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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:06 am 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:00 pm
Posts: 43
First name: Terry
Clinchriver wrote:
Pre-war Martin, D-18, D28, Gibson AJ. A correctly thicknesses and braced Red-Spruce top will deliver what you're after. John Arnold made a tracing of a 1937 D-28 herringbone with very clear detail on how that guitar was braced.


Appreciate the reference, and that bracing pattern looks to be very much like what I was shooting for... and probably a lot like what is in my hummingbirds?



These users thanked the author TerrenceMitchell for the post: Clinchriver (Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:44 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:08 am 
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Mahogany
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First name: Terry
Bryan Bear wrote:
The other side of the "be prepared to be disappointed" coin is even thought it won't be your dream guitar you will love hearing your first no matter how far it is away from what you (think you) want right now.

I won't claim to know how to get you where you want to go tonally since I have not made enough guitars to begin to get myself there. I will weigh in with a few of my thoughts:

Bracing: Laminated and carved (thin Jatoba center with rosewood sides)
Do you really mean you want to brace the top with rosewood and jatoba? I think you should stick with
spruce. Haans makes great guitars using thin rosewood center lams in his spruce braces but he made
many, many guitars to get to where he is. Most use spruce. . .
Bracing Pattern: X with 2 diagonal lower bars
There is a lot more to tone when it comes to bracing than just X and two tone bars. There is top
thickness, brace height, X position, brace profile. . . all of this works together and takes a long time to get
a feel for. Be prepared for that.
Neck: Mahogany, Carbon Fiber sticks, Single action rod
I would strongly recommend a two way truss rod. They are not expensive, won't ruin your tone and the
two way adjustment may save you one day.
Side Bracing: Jatoba, every 4-6 inches
I use solid side braces inlet into the linings. Every 4-6 inches seems excessive though I suppose there
isn't much harm in it. I usually put about 5 in on each side.

Have fun, good luck!


Thanks for the specific advise. Will factor these into my plan!


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:10 am 
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Mahogany
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First name: Terry
SteveSmith wrote:
Square or slope shouldered dred, red spruce top, x-braced with 2 tone bars, scalloped spruce bracing, rosewood back/sides. You might get lucky and nail it the first time (I hope you do), took me about a dozen but I don't care anymore cause I like building them. Since you're a player and already a woodworker then you'll probably want to make more.


Appreciate the specific recommendations! Definitely a trend developing here...


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:15 am 
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Mahogany
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First name: Terry
Clay S. wrote:
"I basically want to build a huge sounding guitar that can take hard strumming while delivering powerful low-end and crips highs."

You might want to consider building a long bodied 12 fret @ body Dreadnought with a dense spruce (red spruce) top. Red spruce and denser pieces of other spruces usually give a bit more "head room" when strumming hard. Your first guitar could be a "cannon" and I've seen some "first" guitars that look great.



Appreciate the specifics. I've read some about the 12 vs 14 fret body intersection... good to get advice on that, given my ultimate goal.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:31 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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The original 12 fret dreadnoughts also had a longer body than the modern 14 fret guitars have. When Martin went to 14 fret necks they "pushed the body down" much as they did with the other models. I think the length of the soundboard affects the sound as much as does the volume. The few longer bodied 12 fret dreadnaughts I've built have all sounded better than the 14 fret dreads.



These users thanked the author Clay S. for the post: TerrenceMitchell (Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:57 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:49 am 
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Mahogany
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Trying to summarize what I've been reading. Seems like three main threads of advice:

1) Build a cheap throwaway (probably kit) of a dread to get the surprises out of the way.
2) Stick to tried and true materials.
3) Find a class if I can.


Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:59 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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TerrenceMitchell wrote:
Trying to summarize what I've been reading. Seems like three main threads of advice:

1) Build a cheap throwaway (probably kit) of a dread to get the surprises out of the way.
2) Stick to tried and true materials.
3) Find a class if I can.


Thanks!


Exactly, except your first kit guitar may surprise you! I doubt you will throw it away.

It really helps to build at least a couple before you take a class. Then you begin to start knowing what you don’t know and get a lot more out of the class.

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It's not what you don't know that hurts you, it's what you do know that's wrong.



