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Andyjr1515

Finished pics! A Bitsa Dreadnought for me :)

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Posted (edited)

Hi

Well - as I've risked life and limb three or four times posting 6-string builds in Basschat, I thought the least I could do is post the first build in Guitarchat

While it would be a hoot if it was a bass, it's actually a 6-string and there is a build diary on Basschat currently live.

If you've been following that, then ignore this but, if you haven't, I'll do a summary thread of the progress.  There's quite a bit of detail in the Basschat version if anyone is interested in building one and, of course, feel free to ask.

So - over three or four posts I'll bring it up to present progress.

First of all - this is my third acoustic build.  

I built this OM size for myself:

IMG_2917.thumb.JPG.4d62d2494931bda50ba88796a3b4411c.JPG

I had a go because, although I had discounted ever trying an acoustic as 'too hard', I saw a build thread on one of the other forums and thought 'you never know...'

Spurred on by beginners luck, a few years later I built this dreadnought sized one for a 'special' birthday of our band's vocalist, Chris:

IMG_7689.thumb.JPG.dd49519c2ad5137b953b2f974ea5fc4e.JPG

 

So why a third?  Well - I am mainly a finger-picker and OM's are perfect for that.  Mine turned out to be no exception.  But they are a teeny bit jangly for strumming.

Chris on the other hand is a strummer - so a dread was right for him.

But what surprised me for this one - maybe the woods, maybe just luck - was how good it sounds finger-picked.  As good as my OM.

And - because it was for a special birthday, I bought enough wood to recover from any major building disaster.

And that wood was just lying around in the way and what could I do with it? 

Well....I could always build one for myself. I s'pose :D

 

So I got the wood out, which included lacewood (London Plane tree) back and sides, an offcut of Macassar ebony fretboard and maple neck blank as well as the original mahogany one.  No top wood but I could always get some of that.

_MG_5850.thumb.JPG.a192183193dd5c72306d4a5b24d65aed.JPG

 

And dug out the Elite Guitar Plan I used for Chris's build:

_MG_6001.thumb.JPG.37b5753e230fef2c92a022c2c8a26685.JPG

And went down the cellar to start making sawdust :D

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Andyjr1515
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Posted (edited)

Hmmm - the photo link doesn't appear to be working?  I'll download them directly

Edited by Andyjr1515

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1 hour ago, Silvia Bluejay said:

We're having trouble with showing pics in posts, Andy. It's a problem that needs to be solved at the source. Charic is on the case. :)

No problem.  The direct load rather than Imgur link seems to have worked OK :)

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First job was to bend the sides and the basis that - as they are matched sets with the back - one major crack would mean the end of the project and therefore may as well get that over with before wasting any more time...

Found my shape mould from Chris's build:

_MG_5877.thumb.JPG.3d45901b0c45f084bfdd55213d63e79b.JPG

 

Soaked the sides in warm water with a touch of fabric softener (I'm assured it makes a difference!):

_MG_5879.thumb.JPG.ec1c8260dc139dfd118865aa5ed05562.JPG

 

Then started the slightly scary process of hand bending over the electric bending iron:

_MG_5882.thumb.JPG.3a050cab4992098e9ac057856843e2b1.JPG

 

Once they were relatively close, clamped them into the mould overnight until they fully dried out:

_MG_5885.thumb.JPG.10d1e0057c824f8e10ecf3c1d90ab47c.JPG

 

Then trimmed the ends, reassembled the mould and attached the neck and tail mahogany blocks and hey presto - we still have a project!!!!

_MG_5889.thumb.JPG.a653be2b8dd34b903fc36241c0f8d845.JPG

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Next came joining the two sides of the top:

_MG_5923.thumb.JPG.d500a652ed47a3f344ad8587e55bab2c.JPG

 

Then bringing it down from 5-6mm to just below 3mm.  I'm getting better at sharpening plane blades!:

_MG_5926.thumb.JPG.2cb5d5ce32ef25b3db09c0b8feb5f4b1.JPG

Then once I was getting close I put my old Stanley No.80 scraper plane into use for the first time:

_MG_5946.thumb.JPG.8822350396fff364b9d70d100a0023c5.JPG

 

In the meantime I joined a nice piece of wood given to me by a Tasmanian friend.  And yes - it comes from Tasmania! (I think it's a type of Eucalyptus).  Mother of pearl cut and installed and swift added, then the two circles cut off centre:

_MG_5973.thumb.JPG.772f2446aabd5463a73fa73d1ecef381.JPG

_MG_5981.thumb.JPG.ab9c4258a98b487d786176e94b4dbf4a.JPG

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Next - out came the Dremel radius jig and a couple of offset holes drilled in line with those used to cut out the rosette:

_MG_5985.thumb.JPG.17532e5b2d380d2ca08a1f139523d5b8.JPG

 

Which gave me the accurate outline.  Golden rule - the top of the rosette is covered by the fretboard so best always to put joins and first cuts there.  Note my whoopsy ref forgetting about the width of the router bit!:

_MG_5989.thumb.JPG.f9d9b1cad1c7cc10d5d0b8cd1965fe8f.JPG

 

Then careful routing inside the lines - a tidy up of the edges using a razor blade, a trial fit, then the glue in the rosette. 

Then an additional rout to fit a purfling strip into:

_MG_5991.thumb.JPG.86f25ea84c33ddc58f6a9cc2e29b938f.JPG

And finally the centre of the hole is routed out and we have a finished top ready for fitting the braces to :) :

_MG_6000.thumb.JPG.9138c98823b4d02e92ab57445c595de1.JPG

Here you also have a sneak preview of the radiused and slotted fingerboard - I'll cover that next ;)

 

 

 

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Partly because this is a 'bitsa' build, the sequence is a little bit haphazard - and probably so is this thread.

Before I go onto bracing and the black magic of tap tuning, a quick update of the fretboard above.

It is Macassar Ebony and is actually an offcut from the lightweight (5 1/4 lbs) 'Nyhavn Swift' I built recently for my sister-in-law:

_MG_4887.thumb.JPG.8eb8124043299302c390a348cba21fb7.JPG

 

As such it is ONLY just long enough!  The plan calls for 25 3/8" but my fret-slot template is 25 1/2" - so that's the scale I'm going with :)

First I radiused the blank on my slightly dodgy home-made radiusing jig:

_MG_5894.thumb.JPG.5cde4b0aeca475ef18eb8edf07546707.JPG 

Then slotted the frets using a G&W mitre box:

_MG_5901.thumb.JPG.8256d85fd87bc6f308aed80692b1081a.JPG

 

I've actually got a choice of two offcuts for the neck - a mahogany /walnut/mahogany blank from my first dreadnought build  but also this maple/walnut/maple offcut left over from my last bass build.  I've never tried a maple neck on an acoustic so I thought I'd go for that:

_MG_5920.thumb.JPG.319626cfc6300aa069edd292ad8e0d3f.JPG

The heel - and the offcut of the offcut - isn't quite deep enough for a two piece heel - so I might set in a piece of angled decorative wood and make a 3-piece look like it was supposed to look like that :)

Clearly, there's a lot more to do here, but next post will be back to the body build which - so far - is progressing nicely.

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4 hours ago, bottomofthebarrel said:

You build some fine instruments, keep 'em coming!

I do a bit myself (at a lower level) and need threads like this to get the juices flowing!

Thanks :)

I do many bits at a lower level too, many of which you've probably seen :D  

I'm pretty sure many of us would like to see some of your work (hint hint!).  I certainly would :)

 

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And so, to braces.

The top is not flat but is dished with a radius of c. 25 feet (I didn't know that before making one but this is pretty universal!)  Curving the bottom of the main braces and pressing those down into a radius dish produces that shape.

First was to cut out the brace basic shapes:

_MG_6002.thumb.JPG.0b2db7f26bea98cd17e9d2922d017f8a.JPG

Then to radius the bottoms so they fit snugly in their respective positions in the radius dish:

_MG_6013.thumb.JPG.880eb74e4733aa2c234031f00b3e6254.JPG

Then to glue them to the top, you have to hold the braces down, pressing the top down into the dish until the glue has fully set.  To do that, generally builders use a 'go-bar deck' - two squares of MDF or chipboard, secured by threaded rods:

_MG_6018.thumb.JPG.0485cfc45c23e20934c796b948ad3944.JPG

..and then dowels or fibreglass rods used to press the braces and top into the radius dish:

_MG_6019.thumb.JPG.42d7fecb1acb3de09ce5026e7c1b9924.JPG

_MG_6026.thumb.JPG.19694e401276ad8e70d571d90c8b54cd.JPG

And when it's set, the braces hold the top in the 25' radius spheroidal shape:

_MG_6027.thumb.JPG.59d840fd732e7dd7a6ce766f0027f1f1.JPG

 

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28 minutes ago, bottomofthebarrel said:

OK, I'll start a thread. It's friday and I've had a drink🍺

Excellent :)

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And so to shaping the braces (basically parabola shaped to retain the strength but reduce weight) and tweaking the shape of the braces to get the top to resonate with multiple harmonics at as many of the required frequencies as possible - tap tuning.

