What's On My Workbench: European Spruce/East Indian Rosewood Classical Guitar

The thing is to find out how to make the biggest sound without getting any distortion. Each guitar has its breaking point - you must understand that, find it, and play accordingly.

Julian Bream, guitarist

I feel like I am getting ahead of myself when it comes to work, there is now another guitar on my workbench! 

This one has a European spruce top with East Indian rosewood sides and back, the back has a fillet of Macassar ebony.

I wanted to make a close copy of a guitar made by the famous team of Madrid guitar makers, Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado, this guitar is perhaps five millimeters shorter in length than the plans of one in Roy Courtnall's book, Making Master Guitars, and the scale length is 648 millimeters, just a hair shorter than the standard 650mm scale length.

The bindings are Macassar ebony, to match the back fillet, they are made and waiting to be planed down to final dimensions and some time next week I plan on routing the binding ledges. Once I do that I can glue on the bindings, install the fret board and really get down to the task of finishing this guitar.

When I tap the top it sounds like a loud drum, I expect this to be a loud and marvelous sounding guitar!

Stippling the headstock with a pointed nail.

Five braces with two lower angled braces over a bridge patch.

Little blocks of Spanish cedar and hot hide glue attach the sides to the top.

Detail shot of the top lining.

The back lining glued and held in place with clothes pins!

Shaping the back braces.

The box is closed up.

 Back on the workbench!

The back of the guitar and you can see the so called "Ramirez racing stripe", the ebony reinforcement in the guitar's Spanish cedar neck.

What's on your workbench? I would like to know!

And for any classical guitarist that visits this post--do you have any questions about classical guitar construction? Let me know!


  1. Wilson,

    I'm too much a "framer" in nature to ever build a guitar but I sure enjoy reading and seeing your build ticktocks.


  2. Hi Wilson,

    I'm a hobbyist builder, mostly carved, steel-string archtop guitars. I'd like to take a crack at a classical at some point, as that was my first love when I was younger.

    I have a question for you: Is there a specific style or model that you would recommend for someone playing with no nails (e.g., Tarrega, Pujol) and synthetic (or real) gut strings?

    Thanks, and I love the blog!

  3. Go to the Guild of American Luthiers and look through their classical guitar plans and pick the one that excites you the most. I play nail less and I made myself a large guitar in the manner of Hernandez y Aguado. You don’t have to use a Torres or Manuel Ramírez style guitar to play nail less, any size will do. I do suggest using nylon strings, I have yet to find a synthetic gut string that sounds good. If you can find good gut strings then use them. Check out Rod McKillop’s website on playing nail less!


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