This is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar – Part Thirty Seven – Wrap Up. This is the final post in the series, and I’ll show you how to trim the guitar out and then share final pictures from the build. Enjoy.
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Guitar Making Series Wrap Up
This last part of the process is fairly easy, and the only thing that might be a little bit of a challenge is slotting the nut. However, take a look at your books and materials, and watch some videos online. It’s easier than it looks.
Tuning machines go in fairly easily, and as you start to add the strings, and hear what your guitar sounds like, you’re going to be smiling from ear to ear. It’s an awesome thing to finally hear what all of your hard work sounds like.
If you missed last week, here is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Part 36.
Check the Finish
The first thing you should do after your piece has fully cured is to check the condition of the finish. If you did everything right, you should have a very smooth finish, that has a sheen level that you are happy with.
As much as it may hurt, if there are problems with your finish that need to be addressed, address them now before you add hardware. Once the hardware is in place, it’s going to be much more difficult to complete any finish repairs.
Even if this means that you have to re-coat the instrument a few times and wait another couple weeks for it to fully cure out, then that’s what you need to do. It’s really depressing so late in the game, but it’s the best thing for the guitar.
See Also: The Last 10% Principle for Woodworking
Installing the Tuning Machines
Installing the tuning machines is a very straightforward process. Most of them don’t even come with any instructions, because there is pretty much only one way for you to do it. Start the process with your drill bits, which I’ll explain.
Finish likes to bunch up in the tuning machine holes. All you need to do is hand twist the drills you used until they pass through the holes, and you’ll clear out that finish. This way, your tuning machines will fit really well.
Pay attention to the direction that you have to install them, and line them up really straight when you put in those tiny little screws. It’s also super helpful to use a punch to make a little indents, and then pre-drill for those screws.
See Also: 25 Best Guitar Making Tips For Beginners
Fitting the Bridge Pins
Once you turn your attention to the bridge, you need to saw your clearance notches for the strings to pass over the saddle, and then you need to use a taper reamer to create the tapered holes for your bridge pins.
Buy a reamer that matches the profile of your bridge pins, and carefully use it to fit each pin individually. Keep each one of the pins in order, because they may or may not fit the same in a different hole than they were reamed for.
Work them one at a time, and carefully sneak up on the final size. It’s easy to remove wood if you have to, but it’s impossible to put it back. If you go too far over, and you can’t find a fatter pin, you might have a problem on your hands.
Slotting the Nut
After all of the strings are in place, you need to mark your nut where the strings will pass over, and then file out little slots for each string. There are files you can buy for this purpose, and they make the process very easy.
Since the strings are different diameters, different files are used to make the slots that the strings pass through. These slots keep the strings at a fixed distance away from each other, and prevent them from sliding around on the top of the nut.
Make sure you slot deep enough that the action is easily playable, but not so deep that the strings buzz. It’s a little bit challenging in the beginning, but take your time, and you can set up the nut for your guitar really well.
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Basic Setup and Stringing
One of the easiest ways to get the depth correct on your nut slot is to hold down the string at the third fret, and keep on slotting until the string barely passes over the first fret without touching it.
This is the lowest that you can go without risking the string buzzing while being played. Don’t go any lower, and repeat this process across all of the other strings to get them down in the bottom of the slot as low as possible.
Make sure you do this with the strings that pitch, because loose strings will press down differently than tight strings. You could go too deep on a loose string, but a tight string will prevent that.
See Also: Laminated Guitar Necks
Playing Those First Few Notes
Once the guitar is set up, tune the guitar to pitch, and start playing. The sound you hear from an instrument that you made with your own two hands is the sweetest sound you’ll ever hear any instrument make in your entire life.
Over the last several weeks or several months you will have given wood that has been silent its entire life a voice, and it sounds the way that it does because of you and your efforts. You should be proud of yourself, because an instrument is not an easy thing to build.
Enjoy the sound, and know that it will improve over the first few hours. Right now the wood is getting acquainted to working together, and over the next few days, especially the next several years, the guitar will continue to improve.
See Also: Nothing Will Ever Sound as Sweet
Your Action Assignment
This is the end of the how to make an acoustic guitar series, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into guitar building with me. I also hope that it serves as an inspiration to get you out into the shop and finally making the guitar you’ve always wanted to make.
The one big take away from this process is that you can do it. Making a guitar as a sum of a lot of small things, but nothing that’s really too big. There’s nothing that a little patience, and a little time can’t do.
As you step in to guitar making for possibly the first time, consider sharing your journey the same way that I just did. I’d love to be a part of that, and I may even be able to help you share it here. (contact me if you are interested)
The point is to encourage others just like you that they can build an amazing instrument, they just need to take that first step. Nothing happens without action. Happy building.
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