Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It’s all about planning

I’m fitting a Headway transducer to Brendan’s new mandolin and this changes the order of the way that I put things together. I have to start work on the tailpiece much sooner than I usually do.
Then the soundboard is fitted and glued to the rim (normally I glue the back first) and the area around the end graft is cleaned up.
Then the brass base of the tailpiece is fitted to the rim, I only use two screws as the jacket socket is essentially a 12 mm bolt holding the tailpiece in place.
With everything very, very secure the 12mm hole is drilled through the tail block, using the tailpiece as guide.
Also at this stage (i.e. before the back goes on) the jack socket can be test fitted and the backing nut adjusted to the correct position.
Once I take the socket out of the hole, I glue the nut in position with some CA- this greatly helps when fitting the pick-up finally in place, as you have to work blind through the relatively small sound hole.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Brendan’s Mandolin………….making progress!

The next stage for Brendan’s instrument is the rosette; we’ve decided on a theme of red and black so here are some photos of the process……………
The centre of the rosette is made from African Blackwood and although it will be difficult to see what the centre actually is, we’ll know! As a point of interest I always keep off-cuts to use for small features such as this rosette. Back 2009 I made a Blackwood classical guitar for Matt Bellamy of Muse fame; Brendan’s rosette’s centre comes from that!
I like the effect of running the rosette right up to the sound hole itself and then binding the hole with black lines so that you don’t see any spruce. I seem to be doing this more and more.
 And finally the rosette itself.
Also I’ve been working on the Macassar ebony back here you can see it fully braced and fitted to the rim. I always cut small housing joints into the linings to give a secure anchor for the brace ends.
 On a different note! Brendan often recommends music for me to listen to and the latest insight has been Peter Ostroushko. I had been blissfully ignorant of this wonderful musician so had buy this CD set. I particularly like playing it whilst working on Brendan's mandolin.

Cheers Brendan!


Friday, September 08, 2017

Twin Point Mandolin For Sale

I’ve now completed this Twin-point mandolin and I must say it’s a real beauty! It’s up for sale on my website where you can find its fullspec and more photos. You’ll remember that the client who commissioned it had to cancel the order. As I, like all luthiers I know of, have a non-refundable deposit policy; I can offer it for sale at £1200 (with Hiscox case). This price is below my base price, and considerably lower than an instrument with the cocobolo and gold tuner upgrades would be.
Here are some photos to tempt you!

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Phil Hare re-visited

Phil Hare came over recently and it’s always a real pleasure to see him. He bought his Hare Signature guitar over for some fret work and a general service. Phil’s had the guitar for 6 years now, played 100’s of gigs on it, taken it abroad etc. so it was more than interesting (from the luthier’s point of view) to have it back on the bench. Apart from the obvious wear and tear of a life well-played, everything was in order.
Phil didn’t want an adjustable truss rod, just two lengths of carbon fibre. I ran the CF from the head, right into the neck block, so I was interested to see how this constructional detail was working out. I was extremely pleased how true the fretboard was throughout its entire length, which in turn meant that all the guitar needed was a partial re-fret as the fretboard itself didn’t require flattening.
So here is the amount of wear that a fret gets in 6 years of regular playing.
 Fretboard ready for the new frets
And one guitar ready for action.
Phil also gave us a copy of his latest CD “The Twilight Tone”- Now, we’ve seen Phil live a number of times and his virtuoso playing and good humour make for a great night out. However, listening to him on CD you can fully concentrate on just the music and it brings it home to you just how good a musician and songwriter Phil is. A real bonus for Amanda and I is that he only uses his “Nava” on the CD and it’s a real pleasure to hear one of ours being played so beautifully.
If you want to treat yourself, you can buy a copy direct from Phil via his website- or go out and see him!

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Friday, August 18, 2017

E-Mando now complete and ready for sale

If you’ve been following the blog you would have seen my new electric mandolin being built. It’s now complete and currently available at a price of £800; this includes an Ashbury gig-bag but shipping is extra.
The full spec and contact details can be found on my web-site.
Here’s the obligatory video, followed by some rather smashing photos!

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Brendan's Rim

I’ve just completed the rim for Brendan’s new mandolin. As you’ll see from the photos, the sides (and the back) are made from Macassar ebony; I’ve had this beautiful wood in stock for many years and I’ve no doubt it will make a stunning instrument.
It’s always a relief when the sides are bent, particularly on a type of wood that you’ve not bent before and are a bit unsure of how it will behave.
The plywood tail block and mahogany neck block are shaped to fit and glued in place. 
Then comes the linings- there are a number of styles- solid, kerf, reverse kerf and tentallones; the general function of all of them is to increase the gluing surface area between the sides and top or back. I’ve used all of them and these days I’m committed to double thickness solid ones as they make the rim far more rigid than any of the other types. I say committed- a good word to use, as 8 separate pieces of maple (my preference) have to be prepared, bent and glued in place.
And after a bit of committment.....................
The crowning glory is the end graft- a hint of what’s to come!

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Monday, August 07, 2017

Ol' number four

I’ve just put this old Stanley No. 4 smoothing plane back in to use. As far as I can tell, it was made in the late 50’s. One thing that it works incredibly well on, is shooting the joints for mandolin backs and soundboards. I always make my joints slightly hollow (maybe a shaving or two), to compensate for any future shrinkage that might cause a joint to come apart at the ends. Not quite as easy with my usual No.5, which has a longer sole. Here’s Brendan’s soundboard getting the treatment.