These users thanked the author Terence Kennedy for the post: TerrenceMitchell (Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:14 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:51 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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The only problem with building a "cheap throwaway kit" is you may not have enough respect for the materials to work carefully.
RC tonewoods has some nice mahogany back and side sets for less than $60, and you can buy a half dozen #2 Sitka tops for around $75 (including shipping)from Alaska Specialty Woods (both sponsors in the header above) from which you can test and pick the best for your guitar (they will all make nice guitars - but some tops are better than others for particular types of guitars).
Other pieces (neck woods, blocks, linings) are items that any competent woodworker can fabricate from lumber stocks or specialty items available from luthier suppliers (tuners, truss rods, specialty tools).
As an experienced woodworker don't expect your first guitar to be sub-par, and it likely won't be. As I said, I've seen some beautiful "first guitars" posted on this forum. And many sound as good as the better commercial offerings.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:52 am 
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TerrenceMitchell wrote:
Trying to summarize what I've been reading. Seems like three main threads of advice:

1) Build a cheap throwaway (probably kit) of a dread to get the surprises out of the way.
2) Stick to tried and true materials.
3) Find a class if I can.


Thanks!


I would alter number 1. It won't be a throw away. Just don't try to build the guitar of your dreams on the first one. You should temper your expectations at least as far as your dream guitar sound and follow a well trodden path before you try to blase your own trail. There is a lot of wisdom built into the tried and true designs. You need to work through them a bit before you can see that wisdom for yourself. You can see that number 1 and number 2 are closely related.

_________________
Bryan Bear PMoMC

Take care of your feet, and your feet will take care of you.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:04 am 
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Bryan Bear wrote:
TerrenceMitchell wrote:
Trying to summarize what I've been reading. Seems like three main threads of advice:

1) Build a cheap throwaway (probably kit) of a dread to get the surprises out of the way.
2) Stick to tried and true materials.
3) Find a class if I can.


Thanks!


I would alter number 1. It won't be a throw away. Just don't try to build the guitar of your dreams on the first one. You should temper your expectations at least as far as your dream guitar sound and follow a well trodden path before you try to blase your own trail. There is a lot of wisdom built into the tried and true designs. You need to work through them a bit before you can see that wisdom for yourself. You can see that number 1 and number 2 are closely related.


I agree. Don't think in binary terms (i.e., trash or treasure). It is a spectrum. With the application of decent effort, you can make a good guitar your first time out. Expecting it to be the Voice of God is not realistic, but it is not a throwaway unless you build it like you don't care. I don't see the point of either extreme. If you build it with the level of pucker factor you would put into disarming a nuclear warhead, that's bad. If you half-a** it, that's bad, too. If you put good effort into it, it can be a good guitar, albeit with some imperfections. The next one probably will have fewer imperfections, and so on.



These users thanked the author doncaparker for the post: Barry Daniels (Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:33 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:22 am 
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Oh, and here's another beginner thing to consider: Anytime you catch yourself saying "I want to make this guitar sound like . . .", realize that the manipulation of the tone of the guitar is something that triggers PROFOUND disagreement among experienced builders about how one accomplishes that goal. PROFOUND. I'm not saying who would be right in that debate (I have a side, I'm just not going to say what it is right now). I'm saying that, as a beginner, you are not going to know how to pull any of those levers, even assuming we all agree which levers yield which results (which we don't). Just build a few to normal designs, see how the process goes, and worry about tone manipulation after you have learned that much.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:49 pm 
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TerrenceMitchell wrote:
FYI... I put Baggs Anthems in my dreads, and they are the closest thing I've found so far, but I might buy a couple K&K models to experiment with next. If anyone happens to have found the "ultimate" pickup system I'm all ears.


Your pick-up was first on my mind when I saw your post. Baggs and K&K are what I use too. I think those will do fine. Baggs Anthem for solo playing and K&K for a band setting.

I think you've gotten good advice in this thread. I too think you'd be better off building a dread. What Steve suggested is a good way to go.

I own 3 Gibsons: 1952 J-45, 1953 SJ and 1956 J-50. I say this so you will not think I hate Gibsons. If you want a "cannon" your chances of getting one are much greater with a Martin dread copy than a Gibson copy in my humble opinion. Collings builds a slope shoulder dread copy of Gibson's shape (I love the shape) but they put Martin's bracing inside the shape. I know this because I saw it in their factory and asked the question. I think Collings is on the right track there.

BUT, beauty is in the ear of the beholder so it's all in your hands (or ears).

Here's beauty in my ears and eyes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYhpVC8_4eE


Last edited by Ed Haney on Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:35 pm 
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Koa
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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
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I'm going to jump in here altho honestly I can't add much to the great advice you have already been given.

Pick a size you think you will like. Remember some basics - a bigger guitar will often but not necessarily be louder but it will be biased towards the bass. A bigger guitar is harder to hold. People are always surprised when they play my parlors - they are mini-cannons. I try to build something I don't already have.

Pick a good set of plans. Come back to this forum and ask people what they think of these particular plans. If they say something like "over braced" or "watch out for..." listen to them. There are some great plans that have some hidden gotcha's.

Build to the plans. Don't think you can make it better because you saw a picture of something somewhere. At this point you want to be concentrating on execution.

