Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mandola and octave mandolin components

Here are the last few components for Adrian’s mandola and octave mandolin. The bridges have removable bone saddles; although I always set-up my instruments, to what I consider the optimum, you never know if someone at some point will want to raise or lower the action and a removable saddle does allow for this.
Those with keen eyes will notice that although the tailpieces look similar, the octave’s is slightly longer in both directions. For the side that anchors the tailpiece, this is entirely aesthetic and for the string side, this is to reduce the amount of open string between the saddle and tailpiece. Both the nuts are bone too. I’ve tried various synthetic materials, but always come back to bone.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Busy, busy, busy.....

The next step for Adrian’s pair is to get them set-up and playing “in the white”. I’m using rosewood for the bridges for two reasons. Firstly, from an aesthetic perspective it will match all the other rosewood used and I think that using a limited palette of woods makes for a much more coherent design. Secondly, rosewood is lighter than ebony and as these bridges have to be made a little wider than normal (to allow for the transducer to run through it and for extra string tension) it’s a good way to cut down on the mass of the bridge.
 The bridge has to be fitted to the curvature of the soundboard, so after some rough shaping, the final fitting is done like thus……………
Feeler gauges help to ensure a good fit.
Then we are into making the tailpiece, nut, fitting tuners and going through the set-up procedure.
You can see the Headway transducer poking out of the sound hole; this won’t be fitted until I’m 100% sure of the final bridge position. Drilling a hole through the soundboard has a certain finality to it!
 I’m very pleased with the clean look of the tailpiece, just two screws and the jack socket. It would be silly not to use the jack socket as an anchoring point as essentially it’s a 12 mm bolt going through the end block.

I’ve also just bent the sides of Ian’s model 2 guitar. As the shape is asymmetrical and made up of four parts, as much time goes into planning the bending of the sides, as into the bending itself!
You can see that the mould comes apart to make the whole process a wee bit easier.
As always the sides get bent on my trusty bending iron.
 Now we wait for them to dry out thoroughly before the various blocks are fitted and glued in place………….

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

Nava Logo Inlay

I’ve just been working on an abalone N logo inlay for Ian’s guitar. When you look at a lot of head inlays these days, much of the really fine lettering that you see is produced on CNC machines; both the pearl inlay and the recess in the head overlay itself. I first saw this development when we visited the Weber mandolin factory, in Montana 2006. I was so amazed by it, that for a while I considered stopping the head inlay on my instruments as you just cannot compete with the finesse and speed of CNC machines for this type of work. However, as my logo is a kind of abstract N rather than some copperplate script and more importantly my clients request it; I decided that the N stays. From start to finish you’re looking at about three to four hours work which is the reason that I don’t use the logo on the “Standard” mandolin.
 The shape is drawn freehand on the abalone; although each logo looks similar, I like the idea that each one is subtly different adding to the uniqueness of the instrument and maybe reflecting the time when the instrument was made. 
For example whilst shaping this “N” I had the brain-wave of grinding the back off a needle file (see above) which allows me to get crisper internal corners on the inlay.
 After some careful marking out with a scalpel, I use my dremel to remove most of the waste; you can only go so far before reverting to hand tools for the final shaping. 
If you use a black/ebony head overlay you can be less accurate as any large gaps can be filled with black epoxy; so more care is need on this rosewood head.
The inlay is glued in with epoxy and once hard, any tiny gaps can filled with rosewood dust and CA glue.
Hey presto!

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

A couple of photos for you

The construction work on Adrian’s mandola and octave mandolin is now complete and the next stage will be making the bridges and tailpieces. They make a handsome couple, don’t they?

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