Rough lumber dimensions for musical instruments

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Forum topic by BlauSchuh posted 06-02-2012 05:11 PM 812 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 2407 days

06-02-2012 05:11 PM

question for you folks that build guitars….

I’ve built a few guitars in the past (electrics), and am currently working on a couple of acoustics. I’ve almost always bought ebay wood that’s been ‘good to go’. I barely had to process the wood before using it. It was dry, It was pre-planed, and sometimes already glued up. No worries about warpage, etc. Only once did i come close to not having enough width on a guitar top.

I’m now looking at buying larger quantities of rough wood and just stacking it until I’m ready to use it. So the question is…

What should be the minimum dimensions i should be looking at? Most guitars are 1.75” – 2” thick in my experience. I have a gibson SG that is sort of an outlier at ~ 1 3/8”. I got some dry slabs a few weeks back that were just about 8/4 thick, maybe a bit over. Figure I was good to go. By the time I had sent them through the planer to get to a smooth surface on both sides I was left with barely 7/4. Still should work out fine.

How do you account for thickness shrinkage in green lumber when you want a 8/4 or 7/4 final thickness?
Getting 10/4 stuff seems like it would avoid the issue entirely, but then I am wasting wood.


1 reply so far

View killerb's profile


150 posts in 2599 days

#1 posted 06-02-2012 07:40 PM

I am no instrument maker, but I did stay at a holiday inn express once.
Most rough 8/4 stock is right around a full 2” thick. If you don’t need long pieces, I would cut it close to length and joint 1 side. Then plane the other . You should finish out about 1.75” or maybe a bit more. Do not bookmatch tiger maple. 1 side will look great close up, but disappear from a distance. It is always best to slip match tiger maple and flame birch. The figure is always best on the bark side. I guess if Gibson does them at 1 3/8” thick, that should work for most. But again, I do furniture, not guitars. I can glue up and plane blanks if you need them. Hope this helps. bob

-- Bob

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