Pick good standard materials. Quality spruce from one of the major suppliers, rosewood or mahogany b&s, definitely spruce braces. I argue against building a throw away guitar because there is no reason it won't turn out good.

Get the standard reference materials. Cumpiano is the bible, altho you will probably not do everything the same way. Read blogs and build threads and note where people had problems. If you feel something is going wrong, stop and ask here.

Get a good understanding of guitar geometry. Why is the top domed, why is the neck angled the way it is, why does the fretboard and bridge stand over the top at the heights they do. Keep the geometry in mind all the time you are building

Buy a hygrometer for your shop and look at it. Either try to control the RH or stop building when it gets out of bounds.

Consider buying a kit, or use LMII's kit wizard to get both the materials and any service you want. There are others, some who post here. Having the sides pre thicknessed and bent saves a lot of hassle and some specialized equipment, after 25 guitars I still take tops and backs to a cabinet shop to be sanded to thickness.

Buy the correct lutherie tools for those special tasks - routing binding channels, fret and nut files, bridge pin reamers. You'll use them for a long time, get good ones.

IMO the three hardest parts of a first time build are setting the neck (understand the geometry), binding and finish. Consider building a bolted M&T neck. While we are at it, consider a built up neck rather than one cut out of a single block of wood.

Use a double acting truss rod. There is no reason not to.

Finish is always a problem for a first timer - there are a incredible number of options, each has pros and cons.

Oh, it should go without saying - build to fit an available case. Custom cases are expensive and long delivery - ask how I know.

Take your time, enjoy the ride. You don't build a guitar to save money and you don't build your first (or 25th) because you think you can improve on a commercial guitar. Its a journey, you'll learn more than just about building a guitar.

ps - I built my first 13 years ago, I still play it today. Good luck with yours.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post (total 2): Barry Daniels (Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:36 pm) • Bryan Bear (Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:23 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:07 pm 
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TerrenceMitchell wrote:
Greg Maxwell wrote:
Lots of good comments here. I'll add this: If you are really serious about building specific tone into guitars, take a voicing class. Starting the conversation with a discussion about wood species is going in the wrong direction. Top wood material properties, along with correctly placing fundamental resonances, is far more important to the voice of the completed guitar that a list of species for the parts of a guitar. Good luck on your new adventure and have fun!


That sounds like it would be a fascinating class. Please share any suggestions!


Coincidentally, LMII just sent out an advertisement that includes a survey of some of the most respected Luthiers who teach/advocate specific methods of voicing. A link in the email led me to this page with a good overview and links to the individual luthiers’ resources:
https://www.lmii.com/blog/2019/09/05/ap ... a8e614e9de



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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:29 pm 
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Before I worried about voicing, I think I'd demonstrate that I could build a structurally and geometrically good guitar first. And then I'd give myself a humble lesson trying to build a pair of 'identical' guitars that also sounded identical to each other. Once I did that, then I think I could start working on voicing. And I think I'll never be able to build that pair of guitars.

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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:58 am 
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Lots of good advice already and doncaparker touched on a point that I think needs to be repeated.
Experts don't always agree!
There are some great luthiers here who are willing to share their knowledge.
If one of them says something that contradicts what you have read don't argue with them.
We have lost some knowledgable people over the years because a new guy disagrees with them and wants to argue.

I still have my first that I built from a kit 20 years ago, I still play it from time to time. So don't give up on your first born if nothing else keep it to see how you've improved over the years.
I'm getting ready to start my 20th build, I know one a year but I'm old and slow, I still get a rush when I strum the first chord.

Have fun I'll be looking forward to see pictures of your progress.

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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:22 am 
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Freeman brings up a good point that has been in all of the advice above but not really fleshed out. It has kind of gotten lost in the discussions about shaping tone.

Build method and geometry are two of the big things we are talking about when we say you first need to learn to put guitars together. Lots of woodworking experience will serve you well executing the steps but you have to figure out what steps you will take to get there. There are many methods to accomplish each step and many systems of methods and steps to make a guitar. Probably no two people here use exactly the same methods. The difficult thing is working out which systems work for you and understanding when you can and when you CAN NOT mix methods.

The geometry of a guitar is more complicated than it seems and every decision will effect something downstream. Nearly everyone will recommend the Guitar
Making Tradition and Technology book, myself included. The interesting thing is, I don’t think very many people use the approach outlined in that book. Everyone compiles their own (evolving) series of steps and techniques, but those have to start with an understanding of the geometry. The best way to start to understand that is to make guitars (and mistakes).

As you build, read old discussions here and ask questions. Most of the mistakes you will make have been made here and recovered from.

