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Andyjr1515

A Guitar Bouzouki - (no basses were harmed in the...)

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I'm sorry.

Yes - I know it's not a bass.

But I have done two smaller bass jobs since the guitar build thread.

And besides - this is a BOUZOUKI! :party:

 

The conversation went something like this:

Him: "Loved that video of Matt Marriott playing the dreadnought acoustic you built for him"

Me: "Why thank you!"

Him: "I was just wondering.  Could you make me a guitar bouzouki? Presumably you could use the same general arrangement but with a bouzouki neck and joining at the 16th"

Me: "Absolutely.  Yes - of course.  Same principle.  It's all just wood, after all, haha.  And strings...it does have strings doesn't it...and...frets, hmmm, presumably and..well... well yes, yes, yes of course!  Yes - the answer is yes!"

Him: "That's great"

Me: "It's been a pleasure talking about this.  Have a great day.  Bye!"

Him: "Bye then."

Me: (Thinks) What the FLIP is a Guitar Bouzouki???????

 

And so over the next couple of days I will bring you all up to date of what one is :)

Treat this as a voyage of mutual discovery... :D

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Interested to see how this proceeds. I've got a cheap and cheerful one (from the small company who used to import them as "Gazukis" - Williams?) which just has a standard cutaway acoustic guitar body and neck, drilled for eight strings rather than six. It sounds pretty good acoustically, but the wide neck is rather unwieldy for chords compared to a real OM/Irish bouzouki... so a proper bouzouki-style neck sounds like a good idea.

Octave stringing or unison? If octave, which way up, and how will you do the bridge compensation?

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26 minutes ago, atsampson said:

Octave stringing or unison? If octave, which way up, and how will you do the bridge compensation?

You know I have no idea what you are talking about... xD

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29 minutes ago, atsampson said:

Interested to see how this proceeds. I've got a cheap and cheerful one (from the small company who used to import them as "Gazukis" - Williams?) which just has a standard cutaway acoustic guitar body and neck, drilled for eight strings rather than six. It sounds pretty good acoustically, but the wide neck is rather unwieldy for chords compared to a real OM/Irish bouzouki... so a proper bouzouki-style neck sounds like a good idea.

Octave stringing or unison? If octave, which way up, and how will you do the bridge compensation?

But more seriously. 

I seriously have no idea what....xD

 

It's early days.  We are just crystallising the spec at the moment and it's a long time before I need to worry about those aspects.  I'm guessing octave but I'm not sure at the moment - happily the prospective owner already has one - in fact, I think he has two bouzoukis, a trad one and a guitar one (and proper ones built by folks who know what they are doing ;) ) and so a lot of the details, neck width, profile, etc, etc will be aimed at trying to replicate a 'feel' that he is comfortable with, along with, hopefully, some AJR stuff too :)

I've worked on mandolins in the past so I'm guessing that will help me a bit.  Which, I know, is a bit like saying to the Mercedes F1 team, "Well, I changed the oil on a Ford Anglia when I was younger and I'm sure it's the same principle" ;)

 

 

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So this is going to be a Bouzouki with a guitar shaped body? 

Just had a quick search to see what they look like - the ones that retain some of the bouzouki features in the body look very nice - with the D-shaped sound hole and bouzouki style tail-piece. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

So this is going to be a Bouzouki with a guitar shaped body?  

Basically, yes.  

 

P and I are still pulling together the spec and I am still clambering up the learning curve using every crampon, piton and googlon at my disposal.

So - as @BigRedX says, basically a guitar body with a bouzouki neck and bridge.  

The body size we are going for will be the OM/Concert - 15" across the lower bout and around 110mm deep at the tail (you can see I spent my formative years in transition between SI and Imperial!).

The main difference to the body is that it joins the neck at the 16th fret, as opposed to the 14th fret of a standard steel string acoustic.  However, the bridge position, bracing and sound hole broadly remain in standard position, and so the upper bout shortens by around 30mm.

This is the shape we are toying with.  You can see in light relief the outline of a standard OM acoustic:

eYGs3H3l.jpg 

The sound hole will be wider than the norm and may well be shaped.  It will have a standard-style guitar bridge with a compensated saddle.  

