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How Many Guitar Making Hours in a Day?

Life is for doing things slow, like trees.

Makoto Imai, Japanese shrine builder



I recently read an interview with a well known classical guitar maker, and in the interview he stated that he worked twelve hours a day to make his guitars.

The first thing that came to my mind as I read that was - does he works three days a week or five days a week? 36 hours or 60 hours? Another question was, does he make time to live a life?

I can barely get in an eight hour day at the work bench.

There are chores around the house and property that need attention; the dogs demand two walks a day; and I need to get in my daily run of two and one-half miles. Oh, and I cook dinner for my wife since she commutes four days a week.





Yesterday, I did bend two sets of guitar sides. One set of Claro walnut...


and the other was bubinga.

This set of Claro walnut bent like a dream, but I have noticed that walnut tends to have more spring back than any other wood that I have bent.

Bubinga is hard to bend, meaning you have to take your time when you work it against the bending iron. I found that the iron needed to be at least 415 degrees Fahrenheit to really bend the bubinga, the wood didn't want to cooperate at temperatures below that.

It may be hard to bend, but bubinga had much less spring back than the walnut.




Today, I need to attach this top to the cherry neck I made for this guitar.

I also need to take the trash to the transfer station (no trash pick up in this part of the Rocky Mountains), check for mail at the post office, drive into Estes Park to pick up a few things for dinner, go for a run, take the dogs for another walk...

I haven't mentioned the fact that I need to build a new shop, re-insulate the ceiling in our house and build a whole bunch of bookcases.

One thing at a time.

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Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
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I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

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Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

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The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

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Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


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The Guitar's Scale Length, Your Hand Size and a Chart

I will cite the case of a marvelous concert player, a Japanese lady who is barely 5 ft. tall and with hands that are real miniatures. She plays a 664 mm 10 string guitar and demanded that I build this guitar with an action 1 mm higher than normal, which she handles with incredible ease. This is serious study!


Jose Ramirez III, Things About the Guitar, 1990




Here is the hand size and scale length that I found on the forum at delcamp.com.

Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 250+ 664mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 230 to 250 656mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 210 to 230 650mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 190 to 210 640mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 170 to 190 630mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of below 170 615mm scale length



Here is my flexible imperial/metric ruler.




Here is my hand properly placed on the flexible imperial/metric ruler.




Today my reach from little finger to thumb is 240mm. I should more or less be playing a…