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Remember that build I was gonna do?


kwakatak
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I worked on the headstock and rosette yesterday.

 

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I really like this set of bookmatched ziricote that RC Tonewoods sent me. I think it sort of looks like a flaming torch.

 

Working with Zip Flex for the rosette was remarkably easy - maybe even easier than working with the wood fiber purfling strips. It's still slightly proud of the top but I don't want to rout anymore so I just glued it in with runny CA glue. Hopefully the Ablam sands well. If not, more routing. I am leaving my circle cutter and Dremel untouched so that I can just rout it out if I sand away all the abalone.

 

BTW, I made another montage video. I'm just having fun with this.

 

9HHZAHNoRf0

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The other day I had three amjor things planned that didn't get done that left me upset. This has been good therapy and there's no better part than when you have to actually do some shaping, so I jumped into shaping the volute on the neck:

 

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I also cut out the sound hole:

 

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Yes, I realize that there's a hunk of my rosette missing, that there are some "irregularities" to my soundhole and that the abalone lost a lot of its luster because I had to sand it down a little . Next time I will do better with the bling. The soundhole can be fixed. .

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I have found that scraping abalone instead of or after sanding will restore the luster. The finish will also. Use a box cutter blade, put tape on most of the edge and scrape with the exposed part.

 

I just did some big block fretboard inlays that had to be sanded to the radius of the board. Scraping at right angle to the way I sanded brought the shine back and removed all the little sanding marks.

 

Otherwise, looking good, keep on keeping on.

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In order to attach the back and top to the sides I have to sand the kerfing to match their radius. As i understand it, the radius of the plates is determined by the underside arc of the bracing. To do that, I purchased preradiused jigs from LMI at are only 16" across. The length of the body is 20" though and I wasn't willing to pay $75 for a radius dish - let alone $150 for two of them - so I had to get creative.

 

In my basement I have a 2X4, a chop saw and a bandsaw. I also have a pencil and some rules but that should be a given. Long story short, I cut two 2 foot long sections of the 2x4 and marked the centerline of each as well as the centerline of both the 15' and 30' radius jigs. I traced the arc of each on a 2x4, extended the arc by overlapping the jig over the drawn line and voila! a 24" long radius. After an hour or so of slowly and painfully trying to stay true to that line with the bandsaw and planing/scraping/sanding it as true as I could get it I had two sanding cauls for the rims:

 

51ED0F09-0EA7-423B-B408-159AD224CB5E_zpsutjngyv9.jpg

 

For my birthday I got some spending money and I went to Harbor Freight with a 20% off coupon and bought myself a little 8" drill press. I marked the centerpoint and using the biggest drill bit I have I drilled a hole in the middle of each sanding caul. I also marked out the center in the top of my homemade gobar deck/work table and drilled a hole. I clamped the rims and mold to the table top then I searched in vain for a threaded metal rod but ended up using the drill bit to mount the caul over it:

 

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I grant you, it is imprecise and unwieldy but it works well enough as long as I'm diligent. I monitored the depth of the imaginary "dome" by finding the lowest point in the revolution of the caul and wraped the bit with some painter's tape. Using a block plane I smoothed out the high points then I found some 80 grit sanding belts and a stapler and went to work "driving the bus" as John Hall puts it. It's not perfect but I think I did a pretty good job on the back plate. I have yet to set up the 30' radius caul for the topside rim. Doing the back was exhausting enough. Still, even though the back rim is ready I will wait to glue on the top plate first when it's all braced up.

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Moving along in a slightly different direction in order to keep up on momentum - and not concentrate on a life issue that I will not discuss here - I shifted focus back to the neck. As you know, I had been focusing on the profile of the neck at the 1st fret and reducing the thickness of the headstock in order to accept a set of midsize 18:1 ratio Gotoh 510 tuning machines.

 

Well, I got the headstock as thin as I was willing to go and using a caul and my new drill press I drilled out pilot holes for the tuners and used a reamer as a bit to widen them out. The placement isn't perfect as the drill press is a bit small and clamping the headstock down with cauls on either side is tricky so I aimed to get things "close enough." This is a hobby so I have no delusions of perfection. Here's how things came out:

 

B2D1CDB5-965D-47F6-BE70-36F805E48786_zpswgxgtthe.jpg

 

97B67CA5-C06D-4926-BA5D-CF7407B265AA_zps5riazgqj.jpg

 

I would like to note a couple of things:

 

1: using a reamer and drill press generates a LOT of heat. In fact, there was smoke. It appears that it is very easy to scorch ziricote and it almost appeared to have melted around the edges of the hole. Gladly, there was no charring and a couple of passes with a card scraper smoothed things out fine.

