When faced with what to build from the trimmings of the walnut tree in her yard, [Amy Qian] decided to build a headless travel ukulele. [via MAKE:]
Headless instruments relocate the tuners to the body of the instrument, and [Qian] had to do a fair bit of trimming and whittling on the body to make the tuners fit just right and still be operable via four scoops cut into the sides. After some initial troubles with the amount of friction on the strings produced by the mandrel, she replaced it with a set of ball bearings and a holder she machined out of aluminum.
We love how [Qian]’s extensive build log goes through the entire process of making this diminutive instrument from trimming dead walnut branches to building a playable instrument. Little details like the maple strip in the neck and the cocobolo accents really take this far beyond the cigar box instruments that start many down the path of luthiery.
Looking for more musical hacks? How about this set of Commodore 64s turned into an accordion or this Baguette Theremin?
Cutting the slots in a guitar’s neck for the frets requires special tooling, and [Gord]’s contribution to his friend’s recent dive into lutherie was this lovingly engineered and crafted fret mitering jig. We’d love to have a friend like [Gord].
We’ve covered a number of [Gord]’s builds before, and craftsmanship is the first thing that comes to mind whether the project is a man-cave clock or artisanal soaps. For this build, he stepped up the quality a notch – after all, if you’re going to build something you could buy for less than $200, you might as well make it a thing to behold.
There’s plenty to feast the eyes on here – an oak bed with custom logo, the aluminum jig body with brass accents, and the precision bearings that guide the pricey backsaw. Functionality abounds too – everything is adjustable, from the depth of cut to the width of the saw blade. There’s even a place to store the adjustment tool.
The result? Well, let’s just say that [Gord] and his friend [Fabrizio] are kindred spirits in the craftsmanship department. And [Fab]’s not a bad axeman either, as the video below shows.
Continue reading “Engineering Meets Craftsmanship In This Guitar Fretting Jig”
Sheet metal. Beer cans. Pieces of chain. Not items you’ll typically find on the BOM for a custom guitar. But nobody told [Maarten van Halderen] that, and so he threw them all together into a gitaar van schroot, or scrap guitar for the Dutch impaired (YouTube link).
The video shows the build process, starting with plasma cutting and welding sheet steel for the body. The neck is fabricated from rectangular steel tube, with nails serving as frets. Overall it looks like a Les Paul, except for the sink strainer basket mounted in the sound hole and the crushed beer and soda cans tacked to the body for decoration. The chains are a nice touch too. And this doesn’t appear to be [Maarten]’s first attempt at scrapyard lutherie – toward the end of the video we see that the beer can axe joins a very steam-punk looking older brother. They’re both good-looking builds, and the video after the break proves they can sound pretty good too.
For a more classical take on the building of string instruments, check out this post on mandolins and violas. Or maybe you can just 3D print your next guitar?
Continue reading “Gitaar Van Schroot – The Scrap Metal Guitar”
[Pat] is a luthier and general guy that likes to build stuff. In order to get his guitars to come out the best they can, he needed a thickness sander. For those who don’t know, thickness sander is a machine that will sand off a small amount of material from the surface of a large wood panel. There are certainly commercially available thickness sanders but [Pat] thought that they were simple enough machines so he decided to give a go at making one himself.
Since [Pat] already had access to a pretty nice wood shop, it only made sense to build the thickness sander primarily out of wood. The frame is made from standard 2×4’s. The drum is made from many disks of MDF mounted on a shaft and spun by an AC motor. You might imagine that a bunch of MDF disks mounted on a shaft would not result in a very cylindrical shape and that is exactly what happened here. So before applying the sand paper to the drum, course sandpaper was applied to a sheet of plywood and used to sand the drum round. It’s a super simple technique that resulted in a true-spinning drum. Afterward, velcro is attached to the drum and velcro-backed sandpaper is wrapped around the drum. This allows quick and effortless changing of sand paper.
Continue reading “DIY Thickness Sander Is Good Enough For A Guitar Shop”
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.
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.
Continue reading “Turning A Broken Bass Into A Headless Bass”