I ran out of acoustics... So I'm building two

betocool

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Been busy, and too lazy to write... I'll catch up now. Work's been slow but progress is happening. I'm trying not to think how long this is taking me because it's stretching way beyond what I thought and I still feel there's bunch to do.

Doesn't matter, as long as I finish some day all good.

I got the parts! I think I mentioned that. I began routing the slot for the.. the... damn! Brain freeze right here.. Truss rod! That's right! I did a few passes with the router, 2 mm each pass, and after a while I got them in.
IMG_20220501_145739_HDR.jpg


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That was about two weeks ago. Last weekend I managed nothing, what with activities and such, but I had some time again this weekend to work on the necks and the binding.

Here I'm gluing what will become the heel of the neck.
IMG_20220514_110842_HDR.jpg


As you will see here, I marked now the profile of the neck on the side, which I proceed to cut with the bandsaw. The headstock thickness is about 14mm, and the neck goes from 16mm to 18mm between the 0th fret and the 12th fret. Then, a little round for the heel.
IMG_20220514_165442_HDR.jpg


The cut on the headstock went really well... The neck went a bit off, but still good enough that it will be ok after shaping. Same with the heel, that one I had to do another cut because the blade was too wide.
IMG_20220514_170816_HDR.jpg


The second neck profile came out much better. Fortunately no harm done on the first and the shaping will take care of any inconsistencies.
IMG_20220515_124248_HDR.jpg


Last, I had to add a few "wings" on the headstock for the shape, I was missing a few mm's.
IMG_20220515_125809_HDR.jpg


Cutting will commence next week.

Cheers,

Alberto
 

betocool

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The binding.

I looked online and I saw strips of maple, other woods I forget now, and I realised they are nothing but cuts I could do on my bandsaw. Any difficulties I may encounter are due my skills (or lack thereof) instead of materials.

I found a 6mm thick piece of pine I had, about 90cm long, with a straight edge on both sides. Perfect for cutting the binding material. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures as I was too busy cutting and measuring and bending and making sure I had something as close as possible to 1.5mm thick, 6mm wide and 900mm long.

And I did.

And I cut 8 pieces, but I only bent 4. I decided I'd give the tops a try, I mean, what the hell, you only live once, and the injury-or-death-by-binding rate is in the very low percents. I believe the injury-or-death-by-heart-failures-due-to-massive-frustration-while-binding rate is a bit higher, but worth the risk, like flying, on aeroplane food.

Also no pictures here, I was really concentrated getting the shapes really close to the body. But if you look at the images from a few posts before, the pegs on the body images will give you a good idea of what happened.

Today after working on the neck I decided to bind both tops. First the 6-string, which is my test guitar, and if all went well the 12-string. I routed the grove (of which again no images) at about 5 mm, giving the binding material an excess of 1 mm above the top.

I started gluing. The most difficult bit was the cutaway. But I sort of managed. It's amazing how that bloody CA glue sticks to your fingers immediately, yet I had to hold all for about 1 minute or 2 to get a good bind. And so it went for two tops. 4 sides. I was feeling much more comfortable by the 2nd guitar.
Until I ran out of CA. I ran out of gel CA. I had to take some of the liquid one, and it did the job afterwards.

In the end, not the best or not the worst binding I've done. Pretty average but it will do. Given all my binding jobs have been pretty average anyway, I consider this a win. So far. We'll see next weekend when I start removing excess material.

The plan is now to let all rest for a week so all glue joints are good and stable.

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Last, a motivational shot. It's good to see progress from time to time...
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We're getting somewhere.

Cheers,

Alberto
 

betocool

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I've been debating with myself what's the best way for me to go on with this build, how do I attach the neck, etc. I've been going over and over ideas and ways to make it work out for me (as in, what can I confidently do) and the guitar (will it work...).

I go back every now and again and I have a closer look at the Guild Savoy A150 which is the inspiration for both acoustics, and I tend to take ideas from it. One thing I did notice is that the neck is raised about 4-5mm from the top, and that will give me a good area for gluing the neck to the body.

