How classical guitars are made and with what materials

Making a musical instrument is not easy, but requires hard work. For example, the luthier who makes an acoustic guitar must select the woods and prepare them for use. Later, he shapes each part of the instrument and paints it. All this must be done very carefully so that the guitar is beautiful and tunes correctly.


What woods can be used

The palo santo from India is widely used for the body, but almost always for the sides, due to its beauty and sound, in addition, the Honduran cedar for the mango and the Canadian cedar for the soundboard. These are exotic woods and, although they are not in danger of extinction, sometimes the price is very high, due to the high demand and low supply. However, it is also possible to find various cheap woods of this type on the market , especially on the Internet.

Another widely used wood is ebony for the fingerboard, which is an almost black wood in nature, which gives a touch of elegance to guitars.

Of course, even though the wood is of good quality, it must be left to dry for 2 years at 80 degrees of humidity, because in this way the resin will come out through the pores. If the fabricator does not do this step well, the wood can split quickly.


Sawing and cutting

Once the wood has dried correctly, the luthier proceeds to saw and cut it, giving the shape to each part of the guitar, for example, the top, back, sides, soundhole, rosette, neck, etc. For this, the manufacturer uses molds with the predetermined shapes, so that the sound does not vary too much between one guitar and another.

The fingerboard is on the handle and the head will be at the end, in the latter there are the holes where the specialist will later mount the pegbox.




Guitar mounting

First, the luthier joins the handle with the hoops through glue and precise molds. Next, press and fit the sides, reinforcing them with cedar bars so that they do not lose their shape, since these are what give the classic design of the guitar.

Once the rings are reinforced, the lid is assembled, in which a hole commonly called the mouth must first be opened. The sound of the instrument will come out of the latter. In addition, we mention that with the skeleton of the instrument ready, the manufacturer will place the back of the guitar, thus completing the assembly of the soundboard.

When the luthier places the glue to join all the pieces, he uses a pressing machine, since with it he will be able to do this with greater precision. Of course, you must wait a reasonable time for the glue to dry completely. Afterwards, it is necessary to place the ebony fingerboard on the neck of the guitar, in this way it is possible to mount the frets, which are normally 19, but some musicians ask the luthiers for guitars of up to 20 frets or more.

With the body and handle ready, the fabricator will have to proceed with the bridge. In this part of the manufacture, great care must be taken, since the bridge is the one that will support the 46 kg tension provided by the strings. Also, if the bridge is not positioned correctly, the tuning of the instrument will not be optimal.

Likewise, the craftsman must install the nut, which together with the bridge will regulate the height and tension of the strings. The nut goes to the top of the neck and is the one that divides the head with the fingerboard. On the other hand, there is the bridge bone, which must be cow, like the nut.


Guitar beautification

The instrument must be beautiful, which attracts the attention not only of the ear, but also the eyes of the buyers. Therefore, after assembling all the pieces, the luthier cuts the excess wood at the edges of the soundboard or any area that requires it.

In addition to this, as part of the beautification we can mention the rosette that goes around the mouth of the guitar, which makes the instrument more elegant. There are even special borders for guitar that are mounted on the edges of the top and bottom. These can be black, brown or any color that fits the tones of the woods used.

The embellishment process is an artisan task, because it is normally not carried out by luthiers with machines, but by hand. An example of this is the final aesthetic touch, varnish and gloss, that is, the painting and polishing of the guitar. At this point, the luthier should not over-paint, or allow dust to get onto the instrument, at least not while the gloss is completely drying.

The manufacturer can then use a wet sandpaper, which helps even out the shine. Finally, you must polish the instrument so that it looks like a mirror, this will give it the decisive touch in terms of aesthetics.




Installing the headstock and strings

When performing the entire assembly and beautification process, the next thing to do is to place the tuner on the head of the instrument, which is held in place by several small screws. Most of the time, the tuners have black, white or ivory knobs. The color chosen will depend on the demands or preferences of the musician who will play the guitar. 

The strings are attached and wound on the pegbox, and thanks to this accessory the player can tune the instrument, giving them the necessary tension. Nylon strings are recommended as they are very durable and offer a warm tone, however there are also pig gut strings, which offer good sound. In addition to this, the manufacturer must install only 6 strings for a classical guitar, Mi, Si, Sol, Re, La, Mi.

On the other hand, we mentioned that in classical guitars some strings look like metal, but they are not. In other words, they are actually made with multiple nylon filaments, which in turn are wound with nickel, silver, copper, or some similar material. For that reason, many people confuse the last D, A and E strings with the metallic ones of Folk guitars.


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