The construction and internal bracing design will be very much based on my own OM build:

TAQna84l.jpg

The top timber, some lovely AAA spruce from David Dyke is already here.

The back and sides is on its way from Schroter in Germany and is Red Gum Satin Walnut.  I've ordered two sets - P will decide which one he wants when I am able to see them in the flesh and made sure they are both OK to use:

HaU0Qqvl.jpg

GdGexGtl.jpg

 

To say that I'm quite excited by this project is a bit of an understatement! ;)

 

 

 

Edited by Andyjr1515
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And here is the bracing. 

This is standard OM bracing and, as you can see, plenty of room to be a bit more creative with the soundhole :)

CxJJHv8l.jpg

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And the first physical step - joining the top.

It's a lovely piece of AAA European Spruce from David Dyke.  Very even and tight grain:

9mLCfIAl.jpg

 

Measuring with my new deep-throat caliper (pricey but without one of those it's all a bit of a guess, particularly when you start reducing to final thickness!), it's starting off at just over 3.9mm:

bwf5BNDl.jpg

I will be reducing that down to 3mm before putting the braces on, leaving 0.1mm for final sanding, finishing at around 2.9mm (hence the need for deep throat callipers - especially when it's joined!)

As is often the case, one edge of the bookmatch is darker and, as I don't want to have that in the middle, I will be joining on the other edge to give a nice and even light look for the bulk of the body.  But golden rule - always look on the other side!  And along the edge (which is probably why DD marked it up against the other edge) is a small knot which, apart from potentially weakening the joint, might show a ripple on the other side:

ZY77Cgml.jpg

 

But happily - because the sound hole is going to be in the same position as this OM plan, the knot will be cut out anyway:

j33DBf9l.jpg 

 

And so - with the edge straightened up with a long-base plane and the surface roughed up on my long sanding beam it's been glued and clamped.  The caul is to hold the joint against a dead-flat plank underneath to ensure that the two sides are completely lined up, with the sash clamp applying medium pressure to keep the joint closed:

fHWkuG8l.jpg 

 

Probably leave this clamped up until the morning ;)

 

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4 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Measuring with my new deep-throat calliper...

Hopefully, from now on, to be referred to as Linda?

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2 hours ago, BassBus said:

And this is a man who doesn't know what he's doing? 

xD  The 'Guitar' bit is fine.  It's the 'Bouzouki' bit that might be a bit of a challenge ;)

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Subscribed :)

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The back and side woods arrived today and, true to a good supplier, exactly as described.  It looks a nice wood.

These are the two options that P will decide on.  Both are very attractive and I will be more than happy to use either on a future acoustic project:

w83H4l3l.jpg

CHSbQ1cl.jpg

The yellow marks on the bottom one are splits that the supplier has highlighted.  The only relevant ones are those within the shape boundary and close up they are like this:

CIDs5ZGl.jpg

Splits like this are generally not an issue on a back - and when the back is thinned and pressed into its 15' spheroidal shape these will open out more - as they will fill and not show but also are held in place by the back braces. A split in that centre light section, interestingly, would have been more of a concern as it would have the potential of running up the whole length.  But the light wood is sound.

Having said that, you don't really know until you get it down to the finished thickness of 1.9mm and start bending sides and spheroiding the back.  If P does choose this one and if there is a subsequent issue during bending, we'll just switch to the other set :)

Incidentally, the Black Limba on Matt's dreadnought was worse than the above.  The splits on his were indeed lengthways and, originally, worsening -  but it's not been a problem despite Matt being a percussive player.  And a prize of a big emoji smile to anyone who thinks they can spot where it is ;) :

rWWJUUPl.png

 

Colour-wise, the timber for P's Bouzouki will finish up similar to his own stock photos up above - more amber and darker figuring than in the dry state, but the finish will bring out all of the secret wonders held in the figuring of both pieces :)

Some plywood is on order to make a bending mould for the new shape and then we can start some planing and bending :)

 

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In the meantime, I've been playing around with some thoughts of shaping the soundhole.  I'll put some of my various thoughts and scribbles to P but this one, I think, has something going for it, giving a passing nod to the curve and straight of the upper bout:

bfL5DJSl.jpg

With a shaped soundhole, the rosette probably needs to be simple - maybe just a couple of surrounding purfling strips - but, again, I'll have a play around.

