Time and phases of the construction of a guitar
Do you know which are the construction phases of a handmade acoustic guitar and how much time this process requires? Depending on the model, it can take between two or three months of work for the luthier since it includes many precise manual tasks, but also resting times for the wood to acquire its shape.
You can buy a luthier’s guitar at guitarrasfuentes.com, made by a careful and precise manual process. In order for you to get a better understanding of how it works, I will briefly explain the phases involved in the handcrafted construction of a guitar, specifically an acoustic guitar.
Construction of a guitar: handmade acoustic guitars
Design of the model for the construction of a guitar
In this phase it is essential to listen to the customer in order to build the luthier guitar that the musician needs: what kind of music they want to play, their sound preferences, the size of the instrument and even some aesthetic indications.
Selection of woods for the construction of a guitar
It is a key process for a handcrafted construction of a guitar because of the influence that wood has on the type of sound, sustain and tone. The geographical origin of the wood, the seasoning of the wood pieces and the botanical species from which it comes, are key to its choice, but also issues such as the percentage of humidity in the wood, the age of the tree from which it was harvested or its grain.
It is possible that the wood requires some conditioning work in the luthier’s workshop.
Construction of the soundboard
Once the design has been created and the wood chosen, the first task to tackle is the building of the soundboard. To do this, different tasks must be carried out, starting with the cutting of the wood and thicknessing, to later approach the creation of the rosette.
Once these tasks are completed, the bracing is carved and glued to the soundboard.
Tuning to achieve the desired tone
In this phase of the construction of a guitar, the tuning is carried out. Always keeping in mind the desired tone for the instrument that is being built.
Carving of the guitar neck in handcrafted production
In the next phase, the neck is carved and the heel of the guitar is built. It’s also the time to carve the holes in the headstock so that the pegbox can be fitted.
Construction of the hoops
During this phase the luthier cuts the hoops to the appropriate size. The next step is to tame them to the desired shape. To do this, the wood is moistened and with the help of molds and heat at a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius, pressure is applied until the wood bends. The time required at this stage depends on different factors, including the type of wood and the thickness of the hoop.
Building the back of the guitar
It’s the moment to start the phase of the construction of the back of the guitar, with tasks such as the carving and gluing of the reinforcing bars.
Case closing phase in the construction of a guitar
The closing of the case includes placing in a mold the hoops, heel, heel cap, the back and the soundboard. Then, the back and the soundboard are glued onto the hoops, applying pressure to ensure it’s perfectly joined.
Carving the hole and placing the binding
At this stage, the hollow is carved in the case which allows placing the binding or the profile of the guitar’s edges that embellish the instrument for a perfect finish, and then it is placed.
Sanding and preparing the body of the guitar
The next phase in the construction of a guitar consists of sanding the instrument’s body, and then preparing the guitar for varnishing.
Fitting the neck to the body
The neck is fitted to the body of the guitar using the dovetailing technique. It’s a very old carpentry assembly technique that ensures a perfect and aesthetic joint.
Placing the core in the guitar neck
Placing the core in the neck is essential, among other things, because it prevents the neck from deforming as a result of the high tension of the steel strings.
Construction phase and assembling the fingerboard
Building the fingerboard is the next step. It’s a vitally important phase in achieving the desired vibration and tone. This is also the phase of the fret distribution, and the fingerboard is given its radius.
Once these steps are completed, it is the time to mount the fingerboard on the neck and then proceed to nail the frets to the fingerboard.
Bridge and nut phase
During this phase, the luthier proceeds to place the bridge of the instrument, make its bones and the nut.
Once all the previous stages have been completed, it’s time to varnish the handmade guitar. To do this, shellac, nitrocellulose or polyurethane can be used. The preferred one at Guitarras Fuentes for acoustic guitars would be nitrocellulose because for us, it has a better relation of resistance and lightness than the other two. However, it certainly has other disadvantages that we will explain in future articles.
Assembling the peg box and attaching the strings
Once the varnish has dried, it’s time to assemble the headstock and put the strings on the guitar. As in other phases, the quality of the work is checked at the end in very self-demanding quality control by the luthier, verifying that the desired result is achieved.
Adjusting the bones and the core
At the last stages of the construction of a guitar, the luthier is in charge of adjusting the bones and the core. For a perfect job, it is necessary to check repeatedly that the tuning is correct.
Installing the amplification system
To conclude the handcrafted construction of an acoustic guitar, the amplification system must be placed in the instrument using the chosen method, such as magnetic pickups or piezo.
To complete all of these phases, several weeks of work by the luthier are required. The estimated construction time of a guitar is between two and three months.