Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Final Weeks

Masking before gluing the bridge
Well, it was almost two months ago that I proclaimed, "the end is nigh!" I'm not sure of the precise definition of the word "nigh" but I'll admit that it probably refers to a period of time shorter than two months, so one should always maintain a healthy skepticism when I make such statements. Having said that, I am almost finished!

Last night I did a little bit of touch-up sanding on the top, but spent most of my time gluing the bridge on the guitar. And, as is the case with many parts of the process, it's substantially more complicated that you might think. For one thing, the placement of the bridge is absolutely crucial, so great care and many, many measurements are taken to ensure its precise location. If it's out of place, nothing can be done. It won't play properly and, worst of all, it won't ever be in tune. So I spent a good bit of time working with Ted to make sure it was perfectly set before moving on.

After setting the location, holes for the strings need to be drilled. It's a fairly simple process so I won't go into detail. The small holes I drilled yesterday will eventually be bored out to their full size so that the bridge pins fit into them, but the purpose now is to establish the proper placement of the holes.

Scraping off lacquer before gluing the bridge
The next step is to mask the area where the bridge will be placed with tape and to then trace the shape and location of the bridge. The tape in that area is then cut and removed so that the lacquer in just that area can be scraped away, leaving a wood surface to which the bridge can be glued. And after countless layers of lacquer, it's not as easy as it sounds. Then the bridge is glued and clamped.

By the way, if you're interested in milestones, I'm pretty certain that's the last glue I'll use on my guitar. I might be missing something, but I think it is.

So I am really running out of tasks. The biggie is the frets, although I've been told that's a job that can be easily completed in one class. The tuners need to be attached, but the holes are already ready, so that's simply a matter of drilling two small holes for each tuner and screwing them in. The nut (the piece of material that holds the strings as they pass from the headstock to the neck) needs a little work on the slots. The pick guard needs to be attached, which should take a good five minutes. And then comes the stringing and adjusting.

Clamping the bridge after gluing
It looks like the odds are very good I'll be bringing my guitar home on the 15th or 22nd. It might even have a few small things left, but they should be things that can be done out of the shop. So two or three more weeks looks most likely. Maybe four, but I doubt it.

And another sign that we're almost finished: My class (with two additions) huddled last night to plan the purchase of wood for our arch top guitars, which we will start building on Tuesday, January 24th.

You must be relieved to know you get another 14 months of my blog. Lucky you.

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