The plans for the guitar I am building call for side re-enforcement (cloth or spruce strips). Is this really necessary? I'm looking at a guitar right now and it doesn't have any re-enforcement. Have I just answered my own question?

What are the recommendations and experience out there?


Doug Collins

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I built two acoustic guitars at the Roberto-Venn school, and they had us do this with all our guitars (wood strips). Seems like a good idea.. and if you're going to the trouble of building a whole guitar, it's a minor step.. eh? maybe not necessary, but certainly can't hurt.
I don't mind the trouble, I was thinking more of tonal qualities. In my mind it seems like strips might effect the sound, but it's probably not a factor.

How thick were the strips you used?


Doug Collins
The ones I used are triangular shaped in profile, about 1/4 in wide on each face. know what i mean?

whether it affects sound/tone? I dunno? Potentially I suppose it would stiffen the sides, reducing the potential for the top vibration to be absorbed by the rest of the guitar.. which may be a good thing. .... There are people out there, I imagine, who take these ideas seriously, or at least have given them more thought and testing than myself.
Dont know about steel string guitars, but when it comes to classicals,
the sides are either carefully included in the transformation of sound,
or their function is solely that of stability.

I would go with the plans.
Side reinforcement is just that- reinforcement of the sides. Sides tend to crack easily due to a: them being flat sawn and flexing from the guitar resting on your leg in the playing position, or b: the sides are made of mahogany which cracks quite easily. Sides are typically strongest at the waist of the guitar and weakest everywhere else. As for the tonal quality being compromised, show me someone who can hear the difference between a guitar that has no side reinforcement and one that does and I'll give you a dollar. Every guitar has its own characteristics and sound, and a 1/2 ounce of spruce will not change the sound. Most of the voicing comes from your skill and the person who plays it.


Hope this was helpful,

If I could tell the difference between a guitar with no reinforcement and one that does, then I would want more than a dollar!

But the link you sent was pretty convincing. I think I will reinforce. I would like to point out though that my sides are not flat sawn, they are quarter sawn. Maybe that makes a difference, but I still think I will reinforce.

Thanks for the advice,

Doug Collins
Hi Doug, couple of things, the thinner the sides the more relevant the reinforcement strips become, both from the aforementioned purpose of preventing cracks and also to assist in keeping the sides flat and square. Consequently the bottom end of the market which uses ply sides and the top end makers that also use ply have less a requirement for side reinforcement due to the inherit stiffness/strength of ply so it can be omitted. Presumably, a stiffer box is less likely to resonate but this is more a problem as ambient sound pressure levels increase (like on stage with a backline) than the pressure exerted by the players excitation of the top.

Tonally, I'm with the old school crew who believe the purpose of the sides is to keep the back away from the front. Rusty.


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