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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

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Time to work on the spruce top. Mark centers and attach router circular (protractor?) rig:
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    Not so bad right? This is about 1,8mm deep.
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    This are thin laminated wood strips. Will go around the soundhole, but first I had to bend them to a curve shape using a.... bender!
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    Glue, pins and two minutes later:
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    I don’t have pics of the process of laminating, leveling and jointing wood. I had the idea to use a book matched piece, but didn’t go through with that. Here are the rough cut arcs.
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    The end result before glueing to the top. The large piece is sapele, and the short arc is Alerce (don’t know the English name for this)
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    It all looks a bit rough around the edges (pun intended), but as with many of the steps, this is my first time with an acoustic instrument, which I’m enjoying a lot!. (Also most of the fuzzy parts in the upper section will be covered with a wooden pickguard later)
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
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  2. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Today was about some clean up, marking and cutting fret slots, shaping fretboard trapeze, and start detailing the headstock.

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  3. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I'm really enjoying watching this develop. Fantastic work so far. Can't wait to see it all unfold.
     
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  4. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    More headstock cleaning up, also chamfering the sides:
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    Soundboard reinforcement, also chamfered where no one will see but I will know it’s there anyway
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    Soundhole:
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    The underside of the top is also reinforced, with quarters sawn Oregon Pine
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    And this is just a beauty shot, after working on the sides for the body. Next week I’ll probably upload the process of curving the sides and maybe glueing them to the top
    IMG_1948.JPG
     

  5. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    Beautiful!

    Que lindo!
     
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  6. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    Yo tengo problemas cambiando un pickup.

    Construir algo como eso...imposible.
     

  7. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Or so I thought. It’s actually not difficult :)
     

  8. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    Oh yeah, right.
     

  9. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Today’s update includes:

    Chiseling and planing the undertop ribs. They play a great role in the instrument’s resonance. You want as thin as possible top and also for it to be stretched. This top is curved in two directos. This makes the vibration of strings, through the bridge and into the top more efficient. So these ribs have to be thin yet strong and very well glued. Mine were not hahaha
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    So let’s glue them again
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    To glue the sides to the top, I’m using triangular blocks. First, square a dowel, cut it in cubes, and then cut it again into pyramids. Sand, and glue. A short video of the tedious sanding process on @luthierdiy instagram
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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
    Barncaster and guitarbuilder like this.

  10. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Very cool work. :cool:
     
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  11. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    That body thickness looks a LOT thicker than the one I had, nor any I recall seeing. Almost twice as wide.

    Of course, I haven't been to VZ in ages (the place is a hellhole now), so my memory may be failing me and maybe there are different styles of them.
     

  12. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Yeah, that is still wider than it should be. They will be tapered towards the neck joint. Maybe I could post some general measurements next week :)
     

  13. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    Hey, you know a lot more about this than I do! Look at that beautiful work you're doing!

    It's just that the only cuatro I MYSELF remember was like ukulele depth. But my memory doesn't necessarily mean reality.
     

  14. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    58
    Feb 23, 2010
    East Tennessee
    I was thinking these had six strings in three doubled courses then remembered thats a Tres lol
     

  15. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    HAH!

    Or a seis.
     

  16. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham TDPRI Member

    4
    Jan 2, 2011
    S.W.France
    The cuatro has the same body profile as a baritone ukulele but with a deeper body. The depth is about the same as an OM guitar. I built one a while ago for a friend, although he doesn't tune it or play it like a Venezuelan cuatro.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018

  17. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    But the one he's building looks twice as deep.
     

  18. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    375
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Nice sound out of that one! Although it doesn’t really look like a Cuatro, rather a Baritone, large ukelele.

    Beyond length, or body size, one key characteristic of the Cuatro is the wooden pick guard, covering half the body top towards the neck. The playing style of the Cuatro is sometimes vigorous, and percussive, so the pick guard protects the body, but also makes the top thicker so it vibrates differently than other stringed instruments like the ukelele or the guitar... but really, what do I know. I don’t even know how to tune it, let alone play this thing, not yet at least AHAHAHA

    Today I did some progress

    First I squared a tail block. Then I radiused the outer face where the body sides meet at the very bottom of the guitar
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    In that pic we can see the point of discussion: how thick is my Cuatro? Well, it’s tapered between 11 and 12 cm. That’s roughly 4.3 to 4.7 inches.

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    The process of crafting a bridge turned out simpler than I thought it’d be, but I’m not done yet.

    Cut a block, trim the sides, make odd curved wings hehehe. My teacher will mock me because every chance I’ve got to make things weird or asymmetrical, I’ve taken.

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    And then, a mock-up. Neck already glued to the top, fretboard slotted, and bridge over everything else.
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    Now, wait another week so I can glue the sides to the top, finish and glueing the bridge and keep shaping the neck that is still far from ready, and many more i unkown things to learn.


    Extra shot: I’m thinking about using walnut for the pick guard. It will bring a nice contrast to the spruce top. I have to figure out the shape still
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  19. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham TDPRI Member

    4
    Jan 2, 2011
    S.W.France
    Jo had an old cuatro, on the point of collapse, which had the pickguard, but he didn't want one on this one, as his playing style didn't need it. Perhaps that and the top being the thickness of a baritone uke was why we were both surprised by the volume of sound of such a small instrument.
     
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