Kill the Treble #11: Guitar Making; Tradition & Technology

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by thebenchroom posted 04-03-2012 04:20 AM 7076 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Six Gun Guitars Part 11 of Kill the Treble series Part 12: Affixing the Cat's Eye »

I was alive in the forest

I was cut by the cruel axe

In life I was silent

In death I sweetly sing

-Inscription on the face frets of an Elizabethan lute

I have a strong suspicion that I’m apart of a vast group of amateur luthiers who pay a daily tribute to the work of William R. Cumpiano & Jonathan D. Natelson. This book which has been accurately categorized as the “Bible of the craft” by none other than C.F. Martin IV, takes an eager mind through every aspect of guitar making one can imagine. It’s safe to assume that many who take up guitar making have some sort of back ground in furniture or cabinet making, and understand grain direction and how to look for a plank that has been quarter sawn from one that is flat sawn. Even if I’m wrong on this, Cumpiano & Natelson throughly explain how to seek out such planks. The book begins with some ideas on the tools you’ll need and some work bench appliances you can build that you will use throughout the project. From here you move through every stage, including finger tapping for tone, building and carving the neck, hand planing the sound board to the correct thickness, making and cutting rosettes, fret work, and the finish. There is much I left out, but hopefully you can get a picture of how complete this book is.

The two guitars being built for the book was steel string,and a classical. How do I find tips on building my Bass from a book like this? The chapter on making and installing a truss rod is one example I’m using now. I could buy truss rod, and a super special router bit that is only for cutting the slot for the truss rod I just bought, all this for about $40 plus shipping/handling. Or I can go buy a piece of 3/16 for about $12. You know the same place that will sell me that truss rod and bit will also make me a pre-slotted, pre-radiused fret board in ebony for about $45! While I’m at it why don’t I just scrap what I’ve poured my soul into and buy a guitar kit! That might work for some people but I’d rather spend my money on some more tools, and rest at night knowing I made this Bass. I use handtools where I can, and believe in making something as far away from a production/factory setting as possible. This idea too was something that I had, and after reading this book I was amazed at how unwavering this thought had become. If you own a copy of this amazing book then by know you’ve already seen the quote up above.

-- Twitter-@thebenchroom

4 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#1 posted 04-03-2012 04:32 AM

Sounds like a goods read. I pack one of Mr. Martin’s guitars around and I think he knows where of he speaks.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View thebenchroom's profile


47 posts in 2510 days

#2 posted 04-03-2012 06:47 AM

Well said, yeah I agree the Martin family definately knows a thing or two about guitar making!

-- Twitter-@thebenchroom

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3154 days

#3 posted 04-03-2012 12:25 PM

Is the name of that book “GUITARMAKING: Tradition and Technology”?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View thebenchroom's profile


47 posts in 2510 days

#4 posted 04-04-2012 02:21 AM

@Rance, yes written by Cumpiano & Natelson.

-- Twitter-@thebenchroom

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics