There seems to be this quest for new guitar makers where they are trying to learn the big secret to guitar making. They search for specific tones to tune their soundboards to, and spend hours and hours researching the secret finish or bracing pattern that will make their instruments sound amazing. If they could just figure out that one magic bullet, their guitars would be excellent every time. This is not productive, and here is why.
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The Sad Truth About Guitar Making
The sad truth is that there really is no gigantic secret to making an excellent guitar. If that were the case, the one person who knew it would be making guitars that are leaps and bounds better than anyone else.
Since there is no single place for the best guitars in the world, it can be safe to assume that the secret to guitar making is not something really big. In fact, it is the very opposite.
The secret to guitar making is that every small action counts towards the bigger picture. The guitar is largely a sum of all the steps taken to make it. The better each step is performed, the better the overall sound of the guitar will be.
A guitar is made with several parts, and several processes all leading to the finished product. The better each one is made, the better the guitar will be. From the body wood, to the joinery, to the type of electronics, a guitar is really more than just one big thing.
Getting the Basics Done Correctly
For acoustic guitars, getting the body sealed well in the gluing phase will have a much stronger effect than whether or not to trim another 1/8″ off the lower face braces. Making a quality body directs the build far more than small changes to the braces. However, the placement and the integrity of the braces contribute their own flavor to the sound.
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Making a neck with good joinery and strong woods has more of an effect than getting the angle just right, or making elaborate inlays for the fret markers. It is the main parts of the build that really dictate how well a guitar will sound, and they all play a role.
There is no big secret to guitar making. It is more about getting all the steps as right as possible before moving on to the next.
If I really knew the one gigantic thing that would guarantee I had the best sounding guitars in the world, I would have sold the knowledge years ago and be sleeping on a gigantic pile of money right now.
The truth is that nobody else knows either, otherwise they would be doing the same thing.
This is the main reason I stress to everyone who reads my book that they can build a guitar. It is more about getting all the elements as correct as possible than it is to get one secret figured out. The better you build the individual pieces, and the better you assemble them, the better your guitars will be.
It’s not a big secret, but apparently it’s still somewhat of a secret, because there are still people that do not believe it. Don’t waste time looking for a magic bullet, just keep making guitars and they will keep getting better and better.
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