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First Build - J200
Author
Post
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
I'm new to the website and welcome the opportunity to participate. Over the last few months I have been working on my first acoustic guitar build. Being a friend of Ken Ciepr (KMG), I've had the advantage of his invaluable insights and assistance. Being up for a challenge I decided to start out with a J-200 design. Choosing a J-200 didn't allow me a readily available kit. I guess you could say that it's sort of a kit with many items from KMG, LMII, & StewMac. To increase the challenge I choose to make my own neck from scratch. With some careful planning, the neck build went well.

While I first thought of staying true to form (Big Leaf Maple) I instead chose Mayan Walnut (LMII) for the S&B. After some research I thought that this would be an acceptable tonewood. In a few weeks I'll find out if I was correct. The SB is Sitka Spruce with some unique coloring. Ken (KMG) had some interesting billets of Sitka and I was glad to use this material. With a few other minor exceptions (which I won't mention) the basic guitar is true to form.

While I'm not completely done I did want to share some pic's. I'm sort of stalled waiting for the finish (Nitro) to cure/harden. In a week or so I can level, rub-out, and set-up. Not sure what to do in the mean time - maybe start on another guitar?

Many thanks to Ken and his website. His web-based instructions have proved invaluable. Ken and I are both Engineers and worked together in the past. Clear, concise, and easily understood instructions/documenation is paramount to success. If you have not consulted his website please do so.








Nov 09, 09 | 6:45 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
That looks very nice, right down to the mustache!

Nov 09, 09 | 8:31 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Dave -- beautiful build and great detail.

Nov 10, 09 | 5:09 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Oh, and Dave.........
Welcome to the forum!

Nov 10, 09 | 5:51 am
Herman

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 480
Great job Dave! The neck looks very tight. This one must have an impressive sound and volume. let us know,
Herman

Nov 10, 09 | 9:50 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Looks beautiful, Dave! Ken had mentioned to me about a friend of his building a J200. That must be you! Great looking guitar. You must be excited to get it done. Ken is a terrific resource. I'm building a J185 using his template and bending form.

Oh, and welcome to the forum!

Ken

Nov 10, 09 | 5:57 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Another beauty!! Great job!

Nov 10, 09 | 7:53 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Fantastic build, great execution for a first time, well done. So whats next?

Nov 10, 09 | 8:44 pm
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
Thanks for the initial feedback. I'm still waiting for the Nitro to cure. Boy this waiting's tough!

Relative to the next project, I'm leaning towards a 1937 Hauser Classical. I don't own a Classical and figure this would be a good place to start. I'll modify the design to incorporate a Bolt-In Neck and convert the "Foot" into a Neck Block. I believe that Ken (KMG) is working on a Kit for this model.

Hey, where are all the Gibson lovers? Is there anyone making Jumbo Kits that your'e aware of?

I also need a source for a J200 Pick Guard. Just a basic guard without all the flowers. Does anyone have a source?

Thanks,

Dave

Nov 12, 09 | 6:54 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Try Terrapin Guitars. Good selection.

Nov 12, 09 | 8:57 am
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
Dave,

I've been planning a J200 kit for a long time, long before I even started my first guitar. As soon as I finish my second one, I'm going to be getting a kit to transition to scratch, and I'm going to build a J200 out of sapele with all cheap woods, and if that works out smoothly, I'm going to build a J200 of all flamed Maple.

I love jumbos, and I've never owned one, I can't wait to build one.

Dan

Nov 12, 09 | 3:28 pm
kevinc

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 13
Beautiful guitar Dave! I bet she'll sound great!! I've always planned on a J-200 some day. I've completed one L-1 style guitar and another is almost finished. After that my next couple will be based on the Advanced Jumbo prints which were sold on the OLF a few years ago.
As far as a pickguard, I know LMI sells a J-200 style in Tor-tis. They have a full sized template so you can print it out and check the fit.
Here's a link:
http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?CategoryName=Pickguard+Material&NameProdHeader=Tor%2DTis%99+Pickguards

Kevin

Nov 17, 09 | 5:18 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I love my J-16 style jumbo. I have always loved the shae of the J-200, but have not been a big fan of the bridge. I have been looking at my local source for some good flamed maple...he gets some, but I am always in a hurry for something else that drains the wallet, and have enough to build right now anyway. I would still like to build a maple guitar and color it like this:



I don't know why, I just think it is the coolest look. Rodger Bacorn told me how to do it too, just never had the guts to try it.

Nov 17, 09 | 10:52 pm
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
Ken, I think you sent me a link to that finish before saying you wanted to give it a try. It's a neat look for sure. I'd like to try something like that sometime as well.

