The project "Semi Acoustic Guitar"

For quite some time now, I have been intrigued by guitars of type ES 355 or similar semi-acoustic instruments. On the one hand I like the sound and on the other hand they are lighter than solid body guitars.

When I saw the new, hollow McCarty models at the Musikmesse '99 in Frankfurt ("Musikmesse" is Europe’s biggest fair for the music industry, music instruments and music education), I was blown away. The models are divided as follows: there is a so-called Hollowbody, it has a mahogany body with a solid spruce top and is quite flat, and then the McCarty Archtop, which is identical in construction. Its body is 1 inch thicker than the Hollowbody. If the top and back of the guitar are made of maple, the product name is Apendix II. If you look at the McCarty Hollowbody II (deep body, back and top made of maple) you could fall in love with it!

And then there was the McCarty Archtop Artist. She is a McCarty Archtop II (the thick, two maple) with a few extras. Well, what's a cool 10,000 US-Dollar  with a little gold around the inlays and a Rio rosewood fretboard?

Before I forget it! The guitars are top class quality, sound etc. So much for the background. What is better than buying them? Do it yourself! I wanted to build myself a kind of hollowbody. In the following I have documented my efforts. I hope you like my work. I am always ready to answer your questions and suggestions!

In any case, I would like to thank you for your comments and suggestions. 


Finished Semi Acoustic Guitar

Manufacturing the Body

I planed and sanded the lime tree blank to 44mm thickness. I drew the outline with the template and drilled out the rough edges with a Forstner bit. I milled the inside of the frames with the thrust ring and the router.

Preparation of the Neck

The neck is built in one piece from maple. The fretboard is made of ebony with mother of pearl inlays. I cut the maple out of an old piece (60mm thick) using the template on the band saw. The fretboard side and the neck head were trimmed. The fretboard itself was also planed out to 6.5mm, given a fretboard radius of 12" and a saw cut for a scale length of 25".

Finishing of "Semi Acoustic Guitar red"

The color of the guitar should turn red. Translucent and cheering and with high gloss nitro lacquer. I used Zweihorn SDF-H nitrocellulose lacquer for this. This can be sprayed easily and otherwise processed, but in my experience it is not well suited for instruments. Unfortunately I say this in retrospect, because after about half a year cracks in the varnish appeared. Also during some repairs there was so much tension in the varnish that e.g. at the sharp corners of a bridge glued during water sanding 2-3cm long cracks appeared. So still before the assembly.


After polishing, the frets must be levelled cleanly and also polished.