I started marking the cuts, and I tell you, this sh7t does make me nervous because more often than not, the cuts do not end at 90 degrees as expected. I tend to screw up here majestically. I took it very easy and slow and marked all I could on both sides:
IMG_20220521_121524_HDR.jpg


Fortunately this one went easy... the wood was surprisingly giving, except the stripes which were a bit harder/slower.
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And this one worked out! Next step, repeat and don't screw up on the second neck:
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This one had me sweating, because the joints were not 100% aligned, I triple check that all my markings were ok. You can see above I'm halfway through the top and ready on the sides. Eventually it worked out too...
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And it fits on the guitar as well...
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Having done this, it's a good time to start shaping both necks. First off I cut the shape of the headstock roughly. I did that slow by slow with a jigsaw. Man, the jigsaw suffered on the jarrah shape... that wood is unforgiving on tools.
IMG_20220521_140625_HDR.jpg


Then I removed a lot of excess from the sides:
IMG_20220521_141512_HDR.jpg


That also went well. It was time for gluing the fretboard.
 

betocool

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There was a little excess off the side of the fretboards, but that was ok. It's easier to take out some more while shaping the necks that trying to put back in whatever you removed accidentally.
IMG_20220521_144947_HDR.jpg


An overnight exercise...
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We're ready to shape. I realised, again, I was too keen on getting started, and forgot to take too many images. But you know the gist. Spokeshave, rasp, file, the hole army of removal tools at your disposal and the first neck turned out sweeeeet!
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Level 2, repeat on the second neck:
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And here we are, a few hours later a very productive weekend!
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I will now publicly address the fact that there is no routed dovetail joint for the neck. I had many ideas about how to go on. Angled neck? Glued and screwed in from the inside? But I can't reach the screws once I close the guitar. For some reason, I'd like to keep the option open to remove the neck. Have I ever done it on acoustics? No. Would I want to? No. Will I need to? I hope not but you never know.
One thing was sure, I wanted to glue the neck on a complete body. So no screws. Why I want to glue the necks on a complete body? The stability of the sides was concerning me a bit if there was no back.
Having seen the 5mm offset on the Savoy, I'm confident now that gluing the neck with glue on the heel and below the fretboard will provide a strong enough hold that I'm confident will not break. If anything, something else might, but I think that joint will be very strong. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Now I'm focused on finishing the body, with bracing and all.

I already started bracing the sides a bit with thin supports.
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That block you see on the left hand side, that's for the screw that holds the strap button.

Now I'm preparing the back sides, which is a repeat of the top (almost) with one centre stripe. Then I will work on the bracing, I have an idea based on examples from previous posts, not the same, but a mix. Again I'm convinced that it will work out fine, but I have to get started on it.

So far, this is it. I'll keep you up to date...

Cheers,

Alberto
 

Freeman Keller

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I agree with Hopdybob, these are going to be beautiful and very interesting guitars. However I've got a couple of concerns and while I'm sure you have thought of this, I'm still going to toss them out.

First, I have never seen a acoustic guitar with a glued butt neck joint. I see bolted butt joints (Taylor and Art & Lutherie use them), bolted M&T (one of the ones I use) and the infamous dovetail (the other one that I use). I have seen and used glued M&T joints on electric guitars, but remember that they have much lower string tensions from an acoustic and the glue seam is quite a bit different from yours.

All along as I've been following your build I just assumed that at some point you would cut the dovetail. Dovetails are the joint for any guitar without a sound hole that you can put your hand inside, I use them on anything with f-holes. I know of one archtop builder who accesses allen head neck bolts with a really long allen wrench thru a hole in the butt end of the guitar, most people just use the dovetail.

I've seen glued butt joints on ukuleles but you are looking at a fraction of the forces (and I had one on my bench that had failed). I did some quick calcs based on some assumptions about your guitars - the six string might have 165 pounds of string tension and 80 inch pounds of torque at the neck joint. Your gluing surface for the butt joint will be about 4-1/2 square inches, that is considerably less than an acoustic guitar bridge, which often fails. The twelve string will be fifty percent more with a slightly larger gluing area. Will that fail? I don't know.

Both a dovetail and a bolted joint are mechanical joints, they might have some glue in them but do not rely on it for their strength.

Second concern, will you ever have to take the neck off? Archtops don't need it as much as flat tops because of the way their upper bout it built, but most flat tops sometime in their life will have to have the neck removed. A friend is bringing his home made parlor over on tuesday and we are going to reset the neck - his guitar is 15 or so years old and fortunately has a bolted M&T joint - the procedure will be quite easy. Being able to slide the neck into a pocket and clamp it while you are building makes setting the geometry much easier. Just remember, you've got 165/230 pounds of tension trying to fold your guitars in half, are you sure you won't have to do a reset sometimes.

Notice that when I was talking about gluing surface I did not mention the thickness of the neck under the fretboard extension. There are three ways to do the f/b extension - on a standard "flat top" acoustic (which is not flat on top) the extension is lightly glued to the top following the slight dome at one or two degrees. The normal flat top bridge is about 3/8 thick with the saddle sticking up another 1/8 - you want the fret plane to hit the top of the bridge. On an archted top guitar you want the fret plane a little higher - often 1/2 or a bit more - it depends on your bridge. On electric archtops where you don't care about the top vibrating you can glue that right to the top
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On the other hand an acoustic archtop you want that upper bout to be able to vibrate so the f/b extension is not glued to the top - it floats above it.
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Fuzzy picture, sorry. I don't know how your Guild was done, I do know that the pickup on that guitar does not touch the top but is floated from the end of the neck. Just little tricks that archtop builders do to try to optimize the sound out of the guitar.

My point is that if you float yours it does not add to the gluing surface. If you don't float it and glue it to the top then you will have a rotational torque pushing the end of the neck down into the top - it is not uncommon to see cracks next to the fret board extension ant that is why flat top builders put that big "upper transvers brace" in their guitars.

My last concern is that the Guild Savoy is really designed as an amplified acoustic archtop. It has a carved spruce top, laminated back and sides. Most importantly it has a floating bridge and tail piece. That changes the forces on the top and somewhat dictates different bracing from what you would see in a flat top. With 14 degrees of break over angle and the light gauge strings your six string has 40 pounds of down pressure on the bridge, the 12 string has 55. If you decide to use a pinned bridge then the down force is replace by a rotational torque. Either way its worth thinking about now.

And actually I'm pretty sure you have been thinking about these things, in which case I apologize for this long winded discussion. The worksmanship in your guitars is lovely and I'm enjoying watching you build them. Think about what I've said and move forward.
 

betocool

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Thanks for your reply Freeman, I appreciate your concern and your comments. Nothing has been set to stone yet (or PVA for that matter), and I have a long weekend coming ahead, and still some time to think about things. Unfortunately the dovetail joint will not happen, I might still end up bolting or screwing the neck from the inside, but I'll still think about it. From what I've seen and tested glue tends to hold more than wood itself, which is why I'm confident that it will be fine. The neck for the 12-string is rock-solid.

Then again, it all may go "crack" once I string it up... so I'll string it up real slow like!;) If anything, I'm more concerned about the body imploding into itself, now that would be something worth seeing (and yet very sad...). I have some ideas for the bracing to hopefully prevent that too.

Still, I'm excited how things are coming along. It's taking me a bit, but I'm almost seeing when I have a pair of 6 and 12 strings on my hands!

Cheers,

Alberto
 

Jim_in_PA

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From what I've seen and tested glue tends to hold more than wood itself,
This is generally true, but grain orientation is critical. If any end-grain is involved, the glue joint is not nearly as strong as it is long-grain. Just be sure to consider the forces that are generated when strung as Freeman mentioned.
 

crazydave911

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In my acoustic days David Russell Young was the only one the ONLY one gluing necks directly to guitars, with epoxy no less 😳! All well and good but he WAS my teacher so had decisions to make. Now until I stopped building I used many things learned in his shop but NOT this.
I came up with, what I thought at the time a very innovative solution to the problem. I built my necks with a straight "key" in the heel 1" X 1 1/4" deep with a corresponding slot in the heel block. Also in the heel I drilled two 1/4" holes and epoxied and pinned two 1/4" furniture bolts (my dad built furniture professionally so I had access to thousands 🤣) and I'd put Elmer's Carpenter glue just in the slot then two flat,lock washers and a locknut.Now with a conventional soundhole no problem, but on #3 I went with what became a trademark, dual soundholes 😳. Needless to say, I developed a unique tool to tighten the bolts lol.
My very last, my only OM

