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Thread: NMD - my Saga build saga

  1. #1
    Are we there yet..... bigskygirl's Avatar
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    Default NMD - my Saga build saga

    I've been lurking here for quite awhile and really enjoy learning all about the mandolin. so much so that I bought and built a Saga AM-10 kit this spring.

    Here are a few pics of my new mandolin I built from a Saga kit. I think it came out pretty good being that I have no woodworking experience....ever and no tools other than a small hack saw and file (if I ever go to jail I'm in good shape). I learned all about glue - make sure it's not permanant in case you need to take something apart.......and sandpaper - who knew there were so many different grades!!!......and why I should not be allowed near a band saw (see the small blemish on the front left bottom near the binding (below the left f-hole) - that's where I nearly cut it in half). So then the guy at the woodworking shop took pity on me and helped me with the band saw…..and proceeded to nearly cut the neck off….so I was like….ummm I got it, thanks….

    Oh and finishes.....I felt muscles I never knew I had after many rounds (too many to count) of stain, sand, stain, sand.....then polycoat, sand, polycoat, sand.......good thing I had alot of sandpaper. I finally pronounced the project complete and took it for a critique to my local mandolin guy. I stood back while he looked it over for a long while, strummed it a few times and said......."not bad"....LOL……he is a polite guy indeed.

    Anyway, it's kind of fun, well except for stringing it - apparently one needs something like four hands to do it (and that e string will put your eye out) and I have no idea how to play it but last night I decided that since I knew Galway Girl on the guitar I pulled up a chord chart and figured out the chords on the mando. So while I'm pretty sure Steve Earle would not recognize my version of his song the cats thought it was ok…...
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  2. #2
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Very nice work!
    (Oh, and great post also. )
    Enjoy your new mandolin! It's a beauty.
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
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  3. #3
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Nice job! Fun project isn't it?
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm G.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    That little kit was my first build, too. Look at my avatar.

    With decent strings on it and a proper set-up (intonation), they are actually a sweet sounding instrument.

    The strings that come with the kit are terrible.

    Enjoy your creation.
    Malcolm Grundy from Montreal

  5. #5
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    You did a really nice job for someone with no woodworking experience! I would suggest that you do another, maybe an oval hole. On my second I left off the binding on the body and it is really nice without all that binding, once sanded and refined. Play the heck out of it and eventually you may want to do another and see if you can enhance tone through fine tuning plates..

    Restringing gets easier the more times you do it. As you may know now, there's a right way and a wrong way.

    Congratulations!
    Bart McNeil

  6. #6
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    BMAC-- how did you leave the binding off? Mine was already routed for it. I did my binding in Bloodwood, and that was the hardest part of the whole project.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Mine was routed for binding too of course.... but when I decided to leave the binding off I looked at the channel and realized that leaving the binding off had nothing to do with the strength of the instrument. So I simply hand sanded the binding area and created kind of a curved corner on the edge... and if you don't sand into the actual glued joint (which I didn't) it came out perfect, and frankly I like it much better than that white binding. And since I didn't sand into the actual glued joint there is no loss of strength. I had seen this done on another Saga mandolin so I asumed it could be done without much problem. The hand sanding took a while but it was worth it in my opinion. Gives the mandolin a nice body shape and it is a little different than most mandolins.
    Bart McNeil

  8. #8
    Are we there yet..... bigskygirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Hi everyone, thanks for your posts. I actually had the binding snap on me when I rolled it up while prepping it so I pieced it together on the bottom - another "shop worn" feature.....LOL

    Bmac I think I would try that if I do another. I'll bet it looks nice, I did lots of sanding on the back joint and it's a bit rounded (one other thing was they cut the back a bit short on one side so I also put that on the bottom and had to glue extra kerfing to hold it on and sand and fill the joint) so I imagine that's what the top would look like WO the binding.

