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Archtop Guitar


Here is the short version of my first archtop guitar build:

My First step was to bend the sides. I used slats of Oak that I planed from 1/4" to 1/16". I then built a "Bending Machine" out of MDF and some flashing that I made a form out of. I then hooked up two 100 Watt light bulbs for heat. After soaking the Oak for half an hour I bent the sides.

To make sure they kept their shape, I clamped them inside MDF molds that I cut into the shape of guitar I wanted.

After drying in the mold, the sides were ready for the Blocks.

I then had to carve the arched top and back. I decided to keep with the Oak and make the face and back out of Oak. I traced topographic contour to follow with my router.

After adding the kerfing and doing a lot of carving, here are the sides just sitting on top of the face that I am carving.


After a lot more carving and clamping and gluing and undocumented neck work, here is what my guitar looks like:


Next, I glued and clamped up the fretboard on the neck. While I waited for that glue to dry, I routed a cavity for binding around the edge of the top and bottom face. I then drilled holes in the peghead for the tuning keys, and gave them a test fit. After binding the body, I coated both the neck and body with grain filler (very important on oak). After sanding the excess filler, I glued and clamped the neck to the body. Once that glue was dry, I mounted up the tailpiece and pulled a thread from one E tuning peg down around the tailpiece and up into the opposite E tuning peg. This then allowed me to see how adjustments to the bridge height effect the action.

I then got a footpiece for the bridge, and went through a few different finishes. First I applied some gustock oil, which I didn't like the look of, so I steel wooled it off. I then put on a layer of ebony stain that wasn't fully absorbed because of the oil, which made it come out a nice brown instead of overpoweringly dark as ebony. After all the finishing was done, I then took a wood burner to the neck to put Roman Numerals on the fretboard. I didnt want to go through the effort of inlaying anything, so the wood burning sounded like an appropriate alternative. Here is what the final product looks like:



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