Lutherie Resources

Resources for builders of guitars and other stringed instruments.

Articles and Guides

Building a steel-string acoustic guitar

A pictorial voyage through the construction of a guitar (well, several, actually). Describes and illustrates the approach I use to build acoustic instruments.

    • WordPress version

      Updated version, formatted for viewing on any platform and updated with additional information and techniques

    • Classic version

      Original html pages, best viewed on a PC

    • PDF version

      The original webpages above collected into a single document (many thanks to Joe Papa for putting this together) Note: the document is big (~30 MB) because of all the pictures, so may take a while to download.

Guitar Care Guide

A guide for the care and feeding of an acoustic guitar, focused on my instruments but with information applicable in general.

CNC Inlays in Lutherie

A tutorial on the use of inexpensive CNC routers to create inlays for lutherie.

Arched Workboards

A short piece on constructing and using arched workboards for flat-top guitar construction.

The Long Compass

A short piece on making and using this tool for drawing arcs of circles of large radii.

Bandsaw Blade Tension Calibration

How to calibrate your bandsaw to ensure correct tension on any blade.

Chainsaw Lutherie

A personal account of sourcing wood for lutherie straight from the log.

Calculating Arc Parameters

A short article on computing rises and radii of arcs. From American Lutherie 58 (1999), 42-45.

What Happens if I Make It Bigger? Estimation in the Workshop

An article on rules-of-thumb for how changes in dimensions of structural members affect stiffness and strength. From American Lutherie 73 (2003), 36-39.

Neck and Bridge Geometry for Domed Guitar Tops

An article on computing bridge heights when using domed guitar tops. From American Lutherie 81 (2005), p. 36-39.

Software

Software for guitar design for use on a PC or tablet.

JSCut Inlay Assistant

Software that runs right in your browser to generate g-code for controlling CNC routers to generate inlays and their pockets. This is a light customization of the wonderful and more general JSCut CAM program that is specialized for generating g-code sequences for inlays.

Rosette Designer

Rosette Designer is an app for designing mosaic rosettes for acoustic guitar design. Mosaic designs can be saved and printed, along with parameters needed for constructing the rosette.

Several versions are available that run on different platforms. The rosette design files produced are compatible across versions.

A browser-based version of the Rosette Designer app which runs right in your web browser. Just click on the “Launch” link to run the application.

An Android version of the Rosette Designer app, available from the Google Play Store.

A Java application version of the Rosette Designer app, provided as a Java Archive (.jar) file, for use on a PC running Windows/Linux/Mac OSX. Note that an appropriate Java runtime environment (JRE) will be required on the system to run Rosette Designer; if needed, this can be downloaded for free from Oracle’s website.

Guitar Designer

An app for designing guitar body shapes. Body designs are specified with control points which indicate the general shape of the design; as the points are dragged to new positions, the body shape changes in the same direction. By moving (and adding and deleting) control points, a body design can be refined until it has the desired shape. Designs can be saved and printed, and exported for use in CAD applications.

An Android version of the Guitar Designer app, available from the Google Play Store.

A Java application version of the Guitar Designer app, provided as a Java Archive (.jar) file, for use on a PC. Note that an appropriate Java runtime environment (JRE) will be required on the system to run Rosette Designer; if needed, this can be downloaded for free from Oracle’s website.

Fretmarker Design Java Application

A Java application to aid in the design of unique guitar fret markers. Fret marker designs are specified with control points which indicate the general shape of the design; as the points are dragged to new positions, the fretmarker shape changes in the same direction. By moving (and adding and deleting) control points, a fretmarker design can be refined until it has the desired shape. A dialog allows the specification of the parameters of the guitar fretboard, including the scale length, the fretboard width at the the nut, and the fretboard width at the 12th fret. These parameters are used when the design is printed: the design is automatically scaled to produce templates for each of the frets which traditionally receive a marker (the F, G, A, B, C#, E, G, A, B, C# and E frets), as illustrated below. The Fretmarker Design User Guide is available online.

Utilities

Spreadsheets for luthiers.

Fret positions Excel spreadsheet

Given a fretboard scale length, automatically computes the fret locations, giving distances from the nut.

Time study Excel spreadsheet

Gives a detailed list of construction steps and their completion times for construction of steel-stringed acoustic guitars.

Arc parameter calculation Excel spreadsheet

Relates the span, center deflection (rise) and radius of a circular arc, and automatically calculates any one of the three if the other two are given.

Gallery


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