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How to Add a Sound Port to an Acoustic Guitar

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Jim is a retired software/electrical engineer who enjoys the outdoors. He likes to challenge himself with creative projects at home.

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How I Added a Sound Port to My Guitar

A side sound port, sometimes called a player port, is just what you think it is. It is an additional hole on the side of an acoustic guitar. it allows the player to better hear what is being projected from the guitar‘s front sound hole. Gibson and other commercial guitar makers are now offering guitars with side sound ports.

I thought I’d add one to one of the guitars I built. I chose my guitar #2, the one with Honduran mahogany sides. I previously added a pre-amp/equalizer and under saddle pickup to this guitar so I figured it would be the guinea pig. I did not particularly like the appearance of sound ports I saw on some commercial guitars. They were too big and some were not trimmed out. I decided to make mine about 1 x 1-1/4 inches in an oval shape with a flame maple trim. Disclaimer: I had no idea if this size would be sufficient.

Step 1: Decide on the Location

The first step was to decide on a location on the upper bout, one without internal bracing that would interfere.

Step 2: Make the Trim Plate

Next, I made the trim plate. I had two thin pieces of flame maple wood approximately 1/8x2x4 inches that I comped together. I then drilled with a 1 inch Forster bit to make an oval opening in each piece. I then trimmed one piece both a band saw to make the bottom lip of the trim plate.

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Step 3: Glue and Clamp the Two Pieces Together

Next I glued and clamped the two pieces together with Titebond III wood glue. Once the glue was well set I trimmed the top plate with my band saw around the lower ring leaving about 1/8 of an inch to form the lip. I then sanded and shaped the trim plate.

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Step 4: Position and Prepare the Trim Plate

I positioned the trim plate on the side of my guitar and traced the opening with a permanent marker. I found the guitar side slightly curved just enough to want a little bend in the trim plate. I soaked it in water for several minutes then clamped to a scrap piece of wood to put just enough pressure on trim plate to slightly bend it. I let it dry overnight, sanded with 400 grit sand paper, then applied a natural colored stain.

Step 5: Cut the Hole in the Guitar

I next cut the hole in the side of my guitar, ugh! First I drilled some holes within the trace marks large enough to fit a coping saw blade through. I carefully cut the hole out and gently sanded the edges while test fitting the trim plate.

Step 6: Set the Trim Plate Into the Hole

I used some Loctite 5 minute epoxy and extra large rubber bands to set the trim plate into the hole. Then I removed any overflow epoxy and wiped on a few coats of varnish with a cotton cloth.

Enjoy the Fuller Sound!

I definitely noticed a fuller sound when playing the guitar, it’s subtle but noticeable. It’s enough to make it feel like I’m playing a different, new guitar. Perhaps if the hole was a little larger it would be more pronounced.

More Resources

  • Guitar Side Sound Ports
    Some interesting thoughts, insights, and experiences with Guitar Side Sound Ports and how they could be a way to improve your guitars.
  • How to Build an Acoustic Guitar (With Photos)
    This article will explore the specific steps I went through to build my own acoustic guitar, from choosing the type of wood to attaching the bridge and completing the finishing touches (with photos).

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