building my first instrument, a guitar, and I don't want it to look and sound
like everyone else's. What can I do with shape or materials or bracing patterns
to make it unique?
very first instrument, you will be best off sticking with "tried and true"
materials and shapes and bracing patterns that have proven track records. The
reason a lot of guitars are similar is that they follow the lead of the
"classics," and have evolved to give a balance of playability, ease of
manufacture and that very subjective aesthetic quality. After you've acquired
some experience, in general it's not a bad idea to start with one of the
classics and make minor changes and adjustments to suit your own ideas.
Can I make
a change in the design?
know a number of newbies who want to reinvent the wheel and make major changes
in proven designs before they've built even one instrument, who spend an
enormous amount of time asking about alternative or non-traditional materials,
shapes or whatever. There are two main problems we see with this. First: a new
builder won't be able to tell if the sound they end up with is the result of
whatever they did that was non-traditional because they have no instruments of
their own construction to compare it to. Second: materials that are not known to
work well may have an adverse effect on the sound or structural integrity of the
first instrument stick with proven materials and designs, and save the large
experiments for after you have a bit of experience. We're not talking about
things like the body shape of a solid-body instrument (within reason) or
headstock shape or other decorative feature. We're talking about major
structural features. We're also not making a blanket "don't experiment"
statement. We're just trying really hard to warn newbies away from the whole
"reinvent the wheel" thing for a first instrument. The time to reinvent the
wheel is *after* you know how to build one that works.