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My classical challenge

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freeman Keller, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Quite beautiful work my friend :). I've always wanted to see someone of your skilset make one with the slimmer neck of a steel string, similar to the old Ovation Country Artist series. You actually have me contemplating finishing my last two acoustics, sadly neither is braced for nylons to my satisfaction :(

    Dave
     
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Box is all closed up, I buzzed of the overhangs and did a little sanding. Starting to look a bit more like a guitar

    IMG_6499.JPG
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Before we return to something we were talking about a few days ago I want to insert a quote. During the pandemic I have been reading about everything in the house and working my way thru the stack of old lutherie books and magazines. I happened to be reading an issue of American Lutherie that had an interview with Sergei de Jonge and I thought something that he said was interesting. De Jonge was one of that group of Canadian luthiers who apprenticed with Jean Larrivee in the 1970's and in my opinion helped set the stage for the modern independent lutherie movement. Anyway when asked what tapping a braced top told him he said

    It tells me exactly nothing to tap a guitar. Believe me, I've made about 1,200 myself and I've tapped every guitar I've ever made ... and every good guitar that lands on my bench. Once the top goes on the body I tap it to death. I love tapping guitar, but it tells me nothing. I'm hoping that someday it will, so I'm still tapping every guitar.

    I had that firmly in the back of my head when I picked up my little calibrated bonking hammer (same one I used before) and gave a little tap to the top.

    Well, the good news is that it still sounded like I was bonking on a piece of Douglas fir. It hasn't changed to a crystalline ring or a nice brassy sound or to sound like a kettle drum. But I think it has changed. Remember that I'm a 75 year old man trying to remember sounds that he heard two weeks ago.....

    If anything, I would say that the bonk is a little louder and maybe lasts a bit longer. Maybe.

    Fire up the lap top, load the wave form analysis software and bonk a few more times. Its encouraging to see that these waveforms are similar to each other, that means my bonking is more or less controlled. But they have certainly changed from before.

    Here are the "free plate" waveforms, same as I posted a couple of weeks ago. This is the top alone Cassical top.jpg

    Here are two of the waveforms from the closed box

    Classical box.jpg


    Some things just jump out to me.

    First, the peaks at 110-120 and 418 hz, which were so dramatic before are almost gone. Mmmmm, those seemed to be resonances that the top had all by itself, now while they are still there they are greatly dampened. Now the box doesn't want to vibrate at those frequencies. I don't know if that is good or bad.

    Second, where did that big peak at 244 hz come from? It wasn't there before, now it dominates everything. Well, duh, that has to be the amount of air I put in the box, right? I have always heard that the "main air chamber resonance", aka the Helmholtz resonance, was the dominate sound of a guitar. It is the reason a dreadnaught sounds different from a parlor no mater what the woods and bracing and everything else. Now we have an air volume and it wants to rule.

    The last thing is that the reset of the frequencies from 240 to 500 seem to be represented but nothing really huge. These are notes on the 3rd and 2nd strings, the real meat of guitar music, they seem to be well represented.

    Oh, one more thing. If you look at the time domain signals they are both higher and longer than the free plate. Higher corresponds to louder, longer to sustain. The free plate would ring for maybe 200 mSec, now its twice that long. Maybe there is some coupling between the back and air volume and top. Maybe.....

    Turn off the lap top, take it back in the house, ponder on the meaning. Or on what de Jonge said.
     
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  4. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Looks good Freeman. Thanks for analytical research. Cool stuff.

    Building is building. It's like going into a tunnel and you know you'll probably exit at the other end somewhere, somehow, but you don't always know what the trip through will be like. So, not to worry, I totally 'get' that. You've done a good job so far and I'm sure the end will result will be in the ballpark of 'pretty darn good' -- and wouldn't worry much at all about the nit-picky stuff (that's what us players do :D)


    I think more than anything, the folks following along really want to know what a Fir topped guitar sounds like! Myself included. I think the fact that you're getting MORE sound not LESS is a good basic indicator.
     
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  5. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    I also think as the guitar ages and maybe shrinks (?), those resonant frequencies will become outstanding. The cheapest acoustI have is a $75 GC doorbust Fender Squire. It is the loudest acoustic I have (even over Martins). Rings for minutes. Sometimes the proof is in the pudding.
     
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  6. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I just REALLY hope you make a video with it, I wanna hear it and classical tunes are not necessary ;)
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Something will be done. I can play Classical Gas......
     
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  8. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Wonderful :D,though I will hate see this thread end
     
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've been thinking about finishing this even tho I'm a long ways from finishing. But I'm approaching a point where I need to do some finish related stuff so I've been thinking about it.

    First, this is Douglas fir - front, back and sides. Douglas fir is an incredible wood - the trees grow straight and tall, the wood is strong. It is a joy to walk thru an old growth fir forest, my hundred year old house is built out of fir (some of it naturally finished). The problem with Douglas fir is that it isn't a very pretty wood. And as some of you know, I'm a sucker for pretty wood.

    I'm thinking about ways I can highlight the little bit of character in this wood as I approach the finishing stage.

