In the thread about recycling timber for instruments I mentioned using the packing case from a new dishwasher (German spruce) for bracing in my latest guitar build. Ned asked to see a few pictures so here they are.

It is a Nick Lucas style L-00. 13 frets to the body like some of the original Gibson Nick Lucas guitars built in the '30s (they also made 12-fret and 14-fret versions at different times). I like the design because it is small bodied but deep (drednaught depth) and has a bigger voice than most 00 sized guitars. Mahogany B&S, Adirondack top, mahogany bolt-on neck, macassar ebony bridge and fretboard, cocobolo binding and soundhole binding. The slotted headstock is obviously not Gibsonesque, but I like it for the vintage vibe. This is only the second guitar that I have built so I still have a lot to learn.

Views: 4537


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I have attached a pic of the bracing (parabolic, not scalloped) but I they were not fully carved - and I don't think they were even glued at the time of the photo. Also a pic of the bindings.

Finally, here is a photo of some guy playing an original 1929 13-fret Nick Lucas.

Great work,and glad it doesn't look G'sonesque! Sexy shape!Whose plans?
Thanks Tim.
I bought the L-00 plan from MMIF, which is very good. You can also download one for free from Christophe Grellier's website ( They are both for 14-frets to the body. To adapt to a 13-fret joint I moved the soundhole, bridge and all of the bracing towards the tail block by a distance equivalent to the interval between the 13th and 14th frets. I also made the soundhole a touch smaller (98mm), thinking that this might slightly increase the bass response.
Nice guitar, Mark. I must admit that I like the look of the first model with the rounder lower bout but I understand that this is the better sounding design. I've been drawn to the idea of a smaller, deeper body since I first read about these.

Actually, I've been thinking about what I will move to once I finish the repair projects I already have going. I've been kicking around a small Martin clone but your post has me thinking about something like this now. I particularly like the slotted headstock. I think they decrease the visual weight of a guitar. I'm also glad to hear how you dealt with the neck position issues. I once read an interview with Norman Blake ( I think it was him) in which he voiced a preference for the 13th fret neck.

How does it play/sound? Are you satisfied with it as it is or are there changes you would make if you do it again?

Thanks for posting the pictures.

G'day Ned
I really like this design and I have been very satisfied with the feel and sound. To my mind it is well suited to blues or folk style playing. I have an OM which is probably a better fingerstyle instrument, and a dred is obviously better if you are trying to be heard in a bluegrass band. I find the standard L-00 designs (eg the Blues King model) to be pretty thin sounding. The deeper body of the Nick Lucas style makes a big difference. The thing that put me onto this was seeing a Santa Cruz H-13 - a really sweet guitar. Check out the H-13 at the Santa Cruz Guitar Company website. Paul Hostetter designed that guitar based on the 13-fret Nick Lucas model and his personal website has some great information (including the Dylan photo above - He says that the 13-fret design places the bridge in the "sweet-spot" of the soundboard - whatever that means . It certainly seems to produce a very responsive instrument. I intend to make some more similar ones.

Regarding the neck position - I used a pre-shaped neck blank from Stew-Mac. If you use one of those you need to adapt it by putting a bit of a spacer in if you use a 12-fret blank (which I did), or shortening it and placing the fingerboard down a little on a 14-fret blank. If you make your own neck from scratch you can design the length accordingly

When you say the first model, do you mean the L-1? That has a really lovely rounded lower bout. I would like to make one of those also. Reviews of the vintage ones say they don't sound so good - but a lot of them were ladder braced and that is probably the issue. A similar design with lightish X-bracing might be great. John Steele has just posted pictures of a beautiful L-1 that he has built (walnut & maple) on the Australian & New Zealand Luthier's Forum ( I think he is offering to share his plans.
I based the H-13 on a 12-fret model, not the 13. I got 13 frets as a result of wanting a longer scale than Gibson ever used. If I left the bridge and soundhole in the (what I believe are) ideal positions—the 12-fret design—and put on a longer scale, it resulted in a 13-fret neck.
Hi Paul
Thanks for commenting and for that bit of information. Sorry that I was slightly misrepresenting your design. Now that you have pointed it out I realize that the H-13 has a longer scale than the Gibson, so that all makes sense.

Playing a H-13 once was what really stimulated me to try making a similar guitar. I am really grateful to you for the information on your website that allowed me to come up with a plan (even though I evidently ended up with something a bit different). Inside the guitar I wrote a dedication to the 3 guys who inspired me to build it: Nick L, Bob D and Paul H. Sorry, not trying to be sycophantic - just registering genuine appreciation!
Thanks for explaining about the neck.

Yeah, the L-1 body shape is the one I'm talking about. I think they only made them in this shape for a year or so. They were something like 13 1/2 in. across the lower bout but with side a bit over 4 in. deep. ( 4 1/4 or 4 3/8ths ?) I also think they had 12th fret necks instead of the 13 or later 14 fret models. I understand that they got wider across the lower bout pretty quickly after their introduction but I don't know when they went to longer necks. I think that all of these were mahogany while some of the later years were rosewood.

Your comments about bracing on these makes me wonder if anyone at Gibson ever experimented with the "L-1" shape and a 13th fret neck. Perhaps and X braced, rosewood, 13th fret "L-1" shaped guitar would have worked just fine too.

I've heard about the "sweet spot" bridge position. It sounds like your guitar may lend that some more credence to that idea. As I said, I'm attracted to the size of the guitar. I used to own a '50s LG-0 which I enjoyed a lot just sitting around the house but I always felt it was a bit too thin to play with a group. I kept my other guitars packed up but left the LG out on a stand so my son and I could grab it in passing for a few minutes playing. I never even considered using it for playing in public.

Nice shape and looks deep!Side width?
Nevermind I found it.
Well Mark I would have to say you are definitely going to be a very good luthier.Just keep experimenting and see what you can come up with next .Thats what makes it all so Interesting. Good luck on your next prodject. Bill."""""""""""""""""
Mine ended up 102mm (about 4") at the neck and 115mm (about 4 1/2") at the tail.

Thanks Bill
The next one is about half done now - a Lowden inspired SJ in claro walnut and Swiss spruce. I am trying out some new things (for me) like a cutaway, zero fret and pinless bridge - just for some new challenges.
best wishes


© 2024   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service