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Thread: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

  1. #51

    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Hi Everyone Here's the next instalment.....

    The bouzouki is now just about ready for finishing, just a final rubdown with 320 and then 400 paper before getting it ready.

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    Finishing the instrument is something I like to do myself. Spraying is not that difficult, as long as you have reliable compressor powerful enough and a good clean spray gun. These instruments get a lot of hard use (or at least my ones do) so the finish needs to be able to take a bit of punishment without compromising the tone, so finding the right finish is important. There's little doubt that the thinner the better tonally, and a shellac or French polish would be ideal, but it just wouldn't stand up to the use these instruments are subjected to. So for the past 10 years or so I've been using a Morrells two pack AC lacquer. Very tough and resilient, easy and forgiving to spray and with enough build that I don't need to use a grain filler which can be very detrimental to the tone. I also like to use use a satin finish which is beautiful to look at and feels lovely and is FAR less labour intensive than a gloss finish.

    So here's the instrument, sprayed up but not polished....

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    The next job after polishing is to finish off the frets. After the frets have been fitted, the ends will need filing and the surfaces dressed.

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    If necessary, adjust the truss rod so the neck is perfectly flat and then file the surface of the frets so that they are perfectly flat relative to the adjacent fret. I use a neat little tool for this....

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    The tool has 4 perfectly ground edges and sits over three frets, each one should be perfectly flat with no rocking. If there is carefully file the centre fret until the rocking disappears, then move on to the next fret and repeat. By the time you've finished you'll have perfectly adjusted frets. Then after re-crowning a good polish with 800 and 1200 paper and 0000 grade wire wool you'll have a perfect fretboard.

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    Now the fun really starts when it's time to put it all together. First the machine heads go on...

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    Then the tailpiece. I make this from 16 guage solid brass sheet which I cut and fold to shape. The string holes are drilled and filed smooth, the fixing holes are drilled and countersunk, and then the finished piece is polished. It's a very simple design but works really well providing a good solid fixing for the strings.

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    Next up is the bridge. This is made from ebony which along with the bone saddle makes for the most efficient way of transferring the vibration from the strings to the top. In this photo I'm routing the compensated slot for the saddle using a simple MDF jig and my trusty Bosch router.

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    Next is the bone saddle and nut...

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    And then finally the strings...

    All the best

    Andy

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  3. #52
    Registered User Reinhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Great stuff Andy. I love the look of the cedar top. Might be a stupid question, but how do you polish the body?? do you use a buffing wheel and some sort of compound?? I've heard that some luthiers us a form of compound used to polish cars!!

    Quick question re the bridge, do you think full contact between the bridge and the body (that you use) is better than the bridge types that have 2 or 3 points of contact. Hope that makes sense.!!

    The owner of this bouzouki is going to love it!! I often wonder do great luthiers like yourself fully realise the joy and endless fun your creations bring to us demanding musicians!!!

    All the best Andy, would be great to hear the instrument at some stage.

    John

  4. #53

    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by Reinhardt View Post
    Great stuff Andy. I love the look of the cedar top. Might be a stupid question, but how do you polish the body?? do you use a buffing wheel and some sort of compound?? I've heard that some luthiers us a form of compound used to polish cars!!

    Quick question re the bridge, do you think full contact between the bridge and the body (that you use) is better than the bridge types that have 2 or 3 points of contact. Hope that makes sense.!!

    The owner of this bouzouki is going to love it!! I often wonder do great luthiers like yourself fully realise the joy and endless fun your creations bring to us demanding musicians!!!

    All the best Andy, would be great to hear the instrument at some stage.

    John
    Hi John - Finishing / spraying / lacquering the instrument is probably the least enjoyable part of the whole process, so when I say I like to do it myself, I don't really, I'd just sooner do it myself rather than hand it over to a total stranger who might dent it, drop it, break it etc.... paranoid, probably !!

    But to answer your question, some years back when I finished my instruments with a high gloss lacquer I did use a polishing compound and buffing wheel. These are helpful to produce a high gloss finish, but the whole process is incredibly labour intensive and therefore costs much more. Grain fillers, many more sprayed coats, lots of cutting back, more spraying, more cutting back, more spraying, leaving it for days to harden, then polishing. Also a high gloss finish needs to be perfect as any flaws stand out like a sore thumb !

    The process I use today is still labour intensive, there's no getting around that, but the Morrells lacquer makes life much easier. It's a fairly high build finish so you don't need that many coats, which is a big advantage tonally, it's also fast drying, so you can spray and cut back within a few hours and spray again, and so on until there's enough finish. Cutting back between coats can be done with 320 paper, then after the top coat, 400, 600, 800 grades and finally 0000 wire wool with the grain will give you a beautiful flat satin finish, tough as boots.

    Re. the bridge, I've always made them so the entire surface sits on the top. I did experiment a number of years ago with a Mandolin / Jazz guitar style adjustable bridge, but I didn't think it sounded as good.

    Yeah, still working on the video. The bouzouki will be with me for a while yet as the new owner is coming over to collect it in a couple of months. I'll get some good shots of it strung up in the next few days.

    All the best

    Andy

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  6. #54
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    I agree about the full contact bridge. Spreads the load across the top and and thus assists the sound.
    Nic Gellie

    Gellie #4 2017 A-5 mandolin

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  8. #55
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Andy,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. I have just started to build a bouzouki to see if I can improve on the sound of my current TC bouzouki. It is refreshing to see that people like yourself are so willing to share the expertise they have developed over the years. I really appreciate it and have learned a lot from reading this.

    Thanks for sharing
    Bob Schmidt

  9. #56

    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by irishmando View Post
    Andy,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. I have just started to build a bouzouki to see if I can improve on the sound of my current TC bouzouki. It is refreshing to see that people like yourself are so willing to share the expertise they have developed over the years. I really appreciate it and have learned a lot from reading this.

    Thanks for sharing
    Bob Schmidt
    Hi Bob - That's great, I'm really glad that you've enjoyed the posts and have found them helpful. I'll take some shots of the finished instrument and put them up soon.

    All the best

    Andy

  10. #57
    Registered User Reinhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Hi Andy, wheres the photos of the finished instrument!! Get snapping. As you all might have guessed I'm a great fan of Andys work. Here's a great example of one of his bouzoukis being played by Benji Kirkpatrick.. enjoy..

    John


  11. #58

    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Finally got around to taking some finished pics of the bouzouki - I hope you like them.

    All the best

    Andy

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  13. #59
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Absolutely superb photos Andy!
    Nic Gellie

    Gellie #4 2017 A-5 mandolin

  14. #60
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Fantastic Andy, good honest work & a great thread for this forum.

  15. #61
    Registered User Reinhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    “ hey you guys and gals, have a look at this. A pal of mine Seanie McGrath from Clare in Ireland recently commissioned a bouzouki from Andy and look how its shaping up. Andy is incorporating some different woods than normal such as bog oak and sycamore veneers which came from the homestead of my buddy. Looks pretty cool don’t ya think!!” Love the use of the veneers on the headstock. Seanie is counting the days in anticipation of his new baby!!! Click image for larger version. 

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  17. #62
    Registered User Reinhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Andy Tobin Cedar Bouzouki Build Diary

    Seanie's bouzouki coming on nicely, nearly there!!! Bog oak rosette, Flamed Maple binding and sycamore on headstock. Looks gorgeous. Nice job Andy!!

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