It’s finally here! The guitar looks like a guitar. Closing up the box is one of the most exciting parts of the building process – this is when the instrument really starts to look like what it is supposed to.
In the last building update, I showed pictures of the rosette inlay and soundboard bracing. Since then, I thinned and braced the back (just a simple 4 brace ladder with a centre graft to reinforce the centre-back seam), thinned and bent the sides, built the neck, and put everything together.
On this guitar, as always, I am trying out a few new things. Most notably, I decided to laminate the sides for added strength. I bent the outside ziricote sides as usual, and then thinned and bent a set of Alaskan yellow cedar sides before sandwiching them together with a lot of glue and a monster clamping set up (see below). I used just about all of the bar clamps I have to apply even pressure over the sides, supporting the outside with the removable side from my mold, and the inside with a purpose-built caul. The caul is a strip of sturdy but flexible cardboard with strips of wood glued across to serve as clamping points.
The neck for this guitar is nothing special – just a standard Spanish cedar neck with a slotted Spanish heel joint and a scarf joint at the headpiece. I am using a different headpiece design, taking inspiration from the Bouchet headpiece shape as a nod to the Bouchet bracing inside the guitar.
With all of the pieces ready to go, I started assembly, first by attaching the neck to the soundboard, and then the sides to the soundboard. I used basswood for the linings of the guitar to give some added strength to the joint despite the double-thick sides. After the sides were glued down to the top, I fashioned small side braces or “brace feet” to prevent some of the braces on the top from lifting. Then the sides were shaped to fit the back using my favourite small hand plane.
As you can see above, I did something a bit different to clamp the back onto the sides this time. I used my homemade spool clamps and was really happy with how they worked. I just have to make another 20 so that I don’t have to use the bar clamps which are really not great for this job.
Finally, just a closeup of one of the brace ends that I fit into the sides for added strength. I’ve done this on most of my builds over the past couple years, and I have to say, I am pretty proud of my work this time. All of the brace ends are fitted perfectly into their slots. I owe the tidy work to the time that I have started to spend on sharpening my tools – a sharp chisel does work wonders.
And that’s it! Next I’ll be working on the details to make this guitar really pretty. Oh yeah, and strings/frets, all of that stuff that make it actually work.