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  • Writer's pictureAdam Chan

Make a guitar for myself - Class #191203

There is no one “holy grail” formula that can assure us the best guitar; not even the recommended “action” or wood combination that we all read from forums. In Adam’s guitar making course, I have learnt more than just building a "dream" guitar. I have learnt to appreciate guitars. It could be a factory-made guitar or it could be a handmade guitar from various brands and luthiers, the fundamental principles of a guitar never changes.

However there can be many different guitar design philosophy, various amount of guitar making experience and level of woodworking skills one can have that produces varying end results. This guitar making course will let you explore these aspects of a guitar beyond the guitar itself.

Throughout the 8 years of playing the acoustic guitar, there are moments when I am tempted to search for the best sounding guitar, some calls it “GAS” - Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. I never had a chance to purchase these guitars because they are expensive. In December 2019, it was my last “GAS” moment, I went guitar window shopping and tried out many guitars. Then I thought to myself, if I love a good sounding guitar, why now learn about it (if given the chance, try building one)?

Since then, I got to know about Adam’s class and got an insight into what makes a good sounding guitar. The overarching concept shared during Adam’s class, that is the most insightful to me, is the pursuit of the balance between flexibility and stiffness which can potentially produce a responsive guitar. As we go through this course, building with Adam's guitar design, you will be able to have a glimpse of this concept guiding some of his design choices from the unique reinforced sound-hole, to the stiffer back and sides, and to the top board and his unique set of braces.

In order to make a guitar, woodworking skills are essential. Everything regarding woodworking, that you will learn in this course, are the skills I did not have before. I have done some work on metal and acrylic before but wood is a new domain to conquer. It is different and in my honest opinion, less forgiving, which is what makes it challenging and fun at the same time!

My most humbling encounters during the course was when dealing with, one of the most common woodworking skill, sanding. In the beginning, in many of the sanding exercises I could not sand evenly. I would sand them out of dimension and there is nothing I can do about it. You will think you got the sanding right but no, you don't.

The truss rod cover in Adam's guitar design is also an area that you will use mainly sanding to make it. I failed multiple times. My very last and successful attempt took me 4 hours to visualise the design (I had a great time also learning about design, proportions, a very subjective topic of what is nice to our eyes) and sand the shape out. Definitely, I have improved and was also introduced to other skills like sawing, routing, chiseling and more.

I am writing this 2 months after I have completed the course and I am still missing going for class at Adam's workshop. Some of the best moments I had were the conversations with Adam and Dennis(friend and also student of Adam) about their perspectives about life, guitar, design, etc. The very best moment is when I heard the guitar came alive for the first time.

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