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A little acoustic 6 string for some little people

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I've just started a build thread on this in Basschat.  I hadn't posted for a while and they were fretting.  But surely fretting's my job!! :D  So for folks who follow the Basschat build threads too, don't worry - this is just cut and paste.  For those who don't, and are interested, this is a cut and paste version of that thread  :)


It's a build for my two grandchildren for them to pick up and try if and when they are able to or want to, or use as a cricket bat or wall hanging if they don't.  But you never know - if they get hooked, they may well turn into guitar and bass players when they grow up :) 


I'm going tenor-uke size, but definitely a 6 string guitar.  Nothing against uke's but this way - if they do take a liking to it - they can progress to larger guitars without having to re-learn all of the chord patterns and tuning.


So spec is going to be :

17" scale

Ball-end nylons

tenor uke body size

Sitka Spruce top

Mahogany back and sides

Mahogany neck

Purpleheart fretboard

'Standard' X-brace

And, broadly, it is going to look like this:



I'm about halfway through - I'll do a few quick posts and then stuff will slow down to actual progress rate (that is, pedestrian! )



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I've found quite a bit of stuff for it in my various bits-boxes and rubbish bits-piles.  Including - and I have NO idea why I have a set of these - some classical guitar tuners!:



I found a mahogany offcut from one of my bass builds.  Would the tuners fit?  Wow - clearly this was meant to be :)   :



So, after cutting a headstock angle, out came my little Proxxon pillar drill:



Back to the band saw to cut the rear face of the headstock, then back to the pillar drill and scroll saw to drill/saw the slots:



Well - that went better than I thought it would!

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So it is a really a quality take on the Guitarele? Tuned A to A? I am very intrigued and interested...! 😀

Would make just a brilliant travel guitar too.


I like the feel and size of a tenor ukulele, although I am not that good at uke and really like the idea of the ukulele/guitar hybrid. A baritone uke is partway between the 2 as guitar tuning and 4 nylon strings, so that would probably be my first choice.

There are a couple of different brands around (I think Yamaha is the main one, then a few by G4M and similar Chinese brands), but I haven't ventured beyond searching eBay.

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1 hour ago, randythoades said:

So it is a really a quality take on the Guitarele? Tuned A to A?

Yes - same concept.  I'll play around with the key tuning when it's done to see what the tone and playability is like with the differing string tension so it may not be used A to A - could be, say, down tuned a couple of semitones but the relative tunings of the strings will be guitar-like rather than uke-like and then, if the grandchildren progress to larger guitars in standard tuning, at least they don't have to relearn the chord shapes, etc.. 


For the tone, I am also going X-brace and a pinned bridge rather than a more standard classical guitar fan bracing and top loaded bridge.  I have decided this purely on a hunch and have since thought, 'do any uke's have X-bracing?' so did some searching on the web.  Not many do, but how about this for a pertinent Youtube video...and it's a Tenor size body too!!!!  Remarkable sound difference - and each good depending what you are after.  And it confirms that my hunch might be right for the particular sound I am after (which is emphatically not a uke sound for this particular build)  


Edited by Andyjr1515
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Thanks folks!


For the fretboard, I had found an offcut of some purpleheart that I used for neck splices in the past.  I sliced a length off on the bandsaw and radiussed it with a radius block:



Then used a 24.75" (I think it was) scale in my fretting mitre jig starting at the 5th fret to give me the 17" scale:



Next I added some sawn strips of purpleheart to act as binding, curved to radius and taper using my little block plane:





As the purpleheart gets exposed to the light it will pinken markedly.  Originally, I was going to put a plain ebony headstock plate over the mahogany...but maybe a bit of purpleheart there too?


Got me thinking and experimenting.  Hmmm...and was there room for a swift in there too?  :



Then add some dots and frets to the fretboard - this might work:



Then back to the neck.  No trussrod needed but, as it is a mahogany neck, maybe a little extra stiffness would not go amiss - so I slotted the top for a couple of hollow carbon-fibre beams:



With that sorted, I could bandsaw the neck and start shaping that.  Before shaping the heel, I added an extension to its length.  The neck is just laid on top of the fretboard - it won't be glued on until the neck angle is fully sorted (a long time yet!):




Did a bit more carving to start sorting the neck profile and, in the same way that you can't have too many clamps, you can never have too many swifts! :D       

You can tell the age of my iphone by the colour aberrations of its camera!!



