Neck and Fretboard
Acoustic guitars are one of the most popular and universal instruments in the world. From folk to rock, blues to classical and country, and others in between, acoustic guitars can be found across all genres.
Building an acoustic guitar requires a strong understanding of all the parts that come together to make up a whole instrument. In this post, I will explain how each part is put together, from beginning to end.
Raw materials used to construct acoustic guitars are wood, metal, and plastic. There are many types of woods used to make instruments including but not limited to maple, spruce, mahogany, pearwood, bamboo, and ebony. Metal can be an alloy of steel or titanium. Acoustic guitars have been made from aluminum as well as from polyurethane resins since the late 20th century.
Metal: The metal body is typically made from a type of stainless steel that has been treated with a coating called nickel-silver to provide it with high corrosion resistance and rigidity characteristics. Acoustic guitars can also be made out of different metals such as aluminum which provides a light yet strong material for this type of guitar.
Plastic: The neck, fretboard, and bridge of the guitar are commonly made out of hard plastic. Acoustic guitars can also be made out of other materials such as carbon fiber.
Hardware: hardware refers to any component that holds the guitar together. It refers to parts like screws, springs, nuts, or machine heads that hold strings in place or anchor frets at their posts.
Acoustic guitar manufacturers are constantly improving the design of acoustic guitars. With the improvements, manufacturers are constantly trying to achieve a better tone that is more clear and projects well. The best acoustic guitars are made with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship.
Size and Shape
Acoustic guitars are made of six to eight wooden pieces, which are assembled according to the customer’s specifications to create the desired size and shape. The back and sides are made of hardwood. The top is made of softwood, which is pine sandwiched between two layers of spruce.
The wood is air-dried for about twelve months before being cut into slabs 120mm thick. These slabs are machined down to 60mm thick before being sawn into individual woods components, including the sides, back and top plates, neck veneers and head plates. The wood components are cut to shape and thickness.
Next, the sides and back are glued to the bird’s-eye maple or spruce top plate. When the glue sets, a seam is sanded flush and then hand sanded before being polished. The neck plate is screwed onto the back of the guitar and then glued in place. A dovetail joint is used between the neck and body, and then wood shims with a 90-degree angle on one end and a 45-degree angle on the other end are used to give it exact alignment before drying for about two weeks with clamps holding it all together. This process allows for creating perfect fretboards with no warping or twisting.
There are many things that go into making an acoustic guitar. The first step is the making of the body. A piece of wood is taken and cut into a specific shape with sharp edges. It will then be covered in another piece of wood called a soundboard, which will connect it to its side pieces through bracing tubes known as “bridge”.
The body of the guitar is made out of wood that has been cut into thin pieces. Those pieces are then glued together to form a big block of wood with holes drilled in it to create fretboard and saddle slots for strings at various intervals. The body is then glued onto the top of the neck. From that point on, you can begin to carve out your guitar. The most extreme alteration is when the guitar maker carves entirely through the guitar’s body, with a giant spike poking out and holding it in place. That not only allows for a fragile and light guitar but also adds to its premium look and feel.
Shaping and Carving
The next step is shaping and carving into your acoustic’s body. That involves rounding off sharp edges and hollowing out most of the body into a preferred shape. The guitar is then plugged in and attached to a tuner. From there, it can be tested by playing chords and experimenting with the tuner to find the best sound for each string. The neck is typically made of maple or mahogany wood. It joins the body (or soundboard) at the 12th fret and has 20 frets on a standard guitar. The frets are made from polished steel or brass and are usually placed a little over 2mm apart from each other. There usually ends up being between 17 and 22 brass frets on a guitar depending on the desired range. The metal strings run over the top of the neck to get to individual metal, electronic tuners mounted in holes in front of each string hole – more on these later!
The Neck meets what is known as the “soundboard” at a point called ‘the Joint’. This is the point where the neck has been attached to a solid flat piece of wood. The purpose of this is so that vibrations from the strings, amplified by a pickup in the bridge, can be transmitted efficiently through what is known as a ‘sound box’. The soundbox is made from a variety of materials including plywood and various species of wood.
At the end of the neck, two tuners (also called electronic tuners) are fixed into holes at each end. These sit above and pass over individual metal bars which run across the top of the guitar (called “string trees” or usually “bracing”).
After reading this article, now you are aware of the steps how to manufacture acoustic guitars.