Saturday, July 23, 2016

     Well, it's not a design, but I have all the surface cuts done. As you can tell from the previous post, I've glued C4 back on, but with the missing wood (now sawdust), it didn't line up as planned. It's not off by too much, but it's enough to make sanding an annoyance. Also you'll notice the solid area, that it for the fretboard which runs from the bridge at C4, past G4 and ands at the nut at about F5. It's left solid for this reason as it would be quite useless if it didn't have a place for the fret wire. I'll eventually paint it black and paint the areas that should be part of the clef as white. The pickup will be the next major issue as it'll cover up the painted areas where I think detail matters... but that's a problem for another time.
     If you want the scale for this Electric Ukulele, the bridge is the key. I told you where it runs, but the length of the bridge is approximately 14 inches. This tops the entire clef out at about 18 inches. The Head is a little larger than necessary for both clef design and ukulele design, but I was trying to get the nut positioned right on paper and the smaller I made the head, the higher the nut went. This turned out to be a non-issue when cutting. The next and most immediate steps are to do the side cuts, the cut outs for the electronics, and the holes for the tuning pins.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Quick Break with some Confederate Musicians

It's not any instrument I made, nor did I have any real part in this, but I was in Gettysburg before the 4th to see the reenactments. While I was there I recorded (poorly) a video of the 2nd South Carolina String Band. Enjoy!
video

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ukulele Setback

I was going to post a lovely picture the Electric Ukulele that I was working on when it broke mid-cut. If you can tell by the first picture, It's a G-Clef. The C was going to hold the bridge, about at the E was the pickup, and the nut was going to be roughly at the F. The difficult part (I thought) was going to be playing the higher notes with the large arc on the right side. Instead, it turns out that the hardest part was getting the thing cut in the first place.
It's not that big of a deal really as I'll just have to glue it together and continue on, but I'll also need to secure the start of the calligraphy/bridge as there will be tension on that area and I don't want to leave it all up to a little bit of glue to hold it in one piece. The second issue is that it'll look ugly not. I mean what good is having an interesting looking instrument if it's not a good-looking interesting looking instrument? I guess it's not really the looks, but the sound of the instrument that matters.
I'm going to cool off because I chose the hottest day so far this year to be outside (under a nectarine tree). And I don't mean cooling off as in relieving stress as it's better that this design flaw was discovered now as opposed to after playing it for a few days, needing to disassemble it, fix the issue, dress it up, reassemble, then be grumpy because of it.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Indolence, my dear friend and hated foe

To be fair, it isn't entirely my habitual sloth that is preventing me from getting anything done, but it is the bulk. I could blame it on the weather (including the rain) and my busy schedule, but if I were sincere on building this I would've made more progress by now. I need to make a schedule or something and rigidly adhere to it and maybe then I'll have another finished instrument. If you fail to plan you plan to fail I guess.
I do know the next step for this guitar though; I need to cut out the molds for the sound box. There isn't much of a curve to it, but to have a consistent bend I'll need a good mold. It's true that I also need to build the steam box, but I think the mold is higher priority. After the face and back to the bound box are shaped correctly, I'll trace the curvatures and cut and bend the sides. I still need to do some significant work on the neck/fretboard area, but now I have the fret wire.
Speaking of purchases, my distraction played around with my shopping cart and I added another project to my to-do list (lucky me huh?). I purchased the 4-string bridge, single-bar 4-string pickup and 4 tuning pins to make a tiny little ukulele. I'm going to try to do something fun so I'll share my blueprint once I get a good idea.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lyre Blueprints - BACKFILL

     Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the original blueprints I used. It's not that big of a deal really because it's a very basic design. The Center piece of wood needs to be 30"x11 1/2"x3/4". This piece follows visible outline including the rounded 10 1/2"x7 1/2" cutout for the off-hand, but it also includes another cutout that isn't visible for the sound box (a rounded 15"x7 1/2"). The front and rear panel were cut from one piece of panel (cut in two), and have the same outside dimensions and off-hand cutout dimensions as the frame. The rear panel is done, and the front panel just needs the sound box opening shown.
     The only additional cutting work needed was at the top-rear. The pins for the tuning keys wouldn't be able to breach 1 1/4" thickness. I Ended up doing a 1/2" cut away that barely runs the area covered by the tuning keys. In the picture with a crack of my previous post, you can easily see this area. The rear panel was added afterward.
     The blueprint is a little different in regards to the bridge(s). I chose to use standard guitar strings (0.052", 0.042", 0.032", 0.022", 0.015", and 0.011"), but I wouldn't suggest this. Instead of the wide variety of strings a guitar would use, you should get strings that the gauges aren't so disparate (like 0.032" ,0.027" ,0.024" , 0.023", 0.019",  and 0.017"). This way you don't need  worry about the pressure. The bridge just needs to be functional as the action doesn't really matter, because there are no frets.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Continual Breaking

Today, I was able to practice my lyre a little more, but I had to re-tune it about 4 times before I got fed up with it. Solution: I'll no longer have a C-tuned lyre, but instead I needed to drop it down to a G. So far relieving the pressure has helped reduce further damage to the wood, but now the B and High E strings are overly difficult to tune. I'm considering just sucking it up and getting the correct gauge of harp strings so I don't have too much pressure while at the same time make tuning simpler. If I make another lyre, I'll consider all of this from the beginning, but for now it's just dealing with repairs.

Monday, January 18, 2016

6-String Anglo Saxon Lyre - BACKFILL

Finish 6-String Angle Saxon LyreThe first Instrument that I built was a 6-String Anglo Saxon Lyre. I'll make sure that I post blueprints whenever I find my originals ... or more likely redraw them. For now I'll post the final product.It made an excellent and relatively cheap starting project as the complete list of needs for this one was: a 2" (1.5") thick piece of wood for the frame and bridges (yes, look at the pic, there are 2 bridges), a piece of hardwood paneling for the front and back, 6 guitar tuning keys, package of guitar strings, wood glue, and polyurethane coating. I also used decorative furniture tacks too, and at the time I didn't think that they were necessary let alone helpful, but I experienced some issues that I think they have a hand in alleviating though. It's tuned go the first 6 steps of C (C, D, E, F, G, A) and doesn't include any frets or other way to change the note. That simply means that like a harp, each string is a note, and unlike a harp, it has a total of 6 notes. Because I'm using standard guitar strings I had to shorted the length of the Low E string with a separate bridge and in general overtighten the Low E, A and D strings to make then play the C3, D3, and E3. In doing this I can just buy a new pack of standard guitar strings and not order strings with a special diameter.
A crack that formed in the frame of the Lyre.The problem I ran into unfortunately, was due to poor planning. I didn't realize that adding more and more pressure to the strings would add more and more pressure to the wood as well. This lapse in common sense caused the wood to bow, and the wood bowing caused the lyre to be out of tune. It being Out of tune forced my to increase the pressure to the strings, and so on. Finally, the frame cracked. I added some screws to the damaged area (ugly) which holds it for now (ugly), but I'm still contending with the wood bowing (ugly), and I'm afraid that it may break in another spot too. For now though, it's a minor inconvenience that I'll need to remedy later.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Not-So Startling Start


Rough draft blueprint for my 3 String Guitar project
Rough draft blueprint.
     It's either an indication of how lazy I am or how busy I am, but I'm just getting around to writing a ((we)b)log of my travails at building instruments. Currently I'm an unabashed neophyte in the terms of woodworking, but what I lack in expertise I certainly make up for in incompetence. Really, what I intend to do, is learn form my mistakes. This doesn't mean that I just accept whatever comes my way, but I may settle with things that I don't necessarily understand how to fix.
     I've already built a 6-string Anglo-Saxon Lyre and will back-fill information about it when I get overly busy. This may be sooner than later as winters in Ohio tend to force me inside. Since putting it together and playing it for about a year it already has a large crack in the frame that I had to fix. It's a very simple instrument with a simple design (that I nevertheless ended up screwing up a little) which made it a good choice for a beginning project.
     My current project is a 3-String Guitar (DGB) pictured in the image above. I've started with the main sound-box cuts and am trying my hardest at rasping away at the Katalox neck. I'm sort of at a standstill until I build a steam box to bend the wood. I'll add more if/when I actually get move work done on it.