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Posted (edited)

It would suit it I think

Edited by HazBeen

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If it was me I'd go for a more traditional bouzouki shape - more a D and less and rounded corner triangle.

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56 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

If it was me I'd go for a more traditional bouzouki shape - more a D and less and rounded corner triangle.

I was drawing something along those lines when you posted.  Of course, P might have something completely different in mind than either of them :D  

In the meantime, we have crystallised the back and sides choice - we're going for this one and see how it goes in terms of whether my judgement's right about the splits  :) :

CHSbQ1cl.jpg

Colour-wise, it will be closer to the supplier shot I showed earlier (stockists of these kinds of products will usually show them dampened which is pretty much the colour they turn to when the finish is applied):

HaU0Qqvl.jpg

 

I think this is going to look fabulous!

 

 

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9 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

 

w83H4l3l.jpg

This one has an interesting counter-ripple going on a bit like supersonic shockwaves.

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2 hours ago, SpondonBassed said:

This one has an interesting counter-ripple going on a bit like supersonic shockwaves.

Yes - I suspect that the application of some finish would draw out allsorts of interesting things.  Same with the other one too...

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Did the back and sides come from 'edelholzhandel2012' on ebay?
I have been looking at some of their walnut too and was curious how the ordering would work out. Sounds like it was ok, but how long did shipping take?

Thanks.

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2 hours ago, samhay said:

Did the back and sides come from 'edelholzhandel2012' on ebay?
I have been looking at some of their walnut too and was curious how the ordering would work out. Sounds like it was ok, but how long did shipping take?

Thanks.

Yes - indeed.  The company name is Schroter (with the old double dot over the 'o' ) at www.edelholzhandel.com, but the easiest way nowadays is to use their ebay shop.

Excellent supplier - I've used them before.  Great range of products, excellent photos of the pieces with any flaws properly marked up and quick shipping (less than a week - even at the moment!) in good packaging.  I would happily recommend them.

 

And a little more progress.

First of all, P and I have firmed up on the soundhole.  It's an opened-out version of the original 'triangle with rounded corners':

zLDUO7El.jpg

 

And I've started thinning the joined top down to near final size.  For this, I am using my trusty Stanley No.80 Scraper Plane:

aWtIW1Kl.jpg

It's a slow, careful job - the blanks were 4mm and I'm thinning down to 3mm, leaving 0.1mm for final sanding once the braces are all on and it has been glued to the back and sides.  I've got around 0.2mm to go, being careful to reverse the direction of cut for either side so that it is always scraping with the grain and not against it (the fibre angle for bookmatched wood lies in opposite directions - which is why sometimes a guitar top looks one side light, one side dark in certain lights.  Scraping with the grain for each side significantly reduces the possibility of tear-out ).  

 

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Great, thanks Andy.

The cut-down OM body shape is unusal, but is quite similar to Nigel Forster's tenor/bouzouki body.

Cedar-T-SKadv-full.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Yes - he's done the same as me.  That is, taken a standard OM body shape and shortened the top by two frets worth.  The only difference is that we've gone for straighter sides from the top bend to the waist whereas Nigel has retained the OM's curve.  Oh...and the other difference is that Nigel is a fabulous instrument maker... :D

And I wish I'd seen that photo when I was trying to see what a guitar bouzouki was!  Luckily, P sent me a few from different makers, including Nigel's :)

 

Well - the top is a 3.00 - 3.07 mm and that will do.  It doesn't look much, but I'm VERY excited by this:

pnp8QJKl.jpg?1

 

Why am I so excited?

- because with the long reach calliper, I know, for the first time, that the thickness is even across the whole surface rather than just the edges

- because this is the tightest, most even grained top wood I've used so far

- because you can already see the chatoyance (the tiny ripple effect in good timbers)

- because it rings like a bell!

 

A reminder, also - the knot on the join line is where the sound hole will be cut; the darker wood at the join to the right of that will be under the fretboard.

So, as these threads always go, so far so good and plenty of time still to b****r it up :)

 

 

Edited by Andyjr1515
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15 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

chatoyance

Now THAT is the word for the weekend! Especially if playing scrabble. 

More seriously, when you say it "rings like a bell", do you hold it by a corner and tap it? What happens if it goes "donk" at this stage?

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