Skip to main content

Gluing the Back on a Soprano Ukulele

Oral cultures have never developed the same capacity for self dissection and information retrieval that our society has. Instead they build holistic visions of the world and self where image and experience are intertwined. In many societies to separate image or sound from experience - its context - constitutes a violation of the natural order.

Allen Feldman, The Northern Fiddler, 1979



This little beauty is built just like a Torres guitar, it has an domed top. The neck and back block are "in plane" (to use a term from Eugene Clark) with each other, the doming of the top makes it look as if the neck is canted in towards the sound board. The bracing is a variation on one used by Yacobi. The lining blocks are glued in place using an awl to hold the block until the glue set. The lower transverse brace is slanted `a la` Santos Hernandez, this was also done on some early 19th century guitars. Why did I slant the bar? To find out if it makes a difference.


I shaved out the center of the back braces to reduce weight, this idea was borrowed from Jose Romanillos. Ten years ago I read an interview with Dave "Kawika" Hurd done by the staff of The American Luthier magazine, in where he stated that he treated a ukulele just like guitar, he applied the same construction principles. His ukes were well received and liked. Why not follow his example.


The last guitar that I made I glued the back on with using the solera, workboard, and the lower bout falls away from the line of the neck, which means that I might have to make a taller bridge for the guitar then I had originally planned. I don't think it will hurt the sound of the guitar, but with this little uke I didn't want to risk that problem. I used the work board to keep everything in the proper plane.


The Little Giant sawmill was owned and operated by the Diamond Match Company at Lyman Springs, California from the late 1940's until it was dismantled in the early 1960's. It was named after a mill that operated in the 1870's that was named for Stephen Douglass, the first "Little Giant". Lyman Springs was just 5 miles south of where I grew up, "the Little Giant", along with Brokeoff Mountain, were part of my young lexicon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…

The Guitar Maker's Backsaw for Cutting Fret Slots

The overall correct process of placing frets in a guitar fingerboard ("fretting"), is far less straight forward than most people believe. A perfect job, for perfect playability, requires some careful preparation.

Anthony Lintner, guitar maker



Twenty five years ago, I bought my first fretting saw from Luthiers Mercantile. It was made in Germany and had a straight handle on it, basically it was a gent's saw.

First thing I did to the saw was to take off the straight handle and make a nice handle for it from some wonderful Claro walnut that came from a Cottonwood Creek bottom wild grown walnut. I used it to cut fret slots in dulcimer and classical guitar fret boards. The saw served me well for several years until I made the mistake of cutting some brass with it.

Well, I never did get around to sharpening the thing.

The blade is .015 of an inch thick with the teeth set at .022-.023 of an inch. I think it has 22 teeth per inch. It is a great saw and I was very sad to see that…