FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Ben
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Ben » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:28 am

Hi James,
Thank you for your reply.
James Lister wrote:There's a limit to how much improvement you'll get with a laminated top guitar. The top will probably be too stiff, but you can't take much wood off without going through the top laminate (you'll have to be careful about this even if just re-finishing). I think you would really learn a bit more with a cheap solid wood guitar, but if that's what you've got - give it a go, but don't expect too much,
Yeah, I'm not expecting much. It's just the process, having a look at it and having a go at french polishing really. I bought this guitar because I could take down the beach and bang on it around a bonfire and not be worried about it. And if wood got scarce ...

Actually for the money, it's ok.
James Lister wrote:Not really possible to answer this one, as every luthier goes about this in different ways. Some measeure deflection of every strut and top plate they use, others just go by experience, feel and tap tones. Typical way to measure deflection is to accurately dimension a piece of the tonewood in question, clamp it to the bench at one end, then attach a known weight to the other end, and measure the amount of deflection.
The beauty, and perhaps the frustration for the beginner, is the many different ways to achieve the same thing. I guess for me it's "give something a go and see what happens".
James Lister wrote:Depends on the glue used. With a factory guitar, where you don't know what's been used to glue it on, I would tend to chisel, plane and scrape the old one off and make a new one. You could try applying heat and water, and working a pallette knife under the edge. With solid tops, there's a risk with this method of opening up the centre join in the top, but with a laminated top, that shouldn't be a problem. I suppose there may be a risk of de-laminating the top - I don't have the experience with laminates to know if this is likely.
Good thoughts. Thanks again James.

Ben

Bill Doyle

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Bill Doyle » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:39 pm

I just read through all 67 previous posts. I am not a luthier, but experience proves that you select the best tools, and get the best performance out of any tool (ie; guitar) when you understand the design philosophy, means, methods and materials behind it. This thread is a real gold mine of condensed wisdom (wisdom = knowledge + experience + proper application). Thanks James and everyone else for the great resource. Let it grow!
Last edited by Bill Doyle on Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ken

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by ken » Sun May 09, 2010 2:35 am

What is the prefered wood to use for bridgeplate material?

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James Lister
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Sun May 09, 2010 3:05 pm

ken wrote:What is the prefered wood to use for bridgeplate material?
Spruce
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

ken

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by ken » Mon May 10, 2010 1:47 am

Thanks James

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Cary W
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Cary W » Mon May 10, 2010 2:19 am

Can a first-time builder order a kit and assemble something at least playable?
2008 Yamaha GC31C Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ46
1987 Yamaha GC-3 Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ45

Kai

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Kai » Tue May 11, 2010 2:11 am

Hi, I'm a beginner in this field. I started learning with Admira Infante which is 3/4 the size of a standard classical guitar since I'm a small-sized person. Does my guitar need any custom modifications or just leave it as it is?

Other than that, I don't know if my guitar is properly tuned when I tune it myself. The strings are probably almost close to what I perceive as the (almost) exact tone as which note it corresponds to, I think. How to know if it is tuned correctly?

That's all I need to know for now. Thank you.

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James Lister
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Tue May 11, 2010 8:28 am

Cary W wrote:Can a first-time builder order a kit and assemble something at least playable?
Yes - LMI do a reasonable kit I understand. There have been a few threads on this subject before - a search should bring them up.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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James Lister
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Tue May 11, 2010 8:31 am

Kai wrote:Hi, I'm a beginner in this field. I started learning with Admira Infante which is 3/4 the size of a standard classical guitar since I'm a small-sized person. Does my guitar need any custom modifications or just leave it as it is?
Should be OK as it is, but you might be better with a full size guitar if you can manage it.
Kai wrote:Other than that, I don't know if my guitar is properly tuned when I tune it myself. The strings are probably almost close to what I perceive as the (almost) exact tone as which note it corresponds to, I think. How to know if it is tuned correctly?
Do you have a teacher? If not - it would be a good idea to find one, they should be able to help you with this.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

montana
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by montana » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:33 am

nothing really to add here James,..I noticed this post had 16909 views and i wanted to make it an even 16910.

xbrookieboy

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by xbrookieboy » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:41 pm

I was looking at the FAQ's - 1. What’s the difference between spruce and cedar tops?

It gives a nice summary of the effect on tone of the different woods but I was wondering how to tell which is which. Actually what I mean is I have a Cachimba guitar and dont know if it is cedar or spruce. Is there a simple description of what each type looks like?

Many thanks

Philip

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James Lister
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:55 pm

Spruce is paler in colour than cedar, which is generally browner in colour. This can be confused of course by the use of coloured stains and/or varnishes. Cedar also tends to have less contrasting and finer grain lines than most of the spruce that's available these days.

This picture may help - Spruce on the left, cedar on the right, both with only a thin French polish finish which has minimal effect on the colour.
Spruce_Cedar1.jpg
James
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xbrookieboy

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by xbrookieboy » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:41 am

Thanks for that, my guitar appears to be a cedar. Would I be right in saying that the picture of the 3 guitars in the delcamp masthead are all cedars?

MichaelBo

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by MichaelBo » Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:07 pm

James - Thank you for your post. I'm keeping this one handy not only for future reference but to share with others, especially beginners. I would like your opinion regarding two of the items on your list:

Item #10: I have tried a lot of strings and finally settled on D'Addaio Pro Arte (though I'm always experimenting). I use hard tension for my Kenny Hill and mediums for my Ramirez. My question is regarding the extra G string provided in these string sets. One G string is the regular plastic but the second is the composite (I think it might use some type of metal blended with the plastic). I found that when I use the composite G string (the one that is a tan color), my Hill guitar's intonation is adversely affected. That is, the G string when tuned at the open position is very sharp in the upper frets. When I replace that string with the clear, regular, G string the intonation is once again spot on (or as close to it as can be expected). I suspect it's because the composite string is harder and when fretted it raises the pitch because of its increased tension. I don't have this problem with the medium tension strings; actions are the same of both guitars. Do you have experience with these strings? If so, have you had the same problem? Do you think my diagnosis is correct?

Item #15: I really like my Kenny Hill Hauser '37 but something he wrote about them on his website makes me curious. This guitar is finished via the French polish method and he states that he puts "hundreds or thousands" of coats of lacquer on the guitar. I've always thought that would be a lot of coats and reckoned he meant each swirl of a circular pattern constituted one coat. Maybe that would explain it. But now I see where you wrote that each coat must be dry before the next is applied. Maybe this is a dumb question, and maybe Kenny is jokingly exaggerating and trying to make the point that he spends a lot of time doing this finish, but how can you put hundreds or especially thousands of coats on a guitar and still get it out the door to the customer within 1-3 months?

Again, thanks for your post!
m

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Cary W
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Cary W » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:43 pm

I have a challenge for the luthiers here.
I picked up at a local flea market a steel-string guitar made of plywood...a 1950's model Stella. I am sure it would have sold for about $20 back in the day. On today's market it is probably worth about $10.
The neck is badly bowed. The sound is surprisingly good with light guage strings. I would like to give this instrument a new lease on life. Can I lift the fingerboard...complete with stencilled fret markers...cut a channel in the neck and install some kind of hardwood, carbon fibre, or other type of truss rod to straighten it out?

This would be a useful challenge for me as a beginning luthier, and if I spoil the job I haven't lost much.

If I am successful I would take on a greater challenge, that is to do the same operation on a 1956 Gretsch New Yorker, a very attractive instrument, but at present unplayable because of the bowed neck. This model has no truss rod.
2008 Yamaha GC31C Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ46
1987 Yamaha GC-3 Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ45

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