Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Design

In December of 2003 I was approached by Sterling Publishing and asked if I would like to write a book about classical guitar making. I realized I was being offered a rare opportunity to write a book about something I love. My goal was to present the material honestly and describe the guitar making process as I know it and to produce something that I would be proud of.

Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Design”  first appeared on the shelves in early 2006. The response to the book was overwhelming. In 2011 the book went into second print in hardback which is rare for a book of this type. Writing the book was a great experience. I hope you can benefit from it.

Take your guitar building skills to the next level and learn additional techniques and be sure to also check out the classical guitar making 10-dvd box set.

Guitar Making Book – Not Just for Beginners

This guitar making book is a complete guide to making a high quality classical guitar. Written with the first time guitar builder in mind those with guitar building experience can also benefit from some aspect of its content.

The building techniques demonstrated in this book are not typical, but I have found them capable of producing a high quality instrument. Even if you have made a number of guitars there is something new you can take away from this book. The true test is in the guitar itself, so give it a try.

If you have never made a guitar, and would like to try – consider using this book as a guide. Many people already have. There are over 600 photos and illustrations that clearly show the entire process in great detail.  This book is widely accepted as a must have guitar building reference. Every detail has been photographed and clearly described.  The book also includes a section on how to make a one of my signature rosettes.

Below are reviews of “Classical Guitar Making” by readers. These are personal notes received from both novices and seasoned builders alike. The project has been such a rewarding one for me, as evidenced by these encouraging comments, I thank you all.

– from Michael Collins, Collins Guitars –

I ordered your book a few weeks ago and just love it!  Nice photos and clear instructions! It will be the book I have all my guitar making students order! Nice to have such a clear and definitive book finally! Best to you ! 

– from Ivon Schmukler, Leeds Guitarmakers’ School –

I just got a copy of your book after a student recommended it. I must say it is one of the clearest and best put together books on guitar making I have ever seen. Your emphasis on hand work and minimal power tool use is really something I like to see. I encourage my students to get good hand tools rather than going out and busting the bank on a large array of power tools. Once again, congratulations on a really great text for classical guitar making. It will be one of the few books I recommend my students get. I am considering using it as a text, the only book I would be using for instruction.

Some 5 Star Amazon reviews:

Classcal Guitar Making – reviewer – Bruce B. Beyor (USA)

“As a Luthier, I read many articles and books on guitar making. This book is by far the most complete on the subject. Well written and well presented. A budding luthier will surely appreciate this book. It just does not get any better then this one. Especially the associated pictures.”


“John Bogdanovich is one of, if not, the best luthier and teacher out there. The explanation is VERY clear. Picture is of very high Quality. RECOMMENDED if you are going to build a classical guitar !!!”

-Excellent book – reviewer – Steven Dantonio (USA)

“This is actually my second copy, the firs one lives in my shop and the second one is for just reading when I have to look up something. Excellently written and beautifully illustrated. The author and I do some things differently, but it is always good to see other opinions too.”

-A Beautifully Executed In-Depth Look At A Master’s Methods – reviewer – J. Billie (Twin Cities, MN)

“This is a truly wonderful book and an amazing bargain at the price. This book gives you an supremely detailed look at the methods used by one master builder. I have been building classical and steel string guitars for 11 years. (I’m working on number 59″… ) The detail contained is the book is (this word keeps coming up) amazing. He really does cover every step in the process and he describes and photographs every little step of the process including the tools he prefers and uses, even down to series of photos showing how he spreads glue.

This book is beautifully executed. A nicely made hardcover with dust jacket; it’s built to last. The photographs, which may be its greatest strength, are profuse, extremely well made and their reproduction is flawless. Pretty much every detail of every process used to build a classical guitar is well explained, both in words and in beautiful photographs. The book includes details of making your own bindings, purflings, and rosettes. The actual methods used by the author are explained in great detail. All the tools are described and shown. “

– A New Classic! – reviewer – L. Rickard (Piedmont, NC, USA) –  

“If it weren’t for the fact that this is a step-by-step manual, the causal observer could be forgiven for mistaking this for a coffee-table book. It’s almost too nice for a workbench! At the risk of sounding like an advertising blurb, the same passion and craftsmanship Bogdanovich displays in his guitars shows in nearly every page. He knows what he’s doing, and it shows; the color photography is excellent, and the text is a pleasure to read – informative and concise without being dry at all.

The beauty of this book is it has something to offer to experienced and aspiring luthiers alike. While the text deals with building a classical guitar almost entirely from scratch, much of the information given is pertinent to those attempting to go the kit route. This volume picks up where the classic Cumpiano/Natelson text leaves off, as far as the classical guitar is concerned. There are a few typos in the text that should have been caught by the editor, but they are obvious and not likely to cause trouble to anyone building a guitar from the book. All in all, Bogdanovich has kindly shared his skill and knowledge in a very timely, informative volume that I for one am proud to own!”

– The best one I read – reviewer – Ricardo F. Silva (SP, Brazil) –

This book is an example of passion with the guitar. It’s well written, beautifully photographed covering all steps of classical guitar construction that follows a high grade standard. Even if you don’t want to build a guitar, buy it just for the beauty of its pages. I have bought a lot of books about lutherie, but this is one is far the best. It makes evident in every detail how Mr Bogdanovich loves what he do. Seems to me he had a very good time written it. Go deep!”

 – Excellent book – reviewer – Phillip Wheeler (USA) –

“The author starts the budding luthier with the construction of molds and jigs. The order in which this is presented is excellent: by the time you get to the construction of the solera, you should be quite proficient at cutting the outline of the guitar … Overall a very nice book. I’ve just finished bending the sides according to John’s instructions and I look forward to the next steps in this very interesting project.” – An excellent book for classical guitar makers – reviewer

– Catherine I. Kleinman – (Lees Summit, Mo. USA) –

“This book is sure to please the most discriminating maker of guitars. The photos of all the different phases of guitar making are clearly explained with a multitude of colored photos. The language is clear and concise. The illustrations and color photos speak for themselves, of the many varied operations involved in guitar making… Of all the 12 books I own on guitar making. This book, in my opinion, is the most comprehensive in detailing , every aspect of this demanding and rewarding craft. My hats off to Mr. Bogdanovich for an excellent job.”

– A valuable addition to any guitar building book shelf – reviewer – Martin Koch (Austria) –

…”I like this book a lot because it’s an exceptional well made guitar building guide. It’s very thorough and covers everything from start to finish with tons of quality pictures that clearly help you understand the process … I consider this book a must have for any one interested in guitar building.” Notes Received from Readers

The manuscript was carefully edited but some errors slipped through the cracks none the less. Thankfully the errors in the first print were caught and corrected by either myself, or readers.

The errors were recorded, corrected and sent to the publisher for inclusion in the second printing of “Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Design”.  Additional text was added for clarification where needed.

All the errors, corrections, and additions are available in a PDF file for download. Download the errata for Classical Guitar Making here.

If additional errors are found,, please do not hesitate to send an email describing the error, and exactly where it was found. It will be checked and added to the pdf.

Fret Placement Errors

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