June 1, 2006 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Help me understand how guitars (steel-string and classical) are built.

I am researching an important but little-known Canadian luthier who built acoustic steel-string and classical guitars from the 50s to the early 80s and I know very little about the instruments. Searching "guitar building" or "guitar making" brings me mostly to sites advertising kits/classes or teaching how to build a guitar at home, but what I am interested in is how they would be built in a professional crafts-person's shop.

What is the process?
What are the tools/materials needed?
What was guitar-building like in the 50's-80's?

Any primers on guitars in general (what are the parts and what do they do, etc) are also welcome.
posted by arcticwoman to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia has a good description of the parts of a guitar.

Also some Luthier links on Wikipedia.
posted by o0dano0o at 12:21 PM on June 1, 2006

Best answer: Heh.

This is my dad.
Here are some of the guitars he's built.

Send him an E-mail and tell him I suggested you ask him for advice.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:36 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want a complete description of the process, the standard volume is Guitarmaking by William Cumpiano; it should be available through Amazon. This pdf is an instruction sheet for a kit, so it doesn't include stuff like thicknessing the top & back and bending the sides, but does give a quick breakdown of how the basic thing is made. Lastly, you might try the forums here.
posted by transient at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2006

Best answer: Oh, and the process that a single professional builder will use is not really that different than what you'd find on those buiild-your-own at home sites; they'll just have a better shop -- jointer, bandsaw, tablesaw, thickness planer, jigsaw if they do the inlay, drum sanders, drill press, some special hand tools and jigs, etc.
posted by transient at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2006

A google search of Violin Making yields many sites describing the process, which I imagine has many similarities to guitar-making.
posted by alms at 1:33 PM on June 1, 2006

Yes and no. While they are similar in the obvious ways, there are lots of design points that make building a violin different from building a steel-string or classical guitar. E.g., carved vs. a flat top and back, fretless fingerboard vs. fretted, single bass bar and soundpost vs. various types of bracing patterns, floating tailpiece and bridge vs. fixed in the soundboard, purfling vs. binding and rosettes, friction tuning pegs vs. geared machines, f-hole vs. round hole... it might sound pedantic, but all of those require different tools or processes.
posted by transient at 1:54 PM on June 1, 2006

Build a Guitar from The link didn't work for me in Safari, but worked in Firefox.
posted by dmo at 5:14 PM on June 1, 2006

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