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  #1  
Old 11-28-2009, 04:18 PM
Coke_zero Coke_zero is offline
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Hello all,

Recently, I got the go-ahead from a friend of the family to use his workshop to build my first guitar. He is a carpenter by trade but has made cello's, a few double-basses and violins in the past and has some experience with making guitars.

He has allowed me to use his shop whenever I like (even to the point of giving me a key) as long as I keep the space I use to a minimum. This is a great opportunity and I have been reading books & doing A LOT of research lately. My father has a great level of carpentry skills so is more than willing to show me things I may get stuck with.

I used to be a tool salesman when I first left college before joining my current profession so access to any specialist tools isn't a real issue.

However I have a few questions mainly aimed at the builders (but anyone with answers please reply )

1. I was thinking of making a 000 sized guitar, is this advisable or should I be looking at a larger guitar like a dreadnought?

2. What woods are best to work with first? I have never bent wood before and reading certain webistes & books they say some woods such as blackwood can be very hard to bend. I also hear certain tops have a tendency to be quite hard to work with.

3. The shop doesn't currently have access to anything for bending the sides. He used to have a bending iron but after years of use it broke. I have read mixed reviews about these and was advised to get a silicon blanket. is this necessarily true?

Obviously it isn't an easy thing to do, but I have a great chance to use a fully outfitted workshop which can make life a tiny bit easier and besides, I need a new passion for my downtime.

Any other advice would be great.

Thanks. If you prefer to PM me rather than post here please feel free.

Last edited by Coke_zero; 12-07-2009 at 01:10 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2009, 06:20 PM
Brackett Instruments Brackett Instruments is offline
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Quote:
1. I was thinking of making a 000 sized guitar, is this advisable or should I be looking at a larger guitar like a dreadnought?
Build whatever you like, but the tighter waist on most "non dread" guitars is a little harder to work with when bending, installing binding ect. If you have to repair or change anything after the box is closed a the deeper body and bigger soundhole makes a dread a little easier then too.
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2. What woods are best to work with first? I have never bent wood before and reading certain webistes & books they say some woods such as blackwood can be very hard to bend. I also hear certain tops have a tendency to be quite hard to work with.
Rosewood, Walnut, or plain, non figured Mahogany are pretty easy to bend. You're first guitar won't be perfect, but you'll keep it forever. I'd recommend using wood that's a good grade, but not expensive. YMMV
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3. The shop doesn't currently have access to anything for bending the sides. He used to have a bending iron but after years of use it broke. I have read mixed reviews about these and was advised to get a silicon blanket. is this necessarily true?
I used a piece of pipe with a propane torch inside for heat to bend the sides of my first 3. Again, YMMV
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:31 PM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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Cumpiano's book is fantastic, and has instructions for building a bending pipe like Woody described. You can learn a ton over at mimf.com. Take lots of pics to follow your progress- I'm considering my first build too and I want to learn from your mistakes!
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:25 PM
needsanewguitar needsanewguitar is offline
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I'm also planning my first build. Wow, sure seems to be alot of us. Anywho, from what I've heard body shape doesn't matter too much, they all have their quirks and fortes. I do know for a fact however, that much denser woods like blackwoods are both harder to bend and harder to shape. They also dull tools much quicker than a less dense wood like a walnut or mahogany. Also, I don't know what your budget is but just a reminder that a great set of EIR will probably be much cheaper than a so-so set of blackwood. As for the bender itself, there's a few options out there.

The silicon blankets are pretty pricey for both the blanket and the controller, most suppliers I've seen will run you for about 130 for the blanket and 75-100 for the controller. But, IMO, if you can afford the apparatus and you can make a good side bending jig, than bending becomes easier, more accurate and worth it if your planning on making more than one guitar. Then you have your standard bending pipe that I'm sure you know plenty about. Like woody said you can use a torch inside a pipe. And lately I've been hearing alot about a lightbulb method. I don't know how it works, but it might be worth a look. Best of luck to you.
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:01 AM
jeastman jeastman is offline
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Hey Pete,

Well it looks like you have found a great place to give building a shot! I have to say I'm a little envious. I'm curious as to how little space you can take up in the whole process. Living in a city of 17 million I'm not afforded a ton of space, but would love to try! Please keep us up to date...I know I'll be on daily waiting for pictures and updates (who am I kidding? I'm on daily anyhow).
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:28 AM
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Bill Pillmore Bill Pillmore is offline
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Default Kit?

