Guitar Making Tip number 180 is about following an established bracing plan. In the beginning, you will not know a lot about how the braces work. If you follow a good plan from a good book, you will have a reliable start to a great sounding guitar. This can reduce your anxiety over the braces, and help you build a better guitar.
Acoustic Guitar Braces
Some guitar makers get so into their bracing that they make it seem like you need a degree in engineering, a masters in woodworking, and a secret mutant gift to heart the changes in the braces as you carve them.
While the bracing is important, you don’t need any special skills. In the beginning, following an established bracing plan is the best way to ensure success. Could the plan be better? Sure. Could it be worse if you stress too much over it? Absolutely.
Why Bracing Seems Complicated
The people that are doing their braces to an extreme level of precision have done it many times, so they are in a different place. What is a moderate challenge for them would be an impossible feat for you. That’s ok. It’s not about the overall difficulty, it’s about how you perceive the difficulty.
The luthier that has built a hundred tops is thinking about different tings than the new guitar maker working on their first. Over time, you will start to think about other things, but in the beginning you should only be worrying about a few basics.
As long as you are feeling a challenge, and you are learning, you are still moving forward in guitar making. Over time, you will eventually start tackling stuff that was not even a dream on your first top. At that point you will understand that over time, what seems difficult becomes easier.
Weight Lifting Example
Another way to think about the braces is to think about weight lifting. There are beginners and there are experts, and they are both in different places. Just because someone does not lift very heavy weights does not mean they are not putting in effort. As well, just because someone is putting up heavy weight does not mean they are trying very hard.
If you look at someone that is capable of lifting 250 pounds for ten reps without even flinching, they can make the task look very easy. On the surface, it might seem like they are putting in a lot of effort and challenging themselves, but if this is too easy, they are not benefiting from it.
In contrast, someone lifting 25 pounds, that is just dying on every rep is actually working harder, and developing themselves more than the person lifting the heavier weight without any effort. The look is very different of course, but the beginner that is challenging themselves is actually working harder.
Finding a Bracing Plan
The moral of the story is don’t waste your time thinking that if you are not working on the really high end of guitar bracing that you are not going to make a great guitar. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Seek out a great plan for your internal braces, and follow it. You will have something reliable, tested, and a very good start on your guitar. Thankfully, you do not have to travel very far for a great bracing plan. In fact, it’s probably right under your nose.
The best place to get your bracing plan in from you guitar making book. The book that you are following to make your guitar is the best source, because that plan is based on the actual pieces you are using. It’s meant to make those plates sound as good as they possibly can.
See Also: Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Making Books
The Danger in Combining Bracing Plans
There is a danger in combining bracing plans from a couple different sources. In the beginning, you might not really know how the braces work. This will change over time, but for now unless you absolutely know what a change will do, don’t do it.
The braces are based off the thickness of the top, the rigidity, the shape, the placement of the sound hole, and a lot of other factors. If you use one building plan for the plates, and then a different building plan for the braces, it can end badly.
It’s best to stick with the plan that is from the original book that you are using to make the guitar, and wait to make changes for now. This way, at least at the end of the build you will have something that looks, and sounds like a guitar. An acoustic guitar can take a long time to make, the last thing you want to do is worry about it the entire time.
Using Pre-Shaped Braces From a Supplier
If you have already bought pre-shaped braces from a store, then take a very close look at them before you use them. In most cases, if they were meant for a guitar of the same size and shape you should be pretty close to fine. However, they may not be as good as the braces from the book.
Take out each brace and examine it next to the drawings and dimensions off the same brace in the book. Look at the two of them, and see how close they are. You might end up being able to shape that brace a little bit and get very close to the version from the book.
If this is too much of a hassle for you, at least take solace in the fact that the place that sold you those braces wants you to be happy. If you are not, then you may not come back again and buy more. Hopefully, they sell you a great looking and well functioning set of braces, and they make your guitar sound awesome.
If you are totally new to the idea of following a bracing plan, start out by reading the plan in your book thoroughly and completely. Read it from start to finish, as well as how to glue them down, what order, and how to shape them.
The point is to have a really good understanding of what needs to be done, and when. The more you know before you start laying down glue, the better. Once things are glued together, the process becomes a lot harder to reverse or change.
Follow that plan perfectly, and carve the braces exactly as the plan states. If you are brand new, then just continue the guitar like normal. If you have more experience, you can play with the sound a little, but don’t change too much in the beginning.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 180 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track.
There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.