Dan

Nov 18, 09 | 3:05 am
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
Being my first Acoustic Guitar build I can't compare the construction complexity with anything else. In general I don't believe the complexity is much greater than most. The only exceptions might be the Neck & Tail Blocks. The Tail Block requires a 8.5" Radius. I made my TB as a 2 piece glue-up. I also made a jig for my table saw (with sanding disk). Taking 2-3 passes did the trick. Most of the other construction appears to be "typical" for an Acoustic build. For those "thinking" about building a J-200, just get started and go for it.

Even though I have not rubbed out the finish, I did attach the Bridge. I did though spot polish around this area before gluing. I just could'nt wait any longer - I had to put strings on it! I've got to be honest, I'm a much better woodworker than quitarist, but the sound quality was very impessive. The sound reminded me of guitars I typically could'nt afford. I only played it for a little while before returning to wet sand and polishing detail.

As for the moo-stache bridge, I don't like them either. With that said, I was guided by an unknown spirit to stay true to form. Ken Cierp actually made the Bridge on one of his CNC's.

I did find a number of sources for pickguards. I did deviate slightly and choose to use a Advanced Jumbo Style guard. I ordered a Tor-Tis guard in Dark. I believe that I ordered it from First Quality Music. I was also impressed with the Pickguards from pickguards.us, especially the 3 & 4 ply guards in Brown or Red Tortise. Their website does though state that they have a 3 week lead time. So if you want one make sure to order ahead of time (not like me).

Nov 18, 09 | 9:31 am
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
98% Finished! Still waiting on Pickguard (Tor-Tis "Dark" J-50 Style), final set-up, and a little more spot leveling & polishing. My wife and I went to a friends for dinner the other night and brought the quitar along. They had not seen the project in a while and were eagerly waiting for the finished guitar. I'm not sure what they were expecting but they were pleasantly surprised. My buddy, who has played for many years quickly asked to give it a try. As he started to play he had this astonished look on his face! With his eyes lit up, he looked at me and said he could'nt believe the action and sound quality. I eventually wrestled the guitar away from him and he grabbed his guitar and we all joined in (I'll add, rather poorly on my part). It would have taken a jack-hammer to get the boyish grin off my face.

Reflecting on the experience of my first build, I have made many observations. I'm in the process of documenting these and hopefully will post an article on the web site. Back when I lived in Chicago, I taught woodworking classes and seminars. I love teaching. I believe that others can learn from my observations and recommendations. As a wise friend once told me "don't learn from your own mistakes - learn from someone else's".

Below are some of the 98% complete pictures.






Nov 20, 09 | 6:35 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Two thumbs up!!! I'm with you and some of the others.....not the biggest fan of a mustachs bridge, but I've got to say you and Ken sure made it look nice! Also sounds like it sounds great no matter the bridge.

Nov 20, 09 | 4:05 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Dave dropped by last night and I had a chance to check out his completed Guitar ---- Wow! This is a J-200 in every aspect with it’s distinctive voice, -- depth, balanced and loud. Dave also has managed to personalize the guitar with some subtle and effect modifications. To my ear the Mayan Walnut has a Mahogany like quality – of course that is subjective. I personally find some of the Maple instruments a little brittle – this guitar is on the mellow side --- again that’s just my old ears doing the analysis.

The finish is the “Behlens System” – I have not use those products recently and forgot how they actually enhance the wood --- just a very slight amber hue that really adds warmth to the appearance.

As for craftsmanship --- Dave is going to have a hard time convincing people he actually built this himself --- Having inspected the guitar first hand I can tell you the photos do not do it justice --- fit and finish are at an extremely high level. I keep the first guitar I built in hiding --- and in comparison, well there is no comparison, mine is the work of a beginner on the other hand Dave’s J-200 (#1) is an instrument that anyone would be proud to own.

Way to go Dave! What’s next?

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Nov 21, 09 | 7:45 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Very fine work, Dave! We need to get together when I get my claro walnut J-185 done and compare the sound.

Ken

Nov 22, 09 | 6:42 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Ken, you've supplied some beautiful wood, and Dave, again, fantastic job. I'd love to hear it some time. Where did you live? I'm a north sider myself.

Nov 23, 09 | 2:23 pm
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
Ken,

Used to be a nort-sider. I grew up in Skokie and then resided in Park Ridge, Mount Prospect, & Palatine. We moved to Marshall, MI in 1996. Chicagoland was a great place to live, but Michigan is beautiful. Marshall is one cool town with an incredible number of registered Historical Homes.


Nov 25, 09 | 7:56 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Yeah? I grew up in Northbrook, lived in the city for awhile, and now live in Wilmette....great schools for my kids. We have a place in Frankfort, MI, and I agree. I love Michigan. Beautiful build, hope we see more from you.

Nov 25, 09 | 8:56 am
mjmeehan

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 19
Looks Super, Dave. I am planning a J-200 style build. How did you radius the braces? I feel confident I could build them, but getting the correct radius may be beyond my ability.

