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Thread: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

  1. #1
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Hi Folks,
    now to the other one...
    I got a *big* Christmas present this year so I am not only the lucky owner of an Almuse Jazzmandolin since the forelast week, but I was also able to order this DejaVu Electric Mandola kit from Tom Morici @ Moongazermusic.com. Wanna give you some field report in this thread here... share pics, show the building process and so on...

    Well, to say the truth I had some trouble with the shipping because the German toll hold the packet back and I had to pay 82€ trade sales... First I was kind of miffed but finally I entered that dough as my special private donation to avoid state bankruptcy

    So I was very curious about what the kit would be like...

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    I didn’t take photos from the accessories; it’s exactly as on Moongazer’s website except the Almuse Classic Humbucker I ordered. I missed just one thing – there is no screening foil into the set. I will definitely add some to prevent buzzing.
    The body seems to be cut very accurately and had a careful pre-sanding. The neck (16,5'' with upgraded ebony fretboard) seems delaborated thoroughly and feels heavy and stable. Will be certainly a pleasure to play with

    I pondered a lot about the design, I wanna give the instrument a hint of those pictures hanging into our living room:

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    Means that I’ll give it a graduated raspberry / crimson colour tone with silver on the edge that I will shape asland round the whole body.

    While surfing around I found some examples that caused an order of a nice shelled maple veneer:

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    First I thought to veneer the whole surface, but the grain of the wood isn’t that bad especially at the left half – and I didn’t like the large black pickguard too much. So I finally decided to glue the veneer on a 4mm plywood and to cut a larger scratchboard out of it. I tried to simulate that just to get an idea of the form:

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    The veneer will give the scretchboard some nice pattern (still have to decide which side and if asland or straight):

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    I’ll stain it in a lighter raspberry with some burst of orange around the orange stripe of the veneer itself. The body will be stained in some darker raspberry that tends to black at the body’s border. I’ve got quite much time for this because I’ll spray the finish into my garage and the outside temperatures should be around 20°C therefore. It may be pentecost until that... give you an update here from time to time...

    Have a good time,
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  2. #2
    Lost my boots in transit terzinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Keep us posted on the build. I've already got one of these on my Christmas list for next year!

  3. #3
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default sanding

    Had a little time today...
    What I did first was cutting a dummy of an old leftover piece of glued wood for testing every step I'll do with the Mandola
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    This is after shaping the edge and sanding:
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    Had a little problem over here:
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    the guidance of the milling machine glided into the drill hole for the output connector and I had to sand a bit more to get out the nook...
    I sanded the shaped edge 120 and 180 grit (Tom Morici did so with the whole body), then all 280 and 320 grit. Tomorrow I'll do the neck. Next will be two times wetting the body, letting it dry (causes raising of the fine shavings) and sanding with 400 grit to get ready for staining.

    I also prepared plywood and veneer for gluing. A friend of mine is carpenter and he will glue the veneer with special veneer glue which is available in 10 kg packs only.
    Normal glue would bleed through and discolour. I sanded the plywood 0.5 mm therefore to prevent buckling and masked the veneer at its edges as you can see:
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    More to come soon,
    Tom Sailor
    Last edited by Tom Sailor; Feb-06-2012 at 2:03pm. Reason: add
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  4. #4
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default finished sanding

    Just an update - yesterday I finished the sanding of body, neck & scratchboard plates in the way I described above.
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    My friend had to glue another veneer on the backside of the plywood to prevent bending. The plates look really nice now... I also prepared the stain - four colours: blue, red, yellow, black :-) staining is a kind of subtractive colour mixing so I picked up some CMYK Codes of our picture's colour (above) and I will try to find out the right mix today I even obtained some injections therefore so I'll have an exact measure of the fluids...

    more tomorrow,
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  5. #5
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default staining experiments

    Hi @ all readers,
    I spent monday afternoon with staining experiments...
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    not that easy to find the right colour, though... I tested about 20 mixes of red, blue and yellow stain and I didn't match the exact one, but I finally found two good ones I will have to decide between.
    Additional I tested the way of pre-staining the wood as I read about in some German staining advices in the internet. People recommended to give the wood a light black stain first and either to wash it out or to sand the wood afterwards to enliven the measure of the wood. The result of the washing-out technique didn't really convince me. Possibly the stain I used was too light. I will have to retry it. At the right side of the upper woodpiece on the pic I sanded after a light black pre-staining, in the middle I used heavy black stain and sanded afterwards and the result is really interesting:
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    Maybe I will use this technique for the body and the neck of the Mandola, means I will stain a rough sunburst effect before colour-staining. But I am still not sure how to prestain the veneer. Does anyone have some experience with stuff like that? Any advice for me?
    thanks @ all for reading,
    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Sailor; Feb-22-2012 at 3:27am. Reason: olways souse mistaigs
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  6. #6
    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: staining experiments

    I wouldn`t like to risk staining the veneer until you`ve laminated it....those highly decorative veneers can go a horrible shape if touched by moisture.
    Good idea to do those colour tests...might be worth brushing some clear lacquer over so you get a better idea of the final result.
    Cheers,
    Pete.