Don't get me wrong, it's very acoustic, but I had a fascination with rewound Teisco pickups so this one has it and also (for me) a one off Martinish design (I STILL don't like it lol).
All this prattle to tell you you will make the Queen of England's earth move before you move that neck. It also has a pretty massive flat brace under the fretboard extension BTW 😁
 

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Freeman Keller

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Alberto, I hope I am wrong. I hope I'm over reacting and that you will have absolutely no issues with your guitars. Its just that I've never seen this done and there must be some good reasons.

I have seen two studies of the strength of glues and woods used in lutherie. Basically small pieces of spruce and other woods were cut in ways to give consistent grain directions and were glued either end to end or one piece along side the other (shear). The pieces were pulled apart with a calibrated testing machine measuring both the amount of stress to failure and where the failure occurred. All of the shear tests failed in the wood - you are right that the glue is stronger than the woods used in guitar building. The end grain tests had failures both in wood and in the glue. The author says "it was suggested that this does not represent the typical use for guitar making - we rare glue to end grain". So I frankly can't answer that question.

Will you ever need to take your guitars apart? Again, I can't say but I sure end up doing it a lot. Building an acoustic guitar is a balancing act - it needs to be about as fragile as you can make it to sound good, yet it can't implode. I hope I'm wrong, all I can do is relate my experience.

There are a whole generation of Yamaha acoustic guitars that were built in such a way that they can't have their necks reset (I own one and sold a 12 string that needed a neck reset). They are wonderful old guitars but many are unplayable. I just hate to see you back yourself into that corner.

So I'll shut up and sit back and watch. You are doing great work and I'm enjoying your creativity.
 

betocool

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The thing with a long weekend is you always find something to do... like finishing "Lord of the Rings" and then watch "Avatar" next day, which pretty much is about a day's worth of work!

Plus the fact that glue needs to dry. But... I'm not complaining, it's the way it is, this is moving along and by December I shall have something :lol:

Bracing, bottom binding and bottom cover. I started the bottom covers last week and started gluing them. This weekend I planed and sanded the bottom covers. They turned out ok. I did not take any pics of that because it's the same process roughly as the top covers, only they get glued in a different spot.

Saturday I was able to bend the bottom binding strips and held them very tight against the body... with LOTS of pegs...
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I removed them yesterday. They sprang off a bit, but the most important part, the cutaway, will fit just fine. I also got me some gorilla glue gel, that should help things along.

Today I started bracing the bottom. As that bit is less critical in terms of support, I decided two strips will be enough. I believe someone showed a back from the inside, basically same idea.
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So out of a square piece of jarrah I made a lighter brace. Damn that wood is tough! It's almost a shame to go through the complete rasping and filing and sanding process for a piece that no one will ever see, and yet there is a sense of satisfaction that if Pete Townsend does his stick with this guitar, people will say "Well the binding looks nice!".

For the top bit, I only managed to get the bit in that will (should!) be opposite the bridge on the outside. I hope I got my measurements right, being off by +/-5mm will be fine (1/4 inch roughly).

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This on both bodies. Now they are gluing and waiting for them to dry to get the last bracing in and closing the bodies.

Cheers,

Alberto
 

betocool

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I've been going on with this build, and with any luck, in a week or two I'll have the first strings on the guitars! It's just waiting on glue to dry that delays things these days.

A week ago I started with the bracing. I decided to go unconventional, but I feel it's going to work out fine, the jarrah braces are incredibly solid. More of those and it gets too heavy.

I cut a length of about 12x12mm piece, and started by cutting the sides:
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Just because I can, I round them down a bit more:
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Do that for both ends, and start shaping the top with a rasp:
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Finish off by smoothing it with a spokeshave:
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And voilá, ready to brace!
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Cheers,

Alberto
 

betocool

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The last bits until today involve the back, the binding and the necks.

