Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:34 am
Location: Vienna; AUSTRIA

Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Post by grenner » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:39 pm

I often read the terms overbuild and underbuild in this forum and on some luthier websites.
I'm not a native english speaker so can someone please explain, what exactly is meant by this terms?

Posts: 1045
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:11 am
Location: halifax, nova scotia

Re: Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Post by brooks » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:47 pm

I'm not a luthier, but my impression is that an overbuilt guitar is one that lacks responsiveness, tone, volume, depth, etc due to the top, b/s, and/or bracing being too heavy/thick. So I guess an underbuilt one would have failings in the opposite direction. But it's a non-technical term, so is a bit vague. I'm sure a luthier will be along to give a better answer!

User avatar
Posts: 1166
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:02 pm
Location: London, Ontario CANADA

Re: Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Post by Beowulf » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:27 pm

An "overbuilt" guitar may also be more robust in surviving climatic variations.
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

Posts: 8899
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Germany, Würzburg. Spain, IB

Re: Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Post by simonm » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:16 pm

Overbuilt = top and or top bracing very heavy. Poor sound but it will last.
Underbuilt = top and bracing very light. Might (or might not) sound good but the life expectancy not very good. Cracked top, or bridge rotation very possible.

Marcus Dominelli
Posts: 2837
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:29 pm

An under built guitar would typically be temperamental to slight humidity fluctuations, lack structural integrity, and not have as long a life as would be considered ideal. If you have one, you might consider lower tension strings...
A guitar with an under built top might sound great for a while, but if the neck is under built it won't be long until its unplayable, due to excessive neck relief and/or high action.

Overbuilt guitars generally sound poor. Too much wood in the wrong places. I hate overbuilt guitars. They are uninspiring to play.

ernandez R
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:06 pm

Re: Overbuild and underbuild, what does this mean?

Post by ernandez R » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:46 pm

My #3 came in at an unexpected 900gm: Hickory wood peg tuners, cotton wood side, back, neck, and kerfing. Birch spine in neck. Thinner then normal oak fretboard. Spruce top, braces, sound bars.

I'm sure it won't last long but you really feel it when you play.

Picking it up and cradling her in the playing position is a joy.

More a shooting star then a mountain.

Flawed? Of course, but she is only my third.

I was aiming for under 1100 grams and was truly shocked when I put her on the scale without finish, strings, nut and saddle and didn't believe it read 875gm or somthing like that.

The finish is just now cureing and she has brightened up signifagantly, well that or the hours of three finger roscoegoes have opened her up.

I hate sanding wood or anything else for that matter I just happen to be good at it...

Return to “Luthiers”