Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar

The title says it all, and it may not roll off your tongue, but this book has been considered the "bible" of acoustic guitar making since its first publication.  Natelson and Cumpiano tell all, and in minute detail how they builld guitars.  With many illustrations, photographs and extremely detailed words they lead you through an acoustic guitar build.  Some may find reading it cover to cover tedious, but I did not, I read it all the way through and then kept it by my bench for my first acoustic build, a classical guitar that I still enjoy playing today, eleven years later.  In fact I would say this book is why I got hooked on guitar building, the world literally  opened up to me, and so many things I wondered about became clear.

However, it is true that some of the material is dated, in particular even eleven years ago I did not use the "pinned neck" methodology that is illustrated in the book.  On my first Steel string I used the "bolted neck" technique that has become favored by many manufacturers today.  Interestingly Cumpiano on his own site has corrected many of the early information that he feels needs updating, and that includes an alternative of a bolted on neck technique.  Just the detail on how to thin an acoustic soundboard with a plane is worth the price of admission, not to mention detailed measurements, thicknesses and general techniques that you will use for the rest of your building career.  The book painstakingly documents the building process for both a classical and a steel string guitar.  

If you are serious about building acoustic guitars, this book is a foundational, almost text book mandatory book to have in your collection.  You may not read it straight through like I did, but I guarantee you will go to it every time you have a question in mind and need details on how to approach a task.

© J. A. DeMarco 2014