Guitar Making Tip No. 30 is about lessons learned from mistakes. When you make a mistake, the only time it’s bad is when you don’t learn from it. In every mistake is an opportunity to start again, this time with a little more experience. Here is how you can get the best from the moments in the shop that you are not the most proud of.
Lessons Learned From Error
Being new to anything, you can expect to make a lot of mistakes. This is completely normal, and you should not be troubled.
It takes time and practice to learn something new like making acoustic guitars, and you will surely encounter a little heartbreak along the way.
When you make a mistake, it’s important to do a kind of autopsy on the error. You need to dig in to why it happened, what caused it, and what you should have done instead.
Guitar Making Tip No. 206 is about the X brace. The spread of the X brace has a big effect on the stiffness of the top plate. You can open and close the X brace in relation to the top and bottom of the guitar, and it will make a big difference in the performance of the top. Here is how.
The X Brace Patter for Bracing the Top
Once The Martin Company started using the X brace design, it did not take long for the rest of the guitar making world to follow along. It’s the best design we have so far, and it makes some of the best sounding guitars in the world.
The beauty of the X brace is the ability to spread out the rigidity over the entire top, and overcome the disadvantages of the previous bracing systems. Even being the best, there are still opportunities to tweak the way it works.
The job of the braces is to spread out the forces and tension from the strings. They work together to make the top stiff enough not to bend or break under the force. They also must allow the top to vibrate. Doing these two things at the same time is an art, and the X brace does it extremely well. Here is how you can manipulate your X brace to change the strength of the top… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 206 – The X Brace”
Guitar Making Tip No. 231 is about preventing plate scratches while carving and sanding the internal braces. There is one easy trick that you can do to protect the inside of the plates, and you probably already have the item in the shop. Here is what you do.
Preventing Plate Scratches on Your Guitar
As you sand and carve the braces, you will come really close to the plate itself. Whether this is the top plate or the back plate does not matter, on both jobs you will come really close to the plates with your tools.
If you accidentally strike the plate with the chisel, or rub over it a few times with your sandpaper, you will leave scratches that are easy to see. When you do that, you will need to go back and sand them out, which adds time to the build.
Even the most careful luthier can make a mistake and scratch something that they did not intend to scratch. That’s why they call it an accident, because it’s not intentional. As a beginner, you are at more risk of contacting the plates with your tools and sandpaper, simply due to inexperience. Either way, this is the only thing you need to prevent these accidents… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 231 – Preventing Plate Scratches”
Guitar Making Tip No. 181 is about edged tools and guitar making. Edged tools are wonderful to use, and they connect you to the woodworkers of the past. There are a few things you can to make your experience the best it can be. Here is what you do.
Edged Tools and Guitar Making
As you make your guitar, you will find many opportunities to use edged tools. Before modern tools, the entire guitar was made from edged tools. This means at essentially every step in the process, you will see that opportunity.
With modern advancements, you will naturally use many power tools as well. This is ok. Living in the time that we live in, you are going to be able to choose what direction you go for your tools.
As you choose your tools in the beginning, or decide how to complete each step, think about your edged tools. If you are already comfortable with them, then this will be really easy. If not, you might have to push yourself a little to find places to add them in. One thing I can promise, is that if you do this one small thing, you will actually enjoy using your edged tools… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 181 – Edged Tools and Guitar Making”
Guitar Making Tip Number 101 is become a student of guitar making. In the beginning, you will not be able to spend all of your time in the shop. In the between times, you can still feed your interest in making guitars by learning about the guitar making process. Here is how.
Guitar Making Tips and Becoming a Student of Guitar Making
One of the best ways to keep your guitar making fires fed is to become a student. This means doing everything you can in your down time to learn about guitar making.
At first, you are going to be super interested in guitar making, and you will want to spend every waking moment working on your guitar. However, with life, work, kids, and school, you may not always have the time.
You can advance your guitar making knowledge by simply using those down times to add to your guitar making arsenal.
As of this posting I have been fortunate enough to write and release five books. My first book is on making acoustic guitars, and has been my most popular work. I also have others on making wooden rings, making kids toys, guitar making tips, and first words for kids. All of these are centered around woodworking.
I have always been interested in writing, and even through school I was always able to write well. Having been a woodworker for a long time, it was only natural that the two loves would combine at some point.
