Guitar Building, the Susing’s Way

A certain amount of skill, patience and perseverance are required in creating handcrafted string instruments.

The methods and techniques that the New Susing’s Guitar factory uses to create each instrument have been perfected from over six decades of experience. Traditional guitar building methods coupled with modern knowledge are combined to come up with instruments that can produce exceptional sound quality, durability & and allow for easy playability.

Our luthiers cut, carve, sand, and build by hand the finest raw materials and transform them into beautiful instruments. It has been our passion and commitment to build string instruments that would become great tools in expressing music.
      

   0
Wood materials are quarter sawn & properly seasoned before we use them to build our instruments.  For the soundboard we use select Spruce or Cedar since they are optimal tone producers. The primary wood that is used in the construction of the guitar body & neck is Mahogany. This traditional hardwood is stable & very easy to work with.  The fret boards, bridges & headstock plates are made from Macassar Ebony, a dark hardwood which works extremely well for the said parts.


1After carefully tracing the body template, the soundboard is trimmed.


2It is then sanded to a desired thickness & the sound hole is cut before the wooden rosette is inlaid.


3The soundboard braces are cut from size blanks, formed to its desired shape & then smoothened.


5The positions of the braces are marked onto the inner face of the soundboard. The braces are then dry-fitted to ensure a perfect fit.


6The brace design on top contributes significantly to the type of sound a guitar will produce. The brace design on the soundboard has horizontal & vertical patterns.


8 We first attach the horizontal braces. They are glued into their respective positions.


7The tendency is for the braces to slip & slide on the soundboard surface. Thus clips are used to hold the braces in place
while the glue sets in.


9The clips are removed once the glue dries up & the ends are trimmed using a chisel. In this stage, the horizontal braces are notched to accept the vertical braces.
Unlike the back, the soundboard has more braces to ensure that the guitar can withstand the stress applied by the strings and at the same time respond as fully as possible to the tones generated by the strings.


10The top and back are held onto the sides of the guitar with kerfed linings made from long wood strips with dozens of close “kerf” cuts
that allow it to be bent around the perimeter of the guitar. Many woods can be used for kerfed linings but we prefer flat sawn mahogany since they are less prone to breakage during installation.


11Clips are then used to make sure the kerfed lining stays in place while waiting for the glue to set in.


12The back usually comes in two book matched pieces that must be joined together. Wood strips are used to hold both sides firmly before it is tightly bound with rope.


13It stays in this state for at least 24 hours before the rope is removed to ensure that the back board is stable & will not break once it is
attached to the other parts of the guitar.


14 (2) The back template is carefully traced onto the board. Making sure the wood grain is parallel. The wood primarily used for the back is  mahogany, acacia or rosewood.  


15It is then trimmed, planed down to a desired thickness, arched and held with braces that will provide strength to the board.


16The wood for the sides of the guitar is bent by hand over a cylindrical pipe (“bending iron”) that’s heated with a propane torch that sits in the cradles of a wooden ledge. This technique is a traditional approach & referred to as “hot pipe” bending.


18 The primary wood that is used in the construction of the guitar neck is Mahogany. The Spanish heel is used as a neck joint. The heel effectively joins the neck, top and sides permanently. In this method, the neck is notched at the heel to receive the sides, and the body is built around the neck and side assembly.
The neck is shaped before the headstock plate & the fretboard which are both made of Macassar ebony is glued on.


19.1The fretboard slots are cut & the fretboard is quality checked before it is attached to the neck. The slots should be in place otherwise, the intonation of the guitar will be affected.

20All parts are then assembled and neatly bound together by a rope. Binding needs to be held firmly in place and the rope used in binding holds the guitar together until the glued parts are completely dry.


21At the New Susing’s Guitar factory, the instruments are bound for a minimum of 24 hours before the rope is removed.


22Rope binding is a traditional guitar building technique that has been passed on from one generation to another.


23Bindings and purflings are installed after the guitar has been assembled & even before a finish is put on the instrument. They are sanded and smoothed to make them level with the surrounding wood.


25The binding should be clear-finished along with the wood, or kept free of colored finishes so they provide a visual contrast.
Thin layers of gloss are then applied by hand with a drying time of at least 4 hours per coat.

26Nickel fret wires are installed before applying the final coat of gloss.


27The bridge position is taped off before the bridge is attached. Since the bridge will be glued to the top, the finish on the top where the bridge will go has to be scraped off so we can get a nice wood-to-wood glue bond.


28Once the bridge is attached, clamps are attached so it will keep the bridge in position while waiting for the glue to dru up. It stays in this phase for 24 hours before we remove the clamp.


29The last step before we check the do a sound check on the guitar is installing the hardware.
This would include, installing the tuning machineheads, the saddle & the nut. Once all these are done, the guitar is ready to be stringed.

30

The final set-up of the guitar is one of the most important aspects of the building process.

We make sure that each product goes through extensive quality check before it is ready for display.