If you want to build your own archtop guitar, you will need a good set of archtop guitar plans, the right materials, a workspace, and the right tools. Building any guitar is not easy, but building an archtop presents challenges that make the project even more difficult. So, it might not be the best choice for your first guitar building project. If you're a true novice, consider checking out an acoustic guitar kit for your first project, and then work your way up to the archtop.
Sources for Archtop Guitar Plans
Plans for archtop guitars can either be found on the Internet or in book form. There's really no such thing as free plans; you'll always have to pay something for decent guitar plans, but typically the cost is rather minimal.
These resources are for plans only; you will have to figure out how to interpret them on your own.
- The Guild of American Luthiers - This organization has plans for a 1932 Martin C-3 archtop guitar. The plans are available to both members and non-members of the guild, but non-members pay a slightly higher price. The guitar these plans build has a twenty-five inch scale length, and they consist of two sheets that are both thirty inches by forty two inches.
- CAD Guitar Plans - For those who are familiar with CAD software, this site has two excellent plans available for download and purchase. One is for a Benedetto acoustic style archtop guitar and one is for an Epiphone spartan style artchtop.
- Guitar Plans - This British site hosted by Roy Courtnall has plans for a 1960 Hofner archtop electric guitar. These are full, detailed plans for this lovely, single cutaway guitar.
- Luthiers Mercantile International - This site has a plan for a Bill Moll cutaway archtop. The plans have plenty of breakout drawings so the smaller components are easy to see and understand.
- eBay - Some luthiers have taken to selling their plans on eBay. These plans will make the classic Gibson ES335 electric archtop guitar.
The advantage of some books is that, in addition to the plans, you are also provided with background information to help you with the actual construction. If you don't already have some good books on guitar building, you'll want to have some handy before you begin your project.
- Making an Archtop Guitar - This highly rated book by famed builder Robert Bendetto takes you through all the steps and stages to building your own archtop guitar. Plans are included along with lists of suppliers and the tools you will need. This book is almost essential if you want to do this project right.
- Blue Guitar - This is another excellent resource for anyone interested in building a guitar. This book is part gallery, with photos of twenty-two beautiful archtop guitars, and part information manual.
Building Your Guitar
Before you begin, make sure you have read all you can on building guitars and have access to some detailed archtop guitar plans. Also be sure you have all the tools you will need to complete the project. Building a guitar is a challenging task that will challenge your abilities as a woodworker. However, the completed product will provide a lifetime of pleasure and satisfaction.