  7. #7
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: staining experiments

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfarmer Pete View Post
    I wouldn`t like to risk staining the veneer until you`ve laminated it....
    Hi Pete, luckily the veneer is laminated in the meantime (I just didn't know the right word therefore in English):
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    How would you stain a veneer like this (if you would; I remember you told someone else you prefer to let them uncoloured... right?)
    To give the testings a clear laquer is a really good idea, thanks for that!

    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  8. #8
    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    When I went to violin making school, it was customary to use a light colour wash of golden yellow on the bare wood then a clear base coat to seal the wood before applying coloured varnish....that way, the flip / flop irridescence of the figured wood was preserved.
    Staining the wood itself can have a more spectacular effect when viewed from all angles but IMHO, the natural beauty of the wood is lost......might as well paint a pattern on........
    Actually, that`s not uncommon......I saw a Chinese Strad copy with what looked like a gorgeous 2 piece flamed back - closer inspection revealed this was just a plain back with the stripes done in a darker lacquer

  9. #9
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Did the staining

    Well, I finally decided to prod me into action and to stay close to the advice I read into that German Guitar builders Forum...
    Means that I first gave a lighter black prestain (after moistening) to the veneer plates which I washed away shortly afterwards. I gave the plates another little 400 grit sanding (very carefully), and this is the result (you also see the dummy mandola after prestaining and a sunburst try that didn't really convince me...)
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    Look how the 3D-structure of the shelled maple came out...!

    Then the more difficult work - to give the prestain to the mandolin's body and neck. I moisted them a little and I used deep black stain for the edges, the lighter black in the middle and smeared them into each other for a changeover with a sponge. Washed it out a bit from the middle to the outer areas. After drying I gave the body a careful sanding (except at the edges) and this was the result:
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    After that I stained with the selected colours. Just one for body & neck as the black is bursting enough already. The veneers got an orange stripe first, my special red for the rest and a circling smearing for a good sunburst. Not still dried up, but you can see an impression of the result:
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    Take a look what happened to the veneer:
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    Pete, I wouldn't have been able to paint a 3D-pattern like this

    I'm quite lucky with the result. Some areas look a bit rough bit I like it this way... While drying I saw that the black colour is lightening quite a lot, what a pity... I hope it'll come back when the laquer is coming onto it. I will not risk to restain the black areas.

    There will be a longer break now until I can continue with the next steps. Before cutting the veneers I want to have one coat of lacquer on it at least becaus I'll have to mask it to prevent shavings at the edge. So work will stop until Easter when I can spray laquier into my garage...

    Have a good time,
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Very interesting thread. Thanks for keeping us up to date with your progress.

  11. #11
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Hi folks,

    it's time to take stock of what went good and what went wrong until now.
    I'm still pretty happy of the sanding, the shaping and the colours I found. On the other hand I obviously did not know enough about the woods I have to do with, especially about Alder (body). After the staining I recognized a couple of streaks along the body:
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    First I thought they were splits, but then I learned they are natural color streaks which may normally occur in Alder. A darker stain would hide them. Additional a difference between Alder, Maple and Spruce (my testing wood) seem to be that maple and spruce keep the black prestain (worked really fine on neck and veneers) and alder didn’t, means that the black prestain completely washed out while doing the second stain with the crimson colour. On the result the measure was not really brought out and I had a dark washing stripe remaining round the edge especially of the backside (I stopped there with the last staining action and did not wish out round the whole edge, that was a mistake).
    Well, I do not like the both effects too much so I will cut the scratchboards wider than I planned before, round the whole body until about 1cm inside the shaped borders to cover the problem areas. The veneers (just starting to finish them) look pretty good so I will be happy with this solution. (just hope I will not make so much faults with the finish...
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    But the awareness of this is that staining Alder may cause problems. If I did again I would finish it with a covering colour laquer instead of staining.
    So long for today, thanks for reading,
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  12. #12
    Moderator mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Once the weather warms up (for good this time) I'll be ordering a kit. I'm planning on using Re-Ranch products for the finish. Specifically, Re-Ranch Orange in a spray can. There is a great thread located here that covers one customer's project:
    http://reranch.com/reranch/viewtopic...hlight=gretsch

