The Woods and Processes Used to Make Acoustic Guitars

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Because they ultimately enchant listeners with the sounds they can make, it is sometimes easy to forget that acoustic handmade guitars are made with wood. Historically, guitar makers used Brazilian rosewood or East Indian wood to make the body of the guitar. In recent times, the Brazilian government has limited the use of rosewood, since it is becoming a scarce material. This limitation has forced some manufacturers to use several different types of wood and glue them together to form the guitar. 

In addition to the curved body of the guitar that many people recognize, guitar makers have to create the neck, which guitar players press their fingers on to create different sounds. They also have to create the headstrong, which holds the tuners that adjust the strings to hit different musical keys. The strings stretch all the way from the tuners to the bridge, which is attached to the body of the guitar. Each of these guitar parts can be made from a different wood. The neck, for example, is frequently made of a hard wood like ebony or mahogany, to withstand the heat and humidity and resist warping, and the soundboard or top surface of the guitar is made from Alpine spruce or American Sika. 

Because the top and back of the guitar should be symmetrical, they are usually made through a process called bookmatching. Once a guitar maker selects the right piece of wood for the body, he slices the wood into two thinner sheets. The most logical reason for doing this is to make sure the guitar front and top keep the same grain pattern, but it also makes it a lot easier to keep the same carved, curvy shape for the body. The two thinner sheets can easily be measured to ensure they match and then glued to the side and back braces.

In order to ensure a good sound, it is important for any craftsman to properly executing strutting. This is the process of putting wood braces on the underside of the top and back pieces that have been sliced to match. Although the purpose of strutting is also to reinforce the wood against the frequent pulling of strings, it is crucial for delivering a guitar's sound. Most guitar makers do strutting in an X-pattern because it is believed to deliver the purest sound. Strutting for the back of the guitar equally affects sound, but the braces are placed parallel with one wood strip running the length of the back. Artisan guitar makers know how to perfect this process to help the guitar deliver a rich tone.

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