Building a Guitar with William Cumpiano Page 4

During the last session with William, we had finished bracing the top so for homework, I had set myself the task of closing up the Box. It is William’s belief that it is best to do the entire assembly at once or at least attach the sides to a braced top. Once you brace the back plate, it is best to glue it to the sides closing up the box. Once the binding has been applied, the body can remain like this indefinitely, so I’ve been told.

This was the first guitar project where I was aware that an arch is to be set in to the back going from head to tailblock. Although I was mindful of the arch during the preparation of the side edges, I didn’t notice how much arch was translating to the back plate.

I ended up with an overage of a few degrees or so.. or maybe more. My first impression was that this was a big "oops". When I posed the question to other builders, they did not seem too concerned. Even William said it was alright so I had decided to continue as if I had meant to build it that way all along.

Another of the challenges I had set for this project was a cutaway curve that transitions into the taper of the heal of the neck. I wanted to try some things I had seen built into some of William’s instruments so I knew he would know how to direct me. As it turns out, I ended up assembling the sides at home. Being somewhat dyslexic, I had oriented the sides upside down (as if the top were the back and the back the top). Had I been making a left handed guitar, it would have been fine. Luckily, I had enough length to work with so I could correct the oversight before I got to the gluing stage.

A little before and after.

Another challenge was mitering the purfling at the end graft for a nice framing look to the sides as seen from the tail end. Here, the idea was to continue the light maple wood through the end graft and along the binding and then making a transition to the top spruce bearclaw figure at the open arias in the design of the top inlay. All the light wood is connected and framed by the darker purfling strips. It seemed like a good idea on paper and now that it is done,.. it’s a,.. "there".

I’d like to mention that the overall experience of building an instrument with a master has been more than I can explain easily. These few pages only scratch the surface of the things I have learned. The experience has enlightened me far beyond the initial goals I had hoped for. I am not sure where this knowledge will lead me but it has bestowed a confidence and clarity that I will have the rest of my days. This is a good thing! Many Thanks to a great teacher, William R. Cumpiano.