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 Post subject: Re: Dennis' build
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:31 am 
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
We are officially bridged bliss

It feels sort of anti-climactic doing such a simple bridge after all that crazy inlay work, but the wood is so pretty, and the color fairly dark, it would probably draw too much attention if I did anything fancy on it anyway.

The blank I started with actually turned out to be precisely twice as wide as I needed it to be, so I can make another one of these in the future. Although the other piece doesn't have any black lines, so this one's way better.

Drill the holes...
Attachment:
BridgeDrill.jpg

Carve it up...
Attachment:
BridgeDone.jpg

I was kind of in the zone and didn't get any progress shots, but it was fairly straightforward. Start by scraping the bottom concave to approximate the soundboard dome, rough saw the wings, then lots of chiseling and scraping, and a bit of sanding on the flat surfaces (plane isn't quite sharp enough at the moment and I was too lazy to sharpen it). Then noticed I bought a tiny gouge recently for a different project but it's just the right curvature to work in the corner along the back of the tie block. Nice and rounded, rather than a sharp corner like Coral Snake's :) Then shellacked it to keep it clean. Weight is 17 grams. Coral Snake's is 13, but it's mulberry, and this is Honduran rosewood, so that makes sense. Plenty light enough.

Then sand it on the guitar to match the glue surface precisely.
Attachment:
BridgeSanding.jpg

I had to stick a hand inside to support it while sanding, since the top is so flexible between the braces. Took quite a lot of sanding to get one last little low spot, but you can't have any imperfections here, especially since it was on the back edge.

Then lots of measuring and comparing to Coral Snake to position the bridge. Stick some tape for reference when gluing, measure again, heat everything up, slop some glue on the bridge, and slap it down. Hand inside again to support the soundboard while rubbing it in place, then hold it for a bit until the glue starts to gel.
Attachment:
BridgeGluing.jpg

Clean up the squeeze-out (toothpick and fingernail, followed by small wad of damp paper towel and more fingernail) and it's done. I love hide glue.
Attachment:
BridgeGlued.jpg

Haven't carved the neck or drilled the tuners yet, but I'm hungry.


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis' build
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:59 pm
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Well, I fell asleep after yesterday's post, so I'm a little behind schedule, but not too much.

Gave some spots one last light scraping for good measure, and then wiped a couple coats of shellac on the soundboard and sides (back hasn't been touched since its last shellacking). It'll still need at least one or two more, or possibly a full French polishing to glossiness, although I don't really like doing that because then every little scratch sticks out like a sore thumb. Forgot to take a picture of the current state, but it already looks very nice.

Then thin down the headstock, which is extremely easy in Port Orford cedar. Just peel up a few monster chisel chips, then go at it with the gouge to create the hollow handstop lip.
Attachment:
HeadstockThinning.jpg

Then lots of scraping with a thin and flexible scraper to finish, and a little bit with a thick and flat scraper at the upper end. Lots of needle file work on the crest and the sides and the transition to shaft area and rounding over the edges, more scraping to take out the file marks, wipe some hide glue on the crest endgrain so it doesn't darken, and shellac it up.

Carved the neck, although it's still pretty chubby so it will most likely be getting more after the competition. Depends on how much I end up taking off the fingerboard.

Then lay out the tuner positions. I decided to do a progression decreasing by 1/8" each peg. 1 3/8" from nut to first, 1 1/4" from first to second, 1 1/8" from second to third. Then put 'em on a line with as much space between them as possible so as not to crowd the buttons, and drill the pilot holes.
Attachment:
TunerDrill.jpg

Here's a handy technique I've been using lately, since I drill things by hand so the slow turn rate often results in chipping at the exit point. Take a big drill bit, and spin it quickly and lightly at the surface to create a chamfer.
Attachment:
TunerChamfer.jpg

Then drill up through the sizes, until the reamer fits into the hole. I had one chip on the entry of the D string hole, due to pushing a little too hard at first and the bit digging in. Glued it down, moved on.

