Some resources to help you along as you get started with guitar building.
Whether you believe in "beginners luck" or not, you've found us and that means you'll be off to a great start as you begin to build instruments! We are the ideal place to provide the perfect woods and hard to find tools and accessories that help make your project a success. At LMI we are proud to have assisted literally thousands of woodworkers, musicians, and craftspeople enter successfully into this extremely gratifying pursuit. It's great fun helping beginning builders. Often we meet them later at trade shows or guitar festivals and get to see the fine instruments they have created.
How does LMI help?
- Our knowledgeable staff is always happy to recommend woods, parts, tools and instructional materials to make your first project a smooth and successful one. You save time and money, not only because our prices are competitive, but because we help hold your mistakes to a minimum.
- We carry dozens of books, plans, videos for building steel string and classical guitars, electric guitars, mandolins and dulcimers.
- We offer numerous services to ease your project along when you're not set up for bending the sides, slotting the fingerboard or joining and sanding the top and back plates. Services can often be done to your specifications and there are many, many options for the type of instrument you want to build.
- We offer an informative website with a searchable shopping cart.
- We have a wide range of specialty tools for guitar making. We carry jigs for side bending and for routing the binding ledge, specialty chisels, planes and clamps, measuring tools, repair tools, finishing supplies and much more.
- We carry the finest quality woods available with the widest selection to choose from on the planet. Besides our extremely high quality woods, we also carry lower grade woods which offer a fine value and are well suited for beginners who are new to woodworking. Most of our woods are sold pre-profiled, which means that there is no need to invest in expensive re-saw equipment.
- Our kits offer a great way to be assured of the proper combination of materials and will save money at the same time.
GROUPS & CLUBS
These groups offer a great opportunity to network with others who are interested in luthiery. Some groups (such as GAL and ASIA) are nation wide (even world wide!) but most here are regional groups who hold monthly or bi-monthly meetings. Are we missing your group here? Please let us know!
Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans' (ASIA)
Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans' (ASIA) site. Membership includes quarterly magazine ‘Guitarmaker’.
Luthiers Interactive of North Texas (LINT)
Northern California Association of Luthiers (NCAL)
Seattle Luthiers Group
Stringed Instrument Makers of Southern California (SIMSCal)
Colorado Luthiers Group
Ukulele Guild of Hawaii
A non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, perpetuation and promotion of the ukulele as a significant musical instrument.
BOOKS & VIDEOS
LMI carries numerous books and videos on guitar building. There are a variety of ways to go about things, and we think it is a good idea to investigate a number of books. All of the books we carry have strong points, and the staff at LMI is happy to help you choose the book(s) best for you.
Following are some of LMI's favorite books and videos:
- “Woodworking Basic” (BM66) by Peter Korn and Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking Magazine). If you have never lifted a tool before, or have only limited woodworking experience, be sure to pick this one up.
- “Guitarmaking; Tradition and Technology” (BS0S) by Cumpiano and Natleson. This is a standard for steel string and classical guitar construction. This book covers basic hand-tool techniques as well as suggestions for the power tool approach. It offers excellent detail in every operation of building!
- We are also impressed with “Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar” (BS6) by Jonathan Kinkead
- Courtnall’s book “Making Master Guitars” (BC5) discusses the design and construction of several great historically significant classical guitars in the first half and offers detailed instruction in the second half.
- John Bogdanvich’s book “Making a Concert Classical Guitar with John S. Bogdanovich” (BM91) offers extensive, detailed instruction, combining modern and traditional methods.
- For electric guitar building a great choice is “Build Your Own Electric Guitar” (BE6) by Melvyn Hiscock. This book covers several types of electric guitars and electric bass in fine detail.
- Martin Koch’s “Building Electric Guitars” (BE10) is very well-done and is the only book that covers semi-hollow body guitars such as the ES 335.
- If you are interested in Archtop guitars, try Bob Benedetto's “Making an Archtop Guitar” (BM21). This is the best book on the subject, but perhaps not the best book for those just getting started with guitar building.
- For Mandolin Building see Roger Siminoff's “The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual” (BM56).
- For Bouzouki building Graham MacDonald’s “The Bouzouki Book” (BM58) is excellent.
- We heartily recommend Robert O’Brien’s “Build a Steel String Guitar” (BM62), “Build a Classical Guitar” (BM61), and “Build an Electric Guitar” (BM76). Robert uses LMI kits for the guitars built with these excellent DVDs.
- “Build an Acoustic Guitar” with Frank Finocchio is also very good (available in DVD and VHS).
- The most complete instruction for classical guitar building can be found in “Making a Concert Classical Guitar with John S. Bogdanovich” (BM91) which is a 10 DVD set.
- We also recommend the video “Guitarmaking with Benito Huipe” (BM22) directed by Ron Fernandez. Huipe is a classical and flamenco builder who mainly uses hand tools in this video. This is the only video that follows the building of nylon string guitars from beginning to end.
- For Archtop Guitar Construction, See Bob Benedetto's DVD set, BM64.
LMI’s website has a growing list of informative articles. Among them are:
- Alternative Tonewoods - A great introduction to tonewoods that will help you decide what woods to choose.
- Choosing & Applying a Guitar Finish - A very extensive article on finishing guitars that covers all of our finish products.
- HeadstockSlotting & Drilling Jig
- Luthier's Tools - for beginners struggling with what tools to purchase!
- Using the Vacuum Bridge Clamp
- Wood Grading - More information that will help you choose the right woods.
Got a burning question? Need to talk directly with an experienced guitar builder? There are a growing number of online communities that offer advice and camaraderie.
- Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
Not a forum, per se, but an incredible source of information. This well-known site is provided by LMI's colleague and chief luthier, Frank Ford. Literally thousands of pages and pictures on all aspects of guitar repair, upkeep and lutherie.
- Musical Instrument Makers Forum (MIMF)
- Official Luthiers Forum
A lively forum for the interchange of information, ideas, and suggestions, moderated by luthier Lance Kragenbrink.
Here are some schools that teach guitar building. LMI offers enrolled students a 10% discount on any items shipped to their school! Keep in mind that there are other schools out there and that many guitar makers provide instruction on an individual basis:
Schools in USA
- American School of Lutherie
- ARC Guitar School
- Art Series Guitar
- Colorado School of Lutherie
- Eric Schaefer Guitars
- Everett Guitars - Kent Everett
- Finocchio Guitars - Frank Finocchio
- Fretted Strings Lutherie School
- Galloup Guitars - Bryan Galloup
Big Rapids, MI
- Geiger School of Lutherie by the Sea
Carmel, CA 93923
- J.S. Bogdanovich Guitars
- Lessons in Lutherie with Brian Burns
Ft. Bragg, CA
- Musician's Institute / Guitar Craft Academy
(800) 255-7529 / (323) 462-1384
- Nazareth Guitar Institute
Nazareth, PA 18064
- O'Brien Guitars - Robert O'Brien
- Palomar College
San Marcos, CA
- Red Rocks Community College
- Red Wing Technical College
Red Wing, MN
- Robert Lee's Rock N' Roll Guitar School
Napa, CA 94581
- Roberto-Venn School of Lutherie
- San Francisco Guitarworks
San Francisco, CA
- SIMSCal — Stringed Instrument Makers of Southern California
- Joe Slack
- Vermont Instruments
Post Mills, VT
- Whetstone School of Lutherie
Schools in Canada
- College Edouard-Montpetit
- Timeless Instruments