Cincia Classical Guitar

The Cincia classical guitar is a traditional instrument in all ways, with the exception of the neck joint. The design includes influences from many classic guitars from great builders. The plantilla (body outline) is heavily influenced by the Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. guitar featured in plan #42 from the Guild of American Luthiers. The top bracing pattern is very similar to that of a 1943 Hermann Hauser, Sr. instrument, a plan for which is also available (#12) from the Guild of American Luthiers. There are numerous other stylistic influences as well. The instrument incorporates what I consider to be some of the best features of all these instruments in a classical guitar that has a traditional look and sound and is straight forward to build. Guitarmakers will be interested in the downloadable plans - see below.

Initially appeared: May 01, 2011
Last updated: December 03, 2021

About the Instrument

The Cincia classical guitar is a generally traditional instrument in both appearance and sound. The scale length is 650mm. As mentioned, this instrument takes its major design cues from guitars by Hermann Hauser and Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. and includes features of other great makers as well. The top and back plates are both spherically domed (30' and 15', respectively). The Cincia guitar makes use of a bolt-on neck joint, which is becoming increasingly popular in guitars by a number of well regarded modern classical guitar makers.

The sides, back and bridge of the instrument shown are constructed from East Indian rosewood. The top is European spruce and the internal braces are red spruce. The bolt-on neck is made of Spanish cedar. The fingerboard is ebony. The fully removable neck is fitted to the body using two bolts, in the style of (older) Taylor steel string guitars, and the fingerboard extension is bolted to the top using a single screw.

The top uses the basic bracing pattern of the '43 Hauser, but everything north of the upper transverse bar is unique to this instrument. There is a single large, thick patch which runs from the spruce neck block to the upper transverse bar. This supports the fingerboard extension, which is bolted to this patch using a single screw.

Because the top plate is spherically domed, the neck extension features a shallow wedge between it and the top. This results in a slightly raised fingerboard but a traditional height for the bridge. It, along with the tapered fingerboard, also keeps the neck-to-body angle at 90° while maintaining a reasonable and traditional bridge height.

Cincia is the Italian word for chickadee. It is not a perfect translation, they don't have north American chickadees in Italy, but it is close enough. The name is used because this instrument features soundhole rosette tiles with inlaid black capped chickadees on them. This is in homage to my home state of Massachusetts - the black capped chickadee is our state bird. And the reason for the homage is that the first instrument I built from this plan was built entirely from species that grow here in Massachusetts. Each species used was selected for its similarity in density and stiffness to a wood species traditionally used in classical guitar construction. Black locust, red spruce and black cherry were used in this instrument in place of rosewood, European spruce and Spanish cedar, respectively. Read all about the use of domestic species and other "alternative" woods in the construction of fine guitars here.


The downloadable copyrighted instrument plans are made available for non-commercial use only and may not be redistributed.

 Download Full Size (36"x48") Cincia Classical Guitar Plan (.pdf)

Cincia classical guitar made completely from domestic wood species

Construction of the instrument is fairly typical of classic guitars, but there are a few things unique to this instrument and its features that should be kept in mind when contemplating a build. Most of these involve the construction of the bolt-on neck. A general discussion of construction of the style of flush bolt-on neck joint I use is available in the book Building the Steel String Acoustic Guitar. As you can see in the photo above, the neck block looks just like the "standard" classical guitar slipper foot, with a pad that will be glued to the back. But it also has a large plate under the fingerboard on the top. This is what the fingerboard extension is bolted to.

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The underside of the fingerboard extension has a wedge of wood between it and the top. A thin wedge of the same wood as used for the neck shaft is cut with the table saw and glued under the fingerboard extension. After it is trimmed, it is chalk-fitted to the dome of the top. The chalk-fitting process is pretty simple. The area of the top that will contact the wedge is rubbed with chalk. In the picture above I'm using a big piece of sidewalk chalk. Then the neck assembly is held in position and wiggled around just a little bit as shown in the next picture.

Next, the neck assembly is turned upside down on the bench. Any part of the fingerboard extension wedge that has contacted the top will now have some chalk on it. Wood is scraped off where the chalk is, using a small scraper. The process is repeated as many times as it takes to get a good fit between the top and the underside of the fingerboard extension wedge. Each time this is repeated the area covered by chalk gets larger, as more and more of the surfaces are in contact. Eventually you'll see the entire underside of the extension wedge covered in chalk, which means the entire surface is now in contact with the top.

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Time to quit - the two surfaces are now perfectly mated.

Variations and Modifications

There is certainly no reason why the instrument couldn't be built using a traditional Spanish neck joint with the ribs slotted into the end of the neck. And a true raised fingerboard could also easily be implemented with an adjustment to the neck-to-body angle. Two variations which I am considering and may experiment with in the future are increasing the headstock angle and eliminating the slipper foot pad that contacts the back at the neck block. As far as the slipper foot goes, eliminating this is not unprecedented, and it would be one less internal detail to implement.

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• Latest American Lutherie article: "Book Review: The Caldersmith Papers", American Lutherie #148 Table of Contents

• Latest research article: "Quantifying Player-Induced Intonation Errors of the Steel String Acoustic Guitar"


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