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Finished pics! A Bitsa Dreadnought for me :)

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I've spent  my whole life using my hands for work or pleasure, (eh ?), airfix kits to tuning car engines, this is great,  really excellent,  well done fella. J

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 A few more jobs completed.

Got the tenon slot cut.  I built myself a rough copy of the LMI/O'Brien rig for the last acoustic build, cannibalising an old B&D Workmate.  It has a screw adjustment on the hinged leaf the neck is clamped to that is used to set the neck angle:



Then the router can be used to cut that angle into the heel:


Using a G&W template, I then trim the tenon to size and shape:



Next, taking the hinged neck assembly off, the workmate is used to clamp and suspend the body over the concrete floor, careful not to crush at the same time as relying on two thin strips of cork to hold the weight!!!!  After using it as a prayer mat, I put a towel on the floor underneath just in case.  Then fixed and positioned the mortice template:


Result - a joint ready for fine tuning the fit:



And something really starting to look like a guitar:



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Last bit on the body - the rear binding strip.  Yes - it is flat...:



Then back to swifts!


A couple on what will become the headstock plate

Then one for the bottom of the heel, being glued here at the same time as a couple of wings to widen the headstock:



The finished cap, complete with swift:



On my own builds, I tend to try out stuff I've never tried before.  I've never tried binding a headstock plate before, but am pleased how it has come out:



And with the neck trimmed, being glued on:



Well - I think the neck will have to be carved soon, but I really need to fit the fretboard first and have only just ordered the trussrod 9_9


Plenty to be getting on with in the meantime, though...



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This is the same post I've just done on basschat so if you've already read it there, it will seem curiously familiar!


Anyway, it's going to be a disturbed weekend again so I have tried to get some more of the major steps sorted in the last couple of days.

I have started the finishing process on the body.  I'm a bit unconventional in that, regardless of what I will eventually finish it with, I 'grain fill' and seal using a tru-oil slurry-and-wipe approach.

Here's the back and sides after the first application:



While that was drying, I carried on with the neck fitting.  It is going to be bolt-on mortice and tenon, using captive nuts.  This all has to be very accurate and square:



When screwing in the inserts, not only do they have to be very square to the hole, but - from bitter experience - I also support the sides to avoid the process splitting the wood:



This means we have a self-supporting neck that can be tightened fully against the body...


...for the next somewhat iterative process of checking and adjusting the neck angle on both planes.  By the way, note at the joint that the inside is scooped away so that the only contact is at the sides of the heel.


First check is whether the neck angle to bridge is correct:


This is, happily, exactly where I need it to be - the level from the fretboard is just touching the top of the bridge - the bone saddle will provide the string action height

Then I have to check the alignment of the neck:


Not so good.  So I need to shave a touch off the base side of the heel - while not affecting the neck angle and maintaining a good heel to body joint.  This will have to wait until next week

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Back home after another 16 hours driving (the things we do...!) and back to a bit of normality for a couple of weeks.  

On the critical path is gluing the fretboard - but I can't do that until the neck is absolutely spot on in all planes.  So out came a huge array of hand tools to try to create a 1.4 degree angle on the heel in one plane to straighten the neck without affecting the other plane, affecting the neck angle and string action height.

Eventually got there.  It lines up:


And - using a long thin strip of abrasive cloth the floss the joint, I have a secure and even contact between the heel and the body, confirmed by transfer of chalk (seen in the above picture) from one to the other when the two are assembled.


A bit more tweaking and checking, then the trussrod can be fitted and fretboard glued :)

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Spent a bit of time double checking lengths and positions of the fretboard, and also fitted the trussrod ready for fixing the fretboard to the neck.

One job needed was to cut the fretboard to length.  The pickup system I am installing is the Shadow Doubleplay


As well as a piezo under the saddle, it has a mini magnetic pickup that fits at the end of the fretboard.  It is the same system I fitted to Chris's build in 2015 shown here:


As you can see, the fretboard has to be cut to the correct length to fit the magnetic p/up at the end.

That cut, it was time to glue the fretboard!  And yes, @TheGreek - you can NEVER have too many clamps! :lol:


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Started the neck carve.  

It will probably take the rest of the day off and on but the bulk is removed:




Other than checking the neck thickness with some calipers, I'm carving this one pretty much entirely by feel - sitting in a chair, holding it like a back-to-front cello and using a variety of tools including spokeshave, cabinet scrapers and microplanes.

I often tweak the shape in the same way once the guitar is fully finished and strung up, just using a cabinet scraper and finishing off with sandpaper, followed by a quick reapplication of tru-oil slurry and buff.

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The finish has maybe 2 coats more to do.  There's a lot of waiting around, though, when the varnish is dry enough to touch and handle but not dry enough to take the next coat.  So in that time I've started on some of the other jobs.

The bridge goes on last (you have to scrape away the finish that you've just spent weeks putting on!) but needs to be shaped to match the spheroidal shape of the top.  This is where the old 'engineers blue' approach comes in - except you use blackboard chalk.  