    I also have to remember the rule of my challenge - I want to stay as close to C&N as I can, certainly no aerosols or compressors or modern finishes. C&N use brushing varnish, I figure shellac applied as a French polish is close enough. Plus that is the traditional finish for classicals.

    This fir is just porous as hell and is really pretty soft, so I am going to stretch the rules and use my favorite pore filler, Zpoxy finishing resin. C&N talk about pore filling but don't mention epoxies - oh well...

    The reason for thinking about finishing right now is the next step of the build will be to cut binding channels and install the binding. My choice of binding (dictated by what I had in a box under the bench) is rosewood with a maple accent stripe. I know from experience that the maple will suck up any stain I put on the body, so I want to stain before I bind. And I want to put the Zpoxy on before I route the binding channels because it will keep the wood from getting fuzzy and possibly splintering. So the order of business now is going to be to fill the top, then stain the back and sides. The filler on the top will keep the stain from bleeding into it. Then I'll fill the back and sides, route the binding channels, glue in the binding, do a lot of scraping and sanding and touch up. Is anyone following all of this?

    Fir tends to be mostly a warm amber to golden rust color, almost no grain lines or figure. Here is the top with one thin coat of Zpoxy diluted in DNA - this is the protection application

    IMG_6500.JPG

    I just started experimenting with various dyes that I had to make stains, fortunately I've got a whole bunch of this wood to fool around with.

    IMG_6501.JPG

    That is a piece of the binding laying on top. I'm not crazy about any of these but the wood is what it is and I think the best is the left side of the top board - that is a simple amber/brown stain that I used a long time ago on a Dobro restoration. The Dobro was birch, the stain came out pretty nice so there we are.

    Applied the stain, then a coat of the thinned Zpoxy on the back and sides. I realize now that I didn't take a good picture but here it is after the Zpoxy cured and I had cut the binding channels

    IMG_6504.JPG

    IMG_6503.JPG

    I think its going to be fine, certainly nobody will ever mistake it for Brazilian rosewood. I'll come back to this tomorrow when I put the binding on.
     
  10. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't think that looks bad at all Freeman. It almost looks quasi-WRC-ish.
    I know there is sort of a built-in bias (by some) against staining some acoustic guitar surfaces, but it really doesn't hurt anything and if it improves the appearance.. why not?

    In the end, if it sounds great I doubt few will even care.
     
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  11. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    My first three with douglas fir I couldn't resist what I already had experience with, Helmsman Spar Varnish cloth applied. Guaranteed 3 years in salt water environment before refinish? Why not lol. FYI still shining 32 yrs later ;)

    Dave
     
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  12. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    Freeman, did you use a router to cut the binding channels?
     
  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is allowed, dang nab it. C&N talks about using a binding cutter but also shows a router with a follower bearing. The top and back is flat so a simple bit is fine, don't need no fancy floating gizmo.
     
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  14. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Oil based spar varnish can look very nice on many species. Do note that it's a long oil varnish because, well...spars need to bend...so spar varnish is somewhat soft and flexible. It wouldn't be the best choice for when the desirable property is a hard finish.
     
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  15. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I never really thought about it that way,makes sense. Then again the two I've kept have never been wet or abused. I wouldn't dream of changing Freeman's mind on shellac/french polish :)
     
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  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    My mind is made up. Don't give me any facts.
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Cut the channels as per an earlier post - yes I used my little router. The good thing was that there was no blow out like I had feared. Bent four pieces of rosewood binding that I had left over from some crazy project - maybe the double neck. Its best to tape them together and bend as one unit on the hot pipe (if this was a real guitar I would have used the Fox machine and life would have been easy). Clamped them to the form over night.

    IMG_6502.JPG

    A guitar with no neck is pretty easy to route the binding channels - just go across where the neck isn't and when the neck goes on it will cover the ends. In this case I had to stop next to the neck and finish with a razor saw and chisel. The four pieces are sitting on top, you can see a little spring back,

    IMG_6505.JPG

    Tape 'em in place and glue 'em fast
    IMG_6506.JPG

    IMG_6507.JPG

    One more minor difference from Mr Natelson - he uses AR glue, I use CA. My other choice would have been HHG and I was really tempted, but in a moment of sane thinking I decided to do what I know.

    It doesn't show up very well but the back binding tucks into a little channel behind the point of the heel and the top binding has channels at the neck joint.
     
  18. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    Sorry, I did not mean to offend you. I just thought you might have to use all hand tools like the gramil, and very sharp chisels. As usual, this is a fine instrument coming together.
     
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  19. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q Tele-Meister

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    I'm looking forward to the French polish tutorial!

    ~Q
     
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  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    My tongue was firmly in my cheek.

    Which takes us back to my first post or so when I was thinking about trying to do this entirely with hand tools but that meant I would have to buy a gramil and an egg beater drill and a coping saw.... I already have the very sharp chisels but the rest of the stuff would get used once. I'm happy with the C&N rules altho I'll admit to stretching just a hair.
     
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