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My first build....4 string guitar or ukulele?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by JayneV, Nov 8, 2020.

  1. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Thank you John.

    Hmmm, Correct me if I’m wrong, shimming the bridge should have the same effect on the string/neck geometry as tilting the neck? The neck and body are one piece so no adjustment is possible at the neck. I wish I hadn’t glued the saddle to the bridge before setting it up. Any tricks to break a superglue bond between wood and bone? Or perhaps a better option is to raise the whole bridge. It is glued to the body with Titebond, any tricks to releasing a Titebond wood/wood joint? A third option would be to shim the top of the saddle first to test if shimming will correct the problem. I’ll experiment a little and report back with results.
     
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  2. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    A clothes iron and aluminum foil will release Titebond just fine :)
     
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  3. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Jayne,

    Yes shimming the bridge is your only option with your build. I know that Acetone can break the bond, but don't know if it would work in this case or if you can get Acetone (basically nail polish remover) in Oz.

    I'm thinking that Dave may have the ticket here, release the bond of the bridge. Use veneer or shims, but test before gluing it all back down.

    Take it slow and it will turn out great!
     
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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jayne, there are basically two reasons any instrument buzzes when it is played. First, one or more frets is higher than the others, when you fret notes below that one the string hits the high fret(s). A short straightedge that spans just three frets will rock on the high one. The solution is to level the frets and recrown them.

    The second reason is that the entire setup is just too low - generally that will buzz in areas of the fretboard rather than just one fret. The solution is to raise the action at the nut or saddle until you have sufficient clearance.

    I've only worked on a few ukuleles but what I remember of setting them up is that the action measured at the first fret was slightly higher than a steel string guitar but not as high as a classical - lets say in the order of 0.020 of an inch, maybe a hair higher. Likewise the action at the 12th fret - slightly higher than a steel string, lower than nylon. Lets say 0.095 to 0.120 inch.

    The saddle on most acoustic instruments is not glued in place but rather inserted in a slot in the bridge, which might be an important thing for your under saddle pickup - normally those like to be sandwiched between the bottom of the saddle and the bridge

    And among ukulele players the subject of "reentrant" tuning (high G) vs low G is almost a call to battle, but it is certainly part of the characteristic sound of a uke.
     
  5. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Dave, John, Freeman. Thank you all for your input. This is all very helpful information.

    I have a small hobby iron, looks like a miniature clothes iron on the end of along handle, used for shrinking the covering on model planes. That should work without risking getting glue on our clothes iron. Acetone is also readily available here. I have some in the garage.

    The action might be all wrong too. It is about 3mm (0.120”) over all of the frets. I’m pretty sure all the frets are level but will double check. The nut has plenty of material that can be removed to lower the action at the first fret. The saddle is sitting in a slot cut into the bridge with the pickup sandwiched beneath the saddle, however I did glue the saddle rather than just sit it in the slot and let the strings hold it in place. It was a couple drops of CA, but I’m sure the glue found it’s way through gaps and glued the pickup to the bridge and the saddle to both the bridge and pickup. Removing the saddle could end up destroying the bridge. I clan make another one but would rather avoid doing that if possible. The pickup has a piece of heat shrink over it so easy enough to replace the heat shrink if it comes to making a new bridge.

    The easiest option looks like releasing the Titebond and shimming the whole bridge/saddle assembly and also lowering the nut height to improve the string action across the whole range of frets. (And of course recheck the frets for any that are sitting high)

    Freeman, I did notice the potential for a “lively” discussion between high/low G tuning during my google searches to learn what that meant.

    Anyway, it’s back to the workbench for the uke for some tweaking.
     
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  6. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    The action does not need to be that high at the nut, that only makes it harder to fret. However with it that high it should not buzz. When chasing the elusive buzz it is important to identify exactly where it is coming from. Is it a string buzzing on a fret? If so, which frets? Just one or several? Which string(s)?.... Is it a mechanical part buzzing? Tuners are notorious. Do you hear it thru an amplifier or just unplugged? Lots of things cause them, not always obvious. I'm a great believer in measuring everything before I do anything. Good luck
     
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  7. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    The buzz seems to happen anytime I don’t play an open string. When fretted, the string passes very close over the next higher fret. I can see the string touching the fret as it oscillates when plucked. It happens on all strings and at all fret positions. Raising the saddle should reduce the problem, just need to determine by how much. The high nut makes it a little awkward to press down the strings at the first fret but it feels ok at all other fret positions. The nylon strings have plenty of stretch. Might be a different story with steel strings. Btw, I did try an old set of violin strings for the hell of it but they were too short to reach the 2nd and 3rd tuners. Would have been interesting to hear what it sounded like.
     
