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How'd you begin . . .

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 221
. . .your interest in building guitars?

Mar 22, 08 | 4:57 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hmmm. I saw a Stewmac ad in a magazine, ordered a catalog, and realized I might be able to follow the instructions. I started in a friends workshop and then built a 5 x 7 space in my garage. I had had no woodworking experience and didnt have a place to work.

I didn't expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised and I was compelled to share my excitement through this forum, my book, etc. I will build some scratch guitars, and they might be successful -- but my real interest is still in kit guitars because I think they get "no respect," -- or at least not enough of it.


Mar 22, 08 | 5:20 pm

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
Yeah I know what you mean about no respect. I showed my kit Dred and my scratch to a guy here in town. He's a professional musician and radio show host featuring Western music (not Country Western) . . . His stage name is Dallas McChord and his show the "Cowboy Culture Corner". He plays paid gigs in that genre all aound the country. Anyway, He was far more interested in my scratch than the kit, even tho the kit Dread sounds better and was just as much hand made as the scratch guitar. Funny Huh?

Mar 22, 08 | 5:41 pm

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
I'd like to take a guitar making course . . . I think there's one at the U of O just north of us in Eugene . . .

Mar 22, 08 | 5:54 pm

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 158
I was looking at spending a small inheritance on having a luthier build me a guitar, something that would last a life time and honor my grandparents. I started surfing the net but got lost in all the information about radius, bracing, tap tone, rah rah rah.

Somehow, I clicked in on Bill’s forum and then other pages which harped on about how I could make my own guitar. Aside from the fact that I can barely tell the sharp end of a screwdriver – I managed to push through. I

I still haven’t bought that heirloom. I will one day.

Mar 23, 08 | 4:19 am

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
Ted, I have no doubt you will build your own heirloom guitar.

Mar 23, 08 | 1:54 pm

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
I had an epihpany on my last guitar shopping spree. It's a long story, but I became quite fascinated with what makes an acoustic guitar tick.

I ended up finding the major kit vendors via google search, and with the help of my girlfriend, found a luthier course in my area of the world (Portland, with Charles Fox). I signed up for his 1 week orientation course for June (can't wait). I hope to go through a full hands-on build class with someone like John Hall if a spot on a schedule clears up somewhere.

My first build is going to be an attempt to build a guitar that resembles my 2008 HD-28, although I do intend to make some cosmetic changes (perhaps bindings and perflings), to make it look unique. I've spent the last month or so reading and trying to understand what I need for the shop tools wise. The kit will be shipped next week. I'm frantically trying to get my indoor 2nd bedroom shop area set up with enough room to start building when it gets here.

In my spare time I'm reading everything I can get my hands on to understand the finishing process. I have no means to spray on a finish, so Im either going to do something hand rubbed (tru-oil?, french polish?), or some water based brush on process.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my guitars when I finish them (yes, there *will* be more than one). I will probably keep the first as an heirloom. The second will likey go to my Brother, although hearing me talk about this has piqued his interest, and he may be building his own. After that I will probably donate them to deserving people who have influenced me in a positive way at some point. I have no interest in selling guitars at all. It's just a hobby for me. One thing i would like to do is possibly learn to build guitars designed specifically for the young student. i.e. sturdy, dependable, and relatively inexpensive. I have some young folks in my family I would like to treat to a hand made guitar to encourage them to learn to play.

Let the fun begin!

Mar 23, 08 | 11:45 pm
Fred Tellier

Total Topics: 17
Total Posts: 63
I bought a Martin 000 cutaway kit as a retirement gift to myself. A friend has built as a hobby most of his adult life and he had pushed me for years to build one every time I tried one of his creations.

I am now on #3 a cutaway small jumbo, which will be rubbed out and the neck and bridge attached within the next couple or three weeks. I have the wood for a couple of more but will wait until winter to start building again.

