Friday, December 21, 2018

More on the E-mandos..........

Pete’s e-mando is now going through the finishing stages and it has had a number of coats of Tru Oil; more still to be applied!
 So, now’s the time to make some progress with Dave’s octave e-mando; as you can see the body has been contoured and the wenge looks stunning. Wait 'til the Tru Oil goes on this one too!
 I’m making the neck out of some really nice Brazilian mahogany, I’ve not used this for a while (normally used on my guitars) and forgot what a wonderful wood it is!
I like to laminate my necks for the extra stability that is gained. So the wood is cut along its length, to relieve any internal stresses, and then glued back together again with a thick black veneer line for some subtle decoration.
Once the glue has dried I make the spliced head joint, this is a vastly superior method as you don’t get any short grain in the head.
My pearl logo is cut out by hand, inlaid into the head overlay which is eventually glued to the neck blank.
 3 slots are routed for the carbon fibre and adjustable truss rod.
And here we have the neck/head ready for the tuner holes…….

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Happy Christmas 2018

Looking at the stats for this blog and the Nava YouTube channel, it’s quite humbling to see how much interest there is in my work, so Amanda and I would just like to say a big “Thank You,” to all of you who have shown interest and enthusiasm for what we do. And wish you, all our friends and clients- past, present and future- a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2019.
We sincerely thank you one and all.
Cheers Gary!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Xmas Shopping

We had a trip out this week to buy some wood for stock; I’ve got far too much tonewood for building “flat-top” instruments and need to build up the archtop wood stock.  Our intention was to pick-up this lovely board of pommele sapele for back & side sets. You don’t see too much of this in board form, as it’s so decorative that it’s used mainly as veneer.…………..
But a surprising find was this piece of figured Tasmanian blackwood- should get at least, a back & side set and a neck out of it……..
And a nice lump of figured sycamore for necks…………
All of this is kiln dried but will be stored for a while before it’s used, so look out for some interesting archtops this time next year!


Friday, November 30, 2018

Starting the Octave E-mando

I’ve progressed as far as I can with Pete’s e-mando (awaiting a shipment of Gotoh tuners!), so let’s make a start on Dave’s octave e-mando……
The body is being made from wenge; I know no other wood quite like it and although it’s a bit challenging to work, it’s a lovely material.
 I had to take it down a fair bit…….remember I’m the bloke without a planning machine.
Once the joint was made, but before it was glued together, the wiring channels were routed and drilled and coated with screening paint.
After it was glued-up the whole thing was covered in masking tape in order to facilitate accurate marking out.
A bit of routing, drilling and sawing and we’re up to here.
The next step will be shape the curves and contours that will make it comfy to hold next to your body.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Commissioning an instrument

Over the past years the vast majority of the instruments that I have built have been commissioned by individual clients. Throughout the course of each build, it has been a real pleasure to get to know so many kindred spirits (many of whom end up being firm friends), hear their thoughts, listen to their feedback and grow from that.
However, I’ve decided that for the foreseeable future I’m going to limit my commissions to one or two per year. The experience of building the last two archtops has told me one thing; I want to build more of them! And I like the idea of building them speculatively; I can tweak the design, try different tonewoods, change the specification etc. without the creative restraints that a commission may impose. That way its design and my making can continue to evolve.
Also, I have a list of instruments, in my head, that I wish/need to build and I ask myself, “If not now, when?”
So, check this blog from time to time, you'll see what's on the bench and also my website’s FOR SALE page, as there may well be some interesting instruments available. And of course still feel free to contact me with your commission ideas; you never know I might be tempted!
Cheers Gary

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 16, 2018


If you’ve been looking at the blog lately, you would have seen me sawing big chunks of wood by hand; so, for a change I’ve been cutting some aluminium.
I’ve just completed two e-mando tailpieces; one for Pete’s e-mando which you’ve seen already and the second for Dave’s electric octave mandolin which is still on the drawing board (but hey, I know it needs a tailpiece!). Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of the process.
And here is Pete’s with the bulk of the construction work done and looking very pretty- I now need to sort out all the fiddley bits!

Labels: ,

Friday, November 09, 2018

E-mando fretboard

If you’ve watched my archtop videos, you’d have seen how I tackle the neck joint. The method is virtually the same for my e-mandos; because they’re solid bodies, it doesn’t mean that I’m any less fastidious!
Once the neck has been glued to the body, 4 hardwood dowels “lock” it in place.
Then the wedge (which, as the neck tilts back, is needed to support the end of the fretboard) is glued in place. That little phrase “is glued in place” belies the amount of work that goes in to it!
And then the fretboard is glued on……………
Now it’s really coming together.