December 11th, 2009, 06:22 PM
I started this project about a month ago and have made some progress and finally took some photos!
Here's the top with the bracing glued in. I have begun tapering the ends and stopped to take a photo.
This next photo shows the old top resting over the new one. I copied the bracing pattern exactly like the original.
Here is the completed bracing. I did a light scallop to the braces. This is my first attempt at building an acoustic top and I felt it best to take a conservative approach.
December 11th, 2009, 06:27 PM
Next is a close-up of the cross brace reinforcement. Have any of you ever tried to make tiny little wooden parts like this? Those little wedges took me an hour to form and place!
Here's the overhead view ot the top, rough cut to shape.
This is the neck I bought on ebay. I have rough shaped it and glued on the finger board.
December 11th, 2009, 06:31 PM
The new headstock with pearl inlay is a big improvement over the original neck which just had a gold decal on mahogany.
Getting the neck off the body was a nightmare! Note all the steam holes I had to drill. Also note the patch I had to graft on where the wood simply tore off. They used waaaaaaaaaay too much glue when they built these guitars!
Here's all that remains of my original 1984 D15M. The top had cvracked in two places and I never really cared for the sound of the guitar so, here we are!
December 11th, 2009, 08:36 PM
Looking good. I'm glad to see you fitted the pieces to the X. That was the first thing I saw and cringed in pic #1. Did you buy this bracing in kit form? I've heard of a couple of folks selling pre-made bracing with this issue. Normally, that joint should very carefully and tightly fit. I would further suggest gluing another thing sliver of spruce all the way across the joint to further stiffen it. Just flatten the area across the joint and glue on a thin strip.
All in all, the top looks real clean. You could probably stand to lose a good bit more mass on the lower bout bracing, but I understand your hesitation. Almost all new builders have a tendency to overbuild their first few playing it safe until you see how far you can go. You can, however, actually lose a good bit of mass without doing any more scalloping, if you're so inclined. Using the "cube rule" the braces can shaved on the sides to a more triangular profile while having a minimal effect on stiffness.
The only area that concerns me is in the upper bout. I'm a little concerned that the UTB is feathered out to nothing at the ends and falls short of the linings. That brace carries a lot of load and is extremely important!
One more question: what's with the two mini-popsicle braces in the upper bout? Their location actually does nothing to counteract what the original popsicle brace was intended for and are actually out in a potential tone-generating area. Opinions on both of these areas are widely varied. Personally, I see no benefit from the original popsicle brace, but I do believe those areas of the upper bout are capable of making small contributions to tone.
(Ahhh...wait....I just caught the pic of the original top you were copying. Hmmm....strange to me how they worked the upper bout on that one.)
All in all, you're looking good, man! Is that a sitka top? How thick is it?
December 11th, 2009, 09:18 PM
great work and i'm sure you have learned a lot !!! i hope it comes out good !!
December 11th, 2009, 09:30 PM
Thanks man. Yes, it's a sitka spruce top. Quartersawn. I don't recall the thickness of the top. I'll measure it again and let you know.
December 12th, 2009, 05:25 PM
Finished up the top today and glued it to the body. It's coming along!
December 12th, 2009, 05:32 PM
I think you started a thread a while back about this. It looks like you are doing a pro job there. Well done, please keep the great pics coming.
December 12th, 2009, 10:09 PM
Yes, I had started a thread a while ago but with no photos so it kinda disappeared.
I'm not sure how many more photos I'll have after this either. I truly enjoy woodworking but photography is my day job and it just feels like I'm tainteing the guitar build experience every time I whip out the camera. Like mixing business with pleasure.
Maybe I'll do a few shots of me screwing up the finish or something, LOL!
December 13th, 2009, 04:57 PM
Yesterday I glued the top in place and today trimmed it to the edge of the body.
Here's a shot of the guitar on it's side with the neck propped up in place and the bridge taped on. Note the sexy pearl dots inlayed into the bridge. wooooooooo. LOL! I just wanted to jazz it up a little.
Next, I'll continue shaping the neck before fitting it to the body.