Mar 26, 08 | 8:08 am

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
I own a small house and took up woodworking after giving up motorcycles. I was building furniture and cabinets and running out of room when I noticed an ad in the Grizzly catalog for Jim Williams book on guitar making. So I had my wife order me the book for Christmas. I'm now on my sixth guitar. I have actually only purchased one kit(#5), but I use the lists of materials as a guide for what is needed. I was gun shy of a kit because of the stigma.

My first few guitars I used preshape braces. I now make my own. I used a premade bridge as an example to build a jig for making my own. My first five quitars all used precarved necks. Number 6 I carved by hand. It's a thin body acousting, and precarved was not a good option.

Anyone putting down building from a kit is clueless. Even a good kit involves alot of additional work, and the steps in the process I have the most problems with are the detail work and the finishing. And if the detail work and the finishing work are complete, you have a guitar.

I personally like the necks from StewMac. Guitars 1(00) and 2 (D28H) have Stewmac necks, and they play very well, even though I had to put a screw into each bridge to get them to stay on. Guitar 3 (D28) I built during a course in a small shop in upstate NY. The neck was from Martin, and th guitar came out beautiful and plays great. I give half the credit to Dave, Lee and Pacho. Number 4 (D35, 3 pc back, abalone rosette) got pulled out of my hands during buffing and the neck broke. I replaced it with another neck from Martin, and I can't get the action right. I'm still working on it. Number 5 was a classical kit from LMII. It came out nice, but I had one area of the binding the whacked out. My first 5 are all EIR with Spruce tops.

Number 6 is in the shop drying. It is a thin body acoustic/electric. Everything was hand made because of the size and style. The body is mahoghany as is the neck. I am spraying it with a sunburst finish with Tobacco Brown, Red and Amber. Before I make the bridge and install the fretboard and headstock overlay I want to see how the body comes out. If it looks horrible, it was done for the experience, and I'm only into it for about $60 plus an Engleman Spruce top that I messed up on my first guitar inlaying the rosette. Basically I cracked it at the seam and reversed top halves. This is a good guitar to go fancy on the finish. Not much to lose if I ruin it.

Mar 26, 08 | 11:39 am
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
I've built and flown model airplanes nearly all my life (started with free flight at age 5, worked my way up through control line and RC and then competitive free flight indoors and outdoors, then sailplanes and electric power) and have always enjoyed working with wood. I love the sound of a really good guitar, but I just cannot afford one. So I decided to turn my wood working skills towards building the really good acoustic guitar I cannot afford to buy from Martin or Taylor.

Oh, and I assembled a couple of electric basses along the way before ordering my 000-18 kit. That just fueled the fire :-)

I'm still working on #1 and, with any luck, it will finally be strung up and played this summer.

Mar 29, 08 | 8:34 pm

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Total Posts: 6
It has always been a dream of mine to build a guitar. I never thought I would until I saw a class at my local Woodcraft store that was $600 for the class and the kit. I took it and was hooked.

I just finished my second which is a 000 mahogany cutaway from mostly Martin parts that I bought on Ebay. It sounds fantastic even though it has only been strung for a couple of days and still needs some tweaking. There a some flaws in the finish (KTM_9 brushed) and a few mistakes that you would expect, but overall I am pleased.

Number 3 will be a 000 rosewood/ sitka spruce.

Jan 07, 09 | 3:30 pm

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Total Posts: 295
So Joel, was your local Woodcraft in Latham NY? I was scheduled to take a class there with Michael Collins a few years back. I had to pull out due to illness the week prior to the class, and then the stored went out of business. The following April I took a building class in Malone NY. I'm in the process of scheduling to take Dave Nichols inlay class in the next few weeks.


