"The LMI kit is very high end, and now includes the DVD "How to Build a Guitar with Robert O'Brien". This DVD is a great resource and you get it free with the kit. I think this adds tremedously to the value of the kit. I built my last guitar with an LMI kit and it turned out beautiful."
We carry other fine books and heartily recommend that you look over several books to learn the craft in depth and to determine which of the many ways of building suits you.
- What is the difference between a kit and ordering the parts individually? Price! All of the woods and parts in all of our kits are the exact same items we sell individually. All of the services in our serviced kits are also the same. Because of the quantity of items involved and because we are able to pack the kits in advance on our own schedule (there is generally no waiting for service with a kit), we are able to offer you a 10 to 20% saving when you purchase a kit.
- Can I customize, upgrade or change an item in a kit? Yes! You can customize your kit with the Kit Wizard.
- What Glues and Finishing Supplies will I need? The best place to start is our online article, “ Guitar Finishes”. It describes the finishing procedure for all of our finish products. Most kit builders will opt for the KTM9 water-based finish. This finish is the main component in our “finishing kit” (LMI part #FINKIT). The finishing kit includes a number of supplies, including adhesives, sandpapers and polishes that are perfect for the first time builder who is not using special tools and machinery. If you do not wish to order the finishing kit (because you already have the sandpapers, for example) then you can use the list of items included in this kit as a guideline for ordering items individually.
- What tools will I need to complete the kit? This is a difficult to answer question because many customers have different tools set-up already and there are many different ways to go about building our kits. The best place to start is our online article Tool Recommendations. In addition to tools that we sell and those commonly available from the hardware store, you will be required to construct several easy jigs and molds in order to best complete the guitar.
- Do I need any woodworking skills to complete a kit? Building a guitar, even from a kit, can be challenging. You will have the best results if you have some basic woodworking skills to start out with, though many customers have had great success starting out with little experience. If you are unsure, order one of Robert O'Brien's DVD's, or a few guitarmaking books and determine for yourself if you are up to the task! If you feel it is a bit daunting, then you might want to start out building some ornate wood boxes (or a similar project) so you can become comfortable with your tools and learn the basics of good joinery, clamping, and sharpening etc.
- What other resources are available to me to help me complete the kit? There are a number of fine guitar building schools, book recommendations and online forums listed in our online article Beginner’s Page. LMI is available to answer questions about our products but we prefer that you ask general building questions on one of the online forums we link to.
- What is the difference between the OM and Dreadnought? What do these terms mean? These are guitar model codes from the Martin Guitar Company which, because of their popularity, have become standard terms in the industry for these guitar shapes. The Dreadnought has a large lower bout, and is a popular with flatpickers. It is a standard “western” style guitar. The OM (which is very similar to Martin’s 000 guitar except that it has a 25.4 scale length) is smaller, has a tighter waist and is popular with fingerstyle guitarists. Of course, both guitars can be used successfully for both flatpicking and fingerstyle playing.
- What are the differences between your Classical and your Flamenco kits? The main differences between flamenco and classical guitars in terms of basic design are:
- The flamenco guitar is lighter because of the use of the cypress instead of the heavier rosewood. Lightness tends to reduce overall volume and adds a percussive quality to the attack of the notes and chords.
- The bridge profile on the flamenco is usually lower than that of the classical bridge, again, sharpening the attack and facilitating the tapping of the soundboard by the player.
- It is not uncommon for flamenco guitars to have a longer string length, say 655 or 660mm. Normally the longer scale requires larger hands and can lead to fatigue and missed notes. However many players capo the guitar on the 2nd or 3rd fret which shortens the scale and adds a brightness to the tone of the instrument. The longer overall string length helps to reduce any negative affects the capoing up might normally produce (i.e.reduced volume and tone). The brighter, punchier, more percussive sound of the flamenco guitar is particularly suitable for accompanying dancers. Sometimes solo flamenco players play instruments called "negras", essentially flamenco guitars made with rosewood back and sides, which helps restore the sustain normally missing from the cypress instruments.
- On most flamenco guitars the top and back plates are rarely domed or radiused and are left flat. It is tradition for Flamenco guitars to use pegs instead of tuning machines, but the great majority of modern Flamenco builders and players prefer machines so this is what we include in our Flamenco kit.
- Do the kits come with pre-carved braces? Many builders agree that shaping one’s own braces is one of the most fascinating and fun parts of building a guitar because the shape of the braces does so much to determine the sound of the guitar. For this reasons our kits come with raw material for making your own braces. Also, some more experienced builders may elect to use a bracing pattern which is different from the one on the plan supplied with the kit.
Be sure to tap on the soundboard from time to time as you carve your braces down to shape, so you can hear how the soundboard responds differently. If you are building your first guitar, the safest thing to do it is to carve the braces to the shapes on the plan supplied with your kit. On future projects you will want to vary the shape of the braces slightly to get different tonal effects or to compensate for an overly stiff or flexible soundboard.
- How much will the finished guitar be worth? We have seen guitars built with materials similar to the ones in our kits sell for as much as $3000 and more, but these guitars were built by professionals who have established themselves in the marketplace and who have the experience necessary to bring forth the best from the woods -and whose craftsmanship is impeccable. Still many beginners have made truly fine instruments their first time around. If you are able to apply sound woodworking principles to your project and pay close attention to your instructional materials, then you can also! We have had the pleasure of playing several very fine kit guitars that our customers have brought by our shop and it is really astonishing how great sounding many of these guitars are.
- How long will it take to complete the guitar? This depends on your experience, your building methods, your tools and many other factors. First time builders will often need to make some simple jigs and fixtures as they proceed, so the first guitar will undoubtedly take longer to complete than the second. Most first timers who spend evenings and weekends on their guitar usually complete their instrument in 3 to 5 months, but it can be done in 2 months or less of you work smart and fast.
- How can I purchase a guitar kit at a discount? By purchasing a kit you are buying all the guitar’s components at a discount. For this reason, our kits very rarely go on sale.
- Can you add some services to the kit that I do not see listed on your website? The serviced kits include all of our available services. We are not able to complete any other building operations for you (i.e. gluing the sides to the back, inlaying the fingerboards etc.). If you want to order one of the unserviced or ‘basic’ kits, then you can add any of our many advertised services to your order.
- Is the kit returnable? All woods purchased from LMI are returnable so long as you have not begun to work the wood. We do require that you get a return authorization from us in advance. For more information on our customer-friendly return policy, please see our general policy page.