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Finished! A Guitar Bouzouki (don't you know what one of THOSE is?)


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The mention of Swallows made me think of Monty Python - 

BRIDGEKEEPER: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

ARTHUR: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

BRIDGEKEEPER: Huh? I-- I don't know that. Auuuuuuuugh!

BEDEVERE: How do know so much about swallows?

ARTHUR: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know. 

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6 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

screaming past rooftops and buildings at breakneck speed

 

6 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

And when they do that, they certainly keep their tail feathers tight closed 

Screaming past rooftops keeps my tail feathers tightly closed as well.

SR

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The frets were de-tanged at either end, ensuring that none of the tang metal was proud of the un-bound fretboard.  As usual, I fitted the frets with a teeny thread of titebond, hammered in and then clamped with the 12" radius block:

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The frets force the fretboard into a mild curve and so, to sand down the fret ends to the exact overhang, I first clamped it to a straight edge beam, with the fret ends clear for sanding:

_MG_1767.thumb.JPG.daee0ccd5fc5f35932cc7c5615b05afc.JPG

Then I could turn the whole assembly round 90 degrees and sand all of the fret-ends straight and accurately along my long sanding beam:

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This made it quite easy to get the fret overhang even along the whole length and accurate to 10th of a millimetre.

I repeated for the other side and then rounded all of the fret ends.  So now, if my calcs are correct, I should have the target width of fret, and the binding less than 0.5mm deeper than the overhang - which they are and which it is :) :

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So now I just need to plane the top of the binding so that the bottom feature line is flush with the bottom of the fretboard.  And then glue the bindings on each side:

_MG_1782.thumb.JPG.49737e70d7b0221dc3437c5c72a67692.JPG

So when the glue's dried, I should have:

- a silky smooth set of fret ends

- a teeny binding overhang to round off

- a trio of feature lines to set it off against the maple neck

Fingers crossed!  ;) 

 

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And OK.  I think I can uncross my fingers:

_MG_1793.thumb.JPG.8c40cc266f4c7dbfae51cf92b272f38c.JPG
The bindings will be rounded once I've carved the neck, but you can see the overhang that should prevent the long-term sharp fret-end problem:

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And the demarcation stripe from the binding should show nicely once the neck is carved:

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And, of course, the obligatory mock up :)

_MG_1785.thumb.JPG.380cff80d30261035b89670d90a106a4.JPG

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1 hour ago, JGTay said:

Excellent work as always Andy. 

Have you decided on what you will do with the end of the fretboard yet? 

Thanks :)

Probably a smooth curve to match the back of the bridge, but I'll also get a view from the future owner.

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There are relatively few steps left before I can start the finishing process...but most of these final steps will tend to take a proportionately longer time because there will be lots and lots of accurate measuring involved, trial and error assembly and disassembly, etc..

And the first one of these is fitting the neck.

I'm going to break from convention for the neck fitting.  My preferred method is mortice and tenon with sturdy bolts and threaded inserts, which is also what I will be doing here (I did succeed in one build with a dovetail joint but can't afford the post-trauma psychiatrist bills again!) :

_MG_1801.thumb.JPG.5053d5b7f46a0f7483f0bc80b5ce8ee1.JPG

But I have found - on my own OM and a dreadnought I built for a fellow band member - that over time the bolts sometimes slacken.  It's an easy thing to fix - just a quick nip up with an allen key - but I don't want that to happen to an instrument that is a few hundred miles away.  I think that it is that the mahogany simply compresses a teeny bit over time and temperature change and, eventually, this lessens the friction on the machine screw head.

So what I now do is do everything in the conventional way with a bolt-on - up to and including finishing and a fully strung-up test of the action, intonation, etc, and then as a final step, take the neck off, add some wood glue to the joint and re-bolt.