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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:22 am 
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Looks like more great posts here, and I'm encouraged to see so many experienced people willing to share their opinions. Not all disciplines are as friendly (eg. worst thing about the music production scene... everyone has tricks and they won't talk about 'em).

I've priced out a mid-grade kit from LMI and it landed around $580 (no tuners, neck blank unshaped). That's nothing to sneeze at, but certainly won't make me panic about having to do everything perfect.

I think the last dilemma before making sawdust is the shape. Clearly, the majority of posts are saying a dread is the place to start. I'm still unsure about that recommendation, unless it's just easier to talk about and research since so many people make them.

My hesitation is that I already own three (one cut-away), there's a D-28 at school that I can use any time and I really don't need or want any more dreads at this point.

That said, I'd love to hear opinions on why that shape is better for the first few guitars over any other shape, in terms of the learning experience. After all, the one thing everyone agrees on here is that the first several are basically to learn... and maybe get lucky with one or two.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:04 pm 
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I'm with Bryan regarding the Cumpiano/Natelson book. Most of us use methods that move beyond that book, but using that book to build your first one (with a few modest updates, like the neck joint and the truss rod) is a great experience. I highly recommend it. And if you use that book, you can build something other than a dreadnought, which is one of your goals (and that is understandable).

Nothing against other building guides. They are fine. But I built my first one from scratch using the Cumpiano/Natelson book, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

It is still an essential reference for me, by the way.



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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:32 pm 
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I would very highly recommend the Gore / Gilet books: https://goreguitars.com.au/main/page_the_book_buy_the_book.html


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:52 pm 
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Gore/Gilet is one of my favorites, probably my outright favorite, for after you have built a few and gotten the hang of actually putting a guitar together. I don't consider it ideal for a first guitar. No offense to Trevor; I think the books are outstanding. I just think a first time builder needs something other than what's in there.

If a first time builder really did want to use the Gore/Gilet books for their first guitar, I would say they should put Design on a shelf and not look at it. It is gold, but it is hard to mine gold. Focus on Build.

Just my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:14 pm 
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I think most of the dread recommendations are borne out of your description of what you want it to sound like. Other than maybe the bending being easier with the free shape, I don’t see anything that makes them easier for a first build (but, I don’t make dreads). There are a lot of dreads out there so you MAY find more advice on bracing and thickness, but maybe not. I say build the shape you want.

Remember what you think you want now will change as you build. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to make. I started with other projects to build up my skills. I now have very little interest in the guitar I though it was working towards.

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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:44 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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The nice thing about the Cumpiano book is the method he outlines doesn't require a lot of specialized tooling, and what tools that are out of the ordinary you can make. For the person who wants to make - a - guitar it is a good place to start. It is more of a "how to" rather than a "why do" book.
Building a kit is not a bad way to start. It will give you a leg up on some things that can be stumbling blocks for first time builders.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:56 pm 
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Cumpiano has already shipped :). We are so spoiled in this age of Amazon and Google. But, it's also one of the reasons I enjoy hobbies that can be done without a computer, particularly when I have to sit in front of one all day every day.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a Cannon
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:16 pm 
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TerrenceMitchell wrote:

That said, I'd love to hear opinions on why that shape is better for the first few guitars over any other shape, in terms of the learning experience. After all, the one thing everyone agrees on here is that the first several are basically to learn... and maybe get lucky with one or two.

Thanks!


For the past dozen years I have been attending the Guild of American Luthiers convention and one of the great sessions there is what they call the Steel String Listening session. Builders submit guitars, they are played by the same person in exactly the same way, the builder comments on her methods, materials, philosophy. It is amazing how few dreadnaughts appear in these - out of 35 guitars last time I think only one was a dread.

Dreadnaughts are icons - big loud boomy cannons - you said thats what you like. I own two wonderful old Martin dreads, I almost never play them. I'm a fingerstyle player whose background includes blues and what John Fahey called American Primitive - the guitars I prefer are medium to smaller bodies with a more balanced tone spectrum. Small guitars can be loud (I submitted one of my parlors to the GAL listening session and someone in the very back of the room commented on how well it projected).

My favorite guitars are my OM and 000 and 00 and 0 and..... Each one is different (and that is important, why would I want to build a guitar I already have). But I will say, if you don't know what you want to build or why it seems like a day or two in a good music store would be the first step.

ps - your price for materials is pretty normal. Add five hundred bucks for tools that you don't already have and you'll see that you don't build a guitar to save money.

pps - what others have said about Cumpiano is correct. It is the bible, but you will do a bunch of things differently. An interesting paradox.

ppps - I just finished a little build thread on another forum for a young friend who whats to build a guitar. It might give you some perspective of what you are getting into

https://www.tdpri.com/threads/mahogany- ... ar.969146/



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Barry Daniels (Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:01 am)
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