Anyone who has had their gaze drawn down the soft, sinuous curves of an acoustic guitar is sure to have felt an irresistible urge to handle the magnificent instrument. It can be a challenging but worthwhile pursuit for an enthusiast to combine the knowledge of woodworking and a love of music and learn how to build a guitar.
Plans for building guitars are available from a wide variety of sources. The type of wood you select for the body of the instrument plays an important role in the sound that is generated. The wood used should be 0.25 inches thick and be durable yet lightweight. Types of wood that are commonly used include cedar and spruce.
The front and back parts, or pieces, of the guitar can be cut out with a jig saw after precise measurements are made. The two pieces have to be exactly the same shape to ensure a perfect fit. The sound hole is an integral part of the instrument that produces a sound with more bass if it’s smaller, and more treble if it’s larger. This has to be cut out near the center of the front piece.
Both the back and front pieces have to be braced for support and strength and to lower the risk of the wood cracking in drier conditions. Braces are made from similar wood and attached with wood glue. The glue must be allowed to dry before proceeding further.
Forming the sides of the instrument is a time-consuming process that requires much patience. Two strips of wood, approximately 5 inches wide and long enough to wrap halfway around the body pieces are needed. The strips have to be soaked in hot water and individually shaped to fit the contours of the pieces. A Styrofoam mold can be used to ensure the strips keep their shape. The strips are glued to end and neck blocks before the front and back pieces are glued to the sides thus forming the body.
A mortise, or groove, is cut in the top of the body where the neck is attached after the body is sanded and smoothened. The construction of the neck, bridge and fret board are laborious and it is recommended that a commercial, pre-fabricated unit is used. Attach these securely with glue and leave to dry before stringing the instrument.