On the Workbench - Redwood/Curly Walnut Hernandez y Aguado Style Guitar, Part 1

...the graceful lines and the splendor of the guitar's body possessed my heart as swiftly as would the features of a heaven-sent woman suddenly appearing to become the loving companion of a lifetime.

Andres Segovia, Andres Segovia, An Autobiography of the years 1893-1920, 1976

I made this neck more than a few years back with the intent of building a nice guitar with a 640mm scale length. It languished in "the wood pile" until recently when I pulled it out and paired it with a back and side set of curly black walnut.

The walnut bent like a dream and unlike some walnut that I have worked with in the past, it didn't spring back, a definite bonus! I thinned the sides down to 3/32" and the waist area down to a tad less that 1/16" to help with the bending process. I find with walnut that the bending iron temperature needs to be between 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit, any hotter and the wood gets too bitter and will fail.

I have discovered that I have a knack for making wonderful sounding redwood top guitars. I grew up working redwood, the redwood lumber industry was a big part of our local economy, and can attest that a redwood splinter stuck in your finger or hand is as annoying and painful has handling old growth Douglas fir bark without gloves!

The bracing layout I use is a variation of one used by the guitar makers Hernandez y Aguado, which is a variation of the bracing developed by the great guitar maker Jose Ramirez III in the early 1960's. The top brace wood used for this guitar I salvaged from a log cabin that was built in 1930, the wood is Engelmann spruce.

The Spanish cedar lining for the back of the guitar is cut by hand, just like the walnut lining for the top.

The inside of the guitar is prepared and ready for the back!

The curly walnut back with its Spanish cedar braces. This walnut is incredibly light, even though the back thickness is about 3mm, with the braces the back weighs 220 grams! The braces are 1/4", 5/16" and 3/8" thick, from heel to end block, this and careful shaving off the brace tops and ends, helps me tune the back to a definite pitch, or tone. This back tuned out to somewhere between the A flat-A below middle C.

Stay tuned for more updates!


  1. Two of my favorite guitars were black walnut bodies. Looks very nice!


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