Em11/Stewart-MacDonald Dreadnought acoustic

ImageThis Em11 (named after a chord that I like) is a so-called kit guitar from Stewart-MacDonald. I had been wanting to build a guitar myself for some time, but especially with building acoustic guitars there’s a lot that can go wrong. Subscribing for a course and building one from scratch was an option, but then I hit upon this thing called kit guitars, where the parts that require expensive machinery to manufacture come more or less prefab, which you only have to finish or make to size. That seemed to be a more flexible way of working to me, so I opted for that kit guitar.

I chose a Stewart-MacDonald kit, because their kits come with an extensive manual and a demo DVD, which is something you really need with your first build. They had only two models to pick from, a Dreadnought model based on the Martin HD-28 or a Martin OM model. I picked the dreadnought because that was a model I didn’t have yet (I opted for the rosewood version).

It has been a great experience to build it, and if I ever have time for it again I’ll build another one. I was very pleasantly surprised by its great, deep sound as well, the materials for this kit are really top notch. The hardest and most critical part is to get the neck set up right (which is why I picked the bolted neck rather than the dovetail construction). Second hardest thing is to get it finished nicely, in which I didn’t succeed entirely. That’s typically a matter of experience.

The kit and additional materials cost some 450 euros and I spent about 550 euros on tools. So in total this cost me some 1000 euros, but it definitely sounds as good as many guitars of such a price, and I also have played more expensive ones that weren’t as good (also cheaper ones that WERE as good; there’s quite a wide variety in price-quality ratios with acoustic guitars). It definitely sounds a LOT better than my 550 Euro Crafter GAE-30, but without its pickup system that guitar would cost less than 500 euros, to be fair.

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