I love my reamer. It's the expensive one from LMI, but well worth the price. Makes this fun and easy and accurate.
Attachment:
TunerReam.jpg

Just turn it and go slow, look at it from the side and above to make sure it's square to the headstock face, and push it a little to one side or the other while cutting if it's not. But you can only make adjustments relatively early in the process, because it takes a little distance to fully smooth out the hole again.

All done, no trouble at all. And here's a shot of the back of the headstock with a ruler, so you can see the hollow. Looks and feels much more interesting than a plain flat surface that any old machine can make :)
Attachment:
HeadstockHollow.jpg

Then drill holes in the pegs. Funny thing... I forgot to buy new pegs for this. But I still have the ones I used on my harp ukulele in the last competition, to keep the cost down before installing the geared pegs. But they already had holes drilled in the center rather than at the tip. Oh well, the extra hole is hidden inside the headstock anyway, and I can buy more later if I want.
Attachment:
PegsDrilled.jpg

Then whip up a quick temporary nut out of maple (or maybe permanent, since my last two instruments still have their "temporary" nuts...)
Attachment:
MapleNut.jpg

And it's time for the first stringup... starting as soon as I hit submit on this. Hopefully the bridge won't go flying or anything.

If all goes well, then I'll check the action, plane the fingerboard appropriately, chamfer the fret slots, cut the frets, nip the tangs, and sleep. Tomorrow, file the nipped tangs flush (always a pain), grind the barbs with a dremel cutoff wheel until they fit the slots (I've never done this before, but I've never had frets go in as easily as I think they should), install the frets, file the ends a bit, but not to full final spherical shape because that takes too long, photoshoot, and then video.

Hopefully I can get to the photoshoot before the sun goes down, because the lighting outside is so much better than in here.


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis' build
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:13 pm 
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First name: Dennis
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State: MO
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Status: Amateur
DONE! Just need to make a video, and I'm in! Tony, you better get your lawyers on the case :lol:

First string up (without frets) went great. No issues.

The fingerboard planing took forever, but I finally got the action right about where I wanted it. Just over 1/16" on the high E, just over 3/32" on the low E. It's a bit higher than Coral Snake, which while extremely comfortable, is definitely on the low side in terms of how hard you can play before rattling.

Then chamfer the fret slots with a needle file... but slip out of the slots frequently and scratch up all my beautiful leveling work [headinwall] Scraped it some more and they smoothed out. I need a better tool to do this.

Then cut the frets (close call on quantity of wire- I didn't even have one spare fret eek), and nip the tangs with my handy dandy nibbling tool that I ground a slot into the face of, thus transforming it from a $10 piece of junk into a $50 StewMac nipper.
Attachment:
FretsNipped.jpg

... that is, unless the StewMac version can actually nip the tang fully flush. Mine leaves a small burr, which I then file off with a needle file, holding the fret by the tang with flush cut nippers, and in a slot to help keep it in place and give a level reference for the file.
Attachment:
FretTangFile.jpg

Then my newly added step, grinding the barbs down. First just hold the fret near one end and carefully touch the cutoff wheel to the last two barbs. Then flip and repeat for both ends and both sides. That's to get the ones that would be too close for comfort in this position:
Attachment:
FretsInstalled.jpg

There it's nice and fast to knock down the rest of the barbs one by one. I just eyeballed it, trying to leave just a little bit of barb to grip, but otherwise get it down pretty close to the bare tang width.

Then hide glue in the slots, and tap the frets in. Finally I know how it feels to "tap" a fret in rather than pounding it like a barbarian, and even then having some gaps that just don't squeeze out. These felt just right.

Then file down all the fret ends, and round 'em over. I decided to just do the full spherical end treatment right now, so I don't have to make another mess of metal dust later.
Attachment:
FretsInstalled.jpg

As for the sound of it... I'm unsure. It's good, but not as good as coral snake. Sounds a little too mellow to me. Maybe over-braced. The bridge stiffened it up a ton, going from frighteningly plush to quite firm. I'll give it a while to open up, and if it doesn't do a good enough job of it I'll start shaving on the fans through the soundhole.