I glued the backs on, with two regular braces from left to right, about evenly spaced. Waited a day or so, and made the grooves for the binding:
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That went well. I had pre-bent the binding, even marked which set goes to the 12-string and the 6-string, as they are slightly different in shape.

Tell you what, I struggled a bit with the gorilla gel CA glue. The best result I had so far was with the loctite gel CA glue, but I ran out, and the shop I went to only had gorilla. Took a fair bit to get the wood to hold nicely together. So much so that for the next build (whenever that is in some distant future) where I use wood binding, I might just go for good ole PVA and a lot of tape. Anyway, file that under lessons to be learned for next time. Like so many others.
But work out it did after all, and cleaning all up with the spokeshave and sanding paper gave a pretty good result.

IMG_20220612_150522_HDR.jpg


And this is yesterday, after a lot of sanding and smoothing out everything on the bodies, man, they look shmik! I'm really pleased with how they turned out so far! Maybe I'm being self congratulatory here, but I don't care, if these two work out I'm going to be over the moon!
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And finally, the neck gluing. I came up with an idea how to hold the neck tightly where the glue goes. I got an old bicycle inner tube, cut it in half (length-wise, because the whole thing itself was too stiff) and got me a good strap. Plus a clamp to hold the neck in place just tight enough.

This is the dry run:
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And this was yesterday with glue and all.
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Today morning I grabbed the guitar, and yes, I'm going ahead! There will be a tiny bit of wonkiness, as in, the bridge will not be centered 100% correctly on the body, which will be even more obvious because of the stripes, but nothing that worries me. Ideally the bridge would be centered perfectly, but I'll take it.

Now that body is resting so that the glue cures really well for the next couple of days until next week. The 12-string is experiencing the same treatment at the moment. I believe that one will be a tiny bit better centered than the 6 string. We'll see.

Can't wait to put some strings on them! I'll start with the 6-string, see how that goes, and then do the 12-string. And I must remember to level the frets.

I will leave the guitars unpainted for a while, make sure there are no surprises with the strings attached, make sure they settle nicely, and then I will get a coat of clear between string changes.

Cheers,

Alberto
 

betocool

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Little in terms of updates.

I was able to do the fret leveling on both guitars between day before yesterday and yesterday.
IMG_20220625_112613_HDR.jpg

This is without a doubt my least favourite activity in all builds ever. On the other hand, I know that if I do that right I don't have to deal with fret buzzing, so yea, just pucker up and do with it. After it's done, it's ok I guess.

I'm still always afraid I botched up the job because you won't know until you string up the guitar... But it's a part of it so we do it.

Now I'm waiting for the glue to dry on the tail piece that will hold the strings through the body.

IMG_20220626_102941_HDR.jpg


The blue tape marks the extrapolation of the neck edges. As I did mention before, the necks are not 100% center, but they are off by not that much either. I think I will be able to live with that.

I'm waiting a few hours and then I'll start stringing up the 6-string, but I reckon we'll have more news next week!

Cheers,

Alberto
 

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betocool

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PANIC! CATASTROPHE!

I just went through the 5 stages of grief for guitars in about 5 seconds... Then, my inner Samuel L. Jackson told me "Brother*, Be Cool!", and I stepped back and reassessed the situation.

IMG_20220626_133006_HDR.jpg


Pretty self explanatory. I was looking into getting the strings on the 6 string in, and I saw that both guitars had a massive bow on the tailpiece!

PANIC! It looks ugly as hell...
PANIC! My work here is done...
PANIC! There is the fire pit...

But as I said, cooler heads prevailed and I took in all the experiences I've read about here in the forum. In a way, thanks to having read about all your successes and mishaps, a little window opened and said: "Mate, heatgun, slow and steady, and wiggle the pieces out."

Heatgun it was then, slowly and easy on top of the tailpiece, without burning anything. And lo and behold, a bit of jiggling with a chisel and out they came. Bit of water and the top ended clean and as if nothing (almost) had happened.

I don't know why it warped, but I'm sure it was a combination of wet, impatience, bad clamping, you name it. I confess to have been a bit overexcited at the idea of adding some strings today, and so, having broken all my rules about waiting for the glue to settle properly. And the bad clamping.

