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 Post subject: Just getting started
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:17 pm 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 13
First name: Mark
Last Name: Klee
City: Alpharetta
State: Georgia
Zip/Postal Code: 30009
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hey folks, I'm just getting ready to start my very first guitar and I'm looking for some quick advice. I've done a fair amount of research and talked to several experience people but would like to get some additional input. I'm a very experience woodworker (furniture) but would like to try my hand at building a guitar.

Most advice I've gotten to-date has been to start with a kit for my first build. My research has narrowed my selection to either a Martin kit (thru Blues Creek) or a Stew-Mac kit. I'd love some input and opinions on these and/or others. I don't play the guitar but will be making it for my 16 year old son. It logically seems to me that Martin has the quality "sound" experience and obviously knows a lot about great guitars. On the other hand, Stew-Mac knows guitar BUILDING and may offer a better building experience. Opinions?

I'd also love some advice on a good book or two. I recently purchased "Guitarmaking" by Cumpiano/Natelson - do you think this is a good one and/or recommend others?

I'm excited about the prospect of getting started but want to make sure I start off on the right foot. I've never done any inlaid work and am also planning to learn this skill and customize the guitar as well.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:25 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:42 pm
Posts: 2141
Location: Windsor Ontario Canada
First name: Fred
Last Name: Tellier
City: Windsor
State: Ontario
Zip/Postal Code: N8T2C6
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Welcome Mark, you have come to a good place. Questions are answered by lots of very good builders. My advice is chose what you want to build and get started, follow the book you have and research the web there is tons of info available. I started with a kit but even a scratch build is not beyond a beginner, the kit was nice as I did not have to make quite as many decisions at to wood etc. and it got my feet wet.

Fred

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http://www.fetellierguitars.com
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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:31 pm 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 13
First name: Mark
Last Name: Klee
City: Alpharetta
State: Georgia
Zip/Postal Code: 30009
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks Fred, I've been reading a lot of your posts. I really appreciate people like you who are willing to share their experiences (and document them!) - it makes getting started a whole lot easier.

Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:10 pm
Posts: 2133
First name: Tom
Last Name: West
State: Nova Scotia
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Mark: You have a good book. One that an awful lot of folks use. If you go for a kit, I would recommend John Hall at Blues Creek not because of a Martin design but rather that John is known to be very helpful to folks getting started.He also has a bunch of YouTube videos that can be very helpful. Since you have woodworking experience you will not have a lot of trouble.Just try to think ahead and picture the results of each step.No doubt you do that now anyway.Don't let yourself get carried away with decorative ideas in the first guitar.Good luck and have fun.
P.S. There will be more then one,it's an awful afliction.
Tom

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A person who has never made a mistake has never made anything!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:31 pm
Posts: 1006
First name: Kevin
Last Name: Looker
City: Worthington
State: OH
Zip/Postal Code: 43085
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Mark,

I'm relatively new at this myself - one completed & another in the works.

I had a good amount of woodworking experience before venturing into this hobby.

Anyhow, both of my builds were from kits.

Kits take care of:
Thicknessing the top, back & sides
Bending the sides
Shaping the neck & neck joint
Laying out & slotting the fingerboard
Making the bridge
Profiling the rim (sometimes)

Besides these tasks, there are still a lot of things left for you to do.

My first was a bolt on neck, the second a dovetail. I've cut dovetails by hand for cabinetmaking but the dovetail neck joint on a guitar is another issue. It's a very beautiful & elegant solution but also a "challenge" [headinwall]. Seeing that many highly regarded builders uses bolt on necks, I don't think I'll do a dovetail again.

One very nice feature of the Martin factory necks & fingerboards are the holes & index pins that keep the neck & fingerboard aligned when gluing together. I'm sure you're aware how much 2 pieces of wood will slide around when you're trying to glue them together.


Have fun!
Kevin Looker


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:53 pm 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 13
First name: Mark
Last Name: Klee
City: Alpharetta
State: Georgia
Zip/Postal Code: 30009
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks again folks for the input. I think I'll order my kit from Blues Creek tomorrow - I've heard and read a LOT of good things about John and the company. It definitely sounds like I'm headed down the right path.

I appreciate the help - and certainly don't hesitate if you think of anything else you would advise me on.

Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:09 am 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:54 pm
Posts: 7
First name: Mike
Last Name: Pagliaro
City: Royersford
State: PA
Zip/Postal Code: 19468
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hi Mark,

You won't go wrong dealing with John at Blues Creek. I'm on my 2nd kit from him. The main difference between him and Stewmac is that you can get him on the phone and get help when you are confused and don't know what to do or you screwed something up and don't know what the fix is. He's awesome! He can also customize your kit more than Stewmac and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:48 pm 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 304
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Mark, both John and StewMac will provide very high quality materials in their kits - a couple of advantages that John has is his ability to customize the kit (for example, he helped me put together a deep bodied OM sized 12 string, a real rareit) and he is always there by phone or email to help. StewMac is a good source for tools and books and everthing else you need. Be sure to download their free pdf instructions. (However, most of us use a different kind of mold than the inside cardboard thing they suggest).