I put a wide strip of easy peel masking tape where the bridge will go and gave it a liberal coating of chalk.  Then placed the bridge on top and moved it around a couple of mm.  Hey presto - the high spots:


Then all you do is scrape where the chalk is and repeat (multiple times).  Here it is after the first scraping:


So same m.o. - now scrape these areas away.  After about 8 iterations, I am getting there:


So I know now that most of the area is making good contact.  Just a final bit of tidying up and it will be ready to fit as soon as the final coats of finish have been applied.

The colour won't change much now - it will just get glossier.  Here's where we are at in overall look so far:



So - all being well - a few more days of finish coats and drying and then I can move towards final steps :)

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Bit of catch up to do.  There's more detail in the Basschat thread but these are the highlights.

The finish on the body, while not perfect, is probably at the point where further work will make it worse rather than better - so this is where I will stop and, once it's dry, I'll hopefully be able to polish out some of the aberrations ;)

And that means I could get on and do the bridge. 

In pictures.  I use the Stewmac fret calculator to work out exactly where the bass and treble mid points of the saddle slot need to be.  I use masking tape to mark the position:


Next is to score round the bridge with a scalpel into the finish:



Then to scrape away the carefully applied finish from within the score line!:


Then I double checked the position and drilled through the peg holes for the top and bottom E.  The two pegs will be used in the initial clamping to prevent the bridge 'floating' out of position on the wet glue:



Then I put more masking tape around the back (should have done this first and just scalpeled though it round the bridge!) and got out my bridge clamp and home-made bridge sides clamp:



Then added the glue, and at first just used the metal clamp, positioning the bridge with a couple of string pegs through the bridge and into the two peg holes drilled in the top.  Once I was sure the bridge was secure, I removed the two pegs and popped the home-made clamp to press the bridge sides firmly down:



Then carefully wiped off the squeeze-out before removing the masking tape.  This will be left clamped overnight to fully dry:



And the only way of telling if it's in the right place is to string it up!  So this morning, that's what I did :)

And I'm very pleased with how it looks.  And more to the point - even though not even the frets have been levelled and the saddle or nut aren't yet height adjusted - it sounds fantastic! :party:    I'm thrilled and surprised in equal measure!

Oh, and yes - against all odds - the bridge does seem to be in the right place :)






So still to do is:

- Levelling/crowning frets

- Cleaning up fretboard

- Installing electrics

- Setting up saddle and nut

- Strap button on heel

- Fine tuning neck profile and final slurry and buff

- Final polish once varnish is fully cured

- Play it!


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Tried to finish this off.  Almost but not quite. 

First popped the magnets onto the truss-rod cover:


...and hey presto:



Then installed the Shadow Doubleplay electrics.  It comprises a blendable under-saddle piezo:



and a mini magnetic pickup at the end of the fretboard:


I suspect that this is intended for a flatter fingerboard radius (prob 12" - I've build closer to an electric neck with 10" rad and locking tuners.  Makes it easier for me to transfer from my electric to the acoustic) so I sunk it into the top to make sure it didn't foul the top and bottom E strings:


As it turns out, I've overdone this and will, at some stage, take it off and pop a shim underneath.

I then installed the preamp / blend unit that sits inside the soundhole (I'll photo it in the 'finished' shots) and the rear strap pin / jack socket.

Before I put the strings back on, I cleaned up and oiled the fretboard. 

The frets - well, at the moment there is absolutely no buzz anywhere so I haven't even polished them!  When I get a moment, I'll at least do that but there is no need for levelling and crowning :)

By the way, before you go thinking I know what I'm doing, that is a first... :lol:

And - other than the low nano-mag pickup being a bit quieter than the piezo - we have electric amplification.


Lastly, now the strings are on, I do my usual 'sit it like a cello and scrape the neck to the final shape by feel, spinning it round and playing it then re-scraping until it feels like I want it.  This is followed by a quick tru-oil slurry and buff and it's good to go within an hour.


Am I the only one that does this?  No matter how well you fit a neck to the profile templates, I don't think you can really tell if it's right until you play it.  So that's what I do.  And the most subtle tweaks can make all the difference!



Remaining jobs:

- Replace the nut with a slightly wider one (plays fine with the present one but it isn't quite wide enough

- Raise the nano-mag pickup (ditto)

- Side dots!  It's a big b****r and there is no way you can see the top of the fretboard when you are playing it

- Final polish in about a week's time

- Take the arty farty photos


In the meantime, here are a couple of unplugged noodling clips - probably best listened to on headphones:




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And the finished pics :)   Like me, not perfect but - in spite of what MrsAndyjr1515 might say - broadly fit for purpose. ;) 








Thanks for your kind words along the way :)


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On 24/08/2018 at 20:58, charic said:

I love a good build thread!

Yes !,   this is excellent stuff  !

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Very nice indeed. Bravo! I'm always impressed when anyone builds their own guitar, but acoustic isreally something else. I like the headstock design especially.

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Me too - haven't needed to try an acoustic yet but I love watching the process and techniques applied!

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