Why am I telling you this? I could very well have fixed that and stayed quiet. In the interest of sharing with more and less experienced builders (the more experienced thinking "I knew this was gonna happen" and the less experienced being very very few!) I've gathered a lot of information here since I started building in 2016, I've avoided mistakes some of you have shown as well, and perhaps someone will face a similar build in the future, in which case I'd like for them to avoid the additional headache.

Still, we're back on track, a new piece has been glued on with emphasis on the clamping and a 24-hour wait until I see the result and do the next one.

Now I'm going to get a drink and wind down...

Cheers,

Alberto

* Not the actual word he used in my head
 

wingcommander

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Hi Alberto,

I'm interested to know what the string end of the tail plate looks like.
Is it a keyhole where the string comes in from underneath?

I'm planning my text build, a 6 string steel acoustic, and have been umming and arrring about a tail plate.
I can see that your bridge pretty much has down forces so shouldn't rip it off the top.

The problem however moves to your tail plate.
You could glue and/or screw it into the end block (not sure what it's called). Or you could move the fixing on the side of the end block (side of the guitar).
Then you have to worry about the strength of the right-ish angle.
No end to the what ifs...

I still don't know what I'll do (Plan A, B, or C...)
I'd appreciate you thoughts, lessons learned, damn I should have done...., etc.

Not far to go now and you'll have 2 new guitars.
Will the wall in your guitar room have enough space? :)

Mick
 

betocool

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Hey Mick!

Well, come the weekend and you will see it, but basically I think the best option is a key-hole shaped hole through the plate. The plate is there to add thickness to the top only, and the size is for looks only. I think a 5mm hole to get the ball-end through, and a 2mm wide line, about 5mm long, to hold the ball to the bottom.

I'm pretty certain none will fly off, at least very certain on the 6 string. On the 12 string, I'm pretty sure it will be ok, but I'm bracing for surprises. I tell you, I'll make up those strings real slow one by one, but honestly, I think it will be fine. I've seen worse constructs from known brands.

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I came across a guitar not unlike this one the other day at the shop. See how the ball ends hold only to the tail? Well, unfortunately, that tail had ripped clean across the grain where the ball ends were. That's the reason I'm going through-body. The three little dots are covering a screw each. Didn't help. I'm surely hoping that 10mm (or so) thickness through the body will prevent that from happening to me.

We'll see soon enough, I'm cautiously optimistic!

Cheers,

Alberto
 

Freeman Keller

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Hi Alberto,

Hey Mick!

Mick and Alberto, a couple of quick comments. I really don't want to hijack Alberto's great build thread, as I have said a couple of times before he is taking a different approach to what he is building and I am fascinated to see how it is going to come out.

There are basically two ways to anchor the strings to the top of an acoustic guitar - you can do it right at the back of the bridge with some sort of hole that the string goes thru - it might have a pin in it, it might be "tied" on or it might just be a hole in the back of the bridge. The Ovation in the picture is what is called a pinless bridge (Lowden uses them also), it is glued to the top and the string passes thru from the back. The significant fact or about bridges like this is that they have a large rotational force acting around the cross axis of the bridge. When plucked the strings rock the top rather than imparting vertical forces perpendicular to the top. We've already talked about how X bracing works with this kind of forces.

The other way to anchor the strings at or near the end of the guitar with either a metal or wood tail piece. In that case almost all of the string tension is pulling against the end block and there is no rotational force at the bridge. In fact the bridge doesn't even have to be glued on - you see that on archtops and mandolins and violins. There is a powerful down force perpendicular to the bridge - I calculate that on my arch top it is close to 50 pound. Depending on his choice of strings and the break angle Alberto could have a lot more on his 12 string.

When people make a wood tailpiece for an archtop it usually has key hole holes. When I built mine I used commercial tailpiece but Mick should take a look at the beautiful wood tailpieces that builders like Benedetto use.

I'll end by saying that if you guys want to discuss this further I do have some thoughts, but as far as this thread I'm going to just sit back and watch these two guitars come together. They are quite lovely and very interesting in concept, I'll be very interested in how they come out.
 




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