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Acoustic bass - carved top


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Just now, honza992 said:

Wow, that is nice!  I've never heard of it but the resemblance is striking.  Just goes to show there's nothing new in guitar making!  Here's another one in stunning sunburst...




Yeah, that’s an original 60’s job.


I recall being fascinated by the 1990’s reissue on the rare occasion they’d appear in a guitar shop.


So cool.

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1 hour ago, AndyTravis said:

I had a dream last night where I was playing an Epiphone Howard Roberts…but it was a bass.


Then I realised I’d been staring at your builds…






Yeah thanks Andy, the more I look at this more I like the metal tailpiece....so now I've got to learn how to machine, bend and galvanize metal.  Like I don't already have enough other things to do.  So great, thanks.....🤣

Edited by honza992
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1 minute ago, honza992 said:


Yeah thanks Andy, the more I look at this more I like the metal tailpiece....so now I've got to learn how to machine, bend and galvanize metal.  Like I don't already have enough other things to do.  So great, thanks.....

Uhm. Sorry…


34” and wine red with a gold soap bar at the neck for the next one, yeah? 🥳😉

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1 minute ago, AndyTravis said:

Uhm. Sorry…


34” and wine red with a gold soap bar at the neck for the next one, yeah? 🥳😉


Hmmm....the trouble with 34" is neckdive which would be inevitable and the higher tension strings which may put too much pressure on the top. 


You've completely got me on the wine and gold though.  Very nice.  


Mind you, now i think about it.....Oh b_gger it, why not.  In your next dream thats what i'll be making....

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On 25/02/2024 at 13:10, BigRedX said:


In the late 70s I made a solid electric balalaika and a guitar in woodwork classes at school. Pupils weren't allowed to use power tools, and apart from the woodwork teacher cutting out the (very) rough shape of the guitar body on the band saw everything was done by me using hand tools. I probably spent more time sharpening plane and chisel blades then I did shaping the wood. If I was ever to have another go at making a guitar or similar music instrument, I would invest in every time and effort saving power tool available. Life is too short.

Yeah, the sharpening is a pain.  But diamond stones have made it much less boring than it was.  I first used whetstones which I hated, then tried the scarry system which I hated, now I just have two diamond plates, a 600 and a 1200 (I think) and it's great.  No mess, no faffing about.  


 I guess there's a continuum between using just hand tools at one end, and using CNC for everything at the other.  I'm somewhere in middle.  No CNC, but if I can use my RAS to cut 300 slots for the kerfing, then thanks, I'll take the technology....

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3 hours ago, honza992 said:

Next time though I really am going to do it in two halves....


I too enjoy lying to myself.

This is great stuff, Honza. I love a proud scarf joint, highlighted with veneers, rather than trying to hide it. Really looking forward to the carve on this neck.

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12 minutes ago, alittlebitrobot said:


I too enjoy lying to myself.

This is great stuff, Honza. I love a proud scarf joint, highlighted with veneers, rather than trying to hide it. Really looking forward to the carve on this neck.

A robot after my own heart.  If you like a veneered scarf, here's one I did earlier...



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The braces for the back are approx 8mm wide, 20mm high.  The back though has a dome shape, the radius of which is 15 feet.  Putting the flat braces onto the radius dish you can see that they need to be curved.  Putting a pencil through the hole of a washer, I can trace the curve of the domed dish onto the brace:





You can see here the dome a bit more clearly:



I cut to the line on the bandsaw, then put  sand paper in the radius dish and sand them to get a good fit. 




Then onto the router table with a roundover bit, and they end up looking like this:



The shape will be refined a bit before gluing, but for the moment, they're good. 

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Also today I managed to get the back-seam-joint-inlay-thing (BSJIT for short) done.  You can buy these for a fiver....But....it then won't exactly match the binding that I use for the perimeter of the guitar.  And if I did that you'd all throw things at me.  So I take the slightly slower option and do it myself.  Basically it's a strip of the bindng, then a 0.5mm strip of white veneer, then a strip of 0.5mm black veneer.  They'll get glued vertically into a channel routed into the back:




Routing the channel I use simply run the router along a straight edge taped down to the back.  It's difficult to get it exactly centred so one trick is just to keep adding strips of tape to the side of the router base till you get it exactly right.  You can see from these test routs that I got it right on the 3rd time (ie 2 extra pieces of tape).  You can then happily rout knowing it's going to be exactly centred...






Once the channels done, it's they just a question of sticking the strips of wood into the channel, then gluing it all generously with superglue.  Then make some lovely shavings:




And hey presto!  It's done..




Edited by honza992
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Posted (edited)

Mornng all. 


A few random jobs to report on. 


First I glued the braces to the back.  And just to prove to @alittlebitrobotthat in fact I am not a machine man with a machine mind, but a free man with freewill, I glued the four braces on in two halves.  2 at a time.  I guess that's a brace of braces at at time...Anyway, it's a big help in getting the glue squeeze-out cleaned up. 



Next up...sledgehammer, meet (wal) nut.....



This is some scrap from after I cut out the back.  I'm going to joint/join two small pieces together and glue them on the back of the headstock.  I may even try to inlay the same stripe that's on the back into it....


Also, the new wood arrived to replace the one with the fish-shaped knot.  And here it is:




And this is what I found when thinning it down:



ARRGGHHHHH! The mother of all pitch pockets, full of the stickiest resin you can imagine!  There was no trace of it on the outside, but magically appeared as I bandsawed away the excess...


Luckily if I push the template all the way to one end, the defect is positioned right where the neck pocket will be routed out. Phew....