 

2: the tuners make the headstock VERY heavy. From experience with my first build, this neck is going to be very heavy, though I have also noted that on my first build the mahogany/cedar body is very light in weight. The EIR rims OTOH already feel heavier. The entire guitar is going to be heavier. Hopefully there will be a better balance between the body and the neck.

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Moving right along to the neck profile, I put some protective tape on my inspiration for the neck profile: my trusty Larrivee OM-03R which is very comfortable to play.

 

1315407E-7296-4BCE-8E61-33D197F8F9A1_zpsojitfogy.jpg

 

Using a cheap profile gauge I took a measurement of the Larrivee's 1st fret and overlaid it at the same area on my neck:

 

9F100DAA-0EE8-4DF1-8768-858A65AB1F81_zpshsk0raa5.jpg

 

As you can see, the area is pretty close to being finished. Next is to take a similar measurement of the Larrivee neck at the 10th fret and set to work on that area on my neck blank. As with the basswood on the kerfed linings on the rims things are proceeding pretty quickly but I have a ways to go before I get there.

 

Still, I think I've made some decent progress this week.

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The previous two days have been spent concentrating on shaping the neck. I went on to carve out the entirety of the neck shaft's profile using a combination of a curved profile file, a band of 80 grit sandpaper and a card scraper. I tried using a spokeshave but couldn't get it to work smoothly without too much "chatter" leaving gauges into the wood.

 

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Then I moved on to shaping the heel. In hindsight I should have done this step first as I did during my first build. First, I used my block plane to taper the heel toward the end cap. I originally wanting to cut it out using a coping saw (since my bandsaw is too small) but the blade traveled a bit too much for my comfort. My 3/4" chisel was not cutting very cleanly either as I was attempting to carve across the grain using the flat side of the blade and the angled edge was better suited to the fine tuning the final profile shape.

 

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Moving on to the next facet I again tried both sides of the 3/4" chisel and found the grain to be resisting, whether it was because of grain orientation or the sharpness of the chisel I am not sure. I opted to move on to using the file and sandpaper instead.

 

5425E4C9-7D2C-4DD0-9915-DBB5255B565B_zpsrzcduqbp.jpg

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Skipping ahead a bunch of steps I have something resembling the finished neck. There will still be some final carving once the fretboard has been installed but first I need to finish the body in order to set the neck.

 

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Close up views of the heel to follow. I was not able to bring it to a sharp point, opting for a more semi-oval shape to the heel cap.

 

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My next major steps are gluing to maple binding on the fretboard and bracing the soundboard. Even though the back is braced and the braces chiseled once the soundboard is braced and partly voiced I intend to glue the soundboard to the rims first to complete the voicing process.I'm really looking forward to closing the box and setting the neck but until then I can lay things out and compare this build with my first.

 

6BC05798-2F2C-4518-A191-519AF81574E3_zpsj3k9nwn5.jpg

 

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I'm pretty proud of how close the headstock came out to the original. The ziricote headstock veneer is thicker than the original's rosewood so I had to thin the headstock a lot more but the Gotoh 510 midsized tuners are a bit heavier than the basic Gotoh tuners so the neck on #2 here feels much heavier.

 

5614F791-52F9-46D8-905E-AD86720337E4_zps52wthtkl.jpg

 

One thing that is different with #2's neck is that I have purposely left the heel thicker at the end cap. #1's neck was a mess because I drilled laterally across the tenon to admit barrel bolts and it compromised the bottom half of the entire heel, causing it to actually break off. #2 has threaded inserts but I still need to epoxy them into the tenon.

 

D22184D5-5043-430B-A768-31CB18222A41_zps4fltcwkz.jpg

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Things have slowed down a little but I'm still at it. Family stuff had literally gotten crazy and about 2 months ago we decided to do something about it. Now I have more time to myself but in my current state of mind that's not a good thing so I've been trying to keep busy and find more positive diversions. These past few weeks I've been focusing more on home repairs and renovations but am still turning to this when I hit a wall.

 

Anyway, developments this past month have been on bracing the soundboard and binding the fretboard: I bought jigs from Stewmac to radius the braces. I figure I don't really need a radius dish for the glue-up. Just lots of clamps:

 

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I cut an arc at the end of the fretboard and used my wife's clothes iron to bend some maple. Don't tell her I did that! She's likely to go out and buy another iron now - as if GAS was bad enough! The woman has an entire collection of curling irons and hair dryers too.