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  8. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Jayne, now I don't have reason to protect my iron except longevity but that is exactly what the aluminum foil is for now. Double a piece twice the size you want to heat,bend it over the bridge and heat the foil lol. Sorry, I should have explained :).
    Also, what do you have the strings wrapped around to reach the tuners?

    Dave
     
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  9. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Dave, I knew what you meant with the aluminium foil, but Murphy's Law always finds a way to spoil a good day given half a chance. lol

    The strings are wrapped around one part of an aluminium door stop I found at the hardware store. This is what the door stop is supposed to look like. I only needed the middle cylindrical part which simply unscrewed from the base and the rubber stopper just popped out.
    f642f6a6-7974-446f-b147-62ac27a202a9.jpg

    I used a bolt similar to this to attach it to the body. They seem to go by many names, Chicago bolts, furniture bolts, connector bolts, and possibly some other names.
    Customized-Brass-Machined-Male-Female-Furniture-Connecting-Screw-Bolt.jpg

    The inside diameter of the door stopper was too large for the bolt, 13mm from memory. I happen to have some dowel that fit nicely into the hole, so I drilled a hole into the centre of the dowel to make a bushing. It worked well. The door stop was about 2-3mm shorter than it needed to be.
    IMG_0927.jpg

    The bushing is the correct length to fit properly in the body opening and if you look closely in the next photo, you will see a black o-ring at each end. The o-ring is simply there for aesthetic reasons to cover the gap.
    IMG_1026.jpg

    This is how I drilled into the centre of the dowel.
    First I clamped a scrap piece of wood to the drill press table and drilled a hole the same size as the dowel.
    IMG_0924.JPG

    Then without touching the piece of wood, I changed to a smaller drill bit to suit the connector bolt and stuck the dowel into the hole. There was enough friction in the hole to hold the dowel in place and only needed to be held by hand from underneath to prevent it from spinning in the hole while drilling. If I was going to make more than one or two of these bushings, I would have found a better way to hold the dowel in place, but this worked fine for a one off.
    IMG_0923.JPG

    The hole is very slightly off centre, but that did not effect the desired end result.
    IMG_0925.jpg


    I found a small vintage metal lathe (circa 1940's) that looked like a fun restoration project. I spent most of today going on a bit of a road trip to go pick up the lathe, so only spent a few minutes in the evening trying to figure out how to correct the buzzing issue on the uke. I wedged a temporary spacer between the strings and saddle and found raising the strings about 4mm might solve the buzz problem. I will try removing the bridge and either shim it or make a new one so the strings sit higher. If this is successful, it will end up being a reasonably easy fix and make me very happy for successfully completing my first instrument.

    This is the lathe I bought. Needs a bit of TLC but is in pretty good condition considering its age and unknown history.
    IMG_1031.JPG
     
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  10. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Remarkable, that lathe, the flat belts, a lot of history there :). I kinda assumed a roller like that considering the design but couldn't actually see it lol. Is the breakover angle on the nut end at least as good as the bridge end? A buzz with nylon strings is weird but systemic as all do it. Hope you chase it down :D

    Dave
     
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  11. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If you have to make more of those dowels, I have made wooden guitar volume and tone knobs by drilling the hole as you did in a piece of scrap wood, but also cutting a kerf through the hole. This allows the wood to go in and you can clamp the knob with a c clamp. I used a drill press vise to hold the wood. I used to have a picture in a thread, but it was on photobucket and got deleted.

    I also turned knobs and drilled them on a metal lathe..now you can do that too.


    lathe.jpg

    knobs2.jpg

    This was a fun build out of craft sticks in 2012.

    stick built.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
  12. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    When you say “breakover angle” at the nut end, are you referring to the fret side of the nut or the other side of the nut where the strings disappear into the holes to the back side of the neck. I’ll try to remember to take a side profile photo tomorrow. I’m pretty sure the buzz is coming from the sting touching the next higher fret when fretting in any position. There is no buzz on an open string.

    Cutting a kerf through the hole and clamping is exactly what I had in mind if I was to drill more of those dowels.