    My plan is to do the orange body, with an extra couple coats on the sides. Black pickups, chrome hardware and a pearloid pickguard. The only think I haven't decided on is the fretboard (ebony or maple).
    Charlie Jones

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  13. #13
    Registered User Ronny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Orange body can't be wrong...
    If you want to see what it looks like an orange body with a maple fretboard :

    and with a dark fretboard (not ebony but rosewood) :

    By the way, Tom's dark red color is very beautiful and original...
    Déjà Vu 5s 'Clockwork Orange 2' Emando
    'Clockwork Orange 3' Octave Emando
    Kasuga M50-Ozark 2252p-Martella bowlback-Dunhuang Liuqin-50's anonymous Mandolin banjo-Böhm waldzither
    On the wokbench : Böhm waldzither - Noluoca bowlback

    "A gentleman is a man who can play the bagpipe and who does not."

  14. #14
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Quote Originally Posted by mando.player View Post
    The only think I haven't decided on is the fretboard (ebony or maple).
    My neck with Ebony fretboard feels rather stiff and stable (and looks pretty good IMHO)... was important for my own decision. The dark orange in the Guitar Restoration thread looks very nice as well... good luck with it!!
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  15. #15
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Finally!!! weather got warm enough and I had some time to continue my work with the Mandola... thought sometimes the day would never come
    In the meantime while som rainy days I cut the scratchboard out of the veneer plates.
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    Sanded the edges very carefully, and then I completely masked the front side and sprayed Mercedes Brilliant Silver spray twice round the edges, sanded with 1200 grit and sprayed again (in my garage, hanging down from the roof)
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    and this was the result after removing the tape (glad that I bought the expensive one - no adhesive remaining at all!)
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    the silver edges were an important detail which loooks pretty good afterwards. Then I had to sand the plates again with 1200 grit. I had to do because I take a 2 component laquer now and I had to remove some spills of silver. The first coat of 1 component laquer was a bit thin and not all cavities were filled enough. After some testings with remaining scrastchboard pieces I decided to dry-sand with 1200 grit to remain dirty water from soiling the cavities. On dry-sanding I could vacuum-clean the fine rubbed-off parts. That worked quite okay and so I finally could give body and scratchboard the first of three coats of laquer yesterday...
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    some tears running down on one of the scratchboard pieces... but what have I sanding paper for... wet this time. Now it'll be cold and rainy agein fpr several days so I must have a break again. But things develop that the Mandola could give its first tone two weeks after Pentecost... hopefully
    so greetings to everyone who reads all this
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  16. #16
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Hi folks,
    just in the mood to give you an impression of what the instrument will be like... one day
    (click to enlarge)
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    I'll have some staining troubles until then, I guess...
    more in a few days
    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Sailor; May-06-2012 at 2:56pm.
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  17. #17
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Just a notice today... i spent hours for the sanding-between after the second coat of laquer today... got out the tears quite well, I used some fine wooden sticks as sanding blocks and I drenched the sanding paper into warm water and a drop of dishwashing liquid one hour before sanding. I was careful the first time, but on the second spraying session I had an accident as both scratchboard plates crashed down to the ground while spraying because the tapes riped off on the backside. So there was dust and laquer rests which were dropped down on the surface. First I thought I crashed them completely but then I tried to sand all off and indeed it worked... so most of the damage is repaired. I had the usual problem that I sanded too much at the edges - unbelievable how fast you come to the wooden ground at these places...! Would recommend to avoid sanding every brink. I repaired the sanding-through areas by restaining them a little with the right colour. Worked quite good. So tomorrow I will add the last coat of laquer... just mentioning a little: The last coat was already quite even and very brilliant - why is it nesseceary to sand again before polishing?... well, I'll do anyway because everyonbe says the result is better...
    have a good time,
    Tom Sailor
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  18. #18
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Hi folks,
    just posting some pics after the last coat of laquer yesterday:
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    the surface looks quite even except some large waves from the tears I wasn't able to remoe properly. Well, it will be obviously that it's a selfmade instrument. But most of the parts I can be satisfied with the result.
    by the way: I used this laquer spray:
    http://www.spraymax.de/index.php?id=361
    I used some fine spraying knobs I bought, was better than the original
    and then two crossed blanks, after a quarter of an hour another two crossed blanks. So in fact it's six coats of laquer now, every two after each other.
    I should point out that I had a class 3 breathing mask and security glasses andI REALLY needed... the procedure would have been vbery unhealthy else...
    Now I have to let it dry for two weeks beforre final sanding and polishing. I even know now why to sand before polishing; I tested both possibilities on a testing object. There are still some fine unevennesses into the laquer that you can only see from a very short distance. Finesanding removes them and I was astonished how much I could see that at the end of the process.
    Bye until two weeks,
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  19. #19
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Just added a fourth coat of laquer to the Mandola's body only... after three days drying it became obvious that some areas of the solid body were less laquered. On some areas there was a nice napless film and on some other there was kind of a nopped orange skin:
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    The neck and the scratchboards look very good, it's just the body. I suppose the Alder wood soaked up more of the laquer than the maple pieces (was the same with the water for sanding). I didn't use a filler spray first because they are sold for Nitro-based laquer only, so maybe the first coat was just okay to fill the cavities of the wood's masure and therefore three coats were a bit scanty. So I decided to give the body another very thoroughly sanding-between with 1200 grit and to spend the money for another can of laquer spray - the fifth one! But I tried that hard to bring it to the best result - I just didn't want to slob right now and to have a whinge later...
    Until two weeks,
    Tom
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  20. #20
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    So, time to put it together...
    I had a little time last week, so I post the effort's result.
    After two and a half weeks I started with the final sanding of the scratchboard plates (1200 and 2000 grit):
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    I used this wooden stick as sanding block and I came along quite well with that. I had many unevennesses so I had much work to get an even surface... in fact, I did not match it. I was really afraid to sand through the laquer to the wood as it happened at one of the sanding-betweens. The laquer I used seems to have its difficulties. It builded large tears and next to them areas of less laquer so I had to be very careful. And I didn't match to get every nook out. Would need one or two more laquer coats to do that and I didn't have more laquer - and time. Next time I do with Nitrocellulose-based laquer as many other hobby luthiers do with their guitars.

