From maple and spruce to an archtop guitar

archtop

While the violin maker gets most of the acclaim and prestige for turning lumber into musical instruments, you can’t deny the sheer beauty and grandeur of a jazz-style archtop guitar. Much larger than a violin or viola, the scale of a guitar can still lend itself to the exacting artistry of a master luthier, while adding some interesting engineering challenges not found in smaller stringed instruments.

Last year, [Bert van der Meij] built an archtop guitar for his daughter by following the bible written by a modern master, [Robert Benedetto]. The build began by sourcing huge blocks of quartersawn maple and spruce, carefully carving the spruce for the top and the maple for the back. The neck is made of three laminated strips of maple, carefully contoured with only hand tools.

In [Bert]‘s video, there’s some interesting examples of the tools used in the creation of this fine instrument. Instead of carving the inside and outside of the top independently, [Bert] only carved the top and used a drill press set to a certain depth to rough out the back. With only a minimum of planing, this ensures the top has a constant thickness with a minimum of work.

The end product is  a fine enough instrument to find its way onto the stage of any jazz club, as shown in a demo video of a few different musicians rocking out. A magnificent piece of work, and a wonderful gift to [Bert]‘s daughter.

 

Turning a broken bass into a headless bass

bass

A while back [Michael] inherited a broken bass guitar from a friend. The headstock for this bass was cracked right down the middle, and the friend attempted a repair with a bolt and a couple of washers. After trying to figure out what the addition of a bolt was trying to accomplish, [Michael] set to work repairing this bass and ended up doing a headless conversion.

A headless bass, just as the name implies, does away with the headstock and moves the tuners to the other side of the guitar – in [Michael]‘s case, right below the bridge. After sawing off the broken headstock above the truss rod, [Michael] made a string retainer and bolted it on to the remainder of the neck.

The tuners had to be moved, of course, so [Michael] routed out a section of the body below the bridge. Four holes were drilled and the original tuners slipped right in. The result is a perfectly functional bass that would fit right in to the tour van of an 80’s metal band.

You can check out [Michael]‘s bass down in the pocket.

[Read more...]

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