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BYO Django Guitar

I bought my first Django guitar from this site around 10 years ago. Thank you Micheal for running this great resource!

I have played guitar for 25 years and about 3 years ago bought a classical guitar construction book by John Bogdanovich which I read over a year or so. Due to the downtime at home during Covid I decided it was time to build my own Django guitar - also my first guitar. I have owned about 4 previous gypsy models mostly Gitane and a Godin (Stephen Wrembel and Jorgensen models and Godin Gypsy Jazz) to use as reference along with some techniques from the book (and lots of research online).

I used plans from this site (Micheal Collins) but did a traditional dovetail join instead of the neck join described in those plans. Wanted to share some photos of the finished result and some build photos. The guitar sounds wonderful and very typical of this style of guitar! I started in April 2020 and had the guitar setup in January 2021 but spent 2 months French polishing and really nitpicking about it which prolonged the process.

This was really rewarding experience and I hope that this post might convince anyone on the fence to try to make that first guitar you have dreamed of. I have started on a classical style guitar for no.2 - using the forms I made for this guitar and am excited to learn more and develop my skills.

Some details:

Back and Sides: maple milled from a relatives farm in Ontario, Canada

Top: Sitka Spruce

Fingerboard/ Bridge, headstock veneer, back wedge: Macassar Ebony

Binding: Black walnut

Scale length: 670mm

Double action truss rod

Some atypical things that I incorporated for this style of guitar:

elevated fingerboard for easier high fret access, domed back and domed top, French polish finish, carved headstock, slight changes to the top bracing (compared to plans)

HCQBucoTomasWillierudolfochristLango-DjangobillyshakesBonesBill Da Costa WilliamsWim Glenn


  • Posts: 3,165

    Amazing. And you're not a woodworker by trade?

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,591

    Congratulations, looks great!

    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Altamira M10
    Posts: 464

    Love the dark accents by the ebony and walnut. Nice work!

  • Bill Da Costa WilliamsBill Da Costa Williams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos
    Posts: 370

    Very handsome looking instrument.

  • jaredjared New
    Posts: 21

    Really nice work. That is one thick fingerboard. Is it all one piece or do you have it sitting on something else to get the thickness? This one must have some weight to it with that in combination with the heel block extension under the neck. Cool idea. I suspect very good sustain. Yes?

  • fhansharfhanshar Guelph, Ontario, CanadaNew
    edited April 8 Posts: 5

    Thanks for the comments!

    @jared right! The fingerboard is thick over the body. It is two pieces of ebony laminated. It does taper towards the nut to assist in getting the right neck angle. The sustain is awesome - better than Gitanes I have but the volume is also louder so its hard to distinguish what is really going on. I was reading/researching on how the neck should be massive to keep vibration in the body - but of course we desire light guitars so we need to trade things off. I also wanted a well-balanced guitar so the weight is near the neck join, to keep balance. I attached a picture I had in which you can kinda see the taper below.

    The total weight of this guitar strung up is 1920 grams, and my Gitane Stephane Wrembel is 1906 grams for comparison, so very close. The top was about 230 grams before it was trimmed when glued to the body. This heavier than I wanted but I didn’t want to take more off the braces after I tuned the top.

  • jaredjared New
    Posts: 21

    That's a nice solution for the neck angle problem. There are so many ways to build a good guitar.

    Seeing this picture, I really appreciate the light-dark contrast/reversal between headstock and back.

  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 519
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,056

    Beautiful. I love the French polish. What neck angle did you end up with? Is the top domed or is there a pliage?

  • fhansharfhanshar Guelph, Ontario, CanadaNew
    Posts: 5

    @Bones thanks! It was a lot of fun to make and a great learning experience.

    The top/sides are domed and there is no pliage. For the top I used a 15’ radius dish on just the lower bout. The bracing was finished off on the same radius dish to get arches that work with the doming of the sides.

    The entire back is also domed to that same 15’ (one of the photos above shows the back laying on the radius dish flush).

    The neck is angle is something like 1.5 degrees but the fingerboard tapers near the nut to make up the rest of the required neck angle. I think I ended up with something like 2 degrees combined (neck angle + fingerboard taper). I got sold on elevated fingerboards with some archtop guitars I owned previously and a Cordoba C12 which is a classical with an elevated fingerboard.

    Getting this all to work was a bit of an experiment and I toiled over setting the neck for some time, even partially stringing up the guitar just with the neck shimmed and fingerboard clamped (see below) to get a feel of what the action/playability was going to be like.

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