    I've been playing it a lot but I need to compare it to others - it sound a bit tinny to my guitar oriented ear but after listening to a few YT videos I guess that's somewhat how mandos sound. I've heard them in songs of course but never really up close and personal until now.

    Eastman MD-315

  9. #9
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Congratulations! You finished a project many have started and no completed (like me) and it looks great. Keep playing and building.

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  10. #10
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    bigskygirl:
    Did you use the short instructions wihch come with the instrument kit or did you use the "How to Build a Bluegrass Mandolin" book (which sometimes came with the klt as a package)?

    The reason I ask is that the book describes the build it great detail and covers some fine tuning that the short build description with the kit doesn't deal with. The book is really a remarkably detailed instructional manual. and if you build another I would highly recommend it. The book has been revised but the early version is just fine for your purposes. sometimes you can get the early version cheap(er).

    What you describe as "tinny" probably relates to the plate graduation on the top. But the wood in the kit is fine, in my opinion. As a relatively inexpensive kit these are really fine instruments for gaining learning and building experience.

    I think I know what probem you had with the back and it is a common problem which they don't deal with in the instructions. I had to "squeeze" my sides together to get my back on accurately... so I used clamps and forced the sides into position before glueing the back on. Often when people receive the kits the backs don't seem to fit right so some force is necessary to bring the sides together slightly. I suspect about half the kits have that problem which probably takes place after manufacture or during shipping when the partially complete instrument settles a little.
    Bart McNeil

  11. #11
    Are we there yet..... bigskygirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Hi Bart, yes I did use the Saga instructions and did lots of searching on the web at this forum and other places to gather info as Saga managed to condense a mandolin build to about three pages - one of which is all pictures. In my set they described a step and said "see figure 3" and the space was blank.......so I was like......

    Al Ingham did a blog of his AM-10 build and it was really helpful and he answered some of my ques. I think the book is a good idea - at some point I would like to do another or maybe an F-style mandolin. I'm really more of a guitar player but just love the sound of a mandolin - last year after I bought my Taylor guitar I was talking with the acoustic guy and he mentioned the Eastman MD-305 as a nice "economy" mandolin. I could never find one and had even asked Santa for one but he brought me another Taylor guitar instead (I know....SUCH a bummer, right) and then when I ran across the kit I said what the heck.

    I'm sure I didn't get the top sanded properly for the tone - I spent time with the tone bars making sure I followed the instructions but since the thickness of the top is so subjective and I didn't have anything to compare it to - I gave it a cursory sanding and moved on. I played it alot yesterday and it's sounding pretty good. It mostly stays in tune - although every time I tighten the e strings I wear eye protection...they scare the heck out of me when they snap. String manufacturers ought to sell sets with extra e strings...for beginners like me. It reminds me of when I tune my guitar to open e and worry that if the string doesn't snap the bridge will come unglued so I now just tune to open d and capo up to e.

    I actually called Saga and one of the CS guys talked with me at length about the kit and the issue with the back, not sure if they'll do anything about it (probably not). I didn't think to squeeze the body to fit, I just ended up with a bit of a rounded part on the bottom but the guys at the woodworking shop showed me how to make a sawdust/glue paste and then I discovered wood filler in the tube so that all turned out pretty good.

    I am also working on one of their electric guitar kits and the finishing on that is going slow - learning all about spray painting and why I'm never going to use it again...

    Eastman MD-315

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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    bigskygirl:
    Not only is the top graduation dealt with in detail in the Bluegrass Mandolin book but even the tone bars can be shaped to maximize sound quality which I did in my Saga mandolin builds. I think the experience of building will have helped you better understand your guitars too, soundwise.
    Bart McNeil

  13. #13
    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Nice mando and post.

    As for stringing, I find a capo to hold strings in place can be quite helpful when I run out of hands.
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  14. #14
    Long , Strange Trip Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD - my Saga build saga

    Nice job BSG, I got the top too thin on my first kit, it sounded good but imploded in less than a year.
    Jim Richmond

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