I wrote my books from the perspective that you know very little about the subject…which is why you bought a book. In many books, they tell you to buy fancy equipment or machines, but I do not. My woodworking books help you rely on the tools that you already have. They also focus on inexpensive finishing methods that are easy, and they will help you get closer to your goals. Here they are: Read more “My Woodworking Books”
Guitar making tip number 37 is about working with someone who also makes instruments. If you have the opportunity to work with another instrument maker, this can be a huge resource for your development. Books and online resources are great, but it’s hard to beat a real person to talk to. Here is why:
Working With an Instrument Maker
If you have the opportunity to work with an instrument maker, you need to jump all over it and start learning from them. Making instruments is different from other types of woodworking in the fine details. Having someone help with those details can help you advance much faster in many cases.
There are many instrument makers in the world, and there are sure to be people that live near you who build. It can take time to meet those people, but you can do a few things to advance the process.
Joining a forum online, especially one that is from your country can be a way to meet new people. Also, if you have a Guitar Making supplier or a guitar building school near you, frequent place and get to know people. The same for a woodworking store that sells guitar making supplies. Here is the one thing that working with a real person can do that no book can… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 37”
The easy way to slot a fretboard is with a jig. There are jigs available online that carry a price tag, but they are nice tools and can save you time if you go with them. You can also make a jig yourself. I encourage you to try making a jig first, and here is why:
The Easy Way to Slot a Fretboard
When you make a jig yourself, you increase your understanding of the tool. Not only will you know it really well, but you will be able to use it better. Anything you make will work the same way. This gives you an advantage, because you will already deeply understand your tool.
Since you are about to make a guitar, which is a large project, comparing it to making the jig almost seems like no comparison at all. If you are making the guitar, then it would seem that you are over qualified to make the jig.
Try making a guitar fretboard slotting jig yourself before you buy one from a store. You can save a lot of money like this, and over the course of several fretboards you will actually get all your time back as well. Here is a nice easy jig that you can follow along with, and make yourself a fretboard slotting jig… Read more “The Easy Way to Slot a Fretboard”
Guitar making tip number 170 is about practicing carving the braces. This is a basic skill for all guitar makers, and thankfully it’s easy to master. The beauty of this kind of practice is that you don’t have to worry about ruining a guitar. This is very close to the real thing, but not actually attached to a guitar. Here is how you do it:
Practice Carving the Braces
The first thing you are going to need is a piece of Spruce that you would normally make guitar braces from. Cut it into several smaller pieces, following the directions from a book or a set of plans. Make sure to cut as many different styles of brace as you can.
Once you have all of these pieces, you need to glue them to something. I recommend a 2X4 or something similar. Cut a piece that is a little longer than your longest brace, and glue them all down with some space between them for carving.
Next, clamp the board to the bench or grab it with a vise. Now, you can practice carving the braces down to final shape without worrying at all about making mistakes. If you do, just carve the brace away and replace it with a new blank. Once you are confident that you can carve your braces well, then you can complete the process on an actual guitar.
This kind of practice is great, because you are working in a consequence free environment when it comes to how the guitar will turn out. Since there is no guitar to ruin, relax and learn about carving. Here are a few things to focus on as you practice… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 170”
Nothing will ever sound as sweet as the guitar that you make yourself with your own two hands. Even if the guitar is never used as an example of ultimate craftsmanship, you made it, and you will love it. Here is why:
That Guitar is YOURS
You put in the effort, and you made that guitar. No instrument that you ever buy will feel the same way as the one you make. You will also understand that instrument more than any other. For those reasons and more, you will love playing your handmade guitar.
I remember twanging on the low E string for a long time when I first strung up my guitar. I loved the fact that the thing I made could produce sound, and I sat there like an idiot just plucking that one string over and over again.
It was such an exciting moment, because I had created an instrument and it actually made sound. I don’t think I put the rest of the strings on for about 10-20 minutes after I strung the low E. I just kept on playing and enjoying the sound. If you are a guitar player, and you do some woodworking already, then you really owe it to yourself to make a guitar.
No guitar you own will ever sound as sweet as the guitar that you made yourself. It’s an incredible experience, and you will never sell that first guitar. There are other benefits to making a guitar and playing guitar, and they can help you in a number of creative ways… Read more “Nothing Will Ever Sound as Sweet”