and making sure that you are doing everything as well as you possibly can. Read more “Practical Acoustic Guitar Making Advice”
Attaching the plates to the sides of the acoustic guitar is where the body really starts to take form. This is the part of the process where you finally feel like you have a real acoustic guitar on your hands. The process is fairly straight forward, and these few tips can help you along the way.
Guitar Making Tip No. 10 – Attaching the Plates
The first tip for attaching the plates is to assemble the sides and the plate for some marking and measuring.
Line up one of the plates so that the center line is where it needs to be. Then, make marks under the plate for where the braces need to be trimmed.
This can vary depending on your construction method. Some makers cut the braces before the kerfing, and some allow them to go under the kerfing. I prefer to let them go under, so I make marks right where the side will hit the brace. The 1/4″ or so beyond that will end up going under the kerfing. Read more “Attaching the Plates – Guitar Making Tips”
Milling the acoustic guitar sides from a larger board is a great way to save money on wood, and expand your wood selection. Acoustic guitar making suppliers will have sides already thinned for you. While this is a great option, if you have a thickness planer you can mill the sides yourself. The wood will cost less, and these few tips will help get you through the process for the first time.
Guitar Making Tip No. 9 – Milling the Sides Yourself
First, find a piece of wood that will be large enough to make the sides. Look at your plans, and pick out a board that is a little longer and a little wider. This will give you some excess that you can work with in case you have a problem.
3/4″ thick or 4/4 thickness wood is great for this operation. The sides are going to be 1/8″ thick or less, and a 3/4″ board gives you plenty to work with. Read more “Milling the Acoustic Guitar Sides – Guitar Making Tips”
I have been playing around with some of the acoustic guitar making pictures that I have, and decided to create a whole series of high dynamic range guitar making pictures. These showcase the same great guitar making tips and tricks, but they are shown in a totally different light.
High Dynamic Range is a process where pictures are given more life and color. They almost look like half painting, and half reality. The look is amazing, and they make acoustic guitar making even more interesting and beautiful than it already is.
I am posting these high dynamic range acoustic guitar making pictures on Pinterest. If you are not following me on Pinterest, you can do so here. Each of the posts comes with a great little tip on making guitars, and explains the part of the process that you see in the picture. I love taking pictures, and I especially love taking pictures of things that I make. Read more “High Dynamic Range Guitar Making”