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First guitar - dreadnaught

Arn213

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Thank you so much for sharing your guitar building journey! I've always thought it would be cool to build my own, but just didn't/ don't have the means. I played one for many years until arthritis got me a few years ago & during the pandemic I discovered the uke, and I'm in love! It's alot easier for me to play and I've fallen in love with playing again! One day I will get me an authentic Hawaiian made one! 😊 One again thank you for sharing! I've enjoyed reading about your build!
^You can still play if you are careful and follow a regimen. One of the areas that causes arthritic pain or development in playing guitar is not properly stretching your hands and arms. It also does something to do with not properly warming up with proper guitar exercise before hitting whatever routine that you go through when playing. You have to treat it like a sport where the athlete warms up before they go into their main routine. I read that certain fingerboard radius and neck profile can cause wrist and finger pain and can lead to arthritis over time. A rounder radius like 7.5” and a big neck profile like a baseball bat could be detrimental. If you go down to a flatter radius from 12”-16” and a smaller profile, that would help alleviate any wrist/finger/hand health conditions that would rise up in the years of playing.

Action plays a role too versus high relief and low relief. High relief means that the distance between the underside of the string to the top of the fret has a greater distance which requires a lot more effort. Low relief means the distance between the underside of the strings to the top of the frets is closer distance which requires less effort to chord and fret a note.

I would go to a store and play as many size necks and fretboard radius available. Pick the one that feels the most ergonomic and comfortable to you- their like shoes and you have to find the proper shoe fit to maintain balance and comfort. My 2 cents and I have been playing for over 35 years and I do those steps above so I can continue on playing.
 

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^You can still play if you are careful and follow a regimen. One of the areas that causes arthritic pain or development in playing guitar is not properly stretching your hands and arms. It also does something to do with not properly warming up with proper guitar exercise before hitting whatever routine that you go through when playing. You have to treat it like a sport where the athlete warms up before they go into their main routine. I read that certain fingerboard radius and neck profile can cause wrist and finger pain and can lead to arthritis over time. A rounder radius like 7.5” and a big neck profile like a baseball bat could be detrimental. If you go down to a flatter radius from 12”-16” and a smaller profile, that would help alleviate any wrist/finger/hand health conditions that would rise up in the years of playing.

Action plays a role too versus high relief and low relief. High relief means that the distance between the underside of the string to the top of the fret has a greater distance which requires a lot more effort. Low relief means the distance between the underside of the strings to the top of the frets is closer distance which requires less effort to chord and fret a note.

I would go to a store and play as many size necks and fretboard radius available. Pick the one that feels the most ergonomic and comfortable to you- their like shoes and you have to find the proper shoe fit to maintain balance and comfort. My 2 cents and I have been playing for over 35 years and I do those steps above so I can continue on playing.
Thank you so much for the info! I played a low relief guitar, but last couple years I got to where I couldn't even grip a small ball. Couple years and few diagnoses later im doing PT on my hands and shoulders. Someone gave me a concert uke and I have really enjoyed it. I had a smaller neck lower action guitar I gave my sister because she wanted to pick it back up again. She wants to get back to her 12 string. I told her not for me 😂
I do good walking and chewing gum sometimes.🤪 But playing the uke has been a joy for me till I can get part of my range of motion back.
 

DLJeffs

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Thank you so much for sharing your guitar building journey! I've always thought it would be cool to build my own, but just didn't/ don't have the means. I played one for many years until arthritis got me a few years ago & during the pandemic I discovered the uke, and I'm in love! It's alot easier for me to play and I've fallen in love with playing again! One day I will get me an authentic Hawaiian made one! 😊 One again thank you for sharing! I've enjoyed reading about your build!
Thanks for the kind words and for hanging with me. It's moving a little slower than many people build because I wait for days when my coach can get together. After we've worked through the days work I usually come away thinking I could do this on my own. There's been some things that made it well worth waiting for but I think the next one I'll be able to move a little faster on my own. Hopefully he'll be free tomorrow and we'll start getting the back and the top ready to glue to the sides. I think that's a process that once you get into it you want to get it glued and into the go bar deck so we're making sure he has the time to spare.
 

