I am not sure how long I have owned this bearclaw Sitka spruce top, I think almost 15 years and I know that I bought the back/side set of East Indian rosewood in 2000. This wood has had a decent period in which to age, theoretically, because the wood is this old this guitar should have an amazing sound!
Several years ago, I joined the top and back and inlaid a Manuel Ramirez style rosette in the top with the intention of making a small bodied classical guitar with a fairly short string length, something like a 625mm to a 635mm scale. The project got put aside, there were orders for standard, or full size classical guitars, that guitar would have to wait.
In October, I pulled out the wood so I could work on it over weekends. I planed the back, I thinned the sides and thinned entire top to 2mm. The edges got thinned to about 1.5mm. Sitka spruce is stiff stuff, I want this guitar to be responsive, and thinning the edges a little more helps be responsive.
Examination of the interior revealed the junction block used to connect the neck and body. The sides are slotted into the end block and held in place by wedges.
From A Detailed Description of an Early 17th Century Italian Five-Course Guitar
Tom and Mary Anne Evans, Guitars - From Renaissance to Rock, 1977
In making the body and neck of a classical guitar, the most complicated joint used is a scarf joint. The scarf joint is used to connect the headstock to the neck shaft, some makers use a more complicated "V" joint to connect the headstock to the shaft. Miter and butt joints are used on the bindings, but this is purely for decoration, bindings are used to cover simple joints. The guitar sides usually fit into slots cut into the heel block, I like to cut a wider, angled slot and use wedges to hold the sides in the heel block.
Anyone who has made a classical guitar with the help of the book, Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall, should recognize this wedged joint. In Makin…
Stocking Stuffers for Your Favorite Classical Guitarist!
This week has been dedicated to making 1970's retro style cejillas, or capos, for classical and flamenco guitars.
What makes them retro?
Traditional cejillas used leather straps to protect the guitar's neck from the string that goes around the next and is attached to the peg that tightens the string. In the 1960's and 1970's several capo makers in Spain put vinyl tubing over the string for protection. I think the vinyl tubing was used partly for economic reasons: it is cheaper than leather and it makes assembling a capo go much faster, plus some of the capos being sold were made from Galalith, a material made from casein and formaldehyde, it looked like plastic and was used to make jewelry. The vinyl tubing went well with the look of the Galalith.
I use vinyl tubing because it allows me to assemble a capo much faster than using a leather strap.
I want to make affordable capos, every classical /flamenco guitarist…
The earliest known plane was a flat-bottomed tool for smoothing wood and nothing more.
Aldren A. Watson, Hand Tools, Their Ways and Workings, 1982
The only plane I owned when I started working with wood was a Stanley No.5, Type 4 plane. It wasn't tuned properly, the tote was a replacement my grandfather had made from a walnut board that never did fit the plane quite right, and because it was a Type 4 the depth adjuster knob turned the opposite direction from the later Stanley. It had most of its japanning and the sides had a wonderful patina on them that I later discovered was really rust. The iron was not original to the plane, the original iron mostly likely got worn down to nothing or was stolen from the plane while it was at a job site. I have no idea when my grandfather acquired this plane, perhaps he got it through a trade or barter for some carpentry job he did in the early part of the 20th century. I know he didn't buy it brand new, if I remember correctly, Type 4 Stan…
While the most visible features of a fine quality guitar are the materials and craftsmanship used in conjunction, another factor that contributes to quality are the adhesives used to hold it all together.
Jose Oribe, The Fine Guitar, 1985
I want everyone to know that I am not receiving any money from any of the glue manufacturers that I will talk about in this post. These are the glues I use when I make a classical guitar or on other shop projects.
Here are my go-to glues.
Titebond and Titebond II are PVA glues that I use for glueing the scarf joint on a guitar neck and the heel block to the neck shaft. Titebond sets quickly, has gap filling properties and when I do my part on making a good joint, the glue line is almost invisible. Fish and hide glues tend to absorb the water present in shellac and can become dark making the glue line more pronounced.
I also use Titebond to glue the joints for the tops and backs for the same reason. I don't want the glue line to stand out.