 

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The A Frame/upper transverse brace and the finger braces have no radius so I used my homemade gobar deck.

 

5B68341D-2678-48F8-A472-3134E38856C3_zpsae99jtjs.jpg

 

I also revised my setup to sand the rims without having to drop $160 for radius dishes by cutting an arc on the underside of a couple of 2x4s and and anchoring it all on a threaded dowel in my work table.

 

620754F0-36C1-4DD4-9D2D-B88336478BA8_zpsb0odgobo.jpg

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Thank you. I put a lot of thought into it. If I'd had a sanding dish it would be a matter of looking for 100% contact all the way around with the help of a flashlight. I've addressed your concern with the use of locking washers and a regular nut/locking washer/regular washer underneath so that the threaded rod is fixed in place. Meanwhile, the sanding block can descend on the rod but it cannot rise above the height set by the top wing nut. When I can do a complete revolution without resistance I know I'm done; when I hit resistance I know I've hit a high point. Now I'm done and on to sanding a 1.5 degree angle in to the upper face of the neck block tongue. That will hopefully prevent the dreaded 14th fret hump.

Edited by kwakatak
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  • 2 weeks later...
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The top is nearly braced and ready to start voicing. The Carpathian is down to .105" at the centerline and under .098" at the edges so it's at the razor's edge for stiffness. I showed it to Tim McKnight who flexed and tapped it and pronounced it still usable but typical Martin style bracing was not going to stiffen it up so it would be bass heavy and lack articulation. Being of the Somogyi school he suggested a design that I found radical and beyond my ability to execute so I asked if I could do a double X brace variation?

 

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As for the bridge plate I haven't decided on a material yet. I am thinking of going with rosewood. As you can see by the outlines it's going to be slightly oversized.

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I don't think ebony is an option for bridge plate. Traditionally it's been either maple or rosewood with spruce being used on guitars that essentially sound like cardboard. I used osage orange on my last build which many have said is like Brazilian rosewood in tone. I was told not to use it this time and instead add an oversized spruce plate to stiffen up the area but I think I may nix that and use osage orange after all. I have two pieces of it but need to thin them down to about .08" first.

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Holy carp! Sit out of a forum for just... uh... several years, and look at all the stuff you miss! This is looking damn nice, Kwak. And I have to say that I'm jealous that you're able to "slip out" to a Rockler. I love that place, but living in NYC again I may not ever get to actually set foot into one of their actual stores. And the hardware joints we have in NY generally cater more to things like A/C and other appliance repair than carpentry.

 

To your earlier posts in this thread, I'm with you on the real value of boutique guitars. There are some truly fantastic factory guitars out there, and I feel extremely lucky to own one. I also have a $300 Yammo that I think is excellent in every practical way. But as someone who views guitars and the people who create them with reverence, I think there is a lot to be said for guitars made by people who devote their lives to the art and are able to invest complete, undivided focus in literally every single detail of the instruments they make. IMHO, instruments made by the lutherie gods (Olson, Goodall, Somogyi, Matsuda, Klepper, etc.), are worth every penny. Unfortunately, I will never collect that many pennies... :)

 

And one thing you have in common with every one of those guys is that every one of them built a first guitar. And a second... Hope you will keep it up, and keep posting updates.

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I know lots and lots of great builders use rosewood for bridge plates and I bow to their expertise. My one experience is that I own two Martins from the "over built" '70's and both have had the large rosewood bridge plates replaced with smaller maple ones. Both guitars benefited from the change - when my D18 came back from having the work done my wife said "you are playing louder". I didn't think I was doing anything different.

 

I would really question the idea of using spruce, remember that the bridge plate's function is to keep the balls of the strings from destroying the top.

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Fair enough - I don't have a clue what the actual impact of the bridge plate is tonally. Seems like the sort of thing that can have a real significant effect.

 

I made a DIY plate-mate for my old FG450SA out of a chunk of ebony that I glued in place, so the strings had little chamfered holes to lock into. Since my brother had exactly the same guitar I got to hear them side by side for years before and after. My take is that it lost a bit of the dreadnought big bottom and got more articulate with more sustain. Fun party trick to pull a bridge pin out between songs, examine it, then stick it back in. The guitarists in the crowd go WTF?

Edited by Grant Harding
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Hehe - leave it to Z to take the name of CARP in vain. Careful there, they're known to bite.

