according to you which is the most common goof up do first time or non professsional builders make

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Trying to build without the proper tools and equipment. Imagine if your new surgeon took your appendix out with a bread knife and safety pins......Rusty.
Maybe the presumption to build the ultimate instrument, just because of self-enthusiasm. In other words, the lack of humbleness.
Hey Rusty, what you said? Frank Ford CAN do everything on a guitar with just a pocket knife and without pins!!!
The most important goof-up for the novice builder has to be not reading, absorbing and understanding the literature and what has been done in traditional work.

Too many builders overstudy the technical aspects of materials and deign to their peril

Build some regular instruments with regular materials.

Don't mess with designs, materials, process, or ANYTHING else until you get the basics down.

Those of use who follow traditional methods aren't dumb or unaware of new stuff. We do it because it works, and it works well. While computer chip manufacturers may come up with revolutionary process, don't count on being able to do that with woodworking and lutherie. The old timers were every bit as smart and probably more skilled than we are - FOLLOW THIER LEAD.
Frank's comments are dead on. Any art or craft typically has traditional roots and for a reason.

I find that as a luthier I rely on my experiences in 18th century period reproduction furniture building, modelmaker, machinist (conventional and CNC), even my childhood working with plastic model cars, ships, and planes, and learning from my father's at home watchmaking (fine bench skills) and TV repair (electric guitar wiring skills) businesses in the 50's and 60's. No, I have not made candles, but have baked and "butchered" a steak.

Skills with hand tools prevail - again, spend the time and learn the basics. Buy the best tools you can afford or make your own, thus avoiding buying the better tool the second time - believe me!! Take a piece of rough cut maple and make it perfectly flat, thicknessed, and square using only a hand plane - you will learn about sharpening, using a straight edge and square, and patience, and what all the fuss is about fine tuning hand planes - that's for another time. Build a guitar from a kit - you will learn about building and maybe repairing, if you know what I mean. Sure, I'll pick up a router or go to my milling machine or one of many other machines, but they have their place.

After building a Martin kit, I reduced the list of unkowns in building and was encouraged to build an archtop. I "practiced" carving my first archtop guitar back on a relatively inexpensive piece of highly figured maple. Even with over 10 years woodworking experience at the time I found myself reading a lot and asking other builders questions (thank you and sorry, everyone!). The maple back (and my back) went into the instrument and the instrument had great sound. This was my first guitar "from scratch" and I was enthusiastic, yet humble about the process. Proper tools and equipment are nice to have, but haven't stopped me. Frank, what new tools are on the drawing board - Jack the Gripper is one of the most welcome tools in my arsenal; I certainly tightened many jacks without it, but swear less now.

To answer your question, I guess the most common goof up would be from many things - lack of patience, knowledge, skill. Good things DO take time.
Gettin in a hurry.
Building with the humidity too high.
Pretty much all them have a limited budget, and what seems to happen all too often, is some of them have little or no desire to learn how to tweak existing instruments, which itself requires a bunch of tedious knowledge and little tedious tools too. They want to create from scratch, not take over and put the finishing touch on someone else's work. So then putting the final touch on their own creations takes a long time to happen. Seems to me like a very backwards way to go about it. How do you sell guitars that lack that final touch when a mass-produced guitar that is lacking the same, or even lacking less, can be bought for less ?

I guess for this certain group I'm thinking of, buying a power saw is cool. Straightedges and feeler gauges, not so cool.
10,000 HOURS:

Indeed it takes a lot of practice to get good at anything, and among brain scientists there's a growing consensus that the magic number is ten thousand hours. We all know that's why really great musicians are so skilled, and it works the same in other endeavors.

To think that you can skip the practice is to be thinking wrong.

How do you keep up the enthusiasm for such grueling practice? Passion. If you really want to do it, you'll do it and you'll enjoy the activity at every level. One beginner's mistake I see all the time is the tendency to "over study" the issue in place of actually doing the mechanical stuff. The builders I know who have become outstanding are the ones who were absolutely on fire to do the craft - nothing would stop them. Making mistakes is part of the process, and I can tell you that I've made nearly all of them.

Bob Taylor once said that you can become a good guitar builder only by building a lot of guitars - "Michael Jordan didn't get to be a great free throw artist by standing around all day and aiming. He shot LOTS and LOTS of baskets."


Some years ago, before I'd heard the magic number, I decided I'd like to be able to make my own tools, fixtures, and parts for instrument building and repair. In short, I thought it would be cool to be a machinist.

So, I set about buying tools, reading up, and before long I was cutting metal, and absolutely loving it. This time last year I thought it would be interesting to know exactly how much time I spend in my home shop learning and doing machine work, so I stuck an hour meter on the light circuit. In a year, the meter showed 914 hours, and it seems like that's about the average for the last 5-6 years. Maybe I'm halfway there. . .


I can tell you for dead certain that it's not about the tools, it's about the passion. I meet any number of newbies, and I can usually spot the ones with a real fire in the belly.
Amen Frank! Even when your well into the craft and have experience mistakes still happen, then its fun figuring out how to get out of the perdicament you put yourself in.when you can rescue a guitar you made a mistake on and spent countless hours building, you learn wow dont ever do that again! lutherie is a craft you never stop learning!
It's all about learning - when you're done learning it's time to check out!

By the way , have you heard of the "one inch mistake"? Setting the scale on 1, reading the measurement, and forgetting to subtract 1??? Yes, we certainly do learn by mistakes!

I think that part of being professional is being able to correct a mistake and have the result come out as planned. A detour, if you will..

Soo, before carving up that $300 archtop back, maybe practice on a piece of pine!


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