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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:09 pm 
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After a month long hiatus here is a progress update.

Glueing on bridge prior to back plate is attached. There is too much distance between the soundhole and the bridge on this beast. Also, a fretless set up allows for some minor deviation does it not?

Box now closed up and just ordered my strings for $220. Ouch!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:44 am 
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Doug Balzer wrote:
just ordered my strings for $220. Ouch!


wow7-eyes Why??

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:26 am 
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Peter - classical strings as in upright bass style, not steel string. That's what they cost.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:50 am 
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Wow, I had no idea they cost so much. You wouldn't want to be changing those once a month or so!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:15 am 
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There's a huge range of prices in orchestral strings, but even the cheap ones are pricey. Best deal I can find on upright bass strings is d'addario preludes for $74 at Johnson string instruments.

Just imagine the price on bass strings back when gut was all there was :shock:

The build is looking good. Go-bar clamping a bridge doesn't look so good, though... if it works, you probably need to carve down your braces some more. Unless you have something supporting it underneath.

I glue my bridges by hide glue rub joint. Start by taping a piece of sandpaper over the bridge area, and sand until it's perfectly fitted. Stick some bits of masking tape to mark the position. Then warm everything up, slop some hide glue on the bridge, slap it in place, and press down while you rub back and forth until the glue squeezes out and you can feel friction with the soundboard wood. Wait for the squeeze-out to gel, clean it up, and let it sit for 24 hours. I usually have a hand inside to support underneath while rubbing, but it's probably not really necessary since it doesn't take that much downward pressure.

The main drawback to the rub joint is that you need space to rub... which means gluing the bridge before finishing, rather than cutting a perfectly fitted hole in the finish. But since you're doing that here anyway, that should be fine.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:56 am 
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Thanks Dennis. You raise a number of good subjects. I went with the strings that I did (Spirocores) primarily because with my research they seemed to be the go-to strings for many pizz players. I could have cheaped out but after all the time and energy I am putting into this my first guitar (and a highly experimental design at that) I wanted to invest in strings that would not leave me guessing. Can you believe that even these are not anywhere near the most expensive?!! I'm also told that Spirocore's seem to last forever and thus, kind of like buying a Mac instead of PC, you save money in the long run. Oops -did I say that out loud?

At just about every point I am following RM Mottola's (http://liutaiomottola.com/instruments/Tinozza.htm) design and technique. The braces are carved to his specs. Although I do not yet fully appreciate some of the concepts he describes, on this instrument there are numerous places where weight and mass are increased in order to " lower the Helmholtz resonance."

For the bridge I did have a block supporting underneath as the back plate was not yet on. If you look closely at the pic I posted there is about a 1/8" gap around the lower bout and go-bar deck - leaving all the weight transfer to the block under the bridge plate I clamped in a go-bar deck as did Mottola. I sanded flush the bridge to the soundboard prior and I think my fit was very good as evidenced by the small but consistent squeeze out around the bridge. Keep in mind that this is a floating bridge so it will not have the same kind "load" that steel string guitars have. BTW - Mottola has been very helpful with the few questions I have sent him directly. As a complete rookie to the craft I am amazed with the supportive and knowledgeable people in the lutherie community. Thanks all!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:06 am 
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Ok, confession time. This is not the first set of strings I purchased. Two months ago I cheaped out on a set for $120. I took them out of the packaging and had them laid across the back of my workbench although they did straddle one cord plugged into the wall. A few days later the cord came loose, three strings fell onto the steel plugs and BOOM - strings burned in half. I never burned through $120 so fast before. Good thing they were cheap strings ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:33 am 
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Doug Balzer wrote:
Thanks Dennis. You raise a number of good subjects. I went with the strings that I did (Spirocores) primarily because with my research they seemed to be the go-to strings for many pizz players. I could have cheaped out but after all the time and energy I am putting into this my first guitar (and a highly experimental design at that) I wanted to invest in strings that would not leave me guessing.

A wise decision, probably. I was mainly referencing the price range for Peter's sake, but also just incase you were paying more than necessary, since you didn't mention what type or where you bought at first :)

Quote:
For the bridge I did have a block supporting underneath as the back plate was not yet on. If you look closely at the pic I posted there is about a 1/8" gap around the lower bout and go-bar deck - leaving all the weight transfer to the block under the bridge plate I clamped in a go-bar deck as did Mottola.

Cool, that should be fine then [:Y:]

Doug Balzer wrote:
Ok, confession time. This is not the first set of strings I purchased. Two months ago I cheaped out on a set for $120. I took them out of the packaging and had them laid across the back of my workbench although they did straddle one cord plugged into the wall. A few days later the cord came loose, three strings fell onto the steel plugs and BOOM - strings burned in half. I never burned through $120 so fast before. Good thing they were cheap strings ;)

Ouch! Glad the house didn't burn down with them eek


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PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 11:31 pm 
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Long time since an update but a four day weekend can cure that.
Bound the headstock.

I routed the binding channels with a home made rig based on Kincaid's rig. Extremely pleased with the results...very few gaps and even those are hairline. Presently I am carving the neck. The Lee Valley spokeshave works like a dream on the maple but a new rasp is definitely on the most wanted list.

I can see the end!!


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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2013 8:09 pm 
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I like it , looking good [:Y:]

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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2013 10:02 pm 
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Looking good, DOug.

Nicely thought out asthetic, and clean neat work. Ought to look a treat.

Now, I'm dying to hear it, as I've got one on my list......

Nice set of Bubinga for the back and sides, I think....


