View Full Version : Just finished my first kit(saga am-10)

Salmon Falls Strings
Feb-27-2010, 5:58pm
I just wanted to post a few pictures of the kit that I finished today. I used zebra wood for the pick-guard, armrest and headstock veneer. I thought the contrast of the natural finish with the zebra wood would be nice. The finish was done with tru-oil which was really nice to work with. I followed Siminoff's graduations and it sounds great. It will only get better with time. It was a great learning experience and primer for my first "from scratch" build which I am starting in the next couple weeks.

I never had to even ask a single question because everything I needed to know was found in the archives and through searching the forum. I couldn't have done this without the information I have gathered through Mandolin Cafe, thanks to all who have filled this place with answers.

Feb-27-2010, 6:00pm
Impressive, looks pretty damn good.

Darren Bailey
Feb-27-2010, 6:10pm
That is a great piece of work, congratulations. As someone who really shouldn't be messing with wood or tools I'm always full of admiration for you chaps who create these instruments.

Feb-27-2010, 7:47pm
Nice Work!

Feb-27-2010, 11:57pm
Beyond that I'm impressed that you searched for the information. :) That makes me happy. The Mandolin Cafe is a wonderful archive of information. Your mandolin looks great as well.

ISU Trout Bum
Feb-28-2010, 12:38am
CONGRATS!!! Very nice work! The whole mando looks great, but the back is beautiful. Thanks for posting pics.

Feb-28-2010, 2:50am
Beautiful! Your use of the zebra wood is a great highlight!

Salmon Falls Strings
Feb-28-2010, 1:47pm
Thanks for the compliments everyone. I had a plan from the beginning as far as what I wanted it to look like and I stuck to it. I did make a new nut as the plastic one that it comes with is not exactly top notch material. I replaced it with a piece of micarta that I had leftover from a repair job. I decided to use the tuners that it came with for right now and they are not that bad. They do slip a tiny bit but with the amount I spent on tools and everything else I couldn't afford new ones right now (although a new bridge would be my first purchase).

I had originally wanted to use the zebra wood to bind the top but it was too difficult to bend and tended to splinter really easily. If anyone knows any tricks for bending zebra wood, I would love to hear them.

Thanks again for the kind words, now back to helping it "open up" a bit.

Mar-01-2010, 1:03pm
Nice job, especially with the Tru Oil.

Mar-02-2010, 6:41am
Very well done ! I love your respect of the wood natural color...
Does she sound great ??

Malcolm G.
Mar-02-2010, 7:52am
A hearty well done from another SAGA A style builder (see avatar).

I would agree that the tuners should eventually be upgraded - easily done - very standard spacing - just be sure the new ones are peg-over-gear and away you go.

I used a bone over ebony saddle/bridge upgrade and am happy with the sound. Also a bone nut is a good idea.

I hope you didn't use the strings supplied with the kit? Some good J74's will make an emormous difference.

Now, I love your little suspended pickguard!

How'd ya do dat?

Mar-02-2010, 8:34am
Very nicely done, indeed.


Salmon Falls Strings
Mar-02-2010, 9:58am
Ronny- I wanted to highlight the beautiful wood grain and I am happy I didn't stain. It sounds a lot better than I expected to be honest. It has a really chunky, woody sound. The E string was a little weak at first but I attribute that to a hasty set-up (I was too excited to hear it), so I did remove the nut and fix that issue. I did use Siminoff's graduations for the most part but I also used some other measurements that I found through the Mandolin Cafe. The recurve area was carved using Michael Heiden's measurements. Everyone that has heard it has been surprised by the bark it has.

Malcolm- I love the headstock in your avatar, nice job. I will upgrade the tuners at some point but am glad I upgraded the nut now. The micarta sounds nice and it's pretty easy to shape and file. I used the strings it came with when I strung it up in the white and then tossed them (one of the E strings had no loop anyways). I am currently using J74's but I love the feel of coated strings so I may change to Elixirs on the next string change. The pick guard was an idea I had from the beginning. I have seen this "floating" style used by different builders such as Monteleone and I think J. Condino has also used something along these lines. I made it using a 3/4" piece of zebra wood and using my drill to swiss-cheese the back randomly to a depth of about 1/4' and then cleaned it out with chisels and planes. Then just screwed it into the neck (not the fingerboard). It is very functional and helps me keep my wrist off of the bridge.

Malcolm G.
Mar-02-2010, 4:44pm
Way to go, Brett, and thanks for the detail on the floating pick guard. There certainly is enough neck exposed to attach it to.

Someday when you're flush and adventuresome, try a set of Thomastik Infeld flat wounds and tell us how they work out (take a DEEP breath before you look at the price though).


B. T. Walker
Mar-07-2010, 12:43pm
Good job. Nice looking. Your attention to detail really stands out.

Mar-16-2010, 11:06am
Hey, I have a few questions regarding the saga kit. I've built their telecaster kit, and it came covered with a terrible thick epoxy to protect the soft wood. I had a hell of a time removing it with a sander. Is there anything like that on it? Also, how are the tuners? I had to replace mine, and I knew that going into it according to reviews, but I haven't seen any reviews on the AM-10 kit.

Btw it looks beautiful. I want to make one as a gift.

Salmon Falls Strings
Mar-21-2010, 3:29pm
The a-10 does not come with the sealer on it like the tele kit. It's just bare wood that does need some graduation and final sanding. I will probably upgrade the tuners at some point, but they are not as bad as I had heard (maybe I got lucky). After a couple days in the case each string is usually only a few percent flat. I always tune up anyways before playing so that is not too bad in my opinion. I would recommend the kit though, it is a fun project that you can get a little carried away with (anyone notice the zebrawood?).

Malcolm G.
Mar-21-2010, 3:46pm
What's great about these little guys is - they aren't toys.

If assembled properly and with a few upgrades, they play and sound very nice.

I pick mine up as often as my F5, and love playing it - especially now that I've added a floating pick guard a la Brett.


Apr-16-2012, 9:02am
I just finished my Saga mando - I love the tru-oil finish of yours. I was going to do that but in the interest of economies of scale I just grabbed a can of cherry Minwax stain off the basement shelf and used that - I kind of like the color as there is probably not many mando's this color. I am also building a Saga LC-10 using spray paint and will not be doing that again....ever!!! the stain and wipe-on poly was MUCH easier to work with.

I ran into a few issues but all in all it was fun build - I posted it over on the build thread. I had read everything I could on this forum about the saga (IV) builds so I was able to anticipate a few things. I do love the zebra wood you added, really looks nice.