Skip to main content

Making a Copy of a Hernandez y Aguado Guitar: Laminating the Sides

I will now rest a while to write about the Dalbergia Latifolia (Indian Rosewood), whose unquestionable beauty, like the rest of the Dalbergias, is more serene and demur than her explosive Brazilian sister, and offers much greater reliability.

Jose Ramirez III, Things About the Guitar, 1990

Last year I took the plunge and made several outsides molds to laminate guitar sides, one was for a smaller bodied Hernandez y Aguado guitar and the other for the famous FE 19 of Antonio Torres.

I bought Alaska yellow cedar veneer and thin strips of hard board from JS Bogdanovich Guitars, the cedar is to be laminated to the side and the hard board is for the glueing cauls. (You can read about laminating guitar sides in Mr. Bogdanovich's book, Classical Guitar Making).

The real world and a seasonal job called me away from the work shop last April so the cedar, molds and hard board sat quietly in a corner of the studio until just a few weeks ago.

I've been wanting to make another guitar based upon a Hernandez y Aguado guitar, one that will have a redwood top and Indian rosewood back and sides. Last year I posted about inlaying a rosette into the top and carving and stippling the head stock of the neck.

Last week I thinned the sides down to a 1/16th of an inch thick (that will be another posting!) and yesterday I bent the sides and the veneer.

Then I applied yellow glue to the different layers and put all of it in the mold and started clamping. I never thought that I would own 15 clamps that were exactly the same! As George Ellis says in his book, Modern Practical Joinery, I made haste slowly while doing this glue up. In this photo I've turned the mold over to clean up the squeeze out on the "bottom" of the mold.

This morning I took the side out of the mold. There is some spring back in the lower bout of this side, it's not too bad and I can deal with it when I assemble the guitar.

All and all, the process went well, though I plan on buying some hard board to make my own slats. The ones that you purchase from Bogdanovich are a little narrow for the depth of the sides that are used on a Hernandez y Aguado guitar.

My biggest criticism of "Bog's" book, and purchasing materials from his store, is that you can make only the guitar that he makes in the book and DVDs. You can't make a copy of a Torres, Bouchet, Ramirez, etc., by using his book.

If you want to make a guitar, I recommend that you use either the Cumpiano/Natelson book, or the Courtnall book. Or buy the Bogdanovich book and make his guitar. I've posted about these and other books elsewhere in this blog.

I will laminate the other side today.

Why laminate the sides?

I'm good at bending the sides on a bending iron, but I only get the chance to do it two or three times a year, I wish I could do it more often. I figure by laminating the sides the shapes of my guitars will be more consistent, which I worry about though I shouldn't.

Lamination makes the sides stiffer which will help the sound of the guitar, because really all I am doing is making a drum with strings. The stiffer the drum rim the louder the drum.

I know that Jose Ramirez III laminated the sides of his famous 1A guitars in the 1960' and 1970's and many of those guitars had an incredible sound. Michael Thames, a luthier in Santa Fe, New Mexico laminates the sides of his guitars and so do several other makers.

I also want to make the best guitar that I possible can, I need to step up to the plate and play hard ball.

Here is a video of Andrew York playing an Antonio Torres guitar made in 1888!


  1. Your comments on laminating guitar sides are persuasive and have me ready to give it a try--perhaps using a vacuum bag system in lieu of many clamps. But before starting I wonder if I have to sacrifice some rosewood sides and make several molds before I can arrive at a form that will allow for springbuck. Do you have any suggestions?


  2. My advice is to practice with some pine strips to adjust for spring back. Bogdanovich's book pretty much says make the mold and the side will be perfect-not in my case, next time I do this I will have to adjust the mold to achieve perfection.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

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…

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

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…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979

So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

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

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

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

Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…