And so what about if in the distant future it ever needed a neck re-set?  Well, see the heel?  I will drill a small hole from here into a small chamber at the joint to allow a luthier to use their steam needle (that's what they use to remove set necks) to be able to insert it to soften the glue.  Normally, I gather a luthier would have to remove the fretboard for access to the joint (I think that's what they do to fix a Gibson Les Paul and SG set neck?), but providing access here, all that needs taking off will be the heel end cap:

_MG_1795.thumb.JPG.e2a57e0f8c326c46409486bb5bd9337f.JPG

And the flaw in the scheme?  Well, as far as I know, no-one else provides this facility and, as a neck reset is only usually needed after around 30 years or so hard playing - and even then rarely needed - then P will have forgotten that this facility exists and almost certainly I won't be around to remind him :) 

Anyway - next task is getting the neck joint accurate and at the correct up/down and side/side angles.

I have found that the best way is to use a carbon stiffening rod - they are dead straight - to line up along the frets and centre-line of the fretboard.  You can see here that the left right angle needs a tweak (a very small tweak in the angle at the heel makes a BIG difference at the bridge):

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Just a hour or so of careful scrape, check scrape check gets me here:

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I double checked the up down neck angle by running the carbon bar up to the bridge.  The rule of thumb is that a straight edge running up the fretboard should just rest on the top of the bridge and then it is the saddle that raises the strings to achieve the desired action.

And it's OK.

So a couple more jobs before gluing on the fretboard.  One is the fretboard end.  I've put to P something that mirrors the curve of the rosette and bridge.  I'm thinking something like this:

_MG_1815.thumb.JPG.f9137db1c1c5b4e7608d9eac4d776c15.JPG


Still a lot to do, but hopefully it IS starting to look like a Guitar Bouzouki (what ever one of those is supposed to look like... :) )

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Excellent thought processes, and very valid. On the subject of bolts loosening....seasons and environmental moisture changes will increase tension in the bolts and compression in the wood when expanding, vice versa contracting. The wood recover from those compression cycles less each time, so I've always wondered if some sort of compressible material as a shim or washer might make up for that looseness. Almost like how anti backlash nuts work in threaded ways? Probably a solution looking for a 30yr problem....!

Where will you be in thirty years? I'm guessing down the pub, or at least in the back garden bar? 

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57 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

so I've always wondered if some sort of compressible material as a shim or washer might make up for that looseness

Yes - I have generally not added spring washers or similar on these types of bolts but logic says that it would help.  Then again, they may just dig into the wood and then you are back with the same problem.  There must be a simple solution out there somewhere ;)

1 hour ago, Prostheta said:

Where will you be in thirty years? I'm guessing down the pub, or at least in the back garden bar?

I think if I'm in the back garden it will be in the form of ash fertiliser :)  66+30=96.  Hmmm...not many 96 year-olds in our family history.  Still, there has to be a first :D

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On 8/4/2020 at 8:54 AM, ScottR said:

Very classy Andy.

SR

@Andyjr1515, I'm tempted to just keep quoting myself from here on out.:)

I would be tempted to leave the fretboard square and flush with the sound hole with a roundover/slope that feeds down into the hole. And add a swift or two to the extra space, maybe one larger one....

SR

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12 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

Agreed. That does sound like a nice and tidy idea. Not sure if Swifts nest in huge triangular caves though!

Actually, they sort of do :lol:  Birds nest soup?  If memory serves me right, that is made from the spit that certain types of swift use to make their nests...in caves :)

But happily, not triangular caves and so I am saved, @ScottR  - rounded fretboard end it is :lol:

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Of course! Yes. Cave swallows or something aren't they? I wouldn't recommend your guy spitting into his soundhole under the impression that he's building some sort of investment grade Asian culinary phlegm pearl though.

That said, I may be wrong on this as well. Proceed.

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Well - I know all you can see is clamps...but there's quite a lot going on here :)

Left-hand side, we have the headstock plate, having an ebony/maple/ebony veneer sandwich glued and clamped flat so that the headstock plate demarcation matches the fretboard demarcation.

On the right-hand side, we have the fretboard with its rounded end (happily done before I saw @ScottR 's pretty cool suggestion that would have got me thinking, 'wow...you know...that might just work') being glued to the neck which itself has had the truss-rod installed.

_MG_1818.thumb.JPG.935b98a4f7d77852bfd737001e097e86.JPG 

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10 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

Of course! Yes. Cave swallows or something aren't they? I wouldn't recommend your guy spitting into his soundhole under the impression that he's building some sort of investment grade Asian culinary phlegm pearl though.

