This is the 5 Best Tips for Making an Acoustic Guitar Soundboard. In this post, you’ll learn the five things you need to know to have a successful build. Enjoy.
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Making an Acoustic Guitar Soundboard
The soundboard is one of the most fun parts of acoustic guitar to make. It’s also one of the most stressful. Unfortunately, the stress is typically self-induced, and doesn’t really have a firm grounding in reality.
If you really get into the super technical side of carving your braces and making the soundboard, you can really get bogged down and it might make you think it’s almost impossible to get it right. In reality, the process is actually pretty easy.
There are however a few things that you can do in order to make your chances of success much higher. I’ll show you five of them in this post, and they’re guaranteed to help you make a better sound board for your acoustic guitar.
Mill Your Plates Separately
Lots of books will tell you to glue your soundboard plates together and then start working on them with a hand plane. While this is a good strategy, and it will work, it’s definitely not the easy route.
On top of that, most of the people who tell you to do that as a beginner don’t actually do it that way themselves. They use machines. The reason they do? Machines just do the job so much better than working by hand.
Instead of trying to work the entire soundboard at once with a hand tool, just send each piece independently through a smaller thickness planer or sander until they are both the same size and ready to be book matched.
If you think about it, a nice hand plane, a good iron, and all of the sharpening equipment you would need to maintain it will cost you about the same amount of money as a small thickness planer. You might as well just buy the machine, it’s definitely worth it.
Once you thickness both halves of your soundboard, put them in your baton press and glue them together at the center. The process will be just the same as if they were full thickness, and you’ll get a good glue joint.
See Also: Make A Baton Press for Book Matching
Dome Your Top Plate
In the beginning it can be a little intimidating to dome your plates instead of leaving them totally flat. It’s understandable, because it’s much easier to make a flat top guitar instead of curving your braces slightly.
However, once you actually do this process a couple of times, it becomes a lot easier. The arching isn’t very much, it just creates a slight dome in the shape of the soundboard. After you do this process one time, you’ll realize how easy it is.
Also, a dome shape is stronger than a flat soundboard, and it will flex better and sound better too. There is a reason that most guitars have a slight dome on their tops, and that’s because it is a better construction method.
Follow a Good Bracing Plan
Find one set of plans from one book, and follow all of their instructions down to the letter. This will create a set of braces that works well for the majority of tops, and should work well for yours too.
Are there better bracing plans out there? Surely. However, as a beginner, you need a reliable method to follow to get you across the finish line. Following a known plan is a great start, and it will give you an understanding of just what the braces do.
Don’t Over Think Your Braces
This is where a lot of new guitar makers end up dead in the water on their build. It’s sad too, because they don’t even get a chance to finish the guitar before they already know in their hearts that it’s going to be terrible.
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You could dedicate your whole life to working on the theory of internal bracing on the soundboard, and still never get to the point where you actually feel like you’re really good at it. Don’t let this become you, and instead just build and be happy.
Your braces aren’t going to be perfect, but that’s completely fine. If the rest of your guitar is built well, you really don’t have to worry about one or two braces being a little bit out of place. A guitar’s quality is based on the sum of all aspects of its construction, not just the braces.
See Also: The Secret to Guitar Making
Sand the Braces Really Well
Once you have carved your braces down to their final size and shape, take some extra time and sand them so they are very smooth and so they don’t show any marks. Even though you’re not going to see them, it’s still an important part of making a guitar.
Sanding the internal braces, even though they won’t be seen, is more of an exercise of being thorough than anything else. You want to make sure that you’re fully completing every step before you move onto the next, and that includes sanding those braces.
It may seem silly while you’re doing it, but it’s a statement of the pride that you have in your instrument, and that pride will seep into other aspects of your guitar construction. This will make the build more successful overall.
It’s kind of like making your bed in the morning. Even though nobody knows whether or not you did it, it’s about being thorough with what you do and that makes other aspects of your life better as well.
See Also: The Last 10% Principle for Woodworking
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know these five best tips for making your acoustic guitar top, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. Have you been kicking around the idea of making a guitar, it’s time to get off your butt and actually start your project.
Making a guitar is honestly not that difficult. It’s like any other woodworking project. There are sizes, dimensions, and things to do a certain way in order to make a good sounding instrument. If you can follow instructions, you can make a guitar.
I recommend buying a few good books on guitar making, and in particular taking a look at my book onhow to make tools templates and jigs for Guitar Making. I will help you save a lot of money by making many of the things that you need for your own shop rather than buying them.
If you have any questions about making your soundboard, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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