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Im building an acoustic "cuatro"

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by sergiomajluf, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Hey everybody! A new project over the table. I decided to go a different rout this time, no more electrics for now. I spoke to a local luthier, a real one (not just a pro "enthusiast"), and I'll be building a cuatro led by him. It should take us around four months.

    A cuatro is an acoustic instrument, like a Spanish nylon guitar, with four strings. Smaller than a guitar, larger than an ukelele. Let's see what comes out of this adventure!
     
  2. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's

    Dec 24, 2015
    my Mom's basement
    Cuatro_Ramon_Blanco.jpg
    Nice project.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuatro_(instrument)
    The cuatro of Venezuela has four single nylon strings, tuned (A4,D5,F♯5,B4) or (A3,D4,F♯4,B3). It is similar in shape and tuning to the ukulele, but their character and playing technique are vastly different. It is tuned in a similar fashion to the traditional D tuning of the ukulele, but the B is an octave lower. Consequently, the same fingering can be used to shape the chords, but it produces a different inversion of each chord. There are variations on this instrument, having five strings or six strings.​
     
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  3. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
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    This is a spruce top. Working through the edges with a plane was such a challenge. Coming from a cnc'd project, this makes me value much more the work it takes to craft anything


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    For the back we are using cedar and a center strip of walnut, that we cannot see in this picture, covered by paper and a block of solid wood clamping it down while the glue sets.

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    The neck is light mara, similar to mahogany, maybe a bit lighter in color and weight.

    This neck needs some reinforcements so that's the truss channel you see. It will home a wenge strip.

    For the heel, we take the neck blank, cut the pieces that will make for the heel height, flip every other, and then glue.
     
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  4. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
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    Here we can see the wenge strip being set up, before glueing.

    The end radius to match the rounded route channel is hand made with a rasp.

    Then it was test fitted into the channel; planed to almost level to the neck blank. Almost, because we need it to be proud the surface so we could clamp it down.

    I didn't take pictures of the squaring and planing process of the neck blank (before cutting and routing), but basically it's about hand sanding 60 grit, over a true flat surface (thick glass), and checking each face and corner repeatedly with a square.

    That was it for the first session.
     
  5. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Fun! Good luck with this.
     
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  6. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    All the previous steps were done last week. Today, during the second session, I took several steps:


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    Clean the glue join on top and back.
    First, I removed excess paper a glue scraping with a piece of broken glass. Why glass? So you don't dull a good tool with a rough process. Then got them both through the drum sander to clean a bit more, thin the thickness, and finished sanding by hand. Worked through grits 100, 120 and 150 on the inner faces. I won't touch the outer faces until it's all assembled.



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    Clean and plane the wenge strip from the back of the neck blank
    First, I worked with a very nice and sharp chisel, hitting the wenge strip from the side. Even though I will shape the neck and probably take out more material, I try not to touch the neck beyond the strip. The idea is to have a flat surface.

    Once its flat, I redraw the centerline. This is a VERY IMPORTANT step, because now the neck will be centered TO the wenge strip, and not to the blank itself.

    Next, measure and transfer lines according to the instrument's scale, from fretboard end to nut. This measurements led to defining precise spot for the scarf joint.



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    Trace the body shape onto the top and back
    This is a no-brainer. Take a template, align it to the centerline of the top and back, and trace the shape.



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    Glue the scarf joint, and neck heel

    Last week I glued the parts for the heel. Now that whole block and the cut headstock is glued to the neck. There's a nice little trick here, no pictures though...

    When you glue flat surfaces, e.g a fretboard, and clamp them down, they tend to slip sideways, thus loosing the alignment. To avoid this, after spreading glue (Titebond) onto both surfaces to be glued, put a pinch of salt in a few places. Yes, table salt. The small crystals ac as an abrasive material, locking the two pieces together.


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    Radius the braces for the back
    Yes, radius the braces. This cuatro will have a curved, radiused top and back, around 80". In this picture, you can see the Oregon Pine braces – dang it smells good! – with the curve traced, but still not sanded down. I sanded both sides, just so it looks good, although no one will see them inside the guitar body.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
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  7. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    I'll just upload these new photos and edit later for the story
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Are you going to do a Spanish foot?
     
  9. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
  10. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Yes! it's a small foot, but the body is also smaller than a regular Spanish guitar.
    The process is similar to this too
    http://www.fernandezmusic.com/TradSpanishMethod.html

    Have you done something like this before? It's my first time
     
  11. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I did Spanish style construction on my first few acoustic guitars. It's nice and stable. I'm thinking of trying a hybrid bolt on/ Spanish foot on the next one...basically the neck block would be foot shaped with a mortise for the neck tenon.
     
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  12. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Ok, maybe less words and more photos?
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  13. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Interesting. Don't know that a spanish foot will be high on my list of things to try but I like how that works.

    Nice headstock.
     
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  14. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
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    Sorry, no new updates for a while. I just broke a finger
     
  15. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Oh very sorry to hear that. One handed sanding only for you! Seriously, hope it heals quickly.
     
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  16. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Ok, one month after the accident I’m finally back in the workshop!

    Today I worked on the headstock, and started shaping the neck.

    Drill:
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    Chisel:
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    Raso:
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    In that last one you can see that the heel is asymmetrical. We’ll see how that turns out :)
     
  17. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    Looking good!!
     
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  18. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    62
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    Looks beautiful!

    I had a cuatro. Bought one in Venezuela because I spent a lot of time in the country. My wife is from there, and I did some work for a VZ rum company.

    I got rid of it because although there are some Latin styles of music I love, Venezuelan folk music isn't one of them. And forget about me developing that style of playing.

    As you probably know, Gaita is VZ's traditional Christmas music, with the cuatro as the main instrument(s). So in my household, Gaita is ALREADY bombarding my ears.

    I don't DISlike it, but it ain't Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.
     
  19. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    400
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Hahahah actually I know nothing about VZ music nor Gaitas (just listened to them on YouTube).

    After finishing the cuatro I will have to learn how to play it, but from the sound and strumming of it, I’m thinking more of playing Led Zeppelin’s Gallows Pole with it :>)
     
    Ira7 likes this.
  20. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    This step is a lot easier if you use wax paper instead of newspaper.

     
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