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The design thread... any aspirations?

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Total Posts: 681

I've been following the design thread over on the AG Mag forum and have really enjoyed it. So, I guess it's time for me to bare my heart on the guitar type that really make me take notice -- ladder braced Stella's. Not the Harmony Stella's of the 50's and 60's, but the old Oscar Schmidt Stella's from the turn of the century to the mid 30's.

I have a cheap one. It is an early to mid 20's Stella parlor made of birch. Probably cost $4.95 new. I want to take the lines and the bracing patterns from it, design something close and build it with cherry and spruce.

Anyone else here thinking about making their own?


Aug 04, 06 | 3:35 pm
Bill Cory

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Total Posts: 3584
Well, Jim, since you discovered me over there ... I'm in the process of designing my own small jumbo, as described in that thread. I'm planning to put a 12-fret neck on it and a short scale (24.9), and I'm planning to make the body a wedge and X-brace the back. It should be an adventure, if nothing else! I've made the bending form, but there are too many irons in the fire here, so it goes slowly.

Aug 09, 06 | 7:47 am

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Total Posts: 71
Bill - I was reading through the same thread over there. What books did you read to lead to want to design your own? I'm trying to convince the wife right now that getting a $400 kit is worth it. She thinks I'm nuts for wanting to build my own guitar and just knows that I'll get halfway through and lose interest. I have some woodworking experience and enjoy it, but have been known to lose my patience.

But anyway, I was curious what led you out to design your own so soon. From all I've read, I'd deduct that you haven't built too many kits (and none (?) from scratch).


Aug 09, 06 | 10:16 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
You're right, Brandon, I've built none from scratch. I've completed two kits (finished and playable) and have six others right now in various stages -- 2 ready to finish, 3 just starting, and 1, from Grizzly, hard to describe.

Why design my own? I don't know. Spirit of adventure I guess. I figure, why not? The amount of learning you can draw from building all these different kits (from Stewmac, LMI, Martin, Blues Creek & (last and least) Grizzly) of different types of guitars is amazing. I'm 59 years young, and I don't want to waste time doing this in a leisurely, considered way. I would rather forge (barge?) ahead, make mistakes and learn from them. I enjoy the process much more than the finished product, and the planning as much as the doing. The thrill of something new, something to be figuring out ... all that.

Did I answer the question?

I didn't read any books, per se, that made me want to design my own. I think the real reason I started it was to be able to provide better information on KitGuitarBuilder and to contribute better here: I wanted to see just what we don't have to do, as Kit builders, that a pro luthier or designer of a guitar does have to do. Wanted to experience it.

What made you want to build a guitar? Probably the same urges.

Your wife must understand that you have a need to create ... and a guitar is such an engrossing pursuit, and you spend so much on tools and the kit, that there's no way you can stop and still look at yourself in the mirror. If you're a guitar player, you'll want to hear the guitar you've made. And, good luck finding a kit for $400. More like $500, whether a stewmac to which you hve to add tuners, or an LMI that includes them. Then there are supplies, materials, etc., etc., etc.

If you do lose interest, heck, you can sell what you've done on ebay, with the tools, and get most of your money back. I've seen a number of them there.

Hope I answered the question. Now I hve to get back over to that thread on Luthiers Corner and see if Rick or Al answered my latest query on the thinking process.

take care - Bill

Aug 11, 06 | 4:30 pm

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Total Posts: 81
For guitars right now I have only a flemenco guitar I would like to build some day when I get better. For nowI want to put my Maclaren clan inlayed on the headstock of the guitar. I want to make a crazy inlay and make it as detailed as possible no matter if it takes a year.

Aug 16, 06 | 11:43 am

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Total Posts: 244
I've never seen a plaid headstock overlay...but your's COULD be the FIRST!
Mine would have to be the Thomson clan, which I am told is a derivitive of the Campbell clan. My Grandfather emigrated to Canada just before WWI, went back to fight and then returned to marry and start a family. My father was born in Cupar, Sas. and then they moved to the States when he was 2. He didn't become a naturalized U.S. Citizen until the 50's...after I was about 5 or 6.

I still have a wee bit of an affinity for Canadians in me bones.

That's my story...and I'm stickin' with it.

Aug 23, 06 | 4:57 pm

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Total Posts: 244
Oops, sorry everybody, for the thread hi-jack! I'd like to design my own because I look into EVERY guitar I can get my hands on. I'd like to take the best of what I've seen and incorporate some of it into a guitar. It might end up to look like that guitar they use to promote the Guitar Teaching seminars across the U.S. (SORRY, I can't remember the proper name)

But, it might also end up to sound pretty good? In any case, I would enjoy sharing with others about WHY I did certain things...certain ways. It'd be a short scale, 24.9 and it would be about 14" at the lower bout...with a narrower than normal waist, so it would sit nice and low on my knee. It would be about 4.5" to 5" deep and taper to about 3 3/4" and have a 1 7/8" nut with 2 3/8th's saddle spacing. Braces would be parabolically tapered rather than scalloped and it would have a bolt on neck, probably "floating" at the neck joint like Rick Turner's Antarctica model (Howe and Orme style). It would have a soundport in the upper bout side and probably a removable end plate thru the tailblock for future internal work and/or maintenance. (Bound and fitted properly, it would look pretty nice) Wood binding all around and hopefully I would be skilled enough to do a radiussed upper bout ala Grit Laskin and one on the back, lower bout for more leg comfort.

I wanna brace the sides internally with popsicle sticks with messages imprinted on them (you know, from the various popsicle and Ice cream bars) to give others something to read as they peer in the sound and access ports!

Bill, did I miss anything? OH YA, those pesky sympathetic strings....

Aug 23, 06 | 5:15 pm
Bill Cory

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Kevin -- so ... why don't you get started building it? Sounds like a great project.

Aug 26, 06 | 6:18 am

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Total Posts: 676

Another vote for drawing it up and going for it. I find that the idea that Rick Turner has brought back to life -- the adjustable neck -- to be quite fascinating. I like to play the blues on acoustic guitar and would love to be able to easily adjust a neck for bottleneck slide. The open tunings are a blast! This is a feature that I want to put into a ladder braced concert sized guitar a la Stella.

Aug 26, 06 | 9:34 am

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Total Posts: 244
Too much of LIFE goin' on around the Thomson Household! I keep coming here for inspiration from you fine folks...sooner of later your kind words will push me over the edge!

Is it OK if I long as I don't offer any building advice?

Sep 21, 06 | 5:03 pm
Dennis Weatherly

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Total Posts: 651
Sounds like a plan to me! I've been lurking and advising for months, and I just glued the first joints on my 000-18 this week :-) As a beginner in all of this I really appreciate as many different opinions, examples, facts, suggestions, etc. as I can get. I can sift through all the info and hopefully figure out a way to apply it to the task at hand.

Sep 21, 06 | 8:30 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Kevin -- you contribute as much as anyone else to the forum. OF COURSE we (I) want you to stick around. (Ditto Dennis!)

I hope -- I really hope -- my little comment above didn't sound like I was being insistent or a jerk, etc. It was meant to be a little joke. If we'd been standing in an elevator, I would have elbowed you in the ribs and chuckled.

This forum is open to everyone and all opinions are welcome and all are valuable. Heck, I posted on a forum about fixing cars the other day and believe me, that ain't my strength!

Please accept my apologies if I sounded pushy ... language is might slippery sometimes.


Sep 25, 06 | 6:25 am

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Total Posts: 244
Bill, I don't check over here often so I didn't catch your most recent response.
No offense taken. I need a little gentle prodding to move me off center!

Oct 04, 06 | 5:49 pm

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