December 13th, 2009, 05:10 PM
Looks great! Proud moment when the box is closed. Another awesome moment when you string her up for the first time and she doesn't implode. Then comes that first chord......ahhhhh.....how sweet it is......
December 13th, 2009, 06:16 PM
Yeah, I'm starting to get a little anxious now that it's beginning to look like a guitar again. Can't wait to hear that first crisp chord! I'm probably going to leave the neck unfinished as I do the final shaping once it's strung up and I have a chance to test drive it. The suspense is starting to get to me!
December 25th, 2009, 11:18 AM
Here's the latest photos from my project. Sorry I don't have more detailed photos about the process but I just get so into working that I forget to shoot along the way.
Here's the neck joint. I opted to scrape into the body to create a nice flat surface for the neck to register on. I used this method to get the neck angle perfect, and then made shims and shaved them, (over a 4 hour period), to get the neck joint and dovetail nice and tight. After looking carefully at the neck dovetail, and the body surface where the neck will mount, I chose to scrape the body area because it's a lot easier to level that one surface than it would be to try and work around both sides of the dovetail. I could see myself going crazy making fine adjustments and never getting it completely straight. What I've got is solid, making great contact on all important surfaces.
When I lay a straight edge down the fret board, it almost hits the top of the bridge. Once the frets are in, it will slightly clear the bridge. I over-set the neck a tiny bit because the top is sinking in the the lack of humidity we have here in the northeast right now. These tiny adjustments should pay off once the humidity comes back up.
Now I have a small gap around the neck joint that I will fill with slivers of mahogany and blend to appear seamless.
Next is the neck profile. I left the neck a nice, wide, 1 3/4" at the first fret and have roughed out a soft V profile. I have played some wide necks with this profile and found that the flats left by the soft V allow just enough room for the chub of my hand (palm, opposite the knuckles) ease of reach on the treble side, and sufficient clearance for reaching over to the bass side of the neck. Having large hands, I like the wide fret board, now enhanced by the ease of reach provided by the soft V contour.
Here's the back side, and then front side of the guitar with the neck and bridge glued into place. This guitar has a 25 1/2" scale but I wasn't certain about the exact bridge placement so, of we go to the local music stores to take some measurements. I measured all brands cheap and expensive and consistantly found all 25 1/2" scale acoustics to have the center of their bridges mounted at 25 5/8" as measured from the nut to the bridge right between the D and G strings. So that's what I did.
December 25th, 2009, 11:18 AM
December 30th, 2009, 05:04 PM
OK, I strung it up last night and it didn't collapse! Yahoo!
When I first strung it up the guitar sounded very sterile and wouldn't tune properly. After an hour of playing and tweaking though, the sound improved dramatically and so did the tuning. I guess it needed to get used to being a guitar again.
Here's the headstock. There are some flaws in the peghead layout. The holes aren't exactly in the right places, (as supplied from Guild) and the fretboard positioning is off a bit making the neck join the body not quite at the 14th fret. This has to do with the peghead angle and where it meets the fret board so, I couldn't install the fret board in the exact right location. I'm beginning to think the neck I bought was a factory second or reject. Maybe that's why they never went ahead and shaped it.
I left the neck a full 1 3/4" wide at the nut and shaped the neck into a soft V profile. I can play stuff on this guitar I never could play on any other! The neck is big but handles so beautifully.
Here's the bridge. I offset the B string section of the saddle and it tunes great! The stain behind the E string is from pricking my knuckle with the a string and then bleeding on the top! I tried to get the stain out but it looks kinda stubborn! Dang!
December 30th, 2009, 05:05 PM
In all it's unfinished glory! The bare wood D15MS. I have some more minor shaping to do on the neck and other small details before it goes out for finishing.
December 30th, 2009, 06:22 PM
Nice. I remember seeing another thread where you mentioned this guitar top project, but I hadn't seen this Acoustic Heaven thread. Is that top a truly flat flat top, or does it have some bulge built into it? Some acoustics do, but I've never built one or checked it out. Very cool build.
December 30th, 2009, 06:34 PM
Yes, the top has a 30 ft radius built into it. Lots of work making radiused braces and such. Feels real good to playing it now!