For anyone interested in this black art (which I only scratch the surface of personally - I know when it's right but I don't know how to get there other than by accident), this is a long but very instructive video.  The last 15mins or so has him actually doing the tweaking and by golly you can hear the difference at the end!:

https://youtu.be/Ei5-DkVTrEE

Mine has ended pretty much where his began (then again, he sells his guitars for many thousands of pounds) but is certainly more resonant that when I started with a number of distinctly different notes, with at least two harmonics, ringing out when various parts of the top is tapped.  On this dry fit, you can see that some of the non-structural braces disappear to nothing - and where that happens matters!:

_MG_6036.thumb.JPG.029f72a1b4267b9540404a9d12276f4f.JPG

The straight brace at the top and the long cross braces are structural and will extend into the kerfed strip, which needs cutting away:

_MG_6041.thumb.JPG.0afeb7a86fbcdf5d087424a4a61295a6.JPG

As will be seen later - the outside join will actually be cut away!

So the glue joint of the kerfed strip itself has to be a good one - but remember, the top and back are curved.  So they need sanding at an angle to provide a good gluing surface and tight internal join:

_MG_6044.thumb.JPG.226c65309bbcfc22f38d67a81fc201f9.JPG

While I can see both sides (ie, before the top is glued on), I need to similarly prepare the back.

First a purfling strip is set into the join line:

_MG_6062.thumb.JPG.5d34f2365c885987448d97885340ec9a.JPG

That is scraped smooth and then the back braces are put on.  The back has a 15 foot radius spheroidal curve so has its own radius dish.  The bottoms are radiused to fit the 15' dish in the same way the top braces were radiused to fit the 25' dish:

_MG_6064.thumb.JPG.272dabb76d50443c9db5ad284d9eecf7.JPG

I pre-shape the parabola so use spruce offcut strip to act as the pressure beams for the go-bar struts to press the back into its proper shape in the dish:

_MG_6068.thumb.JPG.9d5d038fdb574c2b319b26d63eaf59cc.JPG

And then the dry-fit tweaking of the back join is done in the same was the top was:

_MG_6071.thumb.JPG.d3eace7ac3689871a4578078845c2ab3.JPG

Thread is ALMOST up to date.  Next post is gluing the top and back onto the sides which is where I've just got to. 

 

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So, pretty much bringing it up to date...

Before gluing the top and back on, it's the time to check the fit of things that will be very difficult once the chamber is sealed!

Such as where the pre-amp is going to sit:

_MG_6077.thumb.JPG.74c3a98d6ab193781b01ed7e2e132730.JPG

 

Then, first, the top is glued:

_MG_6085.thumb.JPG.4c4ae0b36a256a96593c2f40927ece72.JPG

 

The back still has a little to do.  The maple cross-grain strips are put on to strengthen the bookmatch join.  There is quite a thickness difference in the body between the neck and the tail so I've clamped with a fulcrum strip to help that along while the strips dry:

_MG_6086.thumb.JPG.091d577053eeaa74213c9f01baa15d1f.JPG

 

Then the all important label - almost impossible to put it in straight once the back is glued on!

_MG_6087.thumb.JPG.95f00fc918c2ab8f0883fc638a874287.JPG

 

The top is now almost final thickness and, being spruce, is susceptible to damage, so I made some ply cauls, chamfered on the bottom edge, to clamp against:

_MG_6090.thumb.JPG.74988033ef544ee7a6d019ab37295c0b.JPG

 

And then the back is glued :)

_MG_6095.thumb.JPG.adb92e84a437d2b484674485807f47a3.JPG

 

Looks promising:

_MG_6103.thumb.JPG.759b3619772aa9b9d72ced342352b346.JPG

 

Mind you - having done all that work on the body, the most scary bit is still to do - routing the binding channels and neck mortice slot.  Could still end up as BBQ wood, yet!!!! :o

 

And bringing right up to date with this afternoon, turned my attention to the neck and fretboard.  All will be revealed tomorrow:

_MG_6121.thumb.JPG.fef3fc9c010427738b2ae458c9fae5f7.JPG

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Come on Andy, it's tomorrow now, no time for a lie in, you have a neck to get on with.😀

 

Spectacular job as always.👍

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OK

The thing I've done before is using decorative banding to bind the fretboard with.  It gives me the advantage of looking like a multi-layer veneer demarcation without the faff and risk of wavy lines of trying to do that:

_MG_6122.thumb.JPG.bd5fedda88e33c0d41bb832757292bb8.JPG

_MG_6126.thumb.JPG.24df1f78d3b0fdd717a3aaecfcb178a8.JPG

 

The second thing is something I haven't tried before.  Because the neck is from an offcut, it isn't deep enough to give me top of body to bottom in two pieces.  And three pieces of maple stacked together could look a bit naff!

So I've added a lump of decorative wood.  To make it look like it was meant to be there, I've angled it.  Won't know until I carve it what it is going to look like, but worth a try!

_MG_6127.thumb.JPG.4fc56eaf417d3ff1a9008e2151f6387a.JPG

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Rather than bore everyone with the same tortuous detail on this thread, I'll just summarise the results.  Some of the reasoning and issues are covered in the original thread started on Basschat.  The progress end point is the same in both threads :)

Binding - hate it!  

I use a stewmac Dremel adapter as the 'only affordable least worst option' for cutting the channels - but with a daft but surprisingly effective mod of adding a piece of binding to it to act as a vertical guide:

_MG_6136.thumb.JPG.5c07a918849116e641279b40035f2b3c.JPG

Works like this and helps a lot in getting an even rout:

_MG_6138.thumb.JPG.361b8a5250e391e3b8f194300567d3a4.JPG

_MG_6144.thumb.JPG.f8240268b2ed7da86074d2a7779057cd.JPG

First goes on the inner purfling - this is pretty straightforward:

_MG_6150.thumb.JPG.1307ea9cd50027119996c9f2324f7875.JPG

Then cleaned up the remaining channel ready for the binding itself.  This needs pre-bending - I use the bending iron and the body mould to hold them in position while they dry:

_MG_6160.thumb.JPG.21c8002be9dc5b861529c887f852441e.JPG

Then glued and held tight with glassfibre reinforced tape and bicycle inner tubes:

_MG_6169.thumb.JPG.f6d1f649edfa3440f4e750a927c6d7bb.JPG

 

Results -after a bit of tweaking - are OK but the process, in my view, is too hit-and-miss:

_MG_6173.thumb.JPG.38ca77a03e1905cc939617ce2a5e28d3.JPG

_MG_6175.thumb.JPG.a2d3a7b1a93485bbe698169e58518c35.JPG

 

So for the binding on the back, I'm going to try a completely different method that I successfully used a few years ago on this Peavey EVH re-body:

IMG_6163.thumb.JPG.01490c5ef0c8ace267c805e2e45f93a9.JPG

 

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And in the meantime I made a bit of progress with the fretboard.  Cut a couple of swifts for the 12th fret:

_MG_6132.thumb.JPG.2cbcba2e8961e86cd63ef09c23491904.JPG

Then used a precision router base on the Dremel with a 1.5mm bit:

_MG_6133.thumb.JPG.be23364a012046f82499a8e42bd82abf.JPG

and installed with epoxy mixed with Macassar dust:

_MG_6135.thumb.JPG.9765d96f2ffdf7d204fb7b3c5483715d.JPG

 

Dots fixed either side and sanded smooth with the radius block:

_MG_6171.thumb.JPG.ca2657f076bc2b8b77aa1de060754ee3.JPG

 

And that's all up to date as of this morning :)

 

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2 hours ago, bottomofthebarrel said:

Never tried binding and/or purfling myself but you can't overestimate what it does for the end result!❤️

Yes - I know.  There's nothing wrong with the ranges of good quality  but affordable acoustics starting to appear on the scene that are made affordable by dropping the binding.  But as you say...

Anyway, I chickened out of doing the binding for the back this afternoon and instead rock-hopped back to the neck heel.  Still further shaping to do to make it look a little more elegant but I think it will work OK.  This shot has also reminded me that the last job after the rest of the binding is finished, is clamping it somehow without crushing it and routing a flaming great big (and very accurate) slot to fit the neck tenon into.  Oh joy...

_MG_6177.thumb.JPG.c16644eabd84d6ff6da28f2e0ba96003.JPG 

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