Guitar Making Tip No. 814

Guitar Making Tip Number 814 is about drill press safety. Never, ever hand hold a piece of wood on the drill press. You are not fast enough to react if the bit catches, and you are not strong enough to hold on when it does. Here is what you can do instead.

Guitars and the Drill Press

guitar making tip number 814There are a number of times that a drill pres will be used when making a guitar. Sure, you can use a hand drill, but a drill press will deliver a much more accurate hole.

It can be tempting to hand hold the piece as it sits on the table top. After all, most of the time people hand hold pieces they are drilling with a hand drill.

The drill press is different. Even a nice hand drill gives up before a plugged-in standing power tool, and the power difference can be misleading.

Just about anyone can hold the chuck of their battery powered electric drill and stop it from rotating. This is not the case with a corded drill press. The difference in torque is astounding, and the drill can take you for a ride really quickly. Here is what you can do instead… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 814”

Guitar Making Tip No. 642

Guitar Making Tip Number 642 is about adding some mass to the headstock. The reason to add mass is to create some weight that the vibration has to fight in order to escape. A neck with some weight at the headstock retains energy better, and here is how you can do it.

The Neck Needs Help to Perform the Best

guitar making tip number 642The guitar neck hangs out into space, and is attached only at the base. Therefore, the headstock is the loosest part, because it’s farthest from the attachment point.

The more mass that a force encounters, the harder it is to move that object. In the case of the headstock, dainty little headstocks are easier to rattle than larger and heavier designs.

This is something that you can add to the design of the guitar that makes a positive difference without making too much of a design change.

The headstock area is going to vibrate and lose energy when the guitar is played. If you come up with a design that offers a larger headstock, you can help reduce some of that vibration loss. There is one thing that you need to consider though before altering the headstock shape… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 642”

Guitar Making Tip No. 752

Guitar Making Tip Number 752 is about rosettes. When you are new to making a guitar, don’t feel bad about buying a pre-made rosette. Some of these are truly works of art, and you can make your guitar look amazing by installing one. Here is how.

Rosettes Can Be Difficult as a Beginner

guitar making tip number 752In the beginning, the rosette can be a difficult job. The most basic guitars have concentric rings, or something really simple. That’s on the easier side, but sometimes lacks the same pop as a really elaborate design.

As a beginner, making a rosette from tiny pieces of wood or from sticks is tough. In fact, the process of making rosettes is almost another skill entirely.

Many master rosette makers do nothing but make detailed mosaic rosettes in giant logs. The logs are then cut down, and the slices are sold for guitar makers to inlay.

In the beginning, there is no reason why you should not choose a store bought rosette for your guitar. It will save time making the rosette yourself, and you will get to create a far more interesting look without the hassle. Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 752”

Guitar Making Tip No. 741

Guitar Making Tip Number 741 is about the circle cutter. On the drill press, you can buy a tool called a circle cutter, or wing cutter. This is a great option for rosette making. The tool makes large round cuts in wood, and can be used for a lot of things. Here is how.

Rosettes and Cutting Circles

guitar making tip number 741There are a number of ways to hand cut rosettes. They have been hand cut for centuries, so you are in good company if you hand cut yours.

The only down side to hand cutting the rosette cavities is that its time consuming. If you are half way good with a chisel, you can do the job if you are patient.

However, getting the outside and inside lines nice and straight can be tough as a beginner.

An alternative that can give you a lot of help with the bordering of your lines on concentric ring or round rosettes is the circle cutter. This tool fits in the drill press chuck, and you can move one or two cutters on a shaft. The cutters are locked in place, and advanced into a piece of wood. Spinning, they cut circles according to how they were set. Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 741”

Guitar Making Tip No. 794

Guitar Making Tip Number 794 is about epoxy based inlay. On a guitar, the inlays can be tough is you are trying for more than dots. Working with epoxy and additives allows you to create a liquid inlay. This is great for a number of reasons, and here is why.

Inlays and Guitar Making

guitar making tip number 794In the beginning, doing more than dot inlays on the guitar can present a real challenge to any new guitar maker. After all, there is already so much to learn, now you have to learn how to inlay too.

Thankfully, there are alternatives to traditional inlay. With normal inlay, you have to create a cavity that matches an inlay piece. This involves tracing the piece, cutting the cavity, test fitting, and then fine fitting.

You can spend hours getting the pieces to fit well, and then one small mistake with the Dremel and you put a giant gouge in your inlay cavity. It’s rough stuff.

