• bill@gourlayguitars.com

"Liliana", my tiny Torres replica - fitting the back, the bindings, and a Torres touch for the pegs.

Updated: Feb 23, 2019

The end block, heel and Spanish foot, and the Spanish cedar kerfed linings for the back were all sanded to a 28ft radius. The end block and Spanish foot/heel were radiused first, the linings were glued on and I left them about 1mm high of the sides and everything was then radius sanded again. The linings were notched to accommodate the back braces, and small tentelones were placed for support of the back braces during the fitting of the back but before the back was glued on. I then taped the back in place and removed the guitar from the solera and proceeded to make sure I could extract the hold down bar. I used one I had made for my FE18 replica, modifying it slightly to accommodate the difference in harmonic bar placement. But because of the bar's length, a small 82mm soundhole, and the very shallow sides of "Liliana", it could not be extracted. You'll see in the last photo below a small pencil line on the end of the bar - that is how much I had to trim off each end in order to shorten it enough so I could remove it through the soundhole once the back was glued on. Luthier tip: ALWAYS make sure your hold down bar can be extracted through the soundhole before gluing on the back!

After the glue had dried overnight, I removed the instrument from the solera and trimmed the excess material from the sides around the lower bout and flush trimmed the oversize back. Because the sides are fitted around the raised area of the solera at the lower bout in order to create the proper doming of the top, I used a small finger-plane to trim away the overlap - in the case of this guitar, it is about 3mm at the highest part. For the back I used a hand-held router with a flush trim bearing to trim the oversize back. Voila! It is starting to look like a guitar.


Once those tasks were completed, the bindings were bent, channels were routed, and the bindings glued on. For my Torres guitars, I prepare my bindings 1.5mm thick by 4mm tall. Around the soundboard there is also a simple black/white purfling of Brazilian rosewood and English sycamore veneers. There is no purfling on the back (or sides). The back bindings are let into the heel with an angled cut. A LOT of tape got used!!

Many, if not most of Torres' guitars, certainly most of those from his second epoch that were fitted with wood pegs had a very distinctive ivory cap on the pegs. I decided to replicate that small, but visually important detail. I used standard ebony violin pegs and glued on a small "dot" of simulated ivory to the head of each. Masecraft Supply Co. makes a product they call "alternative ivory col.849/TM" that is a special cast polyester that has the visual characteristics of real ivory. It is used by a number of museums for the restoration and repair of real ivory articles. It can be easily machined and polished to look very much like "the real thing".


For my tuning peg caps, I used a 1/4" plug cutter on a small sheet of the 1/8" thick Masecraft alternative ivory and glued the plugs to the ends of the pegs. I then used a small grinder to shape the ends into a rounded over "dome". I polished them up with 1200 grit (and finer) sandpaper. They give the guitar that true Torres touch. BTW - you'll notice in the final picture some yellow tape and numbers on the pegs. I have not yet reamed the peg holes to their final size, and I want to make sure that once done I can put the proper peg into the proper peg hole as they are not always identically sized.

Next up - the fretboard, the bridge, shaping the neck, and a lot of finish sanding! Then it is on to making the case.



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