You’ll always find Rob Fawcett, one of our Creative Technical Managers bringing back to life discarded offcuts from our scrap bin. Here he tells us his journey to building a guitar from these throwaway bits, and how he got started.
Where did you learn to make a guitar?
I learnt by repairing a few in my teens. I inherited my fathers confidence in fixing anything, so people would come knocking. They were mainly electric, but I enjoyed deconstructing and fixing an old acoustic as its’ innards fascinated me. I then made a couple of electric guitars which are quite straight forward as they are solid bodied, but there’s still a lot of carving and sculpting of the body and neck.
Where would you recommend someone starting?
I would recommend Jonathan Kinkead’s book ‘Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar’ as it offers many options depending on budget. It also has a lot of ‘do’s and don’ts’ which I wish I’d known the first time, and also has plans attached.
You can also find plans from StewMac.com They will sell you anything guitar related, especially tools, but shop around! They also have a lot of videos online.
Here’s my list of preferred suppliers:
Key skills you need to master are: sawing, planing, sanding, routing and scraping.
– Carving tools such as a round and flat surform and a curved spokeshave.
What’s the process?
I start by making a mould, two female versions of the shape cut out of plywood then spaced to give it the required height.
I then plane and sand the top, back and sides to 3mm.
Bend the sides to fit in the mould (its never perfect but will be during final construction).
The top and back are glued along their centre line and are ‘bookmatched’ from the same piece of wood. The top should be spruce (for tone) and back and sides pretty much anything that will bend. Added to these are struts for tone and strength.
The two sides are joined by internal blocks, the front one having a joint for the neck. There are several choices for this.
Kerfing (notched wooden strips which will bend) is glued to the inside, top and bottom, to allow for a structural gluing surface for the top and back.
Neck can be one piece or laminated horizontally or vertically. The final shaping and sanding of the neck is the longest part of the whole process.