Welcome to the second part of our Guitar building series. This feature is inspired by the guitar currently being built in Brian Dubbleldam’s repair shop. To find out more about guitar, or string instrument, repair, at the Ottawa Folklore Centre, contact Brian.
A good guitar starts with good tone wood. While many species of wood can be used to build a guitar, a few select trees (or, tone woods) have become guitar making favourites. Cedar, Spruce, Mahogany, and Rosewood are all popular (or poplar? ha!) choices for building acoustic instruments.
Spruce and Cedar are preferred for the sound board (or top) while Mahogany and Rosewood are commonly used for the back and sides of the instrument. Stiffer woods make a crisper sound while softer woods tend make a warmer or more diffused tone. Spruce tops are bright and punchy while cedar is a bit more intimate. Similarly, for back and sides, Mahogany has a lot of kick while rosewood provides a much softer edge to the sound.
Another consideration pre-string is the body type of the guitar. Different body shapes affect the voice and feel of the guitar. Larger body shapes create a bigger sound (more room for resonance) but can be harder to hold.
The actual construction of the guitar starts with the front of the instrument. Commonly referred to as the “sound board” this piece has the most to do with the voice of the instrument. Two pieces of wood are matched and book ended ,and then cut into shape.
The sound hole is our next cut. We’ll use a Dremel to cut the sound hole and rout the rosette for inlay.
In the Next Episode:
We’ll talk about creating braces and then affixing them via a go-bar deck.