 

I'm glad you replied, knock. There have been times when I've worried that I've screwed up this wonderful piece of Carpathian that you graciously provided. I hope that you're able to build another guitar yourself.

 

Freeman, I would certainly consider using maple for the bridge plate. I like the idea of a closed-pore wood to handle the ball ends as opposed to rosewood with grain running laterally along the line of the bridge pins. My mind keeps coming back to the rosewood bridges on my old Takamine that fractured under tension of a JLD and more recently the rosewood bridge on that Norlin era Epiphone FT-160N. I believe that I may have to shop around for an adequate piece of flatsawn maple though.

 

I concur that spruce would not be my first choice but Tim also provided me with a rosewood patch that would be added to handle the ball ends. I still don't like the idea of using it. Tim took his cue from Ervin Somogyi who has used lattice bracing and varies his bracing for every guitar. As it stands now though, the tap tone of the top has changed significantly since the lower X was installed. The pitch of the tap tone is higher and even though the sustain of the "note" is shorter I take that as a good sign that the top is stiffer. That lower X is going to get the lion's share of attention though as I actually want a lot of bass so I'm thinking that the legs are going to be tapered aggressively and end well short of the rim. I'm hoping that it stabilizes the area around the bridge plate much like the symmetrical bracing that Larrivee uses and has an effect similar to the Martin A Frame bracing which essentially encloses the bridge plate all around. Tim also told me not to scallop the braces which makes a certain amount of sense to me. I'm going to try my hand at parabolic bracing.

 

If you want, I could try to take a video of the tap tone at several different stages of voicing. I'd have to use the microphone from my Apple ear buds though.

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Freeman, I would certainly consider using maple for the bridge plate. I like the idea of a closed-pore wood to handle the ball ends as opposed to rosewood with grain running laterally along the line of the bridge pins. My mind keeps coming back to the rosewood bridges on my old Takamine that fractured under tension of a JLD and more recently the rosewood bridge on that Norlin era Epiphone FT-160N. I believe that I may have to shop around for an adequate piece of flatsawn maple though.

 

........

 

If you want, I could try to take a video of the tap tone at several different stages of voicing. I'd have to use the microphone from my Apple ear buds though.

 

I just buy a piece of maple with the grain running the right direction from LMI for 3 bucks - its like kerfing and back reinforcing and a bunch of other small wood items that I could make but it just isn't worth it

 

http://www.lmii.com/products/mostly-wood/inside-the-box/bridge-plate

 

Note that they sell spruce for classical guitars but then of course classical guitars don't have string balls.

 

It would be interesting to see what you are doing but I'll be absolutely honest - I don't have a clue what people are doing with voicing. When I started building (ten years ago) I was all smart-assed and thought I knew what voicing was all about - I read Siminoff;'s book (and attended a lecture by him), met Carruth and looked at his glitter plots, sat in a seminar with Grevin and listened to him tap plates. Granted, I've never bought Ervin's book (or for that matter, Gore's) but those aren't the style of guitar I want to build (and the books are damn expensive). So, my first few guitars I pretended I understood voicing and most people think they sound pretty good. My last few guitars I admit I don't understand voicing and most poeple think they sound pretty good.

 

I'll bet yours will too

 

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I'll likely never play a Somogyi - nor will I ever be able to afford one of his books, much less his guitars. The way I see it, I'm looking to make something loud so I figure I'm at least in the right direction. I just don't want it to break up if strummed aggressively. I've skimmed through a few articles that discussed amplitudes, nodes and transmission of frequencies, etc. etc. but I'm so riddled with adult ADHD that my eyes glaze over. I've watched Youtube videos of and even IRL demonstrations of Chiadni testing with tea leaves and a speaker but I'm no gypsy so it's beyond me. I'll have to ask my mother - who fancies herself a mystic - for her interpretation, provided that NASA didn't screw something up and change my Astrological chart. Then it's all moot.

 

In the end, I'll continue to trust my gut and stick a Snark tuner on the plate at various points and see what note pops up. Last time I got a G# before I closed the box. This time the top is up to the next D# above that so I figure I have some significant chiseling ahead of me. I'll start by tapering the lower legs of the X braces so that I can glue the top on the rims first. That always seems to change the tone of things. I also feel like I need to thin the back plate a bit more too because it's really heavy. Somogyi and Tim both talk about tuning the plates to reflect off each other in harmony. I don't know about that but I do know that I have a lot of deep gouges in the back so Fate will ultimately play a hand in things. I suppose I could pray over it too just to make a uniformly metaphysical experience of the whole thing.

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