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BYO finally finished my first guitar!

It’s taken 3 1/2 years but I finally finished my first guitar! 15” Archtop. Douglas fir top, flat sawn maple back and sides. 25” scale finished in two coats of shellac and then tru oil. Non adjustable, hollow,

maple and rosewood bridge.

No sound samples yet but I am using D’Addario Nickel Bronze 12’s. I really like them.

there are a few things, setup wise, that need adjusting but I’m so happy to have it playing that I can live with it for a month and then fix things when I have really had a chance to get a good feel for it. Also, fret work is so hard to do well.

ScoredogBill Da Costa WilliamsTDogBucobillyshakesrichter4208AndyWMichaelHorowitzvanmalmsteenrudolfochrist


  • Bill Da Costa WilliamsBill Da Costa Williams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos
    Posts: 328
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,027

    Wow cool! Can't wait to hear how it sounds. Pics of the back? Did you spray the shellac, brush or French polish?

  • Joshl-mJoshl-m New
    Posts: 70

    Brush for the shellac coats and then wipe on thin coats of tru oil. I think around 8 coats. I will try to post a sound sample this weekend. I need to adjust the action and I’m going to go a bit lighter on the bridge first

  • flacoflaco
    Posts: 46

    Now that's neat! Did you do violin-type construction with the way the top, sides, and back are connected? Or is that mostly cosmetic? It reminds me of the work of Joseph Campanella on mandolins: 2012 Dué Mandolin — Campanella Stringed Instruments (

  • Joshl-mJoshl-m New
    Posts: 70

    It’s definitely like a violin. I was at the last Montreal guitar show in 2012 and Ken parker was there with one of his archtops. As well, there was a Luthier from Quebec there, Benoit Lavoie, all the archtops he brought had this kind of construction and I fell in love with it.

    There is a great podcast called ‘Luthier on Luthier’. In one of the episodes, Ken parker is interviewed and he makes a very strong case for letting this be where we let the violin family influence archtops and that we should do away with F holes. What he has to say makes a lot of sense and I just make go with a different kind of sound port on the next one.

    the other luthier I mentioned, Benoit Lavoie, was using side ports for most of the guitars he brought to that show and I really can’t argue with how satisfying they were to play.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited January 23 Posts: 3,027

    Wow cool! Can't wait to hear how it sounds. Where did you get the shellac? Flakes or pre mixed? What does the Tru oil over the top of the shellac do, more durability? Thx

  • Joshl-mJoshl-m New
    Posts: 70

    I had some leftover flakes I had bought from Lee Valley.

    I had read that the idea of using shellac first on a classical guitar forum. The idea being shellac would be a better sealer and keep the tru oil from penetrating to deep into the wood. But I’ve since learned that tru oil is not a ‘true-oil’ finish at all and Doesn’t soak into the wood the same way something like tung oil does. It’s more like a varnish and could be used on its own. I am definitely not an expert finisher but the tru oil was super easy to work with. Much easier than shellac . You just need some patience. It takes a couple weeks to fully cure. I thought the tone disappeared from the guitar after I was done coating it. The rap tone sounded like a watermelon but after a couple weeks of sitting it was exactly as it had been before.

  • juandererjuanderer HoustonNew Manouche Latcho Drom Djangology Koa
    Posts: 109
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,027

    Why not just use shellac alone?

  • Joshl-mJoshl-m New
    Posts: 70

    I actually only had a little bit left from another project. I had refinished my first gypsy guitar in shellac(my aria mm-10) and was happy with the feel and sound but I found it could be really finicky to work with. Especially for a novice like me. I had read about tru oil and then my dad, who is a luthier, recommended it for anyone who Is working out of a really small space and doesn’t want to get into spray equipment. It’s not what he uses but has used for various projects and repairs in the past and was satisfied with it. I would definitely use it again after this

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