Handmade classic, flamenco and steel string acoustic guitars
Acoustic guitar construction
Acoustic guitar soundboard thickness is 2-3 mm. Nylon string classical guitar top has so-called fan bracing or lattice bracing, which strengthens the soundboard and makes it flexible and vibrate in a right way. Steel string acoustic guitar differs from the classical, so that the guitar top is more strongly supported. The top has so-called. X – bracing, which supports it against the strong pull of steel strings.
The neck joint in classical guitar is often made at 12-fret, and the joint is usually solid. Steel acoustic guitars neck joints are often made with a bolt or dovetail connection and the joint is at 14 fret. Of course, the steel string guitar neck joint can also be made at the 12-fret as I did in my S18 guitar , but is a less commonly used method.
The soundboard is the most important and critical part of the guitar. A skillfully made soundboard gives the guitar a beautiful and long sustain. Of course, the guitar is whole, where all the parts have to be done carefully and professionally, a skill which you really achieve through experience and building.
Construction conditions must also be appropriate. The relative humidity of the workshop should be about 45%. In Finland, the relative humidity in summer rises and moisture has to remove from the workshop. In winter, the air is very dry, and the humidity in the workspace needs to be increased. Acoustic guitar should always be stored in a guitar case with a humidity meter and humidifier.
I build guitars according to the traditional method, i.e. the guitar is built the top upside down on so-called SOLERA. Nowadays a mould is often used, in which the guitar is assembled, and not necessarily top down.
I use so-called solera mould, i.e. the mould is attached to the solera and the top is still upside down. I also use the traditional method to attach the neck. The neck is also on the solera and the joints to the sides are reinforced with wedges. I place a prebent carbon fibre bar in the neck to prevent it from bending. Of course, you can always use a double action truss rod. I have installed a truss rod to classical guitar neck, but I think it is unnecessary, the carbon fibre rod works well.
Nowadays, a lot of guitars are being built the way, where the neck is attached to the finished body with bolted joint or dovetail joint. I use this method only in steel string guitars, if the customer so wishes. In classical I always use a traditional joint.
The soundboard is always solid, well quarter-sawn wood, never plywood or like.
I finish the guitars with shellac, i.e. French polishing. This is also traditional and still much used method, especially for quality guitars.
Acoustic guitar materials
Acoustic guitar soundboard is made of Red Cedar, Engelmann spruce or European spruce. In steel string guitar also Sitka spruce.
A much wider range is possible for back and sides. The most popular is Indian Rosewood, but much is used e.g. Madagascar Rosewood, Maple, Amazon Rosewood, Santos Rosewood, Ziricote, Cocobolo, Cypress, Ebony, etc. Cypress is especially used in flamenco guitars.
In classical guitar the neck is usually Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata) or mahogany. Steel string guitar neck is often made from Mahogany. Fingerboard is traditionally been ebony, but nowadays other hardwood species are also popular, especially in steel string acoustic guitars.
I purchase materials from European suppliers, e.g. from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Spain, Romania.
Many suppliers advertise to supply alpine spruce. This surely is true, because in there, in the Alpine and Carpathian regions, the trees grow slowly and thus are ideal for the production of musical instruments.
The suppliers store the wood for at least a year before they sell, as the wood, of course, need to dry up enough for building.
Many suppliers keep the wood in stock for several years (seasoning) because the older the wood the better.
The oldest soundboard plates I have available have been sawn in 1988.
Several soundboards in my workshop are over 10 years old.