In all glueing operations remember to "hasten slowly".
George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery, 1902
Last month, a young classical guitarist asked me to make her a guitar that she could play, comfortably. She has very tiny hands and can hardly play the 650mm string length classical guitar that she owns. I handed her a metric ruler and asked her to measure from the tip of her outstretched left hand little finger to the tip of her outstretched left hand thumb. The distance was 190mm. The same distance on my left hand is 235mm. What that means is that she should be playing on a guitar that has a 630-635mm and I should be playing a 650mm, not a 665mm.
We decided that she should have a 635mm string length guitar. I chose the Santos Hernandez pattern, it is an elegant outline and Hernandez did make the 1912 Ramirez guitar that made Andres Segovia famous. Following the original plantilla, I reduced the guitar's body size to what is considered a small box, around 470mm in length, this reduction is to match the proportions of the guitar to the string length.
I also chose the same bracing pattern that Santos used, the original was for a flamenco guitars, flamenco guitars need to be "punchy", almost drum like and since this guitar will have such a short string length I want all the help I can to make it project. I found this wonderful website on guitar design, click here and here to see a comparison of famous bracing designs. The Santos design centers the vibrations on the bridge.
This time I decided to use hot hide glue to glue the braces onto the top. Usually most blogs and websites you will see the maker using a go-bar deck and clamps, I've done that before but I wanted to be old school with this guitar. I got the hide glue up to 145 degrees, brushed it on the brace and then rubbed it into place on the top. I did not use a clamp to hold the brace at all, I just tried for "a rubbed joint", I did use clamps to hold the top against the work board, but not on the brace. I held the brace in place for 4 minutes and then went on to another.
I am so impressed with hot hide glue! The curve that you see in the braces is from the glue holding it in place! I had not quite a 16th of an inch spring back went I took off the clamps and the sound board off the work board.
My glue pot, a hot pot!
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