Archtop Guitar


Archtop GuitarThis archtop guitar was made in 2007-2008, taking a little over a year to construct, I was working full-time at the time. It is a Benedetto copy built according to Benedetto's  book. The materials used are not ideal as I was concerned about spending huge sums on exotic timbers for my first acrchtop. The front is Sitka Spruce, back and sides Elm and neck Maple. I have fitted a Benedetto pickup. I am reasonably satisfied with the result. The guitar looks pretty good and sounds beautiful through a nice amplifier but is rather thin sounding when played acoustically.



Side view showing arch

The photograph of the body shows the arch of the top. The back is similar, with both being carved from the solid using gouges. The relief is about 0.75 inches (20mm) and the final thickness around 3/16 inch (4mm). I think it took around one month each to make the front and back.


Everything is handmade by me except the pick-up and the machine heads.




Closeup of headI tried my hand at inlaying mother of pearl. Here it is on the head. Although I'm pleased with the execution, I'm not sure about the artwork itself. (I am sure. I don't like it.)

The purfling (thin strips of inlay around most od the edged) is made of wood. Strips of sycamore sawn and scraped to .020 in (0.5mm), some dyed black with clothes dye. The bindings ( protective strips on the outer edges of the front and back) are also in sycamore. The f-holes have binding applied lined, in this case for purely decorative purposes. These strips of white-black-white wood were first glued with resin glue and then bent to shape on a hot bending iron. The bend is extremely tight and many pieces were spoilt in the process. Benedetto uses plastic stips or so says his book {Robert Benedetto  Making an Archtop Guitar ISBN 1-57424-000-5} If I make another, I shall give plastic a try.


BodyThe finish is French polish. Archtop guitars would normally have a cellulose lacquer finish and indeed that is the finish advised by Benedetto. However, cellulose is nasty stuff. It is highly flammable, toxic, expensive and difficult to work with to achieve a good finish. On the other hand, French polish is edible, flammable, cheap and difficult to work with to achieve a good finish. I have yet to achieve a finish I am truly happy with on any instrument. My best finished have been achieved using International Paints polyurethane products on electric guitars but I would not use it on an acoustic instrument. 

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