Ian’s BYO…

Week 1.

Ian started work on his BYO Project last Tuesday, June 25th. He has decided that he, too, would like to build an acoustic guitar and as he said- he’d like to make a guitar in scale with himself- so an RGa-35, just like the guitar that I’ve just finished making for Lindsay.

After a preliminary discussion, he’s decided to use one of my Master Grade Englemann spruce tops, but unlike Lindsay’s mahogany- bodied guitar, he’s going to use blackwood for the neck, back and sides and he’s purchased some nice pieces from my old friend, Kevin Bertram who even managed to come up with a really nice piece of fiddle-back blackwood for the sides…

The first session was spent first sawing down the 600 x 200 x 25 plank for the back and the 900 x 150 x 30 plank that will become the sides, on my bandsaw fitted with a 25mm blade.

To reduce the timber to the required dimensions required machining using the thicknesser and, particularly on the fiddleback, the drum sander. And we decided that guitar making has a lot to do with producing an awful lot of very expensive sawdust…

With the timber for the back and sides at the desired dimensions, Ian could now make a start by gluing up the timber for the neck blank.

The blank for the neck is made from two pieces of blackwood 50 x 50, with the grain orientated to be as vertical as is possible, to provide stiffness and resistance to movement and warping.

The neck glued up, we could set about deciding how the timber for the back should be orientated.

And Ian was also subjected to a bit of theory on which piece of spruce was going to make the best top…

…and we think that it will be this one…

Week 2.

Having made a selection, Ian set about joining the top…

While the glue is drying, the neck is marked out…

…the truss rod channel is machined…

…and the truss rod is made and installed into the neck. Now the face of the headstock is cut on the bandsaw.

At this stage, the glued top is ready to be roughly cut to shape…

…ready to be thicknessed.

…and we both listen carefully as the top is reduced to the appropriate dimensions.

The back has been glued up and after the top is done, the back is also cut to approximate size…

…and machined to finished thickness.

Week 3.

Now Ian is ready to start cutting out the neck.

The neck blank is squared…

The neck profile is drawn onto the neck blank…

…and the neck is bandsawn to shape.

The neck is then sanded to the lines using the bobbin sander…

The heel block is glued on and set aside and we can now turn our attention to the top…

The brace positions are marked out and the braces are cut and rough sanded.

Ian can now start on the soundhole rosette.

The sound hole is located and partially cut and the blackwood rosette is designed and cut, using a fine bit in the Dremel.

Week 4.

The rosette design is decided upon and Ian has glued the contrasting purfling strips to the inside and outside of the blackwood ring.

Next, the top is routed to accept the rosette.

While the glue hardens, the back braces are made…

The braces are shaped…

…and are glued in place.

Again, while the glue dries, the rosette is sanded flush with the top…

…and the sound hole is cut out, again using the Dremel.

Week 5.

Now we’re up to the top bracing…

…and the finishing touches to the back.

Side bending…

While we’re waiting, we’ll make a start on shaping the braces…

Week 6.

When the sides are appropriately shaped, they’re cut to the right length…

…the head and tail blocks are made…

…and glued into place.

The linings are glued into place…

Week 7.

Now Ian’s up to the final fitting of both the top and the back, and the final shaping of the bracing. And with that done…

…the top is glued into place, and allowed to dry in front of the heater while we have morning tea.

And after, the top can be trimmed…

…and then given a quick sand before…

…the back is glued on. (Note the excellent glue application technique…)

Week 8.

With the back dried, the excess is trimmed…

…and the back and sides given a sand.

The back strip is made and then fitted…

Week 9.

The neck to body joint is then tackled…

The mortise chiselled out…

…and the neck fitted to the body.

The alignments are checked…

…adjustments are made…

…and  checked again.

NOW, it’s right…

and the  neck is glued in.

Week 10.

Now for the fretboard- the pearl position markers are drilled and installed…

…and then the frets are installed.

A trial fit…

…and the fretboard is glued on.

Week 11

Not long to go now…

Ian has decided to do an inlay on the headstock…

…and with the inlay completed, the neck is shaped.

Week 12.

This week, we’ll address the bridge and Ian is opting for a conventional acoustic bridge made out of rosewood.

The bridge is located and  pinned in position and the area under the bridge is masked.

The fretboard is masked up…

…and then I’ll paint Ian’s guitar for him…

The guitar will be finished using the same finishing process that I use for my guitars and hopefully we can guarantee a “professional” finish on Ian’s very promising efforts at making his own guitar.

Week 13

When the paint has hardened sufficiently, Ian rubs back and polishes the finish.

The masked bridge location is peeled away and the bridge glued into place.

Week 14

Now for the finishing touches.

The bridge pin holes are drilled…

…and the guitar is strung up.

A couple of tweaks here and there and Ian’s blackwood RGa-35/14 guitar is now complete.

The time taken from start to finish has been 14 weeks but  in reality, actually 14 X 3 hour sessions.