Arn213

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Thank you so much for the info! I played a low relief guitar, but last couple years I got to where I couldn't even grip a small ball. Couple years and few diagnoses later im doing PT on my hands and shoulders. Someone gave me a concert uke and I have really enjoyed it. I had a smaller neck lower action guitar I gave my sister because she wanted to pick it back up again. She wants to get back to her 12 string. I told her not for me 😂
I do good walking and chewing gum sometimes.🤪 But playing the uke has been a joy for me till I can get part of my range of motion back.
You bet. I love the sound of a 12 string as you get the sound of 2 guitars in one. If you have arthritic tendencies, I would not recommend it as it takes a lot more effort and finger strength to press on 2 parallel strings as oppose to 1 string on a 6 string acoustic.

It sounds like the concert uke size is filling the void for you until you get the necessary treatment and rehab. I can see how that size would be playable and manageable for you. While I like the sound of the uke, I personally like having the availability of having the 2 treble strings (E & B) and wider surface on the fretboard. It’s like owning a pair of fingerless gloves and wish you had the non fingerless on a cold winters day. They do sell travel guitars which is available as 3/4 to 1/2 scale of a standard guitar if you decide to move up from the uke and get those 2 extra strings back. You can also get lighter gauge strings to help you ease on chording or fretting a note with less effort.
 

2feathers Creative Making

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Thanks for the kind words and for hanging with me. It's moving a little slower than many people build because I wait for days when my coach can get together. After we've worked through the days work I usually come away thinking I could do this on my own. There's been some things that made it well worth waiting for but I think the next one I'll be able to move a little faster on my own. Hopefully he'll be free tomorrow and we'll start getting the back and the top ready to glue to the sides. I think that's a process that once you get into it you want to get it glued and into the go bar deck so we're making sure he has the time to spare.
As for future builds with go bar deck, you may want to check out the lighter electricians fiberglass fish sticks for pressure rods. I am not a guitar builder but I am an electrician.
 

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As for future builds with go bar deck, you may want to check out the lighter electricians fiberglass fish sticks for pressure rods. I am not a guitar builder but I am an electrician.
Thanks. I looked at fiberglass rods but they have their own difficulties - different rods apply different pressure, I did not know the precise length so if I had to cut them down I would have had to deal with fiberglass shards, the cost, etc. Finally, had plenty of hard maple available which made the price the determining factor. Able to easily trim them to whatever length I need. If I planned to make lots of guitars the fiberglass would have been worth it because over time the maple rods will take a set and lose some of the pressure.
 

2feathers Creative Making

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. Finally, had plenty of hard maple available which made the price the determining factor. Able to easily trim them to whatever length I need. If I planned to make lots of guitars the fiberglass would have been worth it because over time the maple rods will take a set and lose some of the pressure.
I would use hard maple if just a couple to three builds as well. I hate buying stuff when I got something on hand.
 

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Finally, got back to my guitar today. Spent all afternoon getting the top and the back ready to be glued to the sides. This is one of the more critical steps and attention to detail is top priority. First we trimmed up the braces, cutting the edges to proper length, shaving them so they are all the precise same thickness, made clear marks and the cut notches in the sides for the braces that penetrate the side. Cut all of them short of full and then carefully shave and sand them for nice snug fit. Six notches on the top side, eight notches for the back. The top and back are 99% ready for gluing. I will just to some final fit up checks and sanding to make sure the top and back have full contact with the kerfing on the sides. Still need to drill the holes for the neck attachment bolts. Then we'll glue the back on first and once that sets, we'll glue to top and it'll be a guitar box. Then on the neck. Here's a couple shots of the top showing how the braces are notched into the sides.
top notched and ready to glue.jpg