That said, I may be wrong on this as well. Proceed.

"These edible bird’s nests belong to the swiftlet, a small bird usually found in Southeast Asia. The swiftlet lives in dark caves and, similar to bats, use echolocation to move around. Instead of twigs and straw, however, the swiftlet makes its nest from strands of its own gummy saliva, which is produced by the glands under the tongue. The nest then hardens when exposed to air."

 

And you have to ask yourself the question...who was the first person in history who thought that might make a great snack... ;)

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Headstock plate ready to glue and fretboard glued:

_MG_1820.thumb.JPG.646b577c1d232c5a0817690d18f58078.JPG

And does it still line up?

_MG_1824.thumb.JPG.be67d2eb0cb4e195f23e7ca97971116e.JPG

Phew!

The headstock plate will be glued on tomorrow - this is how the veneers worked out:

_MG_1823.thumb.JPG.80364abc7f951056f0f1c9c4309e16a8.JPG

All being well, I should be able to start the neck carve in the next couple of days

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The headstock plate is now glued on.  The plate has full area veneer to create the b/w/b demarcation line and, for the fretboard, it is built into the binding.  Pretty good match...

_MG_1829.thumb.JPG.add79cec813acb627ce5369e9a0b30f0.JPG

There is a zero fret but there will be a bone faux nut just behind in the normal position that will be cut to act as a guide for the string spacings

To get all the the tuners fitting OK, I had to get the neck off, and the various files and planes out.  So while it was there I just took the corners off the neck profile too using a spokeshave and a micro-plane blade.  You can see the paper template that P gave to me (I sent him a profile gauge and some instructions to take the profiles of his best playing bouzouki).  Over the weekend, I will cut some plasticard profile templates from these and start the main carve  :

_MG_1832.thumb.JPG.b7d2b68893534394fe443f6a3b20ad9b.JPG

So next job is the nut guide,  and then I can pop a couple of strings on the top and bottom pegs to work out where the bridge and saddle slot needs to sit:

_MG_1833.thumb.JPG.2e50d9fb4b711f95a4237f96c10311a3.JPG

But before I can do that I have to cut the saddle slot and drill at least two string hole positions on the bridge.

What could possibly go wrong :D

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51 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

But before I can do that I have to cut the saddle slot and drill at least two string hole positions on the bridge.

What could possibly go wrong 

The bridge is not glued into place yet correct? I seem to recall you doing that after finishing the top....which seemed a cumbersome process.

SR

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Love that headstock. It's got a nice level of proportion and balance to it. Reminds me to a degree of Ibanez' Soundgear bass headstock, which I've always liked.

I'm sure we've discussed this previously - if briefly in passing - but isn't that a Veritas spokeshave? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that tool. It'd be a nice upgrade from my pair of cheesy Stanleys.

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37 minutes ago, ScottR said:

The bridge is not glued into place yet correct? I seem to recall you doing that after finishing the top....which seemed a cumbersome process.

SR

Correct.

For the last build (Matt's Dreadnought) I ripped up the 'rule-book' and did things quite differently to the conventional wisdom.  It worked and so I will be doing it again.

Conventional wisdom:

Top and back on body, binding top and bottom; do trial and error fitting of neck angle and heel, assembling neck and disassembling through the soundhole ; finish body; scrape finish off where bridge is going to go; glue bridge; install electrics through soundhole; apply Pure Mini transponders in exact three locations on bridge plate with cyano glue - blind through the soundhole!!!! ; Final assembly of neck through soundhole

My method:

Leave back off; trial fit neck with easy access to fixing bolts; fit bridge with full access; fit Pure Mini transponders in exact locations; fit electrics; glue back on; do back binding; finish; final assembly of neck through soundhole

Pretty sure you won't see that in any manuals, texts or videos, but it works for me :)

 

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It's incredibly satisfying and validating when you discover either a great personal way of working, or that your own internal deliberation brings you to the same conclusion as an established method. Ripping up the rulebook is one thing, however it depends on whether it's proscriptive (eminently rippable) or solid reference (oh hell no).

Also, try using magnets to locate items through the soundboard. They also provide light clamping.

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