Pair of Parlors

I started in mid-January of twenty-two by making a template for the body of the first “Parlor” size acoustic model from my shop. From the template I laid out a basic peg board body mold since at this point I was not sure if I will build another. My initial plan was to build one Parlor steel string and if I like it, one for nylon. Because of the major structural difference between a nylon vs. steel string I decided to build the steel string first.

Building a new model of guitar will require a little more time as I will be making new templates for some of the parts and recording weights and measurements for the first time. I have available one set of Walnut back and sides and one set of Rosewood. Still planning to make one of these nylon I chose the Walnut for the steel string and begin the build. I bend the sides with my archaic jig heated with light bulbs and an inline temp switch. The bending goes without a crack and I move on to installing the tail and heel blocks. Next is kerfed lining, side braces and dish sanding. At this point I take the rim out of the mold and install the end graft. Nothing elaborate, just a wedge with purfling matching the binding scheme. This can also be done after closing the box and prior to binding. Time to get the rim back into the mold being sure the seams are aligned along the center line.

Before closing the box it’s time to inspect the rim and clean up any excess glue, wood chips, dust, etc. While I was waiting for glue to dry in the previous process the top and back were joined, rosette installed plus braces made, installed and carved. The tedious task of integrating the ends of the top and back braces into the rim is next and it just takes patience and practice. I start by laying the top/back on the rim and making pencil marks on one end of one brace and use a file to trim the lining and rim a little at a time, fitting one brace at a time until it sits in place. When both are fitted it’s time to glue. I like to glue the top first, but have done either and it really doesn’t matter. Now it’s time to concentrate on the neck.

When the box is glued there is lots of sanding, prep for binding, sanding, rout binding and purfling channels, sanding and sanding. I bend my binding in the side bending machine and it usually works well and the Bloodwood binding is especially good to work with. Plus it looks great.

Along the way I have built my neck shaft, scarf joint, heel and routed the truss rod slot. The fretboard gets fret slots, dots, taper, radius and frets, in that order. The neck shaft and body will have the dovetail joint made soon as the binding is done and sanded. With the neck joint fitted it’s time to install the truss rod and glue down the fretboard. Before gluing the neck to the body I’ll finish it up by completing the headplate w/logo, tuner mounting holes, nut and fret filing.

When the body and neck are done and sanded, (no lacquer) it’s time to bring them together. Final fitting the neck joint is crucial for the correct neck to top angle. So when I’m done it will press firmly into place and snug the fretboard to the top.

When I finish the construction phase of a guitar my preference is to install the tuners, string it up and do the set up to about 90% of what I ultimately want, including fret work. Then I remove the tuners and saddle to apply and finish the lacquer. This is also the first time to actually play the thing. I’ll keep it like this for at least an evening of playing so I get a good listen to what it can do. After playing this one for a while I decided to shelf the nylon string idea in favor of more like this!

I got this one into the spray booth next day and immediately started on a body mold for this model and bending the Rosewood sides for the second one. From start to finish I’ve never taken so long to build a pair of instruments but it was well worth the wait. I let the Walnut hang with lacquer while I finished number two.

Both guitars have the same woods except for the backs, sides and necks. The Walnut one has a Sapele neck and the Rosewood has Kayah. Each has Sitka Spruce tops with Bloodwood and Maple trim. The bridge, fretboard, heelcap. and headplate are Pauduk.

These both sound amazing, play like a dream and I love that Red Pauduk.

Scale length: 24.9”

Neck to body: 14th, fret

Upper bout: 10.75”

Waist: 8.50”

Lower bout: 13.75”

Body length: 18.75”

Overall length: 39.00”

String Guage: .012-.056

Author: Rick

A life long woodworker, I've been building guitars since 2006 after attending a guitar building course presented by Martin guitars. I build acoustic dreadnoughts, electrics, and the "Hambone", a Terz guitar. I am a North Carolina native and am currently located near Charlotte, NC.