If you are asking this question, then you are in the right place!
We at LMI pride ourselves on making great information, direction, woods, tools, and advice easily accessible to budding makers of guitars, ukuleles, and mandolins. We want to help you get to the workshop well-prepared, well-supplied and ready to embark on this tremendously rewarding creative journey. To get you started, we have created this easy-to-work-from list.
So let’s get started!
1. First, find out exactly what kind of instrument you want to build. Presumably, you will want to order your parts in kit form (that’s coming in a later step). Our kits, which are completely customizable, start with these basic instrument types:
- Dreadnought steel string – This is the iconic western, flatpicker’s guitar with a strong, authoritative bass and large body.
- OM/000 – This smaller steel string guitar provides a balanced tone that is prized by fingerstyle players but is versatile enough to sound great being strummed with a pick. The smaller body is more comfortable for some.
- Classical – This kit is also the starting point for the flamenco guitar. Both employ nylon strings. Though many folk musicians have picked up a classical, the great playability and sweet tone is the main choice of those players who embrace the beauty and challenges of the classical repertoire.
- Parlor – An intimate, lyrical voice characterizes the smallest offering here. It is the quintessential fingerstyle steel string.
- Electric Solidbody – Miles from the myriad screw-together kits on the market, our solid body kits put pro quality tonewoods in your hands with the challenge and fun of creating a true custom instrument. Start with either a Fender or Gibson style set.
- Ukulele – Many find the approachable uke to be a great gateway into lutherie. We offer all you need and an amazing assortment of beautiful woods to choose from.
- F-Style Mandolin – Our F-style Mandolin kit, like our electric kits, assumes that you have a desire to step deeply into instrument making. Phenomenal woods and quality parts set the stage!
2. Choose your instructional materials. Once you know what kind of instrument you want to build, you should begin to collect the appropriate books, DVDs and instrument plans. Some are inclined to take an online class from Robbie O’Brien or attend a guitar building course. In addition to these foundational directions, you can avail yourself of all the searchable videos and articles right here on the LMI website at our Help Center. Once you have an idea of the process you are ready to think about tools.
After you spend some time playing and getting to know your new baby, we hope you will take a photo of it and share your work with us. We’d love to hear from you, find out how it all went and talk about your next project. There is no concealing the fact that lutherie is addictive – a lifelong path of discovery, refinement, and creativity. At every step in this journey, we look forward to helping you to get the very most from instrument making.