Thankfully, you can take advantage of something that the wood turning community has known about for a long time. This kind of inlay lets you accomplish just about the same look but with far less fuss… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 794”

Guitar Making Tip No. 649

Guitar Making Tip Number 649 is about the neck to body joint. This is one of the locations where you can lose the most vibration. The neck and the body do a lot to help the guitar make sound. Getting the joint correct makes a difference, and here is how you do it.

How the Neck and Body Work Together

guitar making tip number 649The neck and the body work together to hold the strings in place. They also set the scale length, and resist the tension and pressure that the strings apply.

On the guitar, the neck is also tied to the body in a mechanically disadvantaged location. It hangs out into space, and needs a lot of strength at the bottom to keep it from waggling around and losing energy.

The most effective thing that you can do to ensure a great sounding guitar is to make this joint a top priority.

While there are lots of thoughts out there on the type of joint, or the virtues of one method over another, the truth of the matter is that all of the joints are just fine. What you need to do is pick one that you can execute really well… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 649”

Guitar Making Tip No. 733

Guitar Making Tip Number 733 is about getting help from the woodworking store. In most wood stores, they have machinery in the back. In most cases, they will make a few cuts for you for a price. This is great for the new guitar maker, and here is why.

Getting Help as a Beginner

guitar making tip number 733As a beginner, it can be hard to find access to all the tools that you will need to make a guitar. Especially if you are brand new, and have nothing, finding the tools can be a real challenge.

This is where the wood store and the woodworking store come in handy. A wood store will typically have machinery in the back that they use to cut and prep their materials for sale.

A good store will also let their customers know what they have, and how much a cut or a pass will cost.

In the event that you need access to a larger saw, or a thickness sander, working with the wood store is helpful. I recommend that you do at least this one thing though before you count on getting help from your local store… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 733”

Guitar Making Tip No. 731

Guitar Making Tip Number 731 is about using the rosette area to showcase a little woodworking flair. If you are comfortable woodworking, then you can use the rosette to show a little skill without worrying about ruining the sound. Here is how.

Rosettes are a Beautiful Focal Point

guitar making tip number 731When you look at a guitar, one of the first places that you look is the rosette. It’s right there on the front of the guitar. In most cases, it also contrasts, so it really screams for attention.

This is a place that you can go a little over the top with in a safe way. The rosette does influence the sound to a point, because the stiffer area around the soundhole opening helps reduce vibration loss.

However, once you have something stiff in place around the soundhole, the look really doesn’t have much of an effect.

If you are a new guitar maker, and are struggling to learn woodworking at the same time, stick with a store bought or basic rosette and it will be a much easier process. However, if you are a woodworking master, then you really should make the rosette something to admire. Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 731”

Guitar Making Tip No. 624

Guitar Making Tip Number 624 is about fretting the neck. When you hammer your frets, especially as a beginner, lots of bad things can happen. Here is how you can still fret your neck and not worry about all the bad things.

Fretting the Neck as a Beginner

guitar making tip number 624In the beginning, fretting the neck is scary. It’s a completely new skill for most, and a lot depends on the fretboard being right.

This causes stress, and sometimes it can cause people to rush through the process. Rushing just makes it worse, and everything spirals out of control from there.

The biggest problem with fretting in the beginning is hammering. It really does take some skill and practice to hammer in the frets without damaging anything else. It also takes skill to seat them well.

With the alternative methods to fretting available to guitar makers, it’s a surprise that some people still use the hammer. Pressing frets into place with a caul is a much better method, and it alleviates a lot of the problems associated with hammering. Here is how… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 624”

Guitar Making Tip No. 618

Guitar Making Tip Number 618 is about making the neck from a denser species to help control vibration loss. The neck is one of the largest sources of vibration loss in the entire guitar system. Here is an easy way to reduce it.

How the Guitar Neck Loses Vibration

guitar making tip number 618The body and the neck of the guitar are interlocked, and they create the distance between the nut and the saddle. This sets the length of the string, and then tension is added.

When the string is played, the neck has to hold on tightly to keep the string vibrating. The more wobble the neck has, the more vibration you lose.

The neck is also at a huge disadvantage mechanically. Think about trying to hold a door open while someone else is trying to close it.

If you hold on from the inside edge closest to the hinges, you will not be able to overcome the force of the door closing. You have no leverage. However, if you push from the edge farthest from the hinges, now you have more of an advantage, and it’s easier to do.

The guitar neck is the same way. It’s only holding on by the inside edge, and it hangs way out into space, which makes it hard to keep it from losing vibration energy. There is however something you can do to make it lose a little less energy… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 618”