top ready for gluing to sides.jpg

transverse brace and X brace notched to side.jpg
 

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Our schedules finally aligned so my coach and I glued the back to the sides last week end. Had to shorten some go bars to account for the height of the sides. Drilled the holes in the neck block (these will be to attach the neck when we get to that part). Just where the lower bouts begins after the waist I had a small gap between the sides and the frame. So we crisscrossed a couple go bars to push the sides against the frame before we did the final glue up. We both forgot that we had shaved and cut the braces without those go bars in there. So after the glue up we noticed one or two of the braces did not extend all the way to the side. They were captured under the kerfing but the gap in the notches was more than we wanted. So I made a couple small plugs from the brace cutoffs and glued them in to fill the space. Plenty of glue filled any voids. We got a really tight glue up between the kerfing and the sides so it probably wasn't an issue but I had the time so what the heck. We got a really nice shape to the back. We'll glue the top on in the next few days and then start on the neck. The braces crisscrossing the sides are only temporary and we'll remove them through the sound hole after we glue the top on.
gluing back on2.jpg

glued back top fit one brace does not fit.jpg
 

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Thanks all. Building my own guitar has been everything I had imagined and a real learning experience. I'm getting more and more anxious to finish it so I can hear how it sounds. Then I hope to build one for each of my kids (hope I can remember all the tricks and details and sequences).
 

Arn213

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Nice work so far Jeff. Which process have you enjoyed more- bracing the top or the back?
 
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Don Ratcliff

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I just found this thread, wh as t a great score and to have it come with a coach is even better. It's really looking good.
 

DLJeffs

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Nice work so far Jeff. Which process have you enjoyed more- bracing the top or the back?
Making braces is all good - relatively simple woodworking. I'd have to say the top braces are more interesting to make because they have such a larger impact on the sound and they interact with each other more. Minor adjustments in height and thickness, and position of the braces, can change the sound quite a bit. From what I've learned, if you really understand top bracing, you can customize the sound to increase bass or treble or resonance. The difference in layout of top bracing on a steel string acoustic versus a classical guitar is a good example. Right now I'm just happy if this guitar has better sound than my store bought guitar. I will say that learning to use that long chisel has been fun. Started out very tentative but as I got confidence I started making bolder cuts and it went faster.
 

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Sunday we made a guitar shaped box!! No hinges but it has a hole for putting stuff in or taking stuff out. Thinking I might repurpose it as a guitar. Glue up looks good, nice solid fit between top and kerfing. Braces fit into the notches nice and snug. Next step is to trim off the excess from the top and back; route a 0.25" dado for the back strip; and route the rabbets and glue on the binding around the body. It's starting to look like a guitar. This is the top in the go bar deck.
gluing top.jpg

Another shot of the top in the go bar deck, this is the neck end and the hole in the transverse brace is for the neck adjustment tool to reach the truss rod...
gluing top close up.jpg

And here's the body all glued up and out of the go bar deck and out of the frame. Sweet!
body glued up.jpg

body glued up vertical.jpg
 

DLJeffs

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Got a late start today - my coach was helping his Dad make fence posts from downed trees with his chainsaw. But we made some progress today. Trimmed off all the excess wood from the top and back. Then we cut the slot, made the end graft, and glued the end graft into place. Then we routed the dado and glued the back strip into place. Had to stop there to let the glue dry before we can route the rabbets for the binding and glue the binding into place. The end graft is tortoise and the binding will also be tortoise. It looks like a guitar now without a neck and sounds pretty good. My coach is going to rough out the neck on his CNC mill to save us some time.

end graft.jpg

end graft and back strip.jpg
 

DLJeffs

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Cleaned up the body, routed the rabbets and glued on the binding, both top and back. Tomorrow I might clean it up and the body will be ready for spray finish.

Here's also a photo of the rack of electric guitars my coach is working on...

binding and finished body.jpg

binding.jpg

electric guitars.jpg
 
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