Attempt An Archtop?

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by DianneB, May 12, 2019.

  1. DianneB

    DianneB New Member

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    I am almost 70 and my hands aren't as steady as they once were. Over the last 3 decades I have built a few 5-string banjos (from scratch), a couple of Tele style electric guitars, and repaired various instruments from accordions to antique guitars (and other non-musical things).

    Recently I have been thinking of attempting an archtop guitar but I find the carving process intimidating - never attempted anything like this before. Being on a pension I also have to consider the cost of tools, jigs, forms, etc.

    I see there is at least one company who will route tops and bottoms (CNC) for a fee. There are also Oriental-made 'kits' that sell for a very reasonable price but I expect that materials are in keeping with the cost. The "kits" also have most of the work completed and only finishing remaining - I'd like to do more than just finishing.

    I'd like to do an archtop but don't want to "get in over my head" and I want to do a GOOD job. Am I too old or lacking the experience to tackles something like this?
     
  2. mistermikev

    mistermikev Member

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    I always thought that as you get older you just take more time and do it better...
    never built an archtop, I've never carved a guitar. It is next on my list... but a carved archtop seems like something that would require some building up to... that said I see folks doing stuff 'first time' and nailing it all over the place. Seems to me that if you have the will to do what it takes to make it happen, there is nothing that can stop you. I vote: do it.
     
  3. DianneB

    DianneB New Member

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    Learning, studying, researching ..... I think I will give it a go. Worst that can happen is that I end up with expensive firewood LOL!
     
  4. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    My first instrument build was an archtop F5 mandolin. It came out great. I used a drillpress with a sanding disk to shape the top and back. I drilled a bunch of holes and removed a lot of wood that way before going to the sander. My second one I used a Lancelot on a HF angle grinder. I did it outside because chip go flying everywhere. It was scary but it made short work of it.
     
  5. DRF

    DRF Member

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    You mean an archtop/carve top like a Les Paul or a traditional archtop with bent sides and kerfing cause the later is much more work imo.

    You don't need all the fancy tools and finger planes. Many people can do it with a drill, sanding disc of varying grits and little this 'n that's.

    I used to do them on a duplicarver and for original designs I'd make a master carve template out of drywall compound on a sturdy backing board. If you continually moisten the dried compound it's hard but you can scrape with a razor blade. I know it sounds weird but I learned a ton about carving a top without carving wood, neck angles, what looks right etc. If I screwed up or didn't like it I could add compound.
     
  6. DianneB

    DianneB New Member

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    Oh yea, a full hollow body like an acoustic with the complication of curved front and back.
     

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