Build Philosophy

I have been building guitars for over 20 years. I have learned many lessons in that time and I'm still learning. A wise man once said, "never buy a guitar from a man who claims not to have made a mistake".

I handle and choose every piece of wood and every part of the guitar is made and assembled by me. Working with wood is a joy. It talks to you as you work it. It flexes in your hand, it sings as you tap it or run your fingers over it, and it releases gorgeous smells when cut and sanded. 

I use hand tools to carve, dimension and shape but I also use power tools when needed. Humidity is a concern during construction and so I do all the critical assembly in a work room with a controlled humidity environment.  I use a variety of glues which can include PVA, Hide Glues, Epoxy and Cyanoacrylate depending on the task at hand. 

Stress Free Building

Wood is under stress. Wood moves. Wood is always moving in response to the humidity and temperature of a room.

As wood is worked and shaped internal stresses and tension are released and the wood moves. This is a fact of life. So it must rest because without care the maker may build the stress back in again.  

Guitar makers work with thin plates of wood that are particularly prone to movement under humidity change. They glue components across the grain especially when bracing the top and back. I believe it is essential to make sure the wood is stable and at equilibrium before that gluing process takes place. So there must be no rush. After being dimensioned and worked the wood must be allowed to rest and equalise before any cross grain gluing commences. If the process is rushed, stress is added and instability can occur. I often build my necks months before they are used to allow them to settle before final assembly. 

All my instruments are built at my own pace. I rarely have more than one under construction at any one time. I won't hurry a job. I believe in stress free building both for the maker and the instrument. It takes as long as it takes. 

© Stuart Ketchin Guitars