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Nine Electric Guitar Construction References Reviewed

Nine Electric Guitar Construction References Reviewed

by John Calkin

previously published in American Lutherie #63, 2000

Electric guitars are interesting creatures. The noises they are capable of producing are so far removed from an acoustic guitar that a listener could convince him/herself that either something magical has happened to the instrument or something has gone dreadfully wrong in the world.

Creating electric guitars often conjures up a frustrating paradox. The guitar body begins life as nothing more than a chunk of wood and ends up as little more than a chunk of wood, but assembling and shaping that chunk can present a challenge out of all proportion to what you end up with. Power planers and jointers are expensive. On the other hand, accomplishing the job with hand tools requires a serious investment in time needed to learn to sharpen, set up, and master the tools. Farming out the heavy work is possible, but often seems to dilute the lutherie experience (a belief, strangely enough, found most often in rank beginners who have neither money nor talent, and are often cursed with a stunted sense of the practical). To me the obvious answer was plywood, which makes a much better guitar than anyone would have you believe. The shape, cavities, and channels can all be established with routers and such before the body is glued up to thickness. It’s chief drawback is that it’s hard to finish nicely, but it will get you into guitar making with the least amount of outside help and expense.

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