Finally, I bent the last piece of side, the cutaway.  It's quite a tight radius and what I had intended to do was sand it slightly thinner at the peak of the curve just to help with the bending.  But of course I forgot.  Oh to be a machine man with a machine mind.....anyway, it's close enough.  I lost my nerve and left it there.  Breaking the sides on the last bend would have been annoying, to say the least:




Edited by honza992
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Posted (edited)

In another thread @Wookiebass mentioned CAD drawings and  thought you might be interested to see my process. 


I use CAD in the followng way. 

1.  Fire up the Windows laptop. 

2.  Wait an extraordinary amount of time for it to start up. (Man I love my Chromebook). 

3.  Wait while it updates windows, then restarts.  Wait another extraordinary amount of time. 

4.  Fire up CAD. 

5.  Try to draw a straight line. 

6.  Fail.

7.  Get out a very large piece of paper and draw two views, one top view and one side view.







I don't know if you can see those, they're a bit feint.  They are the two full size drawings I do for each build.  I refer back to them all the time, there's no way I could build without them.  The side view is particularly important as it helps dial in the neck geometry.  


I find drawing by hand a deeply relaxing activity.  It's a zen moment when the build is still perfect.  Before the realities hit of trying to persuade a tree to adopt a deeply unnatural position...


Having said that I would LOVE to be able to have 3D drawings done in CAD, and 2D drawings for templates etc.  My brain is deeply 80s, unfortunately.  I blame the video of Duran Duran's Rio. 


Edited by honza992
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5 hours ago, honza992 said:


First I glued the braces to the back.  And just to prove to @alittlebitrobotthat in fact I am not a machine man with a machine mind, but a free man with freewill, I glued the four braces on in two halves.  2 at a time.


What's this? Development? Growth? Learning from mistakes? I call that deviating from your programming. Unacceptable.

Very interesting build, though. Hitting those hidden knots and sap pools is like whatever the opposite of striking oil is. Glad you're able to make this piece work in spite of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All, sorry this update has taken ages.  Quite a lot of progress....


The back is mostly done.  A bit of final sanding to clean it up but otherwise, it's ready...and the top has been joined and thicknessed.  



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Posted (edited)

The fretboard is a huge amount of work, mostly done.


First I cut some binding strips off the side of the blank.  This way the binding exactly matches the fretboard itself.  These then go through the thickness sander:





Next up fret slotting on the radial arm saw.  Anyone who has slotted ebony by hand knows it's an utterly miserable job.  Ebony does not want to be a guitar, thank you very much so makes sure that the fret saw gets endlessly stuck in the slots.  A bit of beeswax on the sides of the saw helps, but it's still miserable.  Once the slots are cut by machine I then do them all again by hand, to make sure that the fret slots are deep enough for the fret tangs.  Once the bindings are on you really don't want to increase the depth of the fret slots unless you can help it...



Next up, binding the fretboard and the headstock plate.  First I do the white line all the way round, then go back to do the ebony.  If I try to do it at the same time my head explodes. 


The end piece goes on first, then the side strips.  If I can I use titebond, but for this end piece which is curved CA is better.  (EDIT: This is what I did, end bit first then the sides.  It's not though the best way to do it nor is it the way I intended to do it.  Following (even my own) instructions is not my strong point.  It makes far more sense to the do the sides first, then the curved piece.  This way the curve is pushing the joint tight, rather than pulling it apart as I've done.  Ho hum.  Will I never learn....@alittlebitrobot don't answer that)


IMG_20240311_110247.thumb.jpg.65c8c44d558b384d11d90d6e5deb2aa6.jpg d


I rout the headplate to size using my binding bit.  I take it veeery slowly, taking off no more than 0.5mm at a time  - by changing the bearing size I can creep up on the final size.  Ebony is brittle and chips easily and the headplate shape with it's curves and cross grain routing is asking for trouble.  Eventually it looks like this:




I can now go ahead and do the binding.  Binding is actually one of the processes I like the most.  It takes a long time to get all the angles right so that the joins are as near to invisible as possible.  Endless tiny adjustments so that the mitres are tight.  Then gluing.  Many hours later it looks like this:




So far the neck is made up of 23 separate pieces of wood.  And there's still quite a few still to go. 


While we're on the neck, I've also put in the MOP dot markers.  This is the sort of job that sounds easy - drill a few holes, glue in the dot.  Easy.  In my experience it's not though.  The drill wants to wander, the ebony wants to chip, the MOP dot is just to big to fit in the hole.  It's taken me a loong time to develop techniques for getting it neat and precise.  


First, I mark the holes in pencil, then punch it with an...awl? ....then I freehand drill a 1.5mm hole.  This hole will guide the pointy end bit of the 7mm forstner drill bit.  Without it, I find the forstner can wander, and a dot marker half a milimetre out of place is the sort of thing that drives me potty.  If they're not on the line, re-do them.  These ones look lush😊




One of the troubles with me and guitar building is that I'm bit of an airhead.  Here's a good example....a mother of pearl dot superglued to the handle of the scalpel I was using to push the dot into the hole.  Try to remember that superglue is called that for a reason.  It's sticks, and real quick!  Luckily I realised in time.  A scalpel sticking out of the fretboard would not have been ideal. 





Edited by honza992
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Slightly out of sequence, as I did the radius before the marker dots.  Radiusing I use this jig from G&W.  It seems solid enough but I'm getting a few ridges so there's some slop somewhere. 




I'm now in the process of finishing the radius by hand.  At the moment it's got 120 grit on.  I'll got to 400 on the sanding beam, then probably do to 1000 with sanding sponges.   The orange sanding block is probably my greatest innovation in guitar making🤣  It works brilliantly.  I think I may have mentioned ebony being non-cooperative.  It particularly doesn't want to have a radius sanded into it.  This is going to take a while.....



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