Steel-stringed Guitar

Building your first guitar is not just another project; it’s a journey.
By Steve Shanesy
Pages: 84-89

From the October 2004 issue #143
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Ever since my early days of woodworking, the idea of building a musical instrument has fascinated me. Unlike building cabinets and furniture, the delight in completing a musical instrument would be much greater, I surmised. Rather than merely enjoying the looks of a completed project, there would be a kind of “birth moment” when the instrument came to life, issuing its first sounds. Not long ago I realized this 25-year-long fascination when I first strung up a steel-string guitar I built from a kit purchased from the legendary C.F. Martin & Co.

I wasn’t disappointed. As I’d hoped, the guitar came to life producing clear, rich dulcet tones – and a big smile on my face.

Building the instrument was a kind of a journey, taking me down woodworking avenues I’d never ventured before. Like most adventures, there were a couple of stumbles along the way. Nothing serious, mind you, just wrong turns anyone makes when crossing uncharted ground.

While I can’t begin to cover all the background, instructions and steps necessary to build a guitar – even from a kit – in this article, I can provide you a “diary” of the 100-plus hours I spent making jigs, assembling and finishing my Martin model 000-18 guitar.

From the October 2004 issue #143
Buy this issue now