Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A-style Mandolins for International Shipping

There are Customs restrictions for products shipped overseas. Certain hardwoods are restricted or banned altogether. And strangely enough, Mother-of-Pearl is considered Fish and Wildlife and requires a license and fees for exporting. When I build an instrument for export I use alternatives to those materials and avoid fees and licenses and restrictions. I have found that "reconstituted stone" which is a composite made from stone and resin, makes a nice alternative to Mother-of Pearl and other shell materials. It comes in all kinds of colors and textures and I design around that rather than try to mimic shell.

Here are the three. I used combinations of several different woods to create some very unique designs.

Three-piece headstock overlays and multiple colors of inlay material

Lots of design detail, all cut by hand.

German-made Rubner tuners with ebony buttons

Curly maple back with "baked" maple binding. The maple is actually cooked to a dark brown, It was an experiment and a beautiful alternative to Rosewood. Plus it smells like maple syrup when you sand it, which is a huge plus over Rosewood.

Curly maple neck with thin laminations and a detail of the baked maple.

Curly maple binding and heel cap

Shopcat making sure the mando is set up properly before we shoot pictures.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

World Series Champs 2015 Banjo

So barely two weeks ago the Kansas City Royals won the World Series and I got this cool T-Shirt.

Now barely two weeks later, I finished making this cool banjo. As much as I like the shirt, it ain't a banjo

KC logo made from various dyed veneers inlaid in the headstock. The truss rod cover is home plate, of course.

The back of the neck is painted like a baseball bat.

I didn't want it to be "over the top" but then I did this on the banjo head and made a tailpiece cover look like a baseball mitt, so...ok...over the top.

Here it is ready to play

Monday, November 9, 2015

World Series Champs Banjo

So one week ago this happened, and if you live in Kansas City it's kind of a big thing.

So now a week later, we're still reveling in it and I like my commemorative T-shirt just fine, but I think a commemorative banjo is just a bit more special, so that's what I did.

I waited until the final game was over to start it because I didn't want to jinx it and every fan knows that one little thing by one fan can affect the outcome of the game. The game went 12 innings so needless to say it was quite late when I started. I couldn't sleep after a victory like that anyway, so might as well start on a banjo.

 I cut the logo out of different color wood veneers using a laser cutter. Ok, I just took the magic out of that part. I'll try to make up for it later.

 Using a jeweler's saw, I cut 21 letters out of a material called reconstituted stone. It's got a marble look to it, and I thought it would look cool in larger pieces like this.

I used a wood called Purple Heart for the fingerboard. It's the closest thing to blue. I used my Dremel tool with the router base to inlay the letters into the wood.

 I wanted to add some sparkle to the banjo so I found some old drum wrap material and laminated it to a piece of maple. I cut it in strips and sanded it to thickness and used it to trim the neck and resonator.

  Just a little bling. I don't want to overdo it.

I painted a baseball on the head. Ok, so I just overdid it.

 I used a blue dye to stain the neck, rim and resonator.

I masked the color at the top of the neck to resemble a baseball bat.

 Here we are a week after our world series victory. I'll put the clearcoats on it now and we got a World Series banjo!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1950 Gibson ES-140 Restoration

So I found this guitar at the Folk Store in Kansas City, and thought it was really cool. A 1950 Gibson ES-140, which is a 3/4 size archtop electric. It had a broken neck with a bad repair job, the finish was rough, tuners shot, pickguard damaged, but the electronics were still good.


I guess the repair worked even if it wasn't pretty. I'll have to make a new neck. This one is beyond repair.

I got the neck out and then decided I wanted to replace the plywood back and top with solid carved spruce and maple. So, off with the back!

I copied the peghead exactly... sort of.
The original had a screen printed logo, but I painted mine. Oh, and I added an inlay to make it look like it's full-sized brother, the ES-175.

I might as well inlay the fretboard to go with the 175 theme. I cut all the pearl by hand. 

I used the original fretboard, filled in the dots, inlayed the pearl and repaired the worn areas.

I used solid Engelmann spruce for the top and hand carved it to shape. 

Solid maple back.

I glued in the tone bars just like the original top.

Here are some details

I sanded the sides down to the bare wood and used cream colored binding to match the faded color of the original

Finished!! One of a kind, solid carved spruce top and solid carved flamed maple back, The sides are still original, as well as the fretboard, electronics, tailpiece and pickguard bracket.
I made a new pickguard and bridge, and replaced the tuners, and had the tailpiece bracket re-plated.

After spraying the lacquer, I noticed the painted logo was dissolving, so I repainted with different paints, and it still wasn't holding up, so I decided to cut the logo out of gold Mother-of-Pearl and inlay it. Now back to finishing.

I replaced the tuners with repro Kluson tuners that are nearly identical to the original ones.