Have you thought of doing a kit for your first project. Stew-Mac and LMI come to mind.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:24 AM
Coke_zero Coke_zero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeastman View Post
Hey Pete,

Well it looks like you have found a great place to give building a shot! I have to say I'm a little envious. I'm curious as to how little space you can take up in the whole process. Living in a city of 17 million I'm not afforded a ton of space, but would love to try! Please keep us up to date...I know I'll be on daily waiting for pictures and updates (who am I kidding? I'm on daily anyhow).
I am quite lucky. I have a workbench set aside for me. It's a good 8ftx4ft bench which is a perfect space. The only issue is space to store materials.

Regarding kits, they seem to be quite hard to find in the UK. I will be posting pictures. Currently I am trying to find a wood supplier, then I will start.
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Old 11-29-2009, 02:55 PM
SCGib68 SCGib68 is offline
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There are many places to find some great help. Cumpiano's book and website are a wealth of knowledge to start with. John Hall at Bluescreek is another great source for kits, materials and some of the specialty tools. Kit or no kit? A kit guitar will cost you more than individual items if you buy them separately, but with kits some of the work is finished for you so that you can work on other skills necessary to complete your first guitar without ruining that first neck blank, top etc etc. Here are a couple websites that I use regularly and all of them have other links you will want to look over. Good luck and hope to see your progress

http://www.bluescreekguitars.com/
http://luthiersforum.com/forum/index.php
http://kitguitarforum.com/
http://www.frets.com/
http://13thfret.com/
http://luthierforum.com/
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:26 PM
Coke_zero Coke_zero is offline
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Thanks for the link, I've bookmarked them all.

I don't start work until late tomorrow so if I get time I may start getting things sorted out.
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Old 12-02-2009, 12:23 PM
Coke_zero Coke_zero is offline
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Right I have found a supplier who has offered me a deal on the woods, I won't discuss prices but I think he took pity on me.

I have decided to go for some East Indian Rosewood for the back and sides and an Englemann top.



I can't decise between two of the tops he has shown me though, one appears to be darker than the other.



or



Of the two tops one is very slightly cheaper, I won't say which as I don't want to influence anything.

Opinions very welcome.
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Old 12-02-2009, 04:47 PM
needsanewguitar needsanewguitar is offline
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My general opinion on this is if the price difference isn't too bad, opt for the nicer set. It's your first guitar, so even if it isn't fancy you still probably want it to look good. I would choose the darker set, to me it looks more uniform in color and if my eyes don't deceive me I think I can see a bit of silking in it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:17 PM
Coke_zero Coke_zero is offline
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I have ordered all the supplies except a neck blank which I will sort out soon.
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Old 12-03-2009, 06:39 AM
SCGib68 SCGib68 is offline
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I also like the darker set for the same reasons. Nice looking rosewood too btw
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:10 AM
jeastman jeastman is offline
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Nice back! I know the stick-straight grain stuff is supposed to be the best, but I've always like a little bit of 'shape' on my backs...yours is beautiful. I agree with everyone else too, I like the darker top. You're moving right along!
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Old 12-03-2009, 02:17 PM
Coke_zero Coke_zero is offline
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Thanks for the comments. I am hoping the wood will be delivered Monday which is a shame as I am off this weekend but working the next one. The wood for my bracing will also hopefully come that day so the first thing I will be doing is getting the thickness sorted and the back bracing done.

I am still debating how I am going to make my form & mould. I have a lot of scrap plywood lying around so I will use the template I made to make something up.

I am also happy to say I have a second hand bending iron on the way I got from eBay. I simply couldn't justify buying a silicone blanket for my first guitar, they seem to be quite hard to get hold of over here and even then they are pretty darn expensive.

I have got some mahogany and basswood kerfing on the way ready also. The last thing I really want is to have a free half or whole day and not have the materials I need to do a job.
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