Saturday, February 07, 2015

In the white?

You may have noticed that I often use the term, “In the white.” This is a term borrowed from violin making and refers to the instrument (which is made from white woods i.e. maple and spruce) before the typical reddish-brown varnish is applied.
This week saw the construction of Mark’s left-handed mandolin completed and it strung up in the white. I thought that I’d run through that process for you. At the top of the page is Mark's mandolin freshly sanded and in the white!
The first task is to fit the bridge blank to the curve of the soundboard. Once it’s been roughly shaped at the bench, the final fitting is done on the soundboard itself, with an abrasive paper. To ensure as good a fit as possible- the white pencil marks highlight which areas aren’t making contact.
Finally I like to use a feeler gauge to make sure there aren’t any gaps.

Once the base is fitting, the rest of the bridge can be shaped. The saddle is notched for the strings and shaped roughly for the intonation. With so many mandolins under my belt, I pretty much know how much compensation the strings need.
Before the tuners are fitted, it’s wise to seal the back of the head and put on a layer of masking tape. You’ll find that all brand new tuners have a lubricant put on by the manufacturer and unless the bare wood is protected, that lubricant will leach into the wood and stain it.
Below is the tailpiece that I’ve made and that has to be fitted into position.
The bone nut has to be carefully marked out and the slots roughly cut to depth.
Double check, and then we’re ready to put some strings on………
The nut’s slots are then carefully filed to the final depth; I use a feeler gauge between the underside of the string and the top of the first fret to measure the action.
Once I’m happy with the string height at the 1st fret, the action at the 12th fret can be adjusted by filing the saddle. With the strings at the correct height, the intonation can then tweaked by adjusting the point where the string breaks over the saddle.
The mandolin will now be left, under tension, for a few days and once it has settled down any fine tuning to the action or intonation can be done.
By the way, that's a day and half''s work!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home