Monday, September 6, 2010

End of the road

I drove down to Kentucky and gave the guitar to Don on Friday, 3 days ago.

It was great to see his reaction, get his feedback, hear the guitar played by someone that can play, and to tweak the setup a bit until he was satisfied.

It was an epic journey. I sure learned a lot. Thanks for tuning in.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

End pin

Tonight I installed this bone end pin, which matches the bone bridge pins.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Better intonation and setup again

So way back when, about a post ago, when I fretted the bass strings at the twelfth fret, it looked like this on my chromatic tuner:

My saddle was about 0.5mm - 1.0mm short on the bass side. In order to remedy the situation, I knew I was going to have to rout a wider saddle slot, but how to do it?

I wound up making this saddle slot jig. Stewmac's is $150. Mine cost $0.30. While I was working on that, I also had my Porter Cable laminate trimmer repaired. Thankfully, when I took the router apart earlier in the summer, and the springs and motor bushings flew out all over the place, the local Porter Cable center chose not to later void my warranty.

Here's my jig:

It took me weeks to plan it out and set it up. But doing the deed was a simple outpatient procedure. I used a Whiteside 1/8" spiral downcut bit. Took just a few minutes.

I was sweatin' bullets while I was cutting the new slot, but measuring it 449 times paid off. It worked!

After routing the new slot, I made a new bone saddle. And having the strings off again for so long, gave me the opportunity to really go over the frets and level them as well as I could. Setup and playability, as well as intonation, are now much improved.

Here's what the new saddle looks like. It's kinda wide. But I have seen wider. If Don doesn't like it, I can fill in the front and install a narrow saddle again. As is, will be more stable, though.

Another thing I did while I had the strings off during the month of August, was go over and over (and over) the finish, trying to gloss up everything and remove funky spots.

It is a hand-rubbed finish, so you can't really compare it to a factory sprayed finish, in regards to looks. Doing so is an exercise in frustration, I've learned. But I'm really pleased with the overall look, more or less. And I love the sound. It's a real gem of a guitar.

I'm giving it to Don on Saturday, three days from now...

So here are the first and second acoustic guitars I ever built, side by side. (This picture was taken before I fixed the pickguard, and widened the saddle on #2).

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The last time I bought a Greven/Turtleworks/Tortis guard, I went direct to Turtleworks and they sold me one. Since then, they've adopted a minimum order policy. So I went shopping elsewhere. And I finally located someone that had a 00 Tortis guard.

Jon at My Favorite Guitars sells high end guitars all the time, but here he was, talking to me on the phone, emailing with me, and getting out a 00-21 and matching guards to it, to see which was identical. I recommend this guy highly! He really values customer service and no sale is too small.

So, how does it look?

Update, 7/27/2010

In the above pictures I just slapped the pickguard on to fit the rosette. When I did so, it covered the larger inner black/white circle. At first I thought it was fine, but increasingly it began to really bug me. I removed the pickguard and replaced it so that it doesn't obscure the rosette.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I was thinking I should wait a while, let the shellac cure, and rub it out so it was shiny. But after asking around, I hear that it's a good idea to do that, say, about a month from now. Wait around for a month?!? So I just went ahead and strung it up tonight. It felt great to get away from the finishing stuff and get back into something that I have an easier time with: setup. I'll buff it shiny, later.

It has a light and balanced feel to it. And a warm voice. It definitely has that 30's Martin vibe, and some volume to it. And this is just the first day.

Good news, the truss rod works. It's a little tight, and I don't know why, but it works good.

I have more work to do, filing on the nut and saddle. But here it is.

(The cloudiness you are seeing in the pictures above and below is actually bone dust from the nut.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gluing on the bridge

Back before I finished the guitar, I put a piece of 150 grit paper on the top and rubbed the bridge over it so that the underside of the bridge would have the same slight dome shape as the top.

Here's the top with the bridge mask removed.

Check out what the wood used to look like, before I dyed it, pore filled it, and applied shellac.

My bridge gluing jig, has a tiny bit of play in it, so I put this tape down to help me place the bridge, and also to catch glue squeeze out that will ooze outta there after I tighten the screws.

And here's the bridge gluing jig I made. I put a phillips screwdriver in those screwtops, and then reach inside the guitar and tighten the wingnuts inside of there as tight as I can get em.

Wipe off the squeeze out, remove the tape, and wait a couple of days.