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I've only ever posted smaller projects here, so I thought I would share something more serious that I just completed. This is the 7th stringed instrument I've built, and the second guitar. I started designing it back in October, and strung it up for the first time on June fifth. It was about 170 hours of work from start to finish, and I tried to limit myself to hand tools as much as possible. I designed and built every part of this guitar by hand except for the tuning machines.

The top is Carpathian Spruce, and the back and sides are Indian Rosewood. The neck is maple, and all of the fittings are ebony and cocobolo. This guitar also has full abalone purfling, and a 12th fret inlay inspired by victorian era banjos. It also has a secondary sound hole on the bass side of the body which allows the player to hear themselves more clearly.

Most notably, this guitar is designed around a fanned fret layout where all of the strings are different lengths. This means that the frets aren't parallel, and it was a much more challenging design process than anything I had ever built.
You can read more about fanned frets and the benefits of the design here: Fanned Frets

You can hear me playing the finished guitar here:

Some photos of the build process:

The fret slots cut and the floral ornament inlayed in pearl at the 12th fret. It took about 4 hours just to cut the mother of pearl:


The mold, made out of a scrap piece of glulam:


The sound hole cut and the abalone sound hole rosette inlayed:


The sides drying in the mold after steam bending by eye:


The neck block is a tricky bit of shaping:


Profiling the sides and blocks to match the slight arch of the top and back:


The back braces glued and carved:


The top braces are a complex lattice of lap joints, and need to be extremely light and strong:


The top joined to the sides:


The channel for my logo inlay routed out:


The first fret installed:


A cold winter's day of fretwork:


The beginning of carving the neck with rasps and files:


Inlaying the abalone purfling on the top. The binding (outermost layer) is cocobolo:


Filling the pores in the rosewood back:


Carving the bridge:


Leveling and polishing the finish with micro-mesh and 3M Finesse-it compound:


I'm quite happy with how the finish turned out:


Thanks for looking! I strongly encourage anyone considering building a guitar to give it a try. It's a great combination of a bunch of different tool skills and processes, and it's an incredibly rewarding thing to complete.

Gallery

Comments

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1,438 Posts
Beautiful job of guitar building. I built one from a book back in the 1970s so I know the skill this takes.
 

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2,500 Posts
Outstanding! That is a beautiful guitar. I'm guessing it sound as good as it looks.
 

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Stunning work.
 

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Great work! The sound is top notch, nice bass tones but with happy trebles too. A life time guitar for sure. If that is your 7th instrument you are well on your way to being a great luthier.
 

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16 Posts
I am amazed. Truly a great work of art!
 

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Thank you all! I'm very happy with how it turned out. You can here it here:
 

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Great sound. Congrats on daily top three.
 

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This is incredible. I'm insanely envious of your skills!
 

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Very nice indeed! This is the first time I've seen an extra x brace behind the bridge, a place I've always thought needed support to avoid the top deforming behind the bridge. Are the other braces shaved a bit more to keep the top limber and responsive?
 

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Very nice indeed! This is the first time I ve seen an extra x brace behind the bridge, a place I ve always thought needed support to avoid the top deforming behind the bridge. Are the other braces shaved a bit more to keep the top limber and responsive?

- Texcaster
Thank you! I'm of the belief that more smaller braces is stronger than a few large ones. I tried out that double X idea on flat top mandolin family instruments first, and this is the first guitar with that layout. It remains to be seen whether or not it's better, but the top has been extremely stable so far and it's one of the loudest guitars I've played.
 

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Very nice work and a bit of an interesting top bracing pattern.
 

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131 Posts
Beautiful guitar, and you are to be congratulated!. This project proves your persistence, patience and dedication for doing things well. I have built several stringed instruments myself, so know a little about the dedication, persistence and all the work required. You look very young to have such skill and dedication to your work, and there is no debate about its quality.

Very well done!

Erik
 

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296 Posts
Wow, what talent in crafting the guitar and playing it. beautiful beautiful..
 

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thank you brdf11. Seems to me there was a lot of love in this guitar build. I truly appreciate your talent and determination to complete such an intriguing instrument. Your photos, and your excellent description of many of your steps involved. Well done and appreciated. I am a keyboard musician, retired at 80 years of age. Do not play guitar but always had a desire to build an acoustic guitar which I started 8 months ago. After viewing your project, I would be ashamed to show mine which I am up to carving the neck. I am very nervous about cutting the proper angle to bolt on to the body. I also spray finish most of my projects with only the toner method. I have some of my projects in my Gallery. I am getting a little carried away. Sorry about that. You look very young, and seems obvious to me that you are already on your way to a great future.

Louis Petrolia (Shilothree)
 

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You are highly skilled and the work is impressive.
 
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