It was a busy week, but I managed to the the back on the guitar before my trip out to Nova Scotia (shameless promo – I have a concert this evening at Gallery215 in Selma, NS at 7:30pm – pay what you want/can admission, hope to see you there!)
I haven’t shared much of this build yet on the blog, so let’s start back at the beginning with the thinned Engelmann Spruce soundboard and the rosette inlay. I decided (with input from the future owner of this guitar of course) to go for something a bit more modern in this rosette and made a mosaic rosette out of angular scrap pieces of padauk and spalted maple. I started with an excavated rosette channel and then started gluing in the pieces of wood (each piece separated from its neighbours with thin black veneer lines):
After that, the messy inlay was cleaned up and levelled, and then I used my circle cutter to cut and clean out a ring around the outside and the inside of the rosette in order to insert a few black and white lines.
With the rosette finished, I flipped the soundboard over and got to work on the bracing. This time I decided to do something completely new and give lattice bracing a try. I looked at a few patterns and then came up with my own 4 x 4 lattice pattern for the lower bout. It is slightly asymmetrical – a little bit more bracing on the treble side, but not in a really obvious way. I made the upper bout quite stiff with a couple of significant spruce pads and two sturdy cross braces. Hopefully this will help with the projection and sound efficiency, but I will have to wait until she is stringed up to hear! Here are a couple of mid-progress shots of the lattice bracing. Later on in this post you will be able to see the whole pattern.
By this point, I had already thinned and braced the back as well. The back and sides for this guitar are made out of padauk, which is a pretty cool bright red-orange wood. I am hoping that it will sound as good as it looks!
I decided to laminate the sides in the same way that I did for the last guitar using Alaskan yellow cedar. This wood is really easy to work with for planing and bending, so the laminating process is really not too arduous at all. I was able to reuse my gluing set up from the last time as well, and I think it worked even better this time. I spent a bit more time getting the sides cut to width and shaped to fit the arch of the top before bending and laminating this time, so the end result was cleaner and more efficient.
As you know from my last post, at this point in the build, I took a day to make some new spreaders for the mould in order to keep the sides in place. Here are the sides sitting in the mould with the soundboard just about ready to start assembly:
To start assembly, I first had to put together a neck. This time, I used Sapele, which is similar to mahogany, but a bit heavier. It was really nice for carving the heel, so I might use it again! I laminated the headstock with spalted maple and padauk to match the rosette. There will be quite a bit or clean up to do later on, but the shape is roughed out as much as is needed at this point:
Once the neck was roughed out, I attached it to the soundboard. I finally came up with a system that didn’t have me wishing to grow an extra arm, so here is a picture of the setup:
As you can see, I had the neck clamped firmly in my universal vise (from Lee Valley). I then clamped a straight-edge along the centre line of the neck (C-clamp on the left side of the soundboard). Next was to slide in and position the soundboard. I used a little spring clamp (right hand side of the picture) to clamp the straight edge to the soundboard. I then drilled my pilot holes for the two small finishing nails that I use to align the soundboard and neck. Then I took everything apart, added glue, and put it back together. I clamped the joint securely with two fast-acting F clamps (similar to these ones from Lee Valley), and waited for everything to dry.
Then the soundboard went back into the mould so that I could attach the sides. I had some work to do to fit the sides into the slotted heel, and I had to bend and glue linings to give more support to the side-top joint. Someday I might try triple-thick sides, in which case I will be able to forgo the linings. Once everything was fitted together, I added glue and clamped it all down. After a bit of cleanup, here is the open body awaiting the back:
And then I attached the back, closing in the box and making it look quite like a guitar. I clamped the back down with a combination of regular clamps, binding tape, and bike inner tube.
So now the guitar awaits all of the detail work – binding, inlays, fingerboard, bridge, carving the neck, etc.
And I’ll leave it at that!
PS – Maybe I’ll see a couple of you this evening, or at another concert someday in the future. For anyone interested in my CD, I have set up a pre-sale for the album on my website. The CD will be finished and available at the end of July. Here’s a sneak peak at the artwork that my cousin Ceilidh painted for the album cover: