Acoustic Guitar Construction in the small shop -- Kenneth Michael Guitars LLC

Information, ideas and help for those constructing scratch built acoustic guitars or acoustic guitar kits - © 2017
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The purpose of this forum site is to provide a means for acoustic guitar makers at all skill levels to forward information, share experience and ask questions if project obstacles are encountered. We ask that egos be left at the door – the highest levels of courtesy and respect are to be shown to all. Posts containing disparaging comments will be removed. The “Acoustic Guitar Construction Forum” is owned by Kenneth Michael Guitars and is copy protected. Direct links to luthier suppliers are not permitted and will be edited.



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 Post subject: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:08 pm 
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"Making an Archtop Guitar"

I've been reading this book avidly for the past couple of days. (I don't own it, I actually borrowed it from a member of this Forum).

Well, it's a very good construction manual - lots of pictures, lots of fixtures that can be made in the shop, good explanations; best for someone who has built a guitar or two, especially from scratch, because some of the steps leave out little procedures that are taken for granted.

The section on neck building is particularly interesting, and the further section on headstock design and completion is good as well - lots of craftsmanship procedures in this step. In fact, there is craftsmanship on almost every page of this book, which you might expect from one of the elite builders.

Since he uses maple for back and sides, his finishing procedure is rather easy - no pore filling, no sanding sealer, just spray on lacquer coats, wait a week, polish and buff. Looks terrific.

It has always been my goal to make a carved top/back acoustic guitar. I don't think I'm ready for that yet, but I have a better idea of the challenges now.

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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:58 pm 
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My "to do" list includes an arched top that looks something like this (much like)

http://www.ibanez.co.jp/products/u_hb_p ... ies_id=103

Gold hardware.

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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:10 pm 
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Very nice.

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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:01 pm
Posts: 750
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Benedetto is to arch top building as David Russell Young was to flat top - everything done is done for a good reason that is clearly explained. Unlike Young, Benedetto followed his passion for many decades to the point that it has fully developed into a mature flower. His instruments are never ornate, but always rich looking, even those with no body bindings. A real master.

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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:19 pm
Posts: 2222
Old thread, but new to me.
I just ordered the book, it will be here next week. I am probably going to build an archtop guitar. I will read the book first then decide. Looks like Bow River Wood in Canada sells a pretty reasonably priced wood kit for a guitar, so considering purchasing that from them. I also have some nice birdseye maple I could use for back and sides, if...... I don't do a carved back, just a braced arched back, so thinking about doing that too. Also have some sweet figured claro walnut that would make a nice jazz guitar along the lines of a mahogany body I would think.
Anyway, I'm anxious to get the book and spend some evenings in front of the fireplace pondering.


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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:56 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:01 pm
Posts: 750
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Benedetto describes a very doable method of carving the top and back with tools that most have. Since the typical carved top is so thick, it looks to me like there is enough of a margin of error to prevent disaster. But Smith Creek Mandolin offers CNC carving service for tops and backs. (At one time they offered them ready-to-go, now they ask that you have the supplier drop ship the blanks to them.) Benedetto once built what is supposed to be a good archtop from wood he purchased at Home Depot, so there is no reason to pay the cost of so-called "Master Grade" unless you desire its appearance factor.

I have lost interest in making an archtop, but when I was, all the research I encountered indicated there are significant differences in sound between the laminated and carved bodies. The short of it was laminated tended to be consistent, but soft, while carved tops varied more in their result, but were louder (and were more distinctive, as greater variance implies). If I ever resume the interest, I would go solid carved top and pay to have it CNCed to basic dimensions, with hand carving for the final voicing.

In any case, the Benedetto book and plans are wonderful. I have the video made of one of his classes too, which offers some real world examples of how he taps and voices. It is 4 DVDs and I would be happy to loan it to you. As I remember, once scene features the Home Depot instrument.

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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:04 pm 
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Posts: 750
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Forgot to mention, Benedetto considers the recurve portion of both the top and back as critical to getting a good sound, which would apply to both the laminated and carved versions of an arch top. I do not see how one could get this curve by simply bracing solid wood. But if you want to do a simple but dramatic curve, Michael Collins' book about building gypsy guitars describes how to get quite a bit of curve out of solid wood.

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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:58 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:19 pm
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Thanks John. I sent you a PM about the DVD's
Happy New Year.


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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:56 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:20 am
Posts: 5
Wood is in the shop settling in, plans and book are spread out in the office!

I think the book is well written, easy to follow and seems to be pretty thorough. Will know more shortly I guess.

If I had a criticism, I got the impression that the book was enough to build with, it does include arching templates, but lots of other details missing. I guess for someone with a few other instruments under their belt maybe.

I ordered the plans after reading the book and they answered all the questions I had from the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Benedetto's book
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:19 pm
Posts: 2222
I have a wood kit ordered from Bow River, and a set of plans from Stewmac. I'm committed now!


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