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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2013 10:45 pm 
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Thanks Nick. I re-did the inlay as there was a crack in it. I also went from MOP to abalone...thinking the contrast will not be as stark. Neck is finished with a coat of shellac on it. I started to lay down an epoxy coat on the box. Man I love long weekends with 40% outdoor humidity and 20 degrees = garage door open!


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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2013 11:08 pm 
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Sharp. We're actually coming into our dry season down here, and I hope to have a tear with a few projects in the next couple weeks....

Dang, makes me want to start one of these now.....no, no, no, I've got too much going on......


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 8:44 am 
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Very unique headstock shape, Doug. I like it. It'll look great with the tuners on it.


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 6:43 pm 
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Those are some insanely tight bends on the headstock binding! Is that plastic, or are you a wizard?

Good choice on redoing the inlay. MOP is probably the least forgiving material there is for cracks. Abalone has lines already so you can usually get away with it, maple usually looks bad but is ok if you can glue it back together perfectly the way it came apart, but MOP looks awful even if you do glue it perfectly.

Can't wait to hear it! I don't think I'll ever build one of these using doublebass strings, but I definitely want to make an acoustic bass guitar... even more now that my harp guitar has strings (although no frets yet). It sounds great, but I can just imagine the power of a huge box with only 4 strings so I can go lower stiffness, and not worry about getting good tone from the high strings as well.


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 7:50 pm 
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Thanks Zeke. I copied the headstock shape directly from Mottola's plans. I have black tuners so I think the appearance will be sweet!

Dennis: I bound the headstock with 0.06" fiberboard from LMI. I did some tests first with ebony but to no avail. The fiberboard was effortless on my bending iron. Obviously my iron does not have that tight of radius but I screw clamped a steel rod of about 1/2" diameter to the iron and it heated up right away. When it was "close enough" I sprayed the binding wet, taped it to the channel and left over night. The next morning it was perfect and hardly even needed tape at all for glue-up. Great trick I stumbled into here.

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Last edited by Doug Balzer on Wed May 22, 2013 7:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 7:54 pm 
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It's a good tip, Doug. I've always given the sides, bindings etc that I bend a good spritzing once they are in the moulds. Next day, the tough bits relaxed and reset into the shape I wanted.....with a bit of judicious clamping....Just bent the bindings for the tenor this morning and did the same to them....


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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 8:00 pm 
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Update: finishing up my epoxy coats (thanks Todd Stock for sharing your technique). Then shellac seal coat, TruOil, perhaps wax, then done.


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PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 3:30 pm 
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Looking great Doug! The epoxy really popped the figure in that wood!


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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 12:22 pm 
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Strings on! So after applying the final coat of Tru-oil and allowing it to dry I put the strings on it for the moment of truth. For the first hour or two it sounded a lot quieter than I had hoped but I remember reading a lot of feedback in this forum of needing to allow the instrument to settle in. This morning I played it again and it is building some very strong resonance...much more so than a steel-string acoustic bass. Bassy resonance. Room filling volume. Already this could easily keep up with an acoustic guitar in an unplugged session. And the classical strings with a fretless fingerboard makes it sound much more like an upright bass than it does a steel string acoustic bass. A real jazz sound to it. I couldn't be more pleased and am hopeful that the sound will only improve over the next few weeks.

I am not posting any pics right now as I still need to buff the Tru-oil as it hardens for another day or two. I also screwed up on slotting the G string over the bridge (you didn't read that wrong...this instrument needs a slotted bridge for each string) so it does not run perfectly parallel to the side of the fingerboard. I'll have to fix that first. I've also ordered a StewMac nut slotting guage for the next build. But all in all, I am EXTREMELY pleased with the visual and auditory results of this being build #1. Will post final pics in due time.

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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 12:49 pm 
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Congrats. Looking forward to seeing and hearing


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:40 pm 
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FINISHED! She sounds great but will post a clip once I get this fretless bass thing down a little better. I took it to a music store and played it next to a Fender acoustic steel string bass as well as a double upright bass. An objective observer verifies that it sounds nothing like a steel string and very close to the upright bass. They also notice that the volume really does compete with the upright bass but with a little less resonance for obvious reasons. It is seriously louder than the ss. I've had her stung up for a week now and the sound dramatically changed from day to day for the first five days. It think its settling down now.

Finishing sequence: epoxy level (except soundboard), coat of amber shellac to seal and for some color, 4 coats TruOil, buffed and lightly waxed. I have ordered another oversize bone saddle so I can make a few adjustments regarding string height and intonation. Since taking pics I drilled the hole for the K&K pickup and am just beginning to test that out.

Number 2 is already in the works: an OM with curly walnut sides and back, bearclaw Sitka, curly maple binding.....
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Last edited by Doug Balzer on Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:52 pm 
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More pics

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Last edited by Doug Balzer on Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:54 pm 
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Incredible job, Doug! I enjoyed the build very much. Congratulations!!!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:03 pm 
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Hey Doug, I take it you didn't go to the Calgary guitar show today. There was a luthier at the show with a partially completed build of exactly the same guitar.

Not much else at the show interested me other than chatting with William Hamm (a luthier from Cremona http://www.hammstrings.com), who had a couple stunning steel string guitars to look at, and the guys from Black Forest Wood. Will gave a presentation at the Southern Alberta Woodworkers Society a few years ago, and hosted a guitar building seminar at Black Forest before Black Forest started offering guitar construction courses.

Congratulations on completing your build. Looks nice. Too bad you ordered the nut slotting gauge. I bought one for my build, but I found it too much trouble to use compared to simply using a digital caliper and you could have mine. Zero the digital caliper while measuring the string thickness, then measure the height from the fretboard to the top of the string. This gives you a direct reading of the distance from the fretboard to the bottom of the string. Easy peasy.


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