The paper rose does indeed have a large effect on the soundbox tap at least, pretty much killing the main air resonance (it does out very quickly after tapping the bridge). I think coral snake could kind of use that, since its air resonance pitch is pretty wolfy, but in this one's current state, I think it's better without the rose... although I haven't actually tried it with frets, since I didn't want to unstring it and all. I guess I'll record one thin, push the rose in and just leave it inside the box while I record another. I'll take the strings off and dig it out of there some other time.

Oh, and this thing is insanely light... 1.6 pounds. Coral snake is a bit over 1.8. This one's a little neck heavy though. Balance point is right under the headblock/inside portion of the heel, whereas it's a bit farther down on CS. Plus this time I got the shape more accurate to the original Torres, whereas CS had its waist up a bit higher... which if I make any more of these, I'll do on purpose, since it's a naturally neck heavy design with the tiny body and relatively long scale.

Next post will be the photoshoot, then I'll make a video.


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis' build
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:24 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:59 pm
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
It was actively snowing while I was taking these, so I had to hurry a bit before it got soaked :)
Attachment:
FrontAngle3.jpg

Attachment:
BodyFront.jpg

Attachment:
BackAngle.jpg

Attachment:
Back.jpg

Attachment:
Rosette.jpg

Attachment:
Headstock.jpg

Attachment:
Heel.jpg

Attachment:
TailInlay.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis' build
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:00 pm 
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City: Lenoir City
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Can't say enough cool stuff about the rosette although I like it all! [:Y:] [:Y:] and you've still got 5 hours laughing6-hehe

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 Post subject: Re: Dennis' build
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:25 am 
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
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State: MO
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Videos are up!



And after playing it a bunch... the fingerboard planing didn't go as well as I initially thought. The fingerboard extension on the bass side needs more falloff. The two lowest strings can't be played very hard up there without smacking the frets. Not sure if I should pull all the frets, pull just the extension frets and try scraping a dropoff there while maintaining the height of the treble side and the flatness of the board across its width, or just ignore it since I don't use those frets much anyway.

Also, I still think the sound is a little muffled-ish or something. And it actually sounds better with the rose in, especially in recordings. More zing to the trebles, and sort of smooth bass. But muffle-ish either way. I'm not sure whether to blame the bracing or perhaps the bridge weight. I don't think it can be bridge damping, because that blank had a pretty good ping, and Honduran rosewood is generally one of the lowest damping woods around. Or maybe it's how light weight the rest of the box is, vibrating all over and wasting energy? I'll try sticking weights to the sides and see if it changes anything. The deflection is pretty similar to coral snake, so I'm leaning away from blaming stiffness. Although its main air frequency is significantly higher than coral snake's so that does indicate high stiffness rather than low weight. Or maybe it sounds better out in front of it, rather than playing? I'll have to make my siblings pluck around on it even though they don't really play.

Oh well, it plays and sounds pretty good just like it is, so I'm happy overall :)

Thanks to all who've followed this thread! It's been a fun build. And it's not really 100% over since I do still need to do that back binding and maybe a little more neck carving... I think I'll add a turquoise side marker dot at the 7th fret, too. It's a little more difficult to play without any reference points at all.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:48 pm 
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Dennis I think it sounds great. Sure it is not a brash Flamenco or a loud concert classical guitar but I don't think you designed it as such anyway. I really like it's mellow tone and as far as the artistic designs, well, it's beyond anything most of us would even dare to do I think.

If the fret buzz doesn't bother you then don't worry about it. FWIW I usually plane the bass side of the fretboard down on classicals I build with flat fret boards. That way it give my bass strings about 1/32nd inch more at the 12th fret then the treble. I set up 5/32 at the low E down to 3/32 on the high.

My guess is that if you wanted to fix it the best way would just be a re-fret and resurface the fretboard.

Anyway I think it's a wonderful little instrument.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:49 pm 
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Very nice, it has that classic parlor sound. I bet it'll sound even better in a few months.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:47 pm 
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First name: Beth
Last Name: Mayer
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Killer appointments, and nice sound! Great job, Dennis. Congrats and good luck :)


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