Friday, August 14, 2020

Setting-up the e-mando

With all the “woodwork” completed on Allan’s e-mando, it’s time to get it set-up and playing. Setting-up an instrument is an iterative process; you’re constantly checking against an ideal and modifying until you get the desired result.

The nut has its slots cut roughly to depth (always too shallow, never too deep!). 

These days I prefer to use Tusq for nuts; being a homogenous material it is far less likely to chip or split whilst working on it. This is more of a problem on a mandolin’s nut than a guitar’s; as the string slots are so close together and the grain runs lengthways, pieces easily break off between the slots. Does Tusq affect the sound? No!

Then the bridge has a test fit. As Allan doesn’t require an under-saddle transducer, it makes sense to make an adjustable bridge. Small lengths of off-cut string are placed under the strings to get the exact break point for correct intonation.

The bridge can then be removed and refined.

With the bridge sorted, the action at the 12th fret can be set and then the nut can be worked on. 


Each slot is filed deeper and progress checked with feeler gauges until the desired action at the 1st fret is reached. 

As an aside, I’ve been using these special gauged nut files for years, and just storing in them in a drawer and then rummaging around to find the correct one. Not doing as many commissions has removed the pressure of time from me, so I took an hour or so to make this storage rack.

So much easier to find the file that you want- should have done this ten years ago! A lesson to be learnt!

Anyway, after toing and froing between the bridge and nut, the action is now at what I consider to be the optimum. I tend to leave and instrument for good few days to settle. If it’s ok and nothing’s changed then the finishing process can start.

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