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Project Information

Over the last two years I have been slowly building this guitar. The back and sides are East Indian Rosewood. The top is bear claw Sitka spruce. Bindings are quilted maple. The soundhole rosette and end graft are olive. I finally finished it today. It sounds really good. Mistakes were made but I learned a lot from the build and look forward to making more guitars.

I documented the build on my Instagram account which is the same username as here on LJs onoitsmatt if anyone is interested in the whole process.

Gallery

Comments

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Matt - that is beautiful! Is the bridge black walnut? Looks almost purple.
 

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Good job! what an accomplishment!

I have hopes of making a guitar this spring. It will be mock up of a Gibson Explorer, maybe down the road I will try my hand at an acoustic too. Im a bit nervous about getting it right.
 

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i have plans, and the wood, just no time to embark on this journey. Glad you jumped on the opportunity. Looks awesome.
 

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Absolutely beautiful work! I can appreciate what went into that as I built myself a classical guitar way back in the 1970s out of a book on "how to build a guitar". Love the abalone perfling!
 

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Beautiful guitar. It's my dream (fantasy?) to make my own guitar some day. I'm envious of your work!
 

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@Todd, the bridge and fingerboard are also Indian Rosewood.

@Rob I'm thinking about doing an electric next. Hoping it will be easier but electrics seem to have their own unique challenges.

@Scott, haha, I think I didn't itime either. This was a 40th birthday gift for a friend who turned 41 last month.
 

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Yeah Matt, it was challenging. I was able to look inside some expensive classical guitars using a mirror on a stick to see how things were done. But the book was pretty comprehensive. The guitar came out surprisingly well though. I guess I should really post it here as a project.
 

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I stand in awe to anyone that can build a musical instrument such as this, craftsmanship at its finest.
 

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Wonderful job Matt! You're getting good at this!
 

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@Brian Thank you!

@Bob. It has turned out better than that padauk uke! Also saw photos of those back saws you restored on the saw thread. I immediately went to your website to see if they were for sale. Seriously thinking about that brass back one if it's still available, though I don't need it. Awesome work on those and that Pearce one too!
 

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Looks great! Did you do a traditional french polish or was it sprayed. Would love to play it
 

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Wonderful Guitar, my oldest son has been thinking of getting into this type of woodworking
 

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Looks Great! I'm working on a acoustic also right now- what finish did you use? Thanks!
 

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@Dale and Kaleb. It is French polished. I gave a ridiculous amount of thought to what finish to use. I ultimately opted for French polish because it's cheap, and non toxic and looks great.

Getting a spray rig and doing nitro would likely have been easier but would definitely have been more expensive. French polish is also pretty forgiving, though labor intensive.
 

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Thank you very much for the info on french polishing, Matt! How hard was the french polishing? Was it easy to get the hang of? That is the finish I would really like to do on my guitar, but from the little iv'e read about, it seems really daunting. Is there any good youtube videos you'd recommend? Thanks, I really appreciate your help! -Dale
 

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Hi Dale. I mostly followed these instructions:

https://www.guitarsint.com/article/How_to_Grain_Fill_a_Classical_Guitar

This link is for step one of the series of posts. It's a pretty traditional approach. There are lots of other resources with slightly different ways of doing it. Most of the other stuff I saw seemed like ways to take short cuts, which likely work fine, but decided sticking with a more traditional approach was probably most likely to yield a good result.

The YouTube videos I found all seemed to showcase people's first attempt at French polish and did not fill me with confidence. So I ignored them.

Probably the best piece of advice I saw was to pick a process and stick with it. Don't borrow bits from various methods to arrive at your own.

If I could personally offer advice based on my first go at it, less is definitely more. Use as little as possible after your initial spit coats. Use oil to keep the pad moving if it's getting sticky. Too much alcohol or shellac just makes a gooey mess. Even when it seems like you need more, resist the urge to overdo it.

I really like the instructions in the link above. 2 things though; They mention leveling the finish but at no point tell you when or how to do it. Also Pore filling using pumice took the most time, and after spending about 8 hours on it I finally gave up. The back has pores still but I managed to get the sides filled pretty well. But I cheated and used a 1200 grit sandpaper instead of pumice on them.

So you might research alternative pore filling methods. Sounds like they all have their trade-offs.

A local cabinet maker and student of krenov told me he uses grain alcohol for his shellac. It's what I used. Also it takes a lot of shaking to get the shellac to completely dissolve. My 2nd batch took about 2 hours. So mix it and go watch Netflix while you shake. I don't think the first batch took as long. I can't remember.

Good luck!
 
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