Saturday, February 15, 2020

Using my new bench extension.........

Above, you can see that all the woodwork has been completed on Dave’s new e-mando; and I must say, it’s looking good. Next stage is to make all the hardware.
 If like me, you’ve ever bought anything from StewMac, you’ll be getting copious offers from them. Awhile back they were offering their “body board” I liked the concept but not the price, so I came up with my own simplified version using a couple of quids worth of plywood.
As you can see it fits neatly on the bench.
It really came in to its own, whilst shaping the neck and head of this solid body. The body being relatively heavy, meant that the instrument kept slipping down in the vice- the bench extension, offered extra support. 
Good inspiration Mr StewMac, thanks!

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Hybrid mandolin complete

As you can see from the photos above, Robin’s mandolin has now been completed and he came over last week to collect it. After months of emails, we always enjoying meeting a client in person and seeing their reaction to their new instrument.
I was very pleased with mandolin, as its design (which can best be described as hybrid- flat-top and arched back) isn’t one that I would have naturally thought of!
We say “flat-top” but it isn’t really flat. The thin (3mm) soundboard is forced into a gentle dome shape by the internal braces, but it just looks flat in comparison to the arched back which gets its shape by being carved from a much thicker (20mm) piece of wood.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year to one and all!
Here are a few photos showing the progress of Dave’s e-mando. At the moment, without any points of reference, you’d probably think that I was making a bass there's an idea!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Happy Christmas 2019

Firstly, Amanda and I would like to wish all our friends, clients, blog followers and anyone who knows us, a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year!
A quick update on what’s on the bench. As you can see below, Robin’s mandolin has gone through the French polishing process and it now has to be left about three weeks to harden before it’s final buffing.  However, I must say that it’s looking jolly good at the moment!
In between polishing days, I’ve started work on another e-mando. You may remember that a while back I made one for Dave? This one is also for him and will be a shorter scale, 4-string version to match its sibling.
More after the festive season!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Fitting a Headway

Over the last week or so, I’ve had Robin’s mandolin set-up and playing. I felt that having a flat-top and carved back was somewhat experimental, but I’m very happy with the way it sounds and will have to post a video for you when it’s completely done.
Anyway, having had the mandolin strung-up and being fully confident that it’s settled, it’s time to fit the Headway under saddle transducer.
Firstly, the bridges position is accurately marked out using tape. Then the tension can be taken off the strings and the bridge removed.
The transducer itself is just over 2mm in diameter, so the appropriate amount has to be taken off of the bottom of the saddle. The depth of the saddle is carefully marked with a pencil and the transducer inserted into the bridge. The bottom of the saddle is sanded until the pencil line is level again with the top edge of its slot.
Next, the transducers hole is marked out onto the soundboard. I always put a piece of tape down where I’m drilling- the woods winter growth is much harder than the summer growth and this difference in density can throw a small drill off course- the tape limits that movement.
Once you’ve drilled the hole, the fun part is working blindly to get the transducer through it. I like to use some green garden wire, poke it through the hole, attach it to the end of transducer with some cellotape and the pull it through the soundboard.
Then everything can be reassembled and the pick-up tested.
The Headway has an internal pre-amp which is powered by a PP3 battery. You’ll notice that the battery is outside of the mandolin. In my opinion, the small soundhole and moveable bridge makes fitting a battery inside one of my mandolins impractical. Fortunately, you can power the Headway with phantom power via one of their external pre-amps and do away with the battery; this is what we’re doing with Robin’s.
Next step-take it apart and get polishing!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Archtop #3 has now been sold

Archtop #3 has now been sold and is with its new and very happy owners! Many thanks to all those who have shown interest. #4 will be underway early 2020!

Friday, November 15, 2019

"Had my fill"

All the construction work on Robin’s mandolin has now been completed.
Robin wants a French polish finish, so I decided to fill the grain now, whilst still cleaning-up and sanding.
For many years I’ve used pumice powder to fill the grain, prior to polishing and generally it has been absolutely fine, the only drawback is that the natural dye, from the wood being filled can discolour the purflings and bindings. Although this is a minor issue, which can be fixed with a scalpel blade and a bucket of patience, I’ve started using epoxy resin as a filler.
The advantage being is, that it is clear and there is no cross-contamination between woods. The disadvantage is that it’s bloody hard work!
The resin is pushed into the grain and when it’s hardened the residue is sanded off- in effect about 95% of what goes on is sanded off! Which took me about 5 hours- I never said that this method was quicker or easier!
Anyway, job done and ready to get playing in the white.