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  • Hog conspiracy

    Every time I play an all mahogany guitar I think that it would be nice to add one to the quiver.   Over the years I've played a few new and old small bodied Martins - 15 and 17 series - and always enjoyed them, but two years ago I played an 00 sized all mahogany Santa Cruz - what they call their 1929 series - and the little thing almost followed me home.   Instead of buying the guitar I did the next best thing, I bought some wood and put it away ("stickered") in my shop, thinking that one of these days I'd build something out of it.  



    Four pieces of nicely quartered honduras mahogany for the top and back, two more for the sides, some neck wood, binding, fretboard and bridge.   I've wet one set to pop the grain.

    Well, that wood has been sitting there long enough - time to do something with it.    There has been some chatter lately about small mahogany guitars - EdBega and Thom are both interested in them and Masterbuilt has posted some interesting comments about tone wood.   So lets build a guitar and see what comes out.

    Next problem after buying the wood is to decide exactly what to build.  Just to say "small bodied all mahogany" covers a lot of ground.    Lets limit that a bit - I have built an 000 (my go to guitar) and an 0 (my daughters little parlor) - lets make this one right in the middle.   That would be a double ought (those are zeros, not oh's) - even that covers a range of sizes and other specs.  Martin, Gibson and others have used 00 to represent guitars from 19 to 19-1/2 long, 14 to 14-1/2 across the lower bout, 10 to 10-5/8 across the upper.    They are 12 or 14 frets clear (Gibson and SCGC even built some 13's), slot heads and paddle heads, mostly short scale but a few long, 1/4 or 5/16 braces, scalloped or not......      You get the picture.

    So I took my little database of 00 specs and three sets of plans (generic Martin 14 fret 00, Gibson L00, and the ones I built my 000 from) and I started consolidating.    First the neck and scale - I'm a sucker for long scale 12 fret slot heads so I'll fly in the face of most of the 00's and make this one the way I want it.   There, thats one of the biggest decisions, and sets a lot of the body specifications - length becomes 19-1/2, lower bout 14-1/2 and upper 10-3/8.    I check to make sure these will fit in a normal case (it is much nicer to buy a standard case at 70 bucks than a custom one at 300).    Bracing will be 5/16 but scalloped - we'll see how the wood responds.   The old Martins and Gibsons were simple guitars - they saved the bling for the upper models but they were well built - I'll bind mine in mahogany and do simple rosette and inlay.   Here's the results of my "engineering"


    If this is going to be interesting to folks, I'll keep the thread going and add some pictures and comments as I build this thing.   It might be kind of sporadic - I'll try to post several pictures of each step and subassembly as I go along.    Also, I apologize for the pictures - I keep a cheap camera in my shop and sometimes forget to stop and take a picture (sometimes I've got glue on my fingers or the router is running and its kind of hard to stop).    Anyway, let me know what you think and if there is interest I'll continue.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I wish you fun and good luck with your build. Me, I've built stuff all my life...the charm is gone.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">&quot; HAVE FUN, TRY NOT TO HURT ANYONE AND EAT PLENTY OF GREENS&quot;</div>


    • DeepEnd
      DeepEnd commented
      Editing a comment

      Sounds interesting. Keep us posted.

  • #3
    Bon voyage on your new journey, Freeman. You'll probably finish it before I finish mine!
    Cornelius Clodhopper


    • #4
      Nice! I can't wait!


      • Bad Robot
        Bad Robot commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm sure you'll do a great job, Freeman. I'm looking forward to watching your progress!

    • #5

      Keep the updates coming , enjoying watching the birth of a hog .


      • Freeman Keller
        Freeman Keller commented
        Editing a comment

        We had a couple of rainy days - good time to take a cup of coffee out to the shop and carve on a neck.   First, while the sides are nice and straight and square there are a couple of operations that need to be done now since they reference that edge.   I sand the top of the neck flat and then route the truss rod channel


        This is the time to cut the tenon for the neck joint - it could be either a dovetail or bolt on - I'm totally switched over to bolt on necks now.    With the sides of the neck straight most of the cuts can be made on the band saw.



        You can see that I have slightly undercut the mating surface - that will be used later to help set the angle.

        Now I can saw the side profile of the neck.    It will be 1-3/4 wide at the nut and 2-1/2 at the 12th fret.  I can cut the rough shape of the headstock at this time, it is 3 inches at the widest.


        Draw some reference lines, get out the spokeshave and a couple of chisels, and start carving


        Start defining the shape of the volute (the little dart on the back of the headstock)



        Then on to faceting the neck shaft


        For the final shaping I have a couple of templates taken off a neck that I like.   A lot of it is still just the way it looks and feels



        There will be some refinement but this is close - I'll put it away for a while and work on something else.




        Attached Files

    • #6
      I'll follow along, I like the smaller sizes and mahogany.
      <div class="signaturecontainer">Lon<br />
      <br />
      git mo guitar<img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/Totally_jammin_out.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Jammin'" class="inlineimg" /><br />
      <br />
      My gear:<br />
      More than I need.</div>


      • #7
        This is awesome! I really appreciate you doing this.


        • kwakatak
          kwakatak commented
          Editing a comment

          You go, boy. That's a lot of work in such a short time.

      • #8
        You make the hardest stuff look so easy! Thanks again!


        • Freeman Keller
          Freeman Keller commented
          Editing a comment

          and the beat goes on...

          The back is domed at 15 or 16 foot radius, the top is much flatter but still has an arch - in this case 25 foot.   Since I only have one radius dish (16) I'll have to sand the top braces using a 25 foot caul - this is something that I made at my previous job where I had acess to Autocadd and some fancy machines.


          Glue on one brace at a time - here is one of the X's


          Notch for the other side


          And glue it on.   Its kind of hard to see, but the other side of the top has the 25 foot radius caul to back up the clamps.    The other thing that is going on here is the so called "popsicle" brace - the flat piece of spruce that spans the upper bout.    Prewar Martins didn't have them but most builders now use them - they help keep the top from cracking along the edge of the fingerboard.    There is even a well known Martin repair guy that will remove if for you - he claims it is one step in getting that prewar sound. 


          Next the maple bridge plate.   This needs to be a hard wood that will resist the ball ends of the strings - Martin at one time used heavy rosewood plates but they were considered "tone killers" and they went back to maple.   Also adding some little reinforcement pieces next to the sound hole.


          Next the tone bars and finger braces


          And lastly a little spruce graft across the gap of the X.   Martin traditionally used a small cloth patch (I've used small bore rifle cleaning cloths) but many builders now use wood.


          You've probably noticed that these are big tall thick braces - many builders can preshape a brace to just the right size but I like to make them really oversize and trim them back.   I don't have enough experience to preshape them and its much easier to take wood off that to put it back on.   Besides I like the whole process of shaving and tapping and sanding and tuning.

          Stay tuned (pun intended).....

          Attached Files

      • #9
        Bump for a thread about acoustic guitars!

        What's that bracing pattern called? I like the look of the mahogany already.


        • #10
          I'm leaning to rosewood.


          • Verne Andru
            Verne Andru commented
            Editing a comment

            I'm a sucker for ebony.


        • #11
          Put me in for a rosewood headplate with streaked ebony bridge and fingerboard.

          BTW, Freeman. The current 15 series have A frame bracing so the upper bout is heavily braced.
          Cornelius Clodhopper


          • EdBega
            EdBega commented
            Editing a comment

            All ebony please ...

          • Freeman Keller
            Freeman Keller commented
            Editing a comment

            kwakatak wrote:
            Put me in for a rosewood headplate with streaked ebony bridge and fingerboard.

            BTW, Freeman. The current 15 series have A frame bracing so the upper bout is heavily braced.

            Thats the direction that I'm leaning right now but I have a little while to change my mind.   This isn't supposed to be like the 15's, more like the old 17's.   Martin just screwed my understanding of the numbers up by introducing an D17M - mahogany with a darkly shaded spruce top.   Latest issue of AG mag - now I don't know what to think.

            The ebony is some of the Bob Taylor 90 percent stuff with some pretty interesting lighter streaking - I could dye that out but I actually like it a lot.   I'll try to get a better picture.

            Thanks everyone for your input - I really do value it.

        • #12
          Rosewood trim would look nice!
          Cornelius Clodhopper


          • Queequeg
            Queequeg commented
            Editing a comment

            Insomnia reared up again last night, as it occasionally does.

            I don't have internet connectivity at home, other than my cell phone. At some point I checked into this forum in the wee hours and this was the only thread I read. Every post on every page. All on this little hand-held device.

            Reading this really had some soothing effect.

            Of course I do love hogtop guitars, and I've had a bunch of them. There's 3 of them in the house now.

            I used to spend some time on this forum. Too much, maybe. But one of the things I enjoyed most was following FK's build threads. So it was a bit like climbing back into that saddle again, viewing the images, and Freeman has a certain easy style of writing, very conversational, much as I imagine he speaks.

            Of course then along came the reminder of just how little I actually know about guitars when he gets into the nuts and bolts, the physics and engineering.

            And good to read some posts from old familiar forum members, too.

            It made being awake at all hours of the night rather pleasant.



        • #13
          I've pretty much gone over to bolt-on necks as well. More practical and I never hear any sound difference that the purists claim to hear.
          Originally Posted by DToad:

          Lets face it- today's GOP is all about the richest one percent exploiting the dumbest fifty percent.


        • #14

          I'm jumping in a little late, but I'm glad I found your thread, because I've been thinking about building an all-hog parlor too.  I love the way those little guitars cuddle in your lap!  You do beautiful work Freeman!  I'll be sure to follow your thread to the finish!

          Please visit my website www.treeguitarworks.com


          • Freeman Keller
            Freeman Keller commented
            Editing a comment

            stormin1155 wrote:

            I'm jumping in a little late, but I'm glad I found your thread, because I've been thinking about building an all-hog parlor too.  I love the way those little guitars cuddle in your lap!  You do beautiful work Freeman!  I'll be sure to follow your thread to the finish!

            Thank you very much.  I pretty much stopped posting any more pictures of the build (altho I continued to take them) - that is almost more work that the actual building and didn't seem to be getting the attention of some of my older builds.   If there is interest I can revive the thread and post some more pictures and I'm sure willing to do whatever I can to help you build one.

            I'm just loving the heck out of this little thing - I play it almost every night.   I'm totally impressed by its voice - very balanced and remarkably loud.   I built it to play the blues, but it seems to sound pretty good every way it gets played - I've heard it played with a pick and with a slide, as well as my simple little finger picking.