Cumpiano is a bible for guitar building but again, uses some methods that you might not for your first (he builds on a solera rather than a mold and has a funky neck joint). Kincade (sp?) is another good building book and there are many blogs and build threads. If you go to the defunct kit guitar forum archives there are lots of build threads (type my name, freeman, in the search box and you'll see a bunch of mine)

http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/archives/

I'll add a couple more comments - do yourself a favor and build a bolt on neck. The dovetail is an elegant joint, but gives new builders lots of problems. Other problem areas usually include routing the binding channels (I shim my router base and use StewMac stepped router bits, there are good instruction on that site) and finishing (I used SM rattle cans of nitro on my first few but it is toxic and dangerous). Other choices include various brushd and hand applied finishes (French Polish) and spraying water based lacquers with a small home compressor (what I do now).

There will an investment is some lutherie tools - nut and fret files, pin reamer, the binding router bits, some setup tools, a Dremel and base for inlay. I did a tool thread at the kit forum, I'd change it slightly today but will give some ideas.

Good luck, have fun and let us know how its going.


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:17 pm 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 13
First name: Mark
Last Name: Klee
City: Alpharetta
State: Georgia
Zip/Postal Code: 30009
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks Freeman, for the input. I called John today to discuss my order and he's supposed to call me back tomorrow.

I do have a couple of other questions that your response made me think of - since I'm not a guitar player AND the guitar will ultimately be my son's, I'm not really sure which kit (guitar type) to go with.

He's talked about wanting a 12-string but I didn't really see any kit's available in a 12-string model. Does a 12 string add complexity to the kit that you wouldn't recommend for a first time builder? I have the same questions regarding a cut-out. Are these upgrades I shouldn't be considering on my first build? Any additional input would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:05 pm 
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Contributing Member
Contributing Member

Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:36 pm
Posts: 95
First name: Marc
Last Name: Johnson
City: Mars
State: PA
Zip/Postal Code: 16045
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hi Mark,

I'm on my first kit. I got mine from John Hall. The best things about John are you can customize the kit the way you'd like and he will perform the tasks you specify. Additionally, he timely answers questions and when I forget what he told me, he's kind enough to tell me again. I'd go with him. I know I will be getting my next kit from him as well.

Marc


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:53 am 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 304
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
MarkK wrote:
Thanks Freeman, for the input. I called John today to discuss my order and he's supposed to call me back tomorrow.

I do have a couple of other questions that your response made me think of - since I'm not a guitar player AND the guitar will ultimately be my son's, I'm not really sure which kit (guitar type) to go with.

He's talked about wanting a 12-string but I didn't really see any kit's available in a 12-string model. Does a 12 string add complexity to the kit that you wouldn't recommend for a first time builder? I have the same questions regarding a cut-out. Are these upgrades I shouldn't be considering on my first build? Any additional input would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Mark


Size, shape, wood choices are all very personal subjects for each player so you probably want to research that thoroughly with your son. I can make some generalities (which others will disagree with) but he really needs to direct you. In general, guitarist who flatpick prefer large guitars - usually dreadnaughts, strummers and singers often like medium sized guitars (dreads, jumbos, OM sized), while us finger pickers gravitate more to the smaller OM's and 000's. The two common woods are rosewood and mahogany - in general mahogany is thought to be a little less complex sounding than rosewood and often not quite as pretty. Unless he says otherwise, I would consider building him an rosewood OM or 000 sized instrument.

I have built two twelve strings and own one other. There really aren't good complete kits available - John did put together all the pieces for me but I did a lot of winging it on bracing and other parts of the design. The forces on a twelve are enough higher that I think you should put that off until you've built one or two others. (there are pictures in the kit forum archives of my 12 string build if you are interested)

I have the same feelings about cutways - they are a little harder to build (particularly the bending process which will be done for you). Routing the binding channels is more difficult, the neck block also. I also believe that very few acoustic guitar players really need the access to frets about 12 or 14 - if your son plays a lot of shredding electric style leads way up the neck then he does, but most of us don't. Again, not impossible for a first timer but it will make your task a little more difficult.


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 Post subject: Re: Just getting started
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:44 pm 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:04 pm
Posts: 13
First name: Mark
Last Name: Klee
City: Alpharetta
State: Georgia
Zip/Postal Code: 30009
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Great advise Freeman, I placed my order with John this morning (before getting this) and through a couple of discussions with John, we came up with the same thing. I ordered the OOO rosewood kit.

Everybody is right, John is AWESOME. He spent quite a bit of time with me on the phone two different times to make sure I got everything exactly correct.

I'm excited to get started and should have the kit next week. I ordered it with a plain fingerboard and some pearl diamonds and squares for some custom inlay work. John's video's have been a great help already. I plan to take pictures as I go - I'm sure y'all (I"m from Atlanta) will be hearing MORE from me.

Thanks again for everyone's opinions.

Mark


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