Building a guitar is as much art as it is science, and chances are if you’re playing one, you’ve probably entertained the notion of making one of your own.
While most all electric guitars are CNC milled (even those considered ‘handmade’), acoustics are a different story, consisting of a myriad of steps that range from making molds to get the perfect side bends, to installing back inlays and bracing, and that doesn’t include the detailed work needed for the neck.
To get a better insight on the process of building acoustic guitars, Mike Tracz of Must Create has uploaded a series of videos that detail how to make a headstock and tailstock, how to shape them, and how to make the kerfing that reinforces the inside joints. These three video walkthroughs are the first to document his entire build process.
The first installment details how to make the headstock, and prepare it and glue the pieces together, which is done using templates, a bandsaw and table saw for rough cuts, which are planned and sanded before being glued, clamped together and left to cure.
Once the headstock and tailblock have finished drying, Mike then gets to work shaping the neck and headstock, gluing on some veneer, sanding the wood for the correct thickness, and mills some aesthetic slots to provide the headstock with a unique look. The tuning holes are then drilled, pegs installed, and the tailblock shaped and sanded.
For his third entry, Mike creates the kerfing that will be used to strengthen the joints between the top, backplate, and sides of the guitar. This involves cutting thin strips of wood and notching them out over at specific measurements. This step is inherently difficult, as the cuts allow the wood to be matched with the joints. If the measures are off, the kerfing will not fit correctly.
To help overcome the inconsistency that goes along with the kerfing process, Mike designed an ingenious jig based on Kevin Caton’s kerf lining machine. For his rig, Mike used Fusion 360 to model the articulating parts, and then 3D printed them in PLA using a MakerBot printer. The videos provide great insight into how acoustic guitars are built, so it will be interesting to see the next video installments.