• Liam Carroll

Make Your Own Guitar

It was nearing lunchtime when Greg Scott found himself craving a kick ass Pad Kee Mao from Newport’s Chilli Sha Sha Thai Kitchen, parking his car only to look through the window of Violins by the Sea and behold the perfectly crafted stringed instruments on display; violins, cellos and guitars, exquisite masterpieces. “Yep,” knew Greg instantly, “I’m gonna make a guitar.”

Valerie in the making

He devoured his Pad Kee while mulling the steps to make his luthier dream reality. First step, hardware. Greg sourced high quality timber from Gilet Guitars. Second step, he bought the bible, Guitar Making by William Cumpiano, “the finest book on making guitars ever produced”, it says so on the cover, so you know it’s true. Third step, where things get fiddly, make the thing.

Greg followed the instructions precisely, cutting the requisite holes and curves, ensuring the exact geometry was applied for the soundboard bracing. So far, so good, but as Shakira knows, the hips don’t lie, and it was time for the trickiest part, Side Bending, the means by which a guitar’s hips are sculpted to jaw-dropping beauty. The process is called Bouncing and entails taking a steaming hot cylinder and literally “bouncing” it on the timber, inducing the wood to bend and curve. Sounds easy? Well, according to Greg, it’s an activity whose enjoyment levels rhyme with bucking bucked, the timber splitting and cracking and doing anything he didn’t want it to while his hands burned to hell in the caress of a gas-heated metal pipe.

Valerie, ready for action

After tearing through his timber supplies and having his shits successfully cracked, Greg took a quick breather from guitar making to cool his head and his hands... for a mere five months. He returned full of focus, able now to bounce his guitar’s form into a perfectly symmetrical shape. Time heals all. He rigged up bike inner tubes to apply the suitable pressure and flexibility to glue the guitar body together, hacked a gorgeous neck for the fret board to lay down upon before inserting the giant screw known as the truss rod, the spine of the guitar whose strength ensures the tension of the guitar strings doesn’t force the guitar to collapse in on itself. All a piece of cake compared to the bouncing nightmare.

Finally, with the strings secured, his work of art ready to play, Greg realised it was indeed Valentine’s Day. Ever the romantic, he named his guitar Valerie, took her in his arms, laid her on his lap, and strummed the sweetest lullaby we’ll never hear, it’s for Greg and Valerie’s ears alone. So, there you have it, for $603 and countless hours of loving dedication, Greg has a work of art for life, his DIY Master Craft, his Valerie.


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