    Well, after doing my work as fine as I could for the moment I polished it with coarse-grained and then fine polish paste. really fine look
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    So I did with the neck:
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    Then the moment I could add the tailpieces:
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    Last I finesanded and polished the body
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    the body looks really fine too after polishing.
    more to come...
    Last edited by Tom Sailor; Jun-11-2012 at 8:31am. Reason: added more infos
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  21. #21
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Now it was time to drill the holes for the scratchboards. I wanted to use some of the pre-drilled holes from the original scratchboard, So I tried to mark them as exact as possible:
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    I bought a special driller for the countersink screws (bought some larger ones than the original screws that were included in the kit):
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    drilled the holes with the pillar drilling machine of my grandad-in-law
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    Then I put some screening laquer on the backside of the scratchboard and to the milled-out parts of the body to prevent buzzing:

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    Had some problems to put the electrics together:
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    and then I had to fit another problem I chatted with Tom some weeks ago. The wooden scratchboards are 3mm higher than the original plastic one. Too high for the neck because it is overlapping the scratchboard with ca. 1cm length. So I had to put some wood between. First I tried a 2mm plywood, bit that failed bevcause it was 1mm too thin. So I had to cut a piece out of the scratchboard plywood to put between body and neck, and the same for the bridge.
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    Another problem was the cable connector because I milled the edge and I had to bend it a little at the upper side...
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  22. #22
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Fastening the neck...
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    While fitting the scratchboard I recognized I made a little mistake when I drilled the holes. I didn't match the right position. So I had to fit the scratchboard ca. 1/2 cm down to the bottom of the body, and therefore the bridge is not exactly in the position I wantet it to be... little too high to the neck...
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    Anyway I decided to settle for the result I was able to achieve for now. So time to add the strings and some other accessories:
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    And then after 5 months building time my Dola finally gave its first tone last thursday noon...

    Was a great adventure. Well, when the light is shining on, one can see the finish is not still perfect. Maybe I'll spend some extra time for it in summer. But for now I love the instrument. Will add some better pics and a review at the Pictures section... and some sound examples as well.

    So this was my building thread, thank you everyone for reading and I hope some of you got some ideas for creating your own Mandolin kit projects...

    Good luck to everyone,
    Tom Sailor
    Last edited by Tom Sailor; Jun-11-2012 at 10:59am. Reason: finished the thread
    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

  23. #23
    Registered User Tom Sailor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moongazer Déjà-vu Electric Mandola kit

    Who finds a mistake, may it gladly keep

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