Archtop Guitar Build

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Project by rdwile posted 11-20-2012 01:39 AM 3016 views 4 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project I finished a while back, but still remains as the project I am most proud of in 25 years of woodworking.

I think the arch top represents the pinnacle of the Luthier’s craft. All the technical challenges of a a flattop, except that its top and back are carved from a solid wood and fined tuned to make the perfect sounding instrument. They are also huge, 18” across the bottom end 3-4” wider than a normal steel string. They are built similar to a violin or mandolin with lots of shaping from the finest woods in the world.

This guitar is made from European Spruce and Maple which comes from the same forests from which Stradivarius sourced his materials 300 years ago.

This was made following the book and plans by Bob Benedetto who wrote the book on building an archtop – literally. While this instrument exceeded my expectations once finished, I will never build another, it’s far too much work!

Hope you enjoy,


-- Richard D. Wile,

27 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

17908 posts in 1375 days

#1 posted 11-20-2012 01:49 AM

Beautiful. Wish I had a chance to play it.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View intheshop's profile


50 posts in 1875 days

#2 posted 11-20-2012 02:06 AM

Gorgeous guitar. That must have been an incredible amount of work I’ve heard that you really never know how a guitar will sound until you finish it, string it and play it. From that perspective, it must be a pins and needles build from day one. I’m glad you’re happy with it’s performance. Thanks for sharing.

-- Fast is fine, but accurate is final. The real trick is learning to take your time when you're in a hurry. - Wyatt Earp

View sras's profile


4236 posts in 2166 days

#3 posted 11-20-2012 02:47 AM

Awesome project!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2614 days

#4 posted 11-20-2012 03:30 AM

That’s an amazing guitar Richard what a master piece you work of art is.

-- Custom furniture

View dnick's profile


975 posts in 1419 days

#5 posted 11-20-2012 04:25 AM

That is a beautiul piece of work. Well done. I remember you, you’re the guy with the collapsing house logo!

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View CJay's profile


133 posts in 2268 days

#6 posted 11-20-2012 11:20 AM

Stunning. I’m looking at trying my hand at building one of these. You’ve done an amazing job.

-- Chris Boreham, Oxfordshire, UK - -

View JimDaddyO's profile


317 posts in 2116 days

#7 posted 11-20-2012 01:30 PM

Beautiful, the book and an archtop are on my bucket list

-- my blog: my You Tube channel:

View rdwile's profile


152 posts in 1148 days

#8 posted 11-20-2012 01:59 PM

Thanks for all the kind comments and PM’s. One thing I would say, if you are thinking of a building a carved instrument, start with a mandolin. It uses far less material (in case you butcher it) and all the carving and building techniques scale up directly to the archtop.

-- Richard D. Wile,

View carguy460's profile


791 posts in 1372 days

#9 posted 11-20-2012 02:25 PM

Beautiful work!

-- Jason K

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 2799 days

#10 posted 11-20-2012 02:27 PM

Well it looks awesome and i bet it sounds even better.

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View Rob W's profile

Rob W

430 posts in 2573 days

#11 posted 11-20-2012 02:58 PM

That is awesome!

-- Rob — I've cut it off twice and it's still too short!,

View Nicky's profile


672 posts in 3129 days

#12 posted 11-20-2012 03:14 PM

You should be very proud of the achievement. Just out of curiosity, how many hours do you have into the project?

This is becoming a lost art form, hope you change your mind an build more.

-- Nicky

View CharlieM1958's profile


16093 posts in 3255 days

#13 posted 11-20-2012 04:50 PM

Fantastic piece of work! You should really post a YouTube of how it sounds.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 1210 days

#14 posted 11-20-2012 05:14 PM

Stunning and gorgeous work!

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2020 days

#15 posted 11-20-2012 05:19 PM

awesome project. thats alot of curves, to get right.congrats

showing 1 through 15 of 27 comments

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