Feb 01, 10 | 12:01 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Very nice craftsmanship, Dave. I'm loving that neck.

Feb 01, 10 | 2:58 pm
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
Thanks for the compliments. Relative to the Braces I made a couple of jigs that "sandwich" (clamp) the brace between two pieces of wood (mdf). The jig is two sided, one for a 9/16" thick (tall) brace and the other 5/8". In reality a one-side jig would work. The upper and lower pieces of wood are identical and have the appropriate radius. For the J-200 I used 15' radii for the Back and 40' radii for the Top. If I'm not mistaken, some J-200 designs may call for a 28' (or similar) radius. I use these jigs in combination with a robo-sander, which is nothing more than a sanding drum with a guide bearing, much like a router pattern bit. I then sand the profile on a drill press. This is a similar concept to the jig that Ken (KMG) has and sells on his website (kennethmichaelguitars.com). I used template patterns made by KMG to make my jigs. This method is simple and creates perfect radii that are likewise perfectly square. Some of the other methods of radiusing braces (i.e. radius dish) require you to hold the Brace perfectly square when sanding - not always easy! I'll take some pictures and attach them to the Tools Forum. Hopefully I can get them posted this evening. I would also look at the same forum for a simple Brace Gluing Fixture (Gluing/Assembly Fixture). I also made that allows me to provide great clamping and glue clean-up of Braces. Even though this fixture only glues one Brace at a time I believe that it creates outstanding glue joints on your braces. Keeping in mind the stresses that are created, especially on the top, the intergrity of these joints is extremely important.

Feb 02, 10 | 6:07 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Nice work, Dave. Reading down thru your posts I see you are considering a Hauser style classical. There are pictures of my LMI kit in the Show it Off section. Do a search for my name (Freeman) and you'll find it as my second build.

I would consider staying with the Spanish heel - it isn't that hard to do and it is, well, the "classical" way they were built back then. I've even met a steel string builder at the last GAL conference (David Freeman, no relationship) who uses Spanish heels on everything he builds, including 12 strings.

Nice job on the neck - kind of ballsy to carve one for your first build. I have a love/hate relationship with carving necks, LOL. And I'd love to see the setup you used to route the bridge - it looks great.

Feb 05, 10 | 1:48 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
There's nothing really difficult about building a Spanish heel style guitar, you need to use "articulating tranfer paper" (like the dentist uses) to get a really perfect match of the back to the heel. Also, many of the drawings and lit I've seen are not correct in the way they describe the set angle of the neck to the sound board, even the detailed Hauser package from LMII mentions that the nut end of the neck is higher then the sound board -- in fact the neck should be on the same plane. The action is actually adjusted by tapering the fingerboard. Sloane, David Russel Yound and Overholtzer diagram this geometry well. ----

Got off point here!

Anyway the problem with a Spanish heel is the lack of first time and future adjustability. One is sorta locked into the neck set since the sides are --- well, locked into the neck. Frank Ford has written about how he has converted Spanish heel guitars to a more modern joint to salvaged these unplayable instruments and states there was no loss what so ever of sound quality. I've done this too and agree.

So for me the Spanish heel falls right in there with DT vs MT neck joint --- just because you can do it -- does not mean you should. $02

Oh Yeah, Freeman -- I sure DaveH is fully capable of making a Gibson bridge but that one came out of the KMG shop.

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978


Feb 05, 10 | 3:42 pm
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
I posted information concerning the Brace Radius Fixture on the Guitar Building Procedures page (not Tools page).

Feb 09, 10 | 9:02 am
Charles Kuo

Total Topics: 43
Total Posts: 222
Congrats, Dave. I love the J-200 body shape and the mustache bridge - inspiring.

-Charles

Feb 12, 10 | 10:37 am
Snaglpuss

Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 2
Hi Dave,
Did you use the LMI J200 plan?
I'm scratch building a J200 from this plan and wonder if you radiused the whole top or just from the xbracing center down to the heel butt as shown in the plan?
If you left the upper part of the soundboard flat how did you work out a neck angle- the plan makes no mention of one?
Thanks

Jul 18, 10 | 6:28 am
DaveH

Total Topics: 5
Total Posts: 20
I got the plans from a friend but I do believe that it is the same design distributed by LMII. I actually had LMII bend my sides. I did not Radius the Top Rim, but did put in 1.3 relief from the Sound Hole/Waist to the Neck. I did put 40' radii on the X-Braces. The upper Traverse Brace was also slightly radiused (40') on the ends. To match the top relief my neck joint was cut to 88.7 degrees (complimentary angle to the Top).

Relative to setting up the neck angle I carefully followed instructions from the KMG website. Ken does an excellent job explaining the concept, as well as how to create the relief.

Jul 23, 10 | 9:53 am
Snaglpuss

Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 2
Thanks for the info and direct to the KMG site.

Jul 23, 10 | 12:26 pm



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