Starting to look like an acoustic guitar neck :)


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I ordered a tenor ukulele mould from Radius Dish UK - superb product but did take a long time to arrive:



I also ordered a sitka spruce bookmatched pair, which I planed and scraped down to a touch under 3mm and joined:



And also found in my small wood collection a full mahogany back and sides set - I have NO idea when and what I bought that for...but it would do nicely.


Again, planed and scraped the sides down, this time to around 2mm and then out came the bending hot pipe.  First a good dousing with water:



Then on with the leather work gloves.  With a bending iron, a hot pipe and a lot of patience plus plenty of spritzing is the key:



And before too long, both halves done :)



Once that was fully dry (overnight) I could cut the sides flush at either end and cut a mahogany tail block and neck block to glue them up:



Then, having found the rubber-banded clothes pegs in a long-forgotten drawer, applied the kerfed (slotted) linings:



And then that's the sides done ready for radius sanding :)   :


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And bringing it up to the present state of play...


To balance the purple of the headstock and fretboard, I added a slice of purpleheart to a cut block of ebony and carved the beginnings of the bridge.  I also cut the fretboard end to where it will meet the soundhole:



Next, I turned my attention to the decoration around the soundhole.  Although you have to be a bit canny to maintain the accuracy, I actually find the Dremel radius accessory reasonable for this job:



I used a 1mm bit to cut a circle at the centre and wrapped some 1mm b/w/b purfling into it after running a teeny bead of glue onto the bottom edge. 


After scraping the excess purfling off, I drilled an offset radius tool spike-hole that will be used to put in a second, larger offsett ring (you can just see the pencil check marking offset and outside the installed ring):



And then another radius tool spike-hole in between those two to be able to cut - using a 3mm bit - a mid radius to create an offset channel for some curved abelone that, all being well, would fit in between the two other rings.  It worked!!   And finally, the radius tool spike back to the original hole, but at a slightly smaller radius to now cut right through and create the sound hole   :




And that's how far I've got so far.  It's dinky, isn't it!!!!  :D :  



Next job is the bracing and 25 foot radiusing of the top.  Other pesky distractions mean that it is likely to be into next week before I get to that - but when I do, I'll be sure to post the progress :)


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After a few days child-minding the said special little people, I'm back in the cellar :)


For the bracing, I am using my home-made 25 foot radius dish although, for this build, will dispense with the Go-bar deck - I should be able to get away with just clamps and cauls.

The bracing pattern is going to be pretty basic X-bracing with the standard-recommended tightly vertically-grained spruce.  I've taken a bit of a guess at how much to scale them down.

I started with the X-brace with gluing the cruciform and then sanding the bottom curve on the radius dish:




This was glued to the top with a long caul keeping the curved brace bottoms pressed against the radius dish while the glue cured :



After that was set, it was time to add the other braces and sound bars.  All of the braces will be  chiselled to create the nodes, etc, once it has dried overnight:



And here it is ready for tomorrow's chisel and tap-tuning work :


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Well, not overly sure just how thin to make stuff, but at least this is now ringing out with sub-harmonics and definite bass /treble tap notes from the upper and lower halves respectively.  Then the linings were relieved where the main cross braces will go that will lock the main strength-critical braces to the sides:



Quick check fit, looking for gaps:



And the old adage that you can never have too many clamps :)



And tidied up:




Next jobs will be fitting a bridge plate, doing the first rough-fit of the neck angle and pondering on whether to add a side sound hole or not

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Turning my attention to the bridge plate, I only then remembered that, to minimise the stretch for little arms, I'm joining the neck at the 12th, as with a classical, and not at the 14th that the X-brace pattern is based on.  As such, my bridge will be further back than a standard steel string acoustic - and therefore one of the two diagonal braces is in the way!

Easily sorted - a hot iron along the length of the brace soon softened the glue enough to remove it:



With the bridge plate being where it will be, I don't think I need that extra brace repositioning - I'll just leave it out.  Paper template done and I'll use that to cut a slice of maple or similar for the plate in the morning:


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