Building a Classical Guitar

Kevin Casper

Have you ever dreamed of building a classical guitar? A project like this can be exciting for woodworkers and musicians alike. The act of taking raw materials and assembling them so that they come to life as a musical instrument is a very powerful process. Since the sound they produce is completely unaffected by electricity, bows or even guitar picks, classical guitars are musical instruments that produce one of the purest sounds in the world.

Building your own classical guitar will surely test your mettle as a luthier, but if you have a proclivity for working with your hands and some informative resource material, you can play the role of Dr. Frankenstein, hopefully with better results! The following information has been collected to help you get your bearings for what can be a fun and exciting construction project.

Internet Resources for Building a Classical Guitar

Luckily for you, the Internet holds a wealth of information for the home guitar builder. Some sites offer complete step-by-step instructions , while others provide details on certain aspects of the process like the tools needed and information on wood types. Before you begin your project, take the time to familiarize yourself with these many resources so you are adequately informed. Building a guitar is more complicated than building a coffee table, so careful preparation is of the utmost importance.

  • Classical Guitar Construction: Providing plans for guitars in the Antonio Torres style, this website is an excellent place to begin. Tool sharpening, wood splitting and curing, neck construction, purfling, gluing and polishing are covered in detail. Photos accompany each step so you can follow along. The site also has historical and biographical information on Antonio Torres if you are a classical guitar historian.
  • Kirby Builds a Classical Guitar: An online documentary made by a first-time classical guitar builder, this site is useful because it shares the ups and downs of the guitar building experience in an honest and informative manner. A lot of photos and commentary make you feel like you're there in the woodshop. This is a must read before you begin your project.

Classical Guitar Building Books and Plans

  • Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: The subtitle for this book is A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar. Published by Chronicle Books, this 392 page reference text is sure to cover any areas you are still unsure about.
  • Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to Traditional Design: Another comprehensive text specifically geared towards classical guitar construction, this book should probably be part of your library if you're serious about guitar building. With over 300 pages and packed with photos and plans, author John Bogdanovich leaves no stone unturned.
  • Stewart MacDonald: Stewart MacDonald sells detailed plans by luthier John Bogdanovich that accompany his book Classical Guitar Making. The plans provide dimensions for a fan-braced classical guitar.

Why Build a Guitar?

Everyone comes to a project like this for different reasons, but there are some universally attractive aspects to building your own guitar. Since the investment is one of time, you can save a great deal of money building your own guitar. For a relatively small initial investment, you can end up with a very high quality instrument. In addition, the process can be fun and very educational, and it could be particularly rewarding to complete with a friend or family member. Whatever your reasons for wanting to become a home luthier, you are guaranteed to end up with a unique, one of a kind instrument that you can feel proud to claim as your own.

Building a Classical Guitar