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. 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.
Guitar Making Tip Sumner 36 is about taking a tour of a guitar maker’s shop. You can learn a lot, and find inspiration for miles when touring a shop. It’s not as difficult as it sounds to find someone to visit, and it can make a big difference. Here is how you do it.
My First Shop Tour as a New Guitar Maker
When I was a new guitar maker, I had the pleasure of visiting someone that my father knew, who also made instruments. Though he did not make guitars, the meeting was incredible.
This was the first time that I had ever been into another woodworker’s shop. Seeing the different tools, different organization, and the random projects everywhere was inspiring.
The biggest inspiration was the luthier himself, because until that point I had also never met anyone that was as passionate about making instruments as I was. Not only was he passionate, but he dragged me from area to area around the shop telling me about everything he had. He was more than happy to tell me all about each new tool, new finish, and fixture/jig that he made. It was awesome, and I truly recommend that you visit another shop early on as a guitar maker… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 36 – Tour a Shop”
Guitar Making Tip Number 48 is about the build. The overall quality of the build will be much more of an indicator of success than the materials used. This means that the way you build the guitar is more important than what you make it from. Here is why.
The Builder of the Guitar is the Most Important
No matter how expensive or exotic the materials, a poor guitar maker is going to make a poor guitar. The opposite is true as well, because a skilled guitar maker can take undesirable supplies and make more from them.
In the beginning it can be tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to buy the best materials to make a good guitar. This is not true at all. In fact, some of the best guitars are simply made, with average materials.
As a beginner, you should strive to purchase wood that doesn’t make the build unnecessarily harder than it should be. However, you also need not worry about buying the most expensive wood either. The factor that will determine your success is not the materials. The thing that has the biggest effect on the guitar is… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 48”
Guitar Making Tip Number 54 is about building a guitar mold. One of the easiest ways to get going in guitar making is with an outside mold. This is a form that you can build the guitar inside, and it makes the process a lot easier. Here is what you can do.
Making a Guitar in a Mold
Lining up the top, sides, and back while you assemble the guitar can be tough. There are a lot of things that you have to do right, and you need to maintain the squareness and shape.
It’s always helpful to build a jig when you need an extra set of hands, and the guitar mold is just that.
When you use a guitar mold, you take away the need to maintain squareness throughout the assembly process. The mold does that part of the job, so you can focus on other things.
When you glue together your first body, there is going to seem like there is a lot going on. You have to contend with the fit, the way the braces go under the kerfing, and making sure you get a good seal. This is why the mold is so beneficial… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 54”
Guitar Making Tip No. 55 is about building jigs. You should build as many jigs as possible in the beginning. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your process is stable, consistent, and repeatable. Here is what you can do.
Building Jigs and Forms
Jigs make life easier. They do take time to make, but that time is well spent. It might not feel that way the first time you use the jig, but the second time you will really feel like you are glad you invested the effort.
A jig or a form is something that you make to help you do a woodworking process. This can be to help with a cut, help align a couple pieces, or literally any other process.
The main reason to make a jig is so that the process is done accurately, and that it can be repeated.
When you are doing a difficult process, it can be hard to get the same results more than once. A jig or a form takes the vast majority of the difficulty out of the work, and makes it easier to duplicate. These are some of the reasons that you can be a better guitar maker by making jigs… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 55”
Guitar Making Tip Number 67 is about wood. Wood is hydroscopic, which means that it take in and lets out moisture as the environment changes. This needs to be controlled in the build to be stable. Here is what you need to know.
Wood is a Hydroscopic Material
Wood is a natural material, and it has the ability to change with the environment. As conditions get more or less humid, the wood absorbs and releases moisture. This is all part of nature, but the problem is not in the moisture, it’s in the size.
Wood changes size when it absorbs and releases moisture. As a piece takes on moisture, it gets larger, When it lets out the moisture, it gets smaller. This change in size is what you need to control.
If you glue a couple boards together, and then place them in an area of high humidity, the boards will swell. When this happens, it puts a lot of stress on the glue joint between them. Over time, the pressure and the stress weaken the area, and the joint can fail. Here is what you can do to prevent this from happening… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 67”
Guitar Making Tip Number 77 is about toning wood. When you find dead piece of wood, it’s best to leave it behind. Even if the piece is very beautiful, the guitar is more about the sound than the look. Here is why.
Toning Wood and Dead Boards
Some wood is just not good for guitar making, and will not perform as well. From the outside, the pieces may look the same. However, one can be significantly better than the other for making into an instrument.
Thankfully, the process for deciding on guitar making wood is pretty easy. Also, the way to avoid dead pieces is easy too.
Don’t let the tap toning part of guitar making get you too nervous. For some people, this is a paralyzing step. Don’t worry worry too much about the tone of each individual piece, instead focus on skipping a piece when you hear something bad.
There is one kind of piece that when you hear it, you need to avoid it like the plague. The piece may look beautiful, but inside there is something wrong, and here is how you can identify those pieces… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 77”