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Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar: Complete Instructions and Full-Size Plans Paperback – February 1, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
All aspiring luthiers need to take a deep breath. Reading a single book about guitar building is a fine start, but just the beginning of the process. This book is an overview, and really no more than that. As a woodworker of more than 40 years I recognize that there are a lot of skills that Mr. Kinkead does not address...how can he? Basic skills, like using and sharpening handplanes and chisles,using lay out tools, knowing how to build jigs etc. all comes with years of experience and has to be presumed by the author.
Assuming a fairly high level of existing woodworking skill on the part of the aspiring luthier, there are still a lot of steps in the process that are glossed over in Mr. Kinkaed's book. For example, "dishing" the top and bottom of the open side assembly to accept the back and the soundboard. As the soundboard and back both are built with a radius, the side/kerfing/block assembly needs to be trimmed to the same angle in order to ensure a tight glue joint. Mr. Kinkaed offers about two sentences addressing this process: page 84 " Attaching the soundboard and the back to the sides is a delicate operation with two important factors to consider. First, the soundboard and back are both slightly arched structures; this means that the gluing surfaces of the kerfings and blocks need to be shaped accurately to match them. The angles are more than 90 degrees, and can be finessed with a block plane and/or sanding sticks ".
Oh boy....well, you will find out by reading other books, and by checking out YouTube videos on this procedure, that "dishing" a side assembly involves a lot more than 'finessing with a handplane and/or sanding sticks'. See for yourself. Check out 'Luthier Tips du Jour' on YouTube on this subject (and many others).
Point is, if you want to build a decent guitar from scratch you need to spend a lot of time reading a lot of books, watching a lot of videos, talking to a lot of people, and enjoying the adventure along the way.
Mr. Kinkaed's book is a splendid volume to have in a multi volume guitar building library. He provides lovely pictures of how he goes about things, and will give you some inspiration concerning design. He'll even respond to e-mails.
Mr. Kinkaed's alleged self promotion and t-shirts notwithstanding, give this book a read, hang on to it for ideas, and recognize that if you purchase this book as a single "bible" for guitar building, you will be woefully disappointed.
Before I read Kinkead's book, I read Roger Siminoff's "Luthier's Handbook". This was a fantastic book that taught me first to appreciate how acoustic stringed instruments work. I was astounded by how little I knew, but delighted to learn. I found this book an excellent place to start.
My second book was Cumpiano and Natelson's "Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology". This book is useful, but not at all inspiring. I expect to use it as a reference, and for it's ideas on alternate construction techniques, but I found that it did not have the right level of detail for me - it often described steps in agonizing detail sprinkled with undefined specialized terms and without much clarity of where each set of steps was taking me. I couldn't bring myself to read it cover to cover, but I'm not going to give it away either.
Kinkead's was my third and most delightful book on building a guitar. I can't wait to get started.