After researching the heck out of doing my first guitar build, I'm STRONGLY thinking that I'd be doing myself a disservice by buying a kit.  I'm thinking I should scratch build so I can experience EVERY procedure (and risk every mistake).


I have decided to build a jumbo steel string acoustic with a cutaway.  That's the style of guitar I play professionally anyway, and I want to build something I'll actually play.  I hate dreadnaughts.  There, I said it.  Don't hate me.


I have a "step zero" (that I plan to address in a separate post), but put simply I plan to scratch build a collection of cam clamps, spool clamps, and a few assembly jigs first, so I can get to know my wood working hand and power  tools.  I plan to apply different kinds of finish to many of the cam clamps, so I can get some hands-on in that skill, too.  And I'll need to use glue to build everything, so I can experiment with HHG, CA, epoxy, and Titebond ahead of time.


The first part of "step one" is to HAVE A PLAN.  So this is my first question.  Where can I get a well documented set of assembly plans and templates for a jumbo acoustic with a cutaway?  My Google-ing has brought me to  The plans SEEM good, even though they're a bit pricey.  I'm willing to consider other sources as well.  Please share your thoughts!


(And question 1-b is "Is my insistance on having a cutaway going to complicate things to a point where this is going to bite me in the ass?")

Views: 310

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

You say this is the type of guitar you play - so you already have plans of a sort. Lay the guitar on a large sheet of paper, trace around its perimeter and use this as a pattern for the outside mold.  Same for the sides, tape paper around each side (one at a time) and trace a line where the top meets the side and back - remove the paper and cut along the line & you have templates for getting the correct taper in the sides.  Most jumbos are X braced in a geometry similar to other guitars for which plans are easy to get.

Hi Tom,

I do planning for friends and colleagues who have a notion to build a guitar from scratch - the reason I do this is to prevent myself having to complete/do the project for them if they get out of their depth. 

The first question I ask them is if they are competent woodworkers and have the proper tools for the job.   If the answer is no to either of these questions I encourage them to buy a cheap kit and learn by assembling and finishing it.  It also saves them a huge amount of money buying tools and machining time in the event that they find they are not skilled enough to make a satisfactory instrument.  

You shouldn't do brain surgery on yourself without a mirror and a bit of practice. 

But it is a free world and you should sign into STEWMAC.COM where you will find most things for guitar making including raw materials at various levels of finish.  There are some other good suppliers such as LMII.COM, however SM are a good pick for lots of stuff that works (they don't have cheap junk)  and they have articulate, free advice on their site and a good guitar building book selection.   Good luck but take it slow and take it easy.    Guitar making can sometimes be likened to standing in pile of sawdust and wood splinters tearing up fifty dollar notes.


I strongly think that starting with a kit is a good starting point : there are enough stuff to learn and mistakes to make with just  gluing a kit.

If you still want to build from scratch, you can get all the wood you need from either lmii or stewmac. LMII has a good tool (not fancy but I don't care) to pick all the wood needed for a guitar without forgetting half of it. Both of them sell plans oft good quality.

Considering the cutaway, I would forget it, considering it get things harder, and believe me : you don't want them harder than a first build from scratch is.

I would second  Pierres advice on the cutaway.It seems to me you are trying to start at the top of the trade I have been building for 20 years and just this past winter built my first cutawy. Just my two cents worth. Bill.............

I think you'd do yourself a disservice by not using a kit. You will almost certainly not have the guitar you desire from your first experience (nor your second or third...), particularly if you do a good job the first time (you'll know you can do better the next, etc.). Any building attempt at this stage is more learning than craft...don't plan on playing it, chances are you won't.

LMIi has a great kit service that will allow you to do as much or as little of the work as you are comfortable with...glue up a "serviced" kit this time (there is still a ton of geometry, sizing, shaping and detail work to learn and do, and you can get the tools you need as you need them), and next time do more of the work yourself. They have plans for each kit offered as well.

No need to experiment with glues, they're all well documented. This board is a great resource for what, how, where and when to use each.  And the best place to work with finishes is on the guitar...start with shellac, it's very forgiving and can be applied at your bench.

And the answer to question 1-b is "Yes, it will absolutely chomp you. Do not do it."

When a customer shows some interest in building an acoustic, the first place I steer them is to a kit. For about a hundred bucks and change, it's easy for them to see if it'll "take" or not.  One of the best values in a relatively inexpensive kit is the "western steel-string kit" offered from Grizzly.

Really, whether it's this one or another one, a kit is the way to go for a first-timer. Biting-off more than one can chew will sour the whole procedure and stop a build in it's tracks. Crawl, walk, then run.


© 2023   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service