Jan 08, 09 | 3:12 pm

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 44
I've always loved guitars. Got my first Silvertone from Sears in 1965 and my Gibson ES-120T in '68. I started building as therapy more or less. My wife has been ill the past couple years and being primary caregiver can run you ragged sometimes. I needed some type of outlet so I decided to build a guitar. Well, it turned out to be too much fun and now I'm hooked. I have no aspirations of becoming a luthier so I don't invest a whole lot in power tools and the fancy stuff. I build with a minimum of power tools so it takes a lot longer which gives me time to save for my next kit so I guess it's a good thing. LOL


Jan 09, 09 | 1:30 am

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Total Posts: 8
Hey guys. I have just came back from out of town. Bill I have been trying to order the book with no success. Can't get the page to come up. I did do some cleaning on my computer and got rid of my cookies. I will try again in the morning. I'll let you know. For some reason the pictures are not pulling up on the guitarkit page either?

Jan 13, 09 | 5:07 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
It's fixed now ... I was late paying the hosting fees.

Jan 14, 09 | 4:24 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
My wife bought me a classical Yamaha guitar as a gift, and completely surprised me. Never saw it coming. Started taking lessons in Rock and Folk, and after a year, realized I was going to ruin a classical playing it the way I was, pick and all.

Around the same time, My dad found an old beater in grandmas attic. The side had been caved in, repaired with bondo, and painted the ugliest cream color you could imagine. He wanted to strip it, repair the repair, and refinish it, so asked me to find some info on the internet, web savvy beast that I am, to help him on his weekend project.

We found more on how to build than how to fix, as you can imagine. He said "screw fixing this thing, lets build one!" So we both did. Being a machinist by trade, his execution was better than mine was, but mine sounded far better than his. He is starting his second instrument, I just got the wood for my 9th. 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are in various stages of carving and sanding in the garage, but they are not on a schedule, and at -10 degrees, I'm not workin on them for a while. Can't stop thinkin about it though.

Jan 15, 09 | 6:12 am

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 67
I'd been wanting a new guitar for ages but couldn't quite settle on one. Then I saw Bill's article in Acoustic Guitar magazine, and thought "that's it!"

Jan 20, 09 | 1:11 am
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
I started assembling electric stratocaster-type guitars from parts around 18 years ago. it just seemed like an easier and less expensive way to get something that you really want. And about 6 years ago I began focusing on telecaster-type guitars These "parts guitars" that I've assembled have been my main guitars ever since I started doing it.

The next thing to try, naturally seemed like it should be an acoustic. I got the urge to do it around 1996. I was actually working in a Martin dealership and had all the tools available to me at the time. And a couple of years later, I worked at Washburn. But I was worried that I just didn't know enough about the whole process, and would wind up with something that I couldn't use: a $400 heap of firewood. Bill's websites and book helped me to muster the courage to try. I bought a kit from Steve Kovacik in November and now I'm fully into it!

Jan 20, 09 | 4:03 am

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Sorry I did not answer your question earlier. I took the Woodcraft class in Richmond VA

Jan 26, 09 | 5:18 pm

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I was a serious "classical" student in 1990 and the LaPatrice (Canadien) the wife bought me from the chain music store wasn't cutting it, so I went to the biggest classical guitar shop on the west coast (here in Seattle) and about dropped dead from the prices. A "cheepie" was $2400 or so. Said to my son "I bet I could build one of these". That was the absolute beginning. Since then I have built 4 classicals and sold 3 of them.


Feb 05, 09 | 4:25 pm

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
Couple years ago, I was 17 (19 now) and bought my first decent guitar which was a Taylor 214e. Still a laminate but it sounds nice. When I got it the paperwork with it said all this stuff about humidity control and I started researching that and found all this stuff about the wood and storing the instrument.

Somehow that struck up a google search "how to build a guitar" and sure enough blue prints, instructions, photo journals and this website popped up.

It took 2 years of researching to build up the confidence to buy the kit and build it. Just about done with my first (got to glue the bridge on and do the set up) but I don't see stopping building anytime soon.

I've already got a lot of guitar wood sitting around just asking to be built. It's roughly 6-7 guitars sitting in boxes.


Jul 09, 09 | 2:04 pm

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