    I’ve been wanting a small metal lathe for a long time. If I can get this one fully operational (and accurate) it will be fun to make custom bits and pieces. A vertical slide/milling attachment would be a very handy add on once it is up an running. I am currently designing a custom tuner bracket for my bouzouki build which will be a headless design. The lathe is a long term project and won’t be ready to make the tuner bracket. Besides, I am designing the bracket specifically as a “test” piece to become familiar with the new CNC milling machine my brother is taking delivery of in the next few weeks.

    The craft stick guitar looks interesting. Are the sticks like a veneer glued over a more substantial body? How does it sound?
     
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  13. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The craftsticks were glued in layers for a top and back. The top and back were glued to stacks of sticks, like thinline. I haven't played it in 8 years...lol so it's hard to say. We used to have some guys here that joked about making guitars out of odd materials. I came up with the pencilcaster and corregatedcaster before the guys on youtube did...The challenge builds were inventive.


    guitarbuilder's 2012 Challenge Build Thread -- COMPLETED | Telecaster Guitar Forum (tdpri.com)
     
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  14. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Awesome! I wish I had discovered this hobby and forum years ago. Those challenge builds sound like they would have been so much fun!
     
  15. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    And hectic, there is no worse taskmaster than yourself ;)
     
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  16. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    I adjusted the bridge height on the uke, raising it by 4mm and it has fixed the buzzing problem. Dave, the clothes iron and aluminium foil did the trick releasing the titebond. The hobby iron I have didn't get hot enough to be of use so went with the clothes iron.

    The shim placed underneath the bridge to raise it by 4mm.
    IMG_1052.jpg

    I shaped the ends of the bridge a little to make it look like the bridge was designed this way rather than raised as an afterthought to correct a problem.
    IMG_1048.JPG

    Approximate string height at the bridge. I am holding the ruler in air roughly aligned with the plane of the body face.
    IMG_1049.JPG

    I also sanded the nut to lower the string action at the first fret.
    IMG_1050.JPG

    So now the uke is officially finished.:D


    I started with the finish on the guitar. Painted the conductive coating into the cavities. The pickup cavities probably didn't need any since the pickups are enclosed in metal cans but I had leftover paint mixture so I figured it wouldn't hurt to also do the pickup cavities.

    The neck also got 4 coats of spray wax. I'll give it several more coats because the spray goes on pretty thin. The spray only has a 10 minute redcoat time so it's easy to get lots of coats on in a day.
    IMG_1045.jpg
     
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  17. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Congratulations! You fixed the bridge on your uke! Unless it was pointed out, no one would know you had to perform "surgery" on this.

    That is really a part of the building process, fixing things afterwards.

    As for the painting the cavities thing... now you have to tape them off to paint the guitar. When I first started, painting would come first and I didn't tape. I would apply the conductive paint over the top of the overspray that ended up in the cavities.

    Now my process is almost reversed! I tape off the bare wood cavities, finish the guitar than paint the conductive paint.

    All ways work, it's just finding what fits your work style.

    Love how the guitar is coming along. Have you done more tests on the finish?
     
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  18. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I could seriously get used to that and I don't normally like "pointy" guitars :D
     
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  19. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Thanks John. I think I prefer the way the bridge looks now, slightly raised and curved, to before where it was flush with the body. There is one more mod I will try when I get a chance, make a removable back cover for the cavity. I had the uke lying on the couch next to me and I happened to strum the strings and noticed it sounded much louder and had a nice tone to it. Interestingly, I couldn’t replicate that effect with the uke lying on a table. Maybe the soft leather of the couch sealed the cavity better to resonate the sound. When I make the back, I’ll make it so it fits snuggly into the cavity. I may also try different materials. I’ll start with some thin plywood because I have it and it will be the easiest option.

    I haven’t made a lot of progress with the finish tests. The envirotex polymer coating seems to have hardened some more so it’s back in the running. I am also testing some clear floor coat. So far I have put 4 coats, the 4th was this afternoon. I also tried a test piece where I added a little black to the purple paint to make it darker. I also did that this afternoon. I’ll see how it looks tomorrow.
     
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  20. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Glad to hear you like the look better after the mod!

    As for the removable back cover, I would try a few different materials, because this will vibrate, and different materials may vibrate and change the tone or make the sound more brittle. In this case, you will need to experiment a bit to find what works for you.

    Whatever you do, you do not want the cover to create a rattle! Possibly use a gasket of some type to prevent rattling?

    I would say that I'd send you some purple dye, but with shipping here in the US cut down to a snails pace, you would probably be finished with this guitar and working on project number 5 after this one! LOL

    Keep experimenting with the finishes until you find the one you really love.

    Have fun!
     
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