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 Post subject: Kid in a candy shop...?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:11 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:51 am
Posts: 24
Location: Fishers, IN
Hi everyone -

I'm in the "very excited" stage so please bear with me! I have a good woodworking/mechanical background, have been hacking around playing for about 40 years, and now have a son who is actually a good guitar player. I play a '37 Gibson L-30, very old friend with lots of character but a limited guitar in terms of sound; my son has a Taylor 314ce which makes my jaw drop. I'm not very good but enjoy it and my son is inspiring me to apply myself more - which of course means I need a new guitar!! Researching things as I do I came across the new (to me) and improved internet world of guitar building, which seems very exciting - I actually built a Stewmac banjo kit a hundred years ago and it was a daunting task back then, and as a result I brushed aside the idea of building a guitar that could sound remotely normal. That has stuck with me all these years, but after looking at what's available now it seems I'd have a puncher's chance of making something good, maybe even above average, and since I love making stuff, playing a guitar I'd built would really be amazing.

So my real question is, if I build a guitar, how is it going to sound? I realize there's a lot of unknowns in that question, but to maybe put some boundaries around it, I figure I'm going to spend $1000 on a kit guitar more or less. For that money I think I can get a pretty good solid wood guitar, better if I'm buying used. I've read a lot of builder reviews raving about the sound of kit guitars, but I imagine there's a fair amount of ownership bias, which is understandable and great. I just don't want to spend a lot of time and money on something that has a 50/50 chance of sounding like a brick (like my banjo...). So reassure me!! If it matters I'm looking at the 000 body style, spruce/rosewood/mahogany, and if you can't tell I really want to do this and am trying to talk myself into it - please help if you would :lol:

Many thanks!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 1841
Hi, welcome to the forum!

There are lots of kits around these days. A quality kit is a huge part of the equation of whether your guitar will sound good. I've found that vast the majority of the people on the forum, are more than happy with their guitars that they've built. You'll find a lot of help on this forum, to take you step by step through your build.

John Hall, of Blues Creek Guitars, has amassed hundreds of videos on YouTube, which will help you too. He also sells kits, so you might want to check his kits out too.

Again, welcome. Have fun.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:54 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm
Posts: 214
My experience has been that scratchbuilding one's own works out fine. Tap-tune the top somehow and don't copy manufacturers' bracing dimensions ( I suspect they generally overbraced to avoud warrantee problems). And enjoy the ride. Don't buy costly materials, they cost a lot because of eye candy, not acoustics. There's a million details to care about, but you're not building an airplane.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Posts: 5846
Location: Hegins, Pa
you don't know what you don't know till you know it. I suggest a kit as that way you at least get a good idea what the parts are to look like.
This forum is here for you to research and ask questions. There are many ways to do this. Find what works for you and know your first guitar won't be your best but it is the start of learning . Where you go is up to you.

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Blues Creek Guitars Inc
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http://www.bluescreekguitars.com


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:22 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm
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I've built three guitars, totally from scratch (no kits); They all sound very good. If you use quality wood, particularly for the top, and pay reasonable attention to the construction, you are just about certain to get a guitar you will be pleased with.

As phavriluk says, non-fancy wood is just fine. You don't need to spend big bucks tor rare curly flame quilted yub-yub wood to get a good-sounding guitar. I like to use domestic hardwoods. I've used walnut, cherry and birch, and they all made nice guitars. I have tended to spend extra for the tops, but I'm not sure how much difference in sound there actually is between a $75 top and a $300 top.

I think it was John who once said that it's not particularly difficult to build a good-sounding guitar; it is more difficult to build a good-looking guitar.

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When things are bad, try not to make them any worse, because it is quite likely they are bad enough already. - French Foreign Legion


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm
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$75 tops? I urge anyone who wants Sitka spruce tops to visit Alaska Specialty Woods. Every now and then they offer a flat-rate Priority Mail box full of tops and bracewood to fill the box. I bought a box last year for $80.00, postpaid Ten tops and bracewood. I've used three tops so far. They sound wonderful. This offer comes and goes depending on what's available, but these folks are worth a visit.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 500
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
phavriluk wrote:
$75 tops? I urge anyone who wants Sitka spruce tops to visit Alaska Specialty Woods. Every now and then they offer a flat-rate Priority Mail box full of tops and bracewood to fill the box. I bought a box last year for $80.00, postpaid Ten tops and bracewood. I've used three tops so far. They sound wonderful. This offer comes and goes depending on what's available, but these folks are worth a visit.


...or start out with a "student grade" top for $20 from RC Tonewoods. You can't beat the price if you're dipping your toe into the pool for learning how to voice soundboards and I'm dangerously close enough to them that I receive a package from them often the day after I order from them. Stewart MacDonald is even closer - just 3 hours away!

Anyway, I bought one of those $20 tops from RC Tonewoods several months ago and am being anal about shooting the centerline glue joint. The term "student grade" is deceptive in this case. Granted, my eyes are going bad quick but I don't see a whole lot of runout when I'm candling it and there's some decent silking to boot.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:00 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm
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Sounds just fine to me. Premium prices for tops buy appearance, not acoustic performance. And the top is a great place to control project cost. I've bought a whole bunch of b/s sets from RC Tonewoods and I'be use three of them so far. All good value, all look good.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
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Prices are relative. Sometimes (not always, but sometines) cheaper wood contains runout, something I try to avoid. I've made nice tops with everything from student grade spruces of different species, clear up to so-called "master grade" adi.

First and foremost, there is no agreed upon grading system. What one luthier considers grade A, may be another's AA or AAA. Also, for the most part, grading is used based subjectively on appearance and not sound. I've had $50 adi tops that sound better than $250 adi.

This is one reason why I suggested a quality kit for your first guitar. What I mean by quality, is that the parts are well milled; what is meant to be quarter sawn is done right, the top has no runout, and parts fit together properly. You definitely don't need highly figured, fancy, exotic wood, to make a nice sounding guitar.

I think every builder on this forum will agree that your first build, in particular, can be frustrating at times, no matter your woodworking experience. Instrument building is as much an artform as it is science.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:15 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:51 am
Posts: 24
Location: Fishers, IN
Thanks for all the detailed replies, especially about wood and tops. As a newb its tempting to go down the wood rabbit hole in search of the magic, good to know its not the only factor. I've never been a huge "bling" guy, and have done enough woodworking to appreciate, and run from, figured woods :D . I also find that I like the minimal finishes that I'm seeing in the marketplace.

I've emailed John and will have him quote a kit for me, also looking at the StewMac kits as a jumping off point. Thanks again -

Clay

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"Facts seldom sway an opinion." - John Hall
"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference." - van de Snepscheut


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