Sunday, January 20, 2013

As I Was Saying...

My mostly finished box
I guess it's typical: In my last post, which was almost two months ago, I described how fast everything was moving along. Progress every day. Humming like a well-oiled machine.


I guess that's a bit of an overstatement. I've actually made quite a bit of progress, but it feels like it should have been so much more. Much of it was the number of classes we missed because of the holidays. Since Christmas was on a Tuesday, which is the day of my class, we missed Christmas and New Year's, not to mention Thanksgiving and one or two others in there. So we've only had around half the number of classes we normally would.

But I digress. Progress definitely didn't stop, and it's really beginning to pick up again. As you can see, the box is mostly finished. There are quite a few little dings and details that need to be finished and, as always, countless of hours of sanding ahead of me. But all-in-all it's ready to go.

Cutting the neck blank
In the past few weeks we've made a good start on a couple of important things: I've only spent a little time on my neck, but it's been glued up (it's actually made of three pieces of wood glued together, which makes it stronger), the channels for the truss rod and carbon fiber rods have been cut, and the the blank cut roughly to shape. The truss rod is the adjustable metal rod that runs the length of the neck. After it's finished, I'll be able to adjust the straightness of the neck by turning a screw in it. The carbon fiber rods run parallel to the truss rod, and they help the neck stand up to the tremendous pressure exerted on it by the strings.

The other thing I've made progress on is the tail-piece. This part is especially interesting because it's something that doesn't exist on a flat top guitar. On a flat top, the bridge is glued to the top and the strings are connected directly to it. On an arch top guitar, the bridge "floats," meaning it's not actually glued to the instrument, and the strings rest on it, but aren't connected. Instead, the strings are attached to the tail-piece, which is a piece of wood that is connected by a metal strap to the end pin (the place you put your guitar strap at the bottom) and to which the strings are then attached.

After milling the slots for the tail piece strap
It's an interesting piece to make for a couple of reasons: First, since the function is primarily to hold the strings, the shape and size is variable, allowing for a little creativity in its design. And, secondly, for the same reason, the function can be handled in a variety of ways. The strings could be connected from the top or the bottom of the tail-piece, for example. So we've spent a lot of time in class discussing the design of it and working out the math of it all. (While much about the design is flexible, certain things have to be measured very precisely, like the angle at which the strings approach the bridge, for example).

So far, I've managed to get the slots for the strap milled. The next step will be to finish designing the top part of the tail-piece where the strings will be attached. Then I'll have to make the decision about how I want it to be shaped. I've already determined it's length and cut it, but I'll have to decide the rest of it before long.

Which reminds me of another design choice already made... My classmates are all making their tail-pieces from ebony, but I decided to use cocobolo to match my face plate (the part where the logo goes). I originally had my logo done in ebony, but I found a beautiful piece of cocobolo, so I had a second one made. That gave me the idea of matching the tail-piece with it. Now I just have to decide what to do about my pick guard, because I could match that, too, if I wanted. I'm leaning toward using ebony for a little contrast, but I haven't decided for sure. We'll just see how it goes.

Onward and upward. Little by little.