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Making a Three Piece Guitar Back, or, When You Choose the Wrong Wood

It is important to make a nicely fitted joint.

Dean Kimball, Construction the Mountain Dulcimer, 1975


I picked up a back and side set of "wild grown" east Indian rosewood from the Woodcraft Store in Loveland, Colorado a little over a year ago. I remember that Woodcraft had advertised this wood on their website then and by the time I got around to ordering it they had sold out. I think it sold for $49.99 a set and I bought this set for $70.




Originally, I had planned to make with this rosewood was going to be simply fitted with bubinga bindings, nothing fancy, but after glueing in a bit of bubinga between the two back halves I realized my mistake. The reddish bubinga disappeared in the field of browns and olive greens.




What to do!

First thing I did was to cut the back apart with knife and straight edge, then I spent some time going through my wood cache.

Curly maple was too showy and I had already fitted out the last two guitars in maple; California laurel didn't look right; walnut, nope; another piece of rosewood?




Then I found some sapele. It fits well with the rosewood and compliments the western red cedar top that will go on this guitar.

The no.7 Stanley plane in this photo is now one of my favorite planes, it is remarkable how easily you can adjust the blade depth on these vintage planes when you use the original blade and there is very little backlash.




This jointing operation was a little tricky, I didn't have much excess wood in which to place indexing pins. I used an original hole for one pin and then I had to use a brass brad for the lower bout. Sorry about the fuzzy photo!




Ah, the glue up! White/black purflings border the sapele insert and I used Lee Valley High Tack Fish glue to glue the whole thing together.




The back after clean up.

It's always nice when you can fix a mistake and make everything look better!



Here's a YouTube of the wonderful guitarist, David Russell!


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