Entries in crack (1)


Day 6 - A good day, until about 6:30pm

Day 6: Yes, we work on Saturday, but I don’t mind at all. It was one of the days I had most been anticipating, and it turned out to be the longest so far (8am to 9pm, with an hour for lunch). The tasks for the day included (1) making the bridge plate and finishing up installing the bracing on the top, (2) beginning to shape the bracing on the top, (3) shaving down the center back brace, which was installed with a lot of extra height, and (4) preparing the sides for bending, and then getting them bent and installing the linings into them.

The bridgeplate is a thin hardwood piece that is affixed to the top, under where the strings are connected to the body of the guitar (i.e., it provides support for the “ball-ends” of the strings). I fashioned a nice bridgeplate with a piece of maple that was scrap from Matt’s (another student) back, and fitted it to the top. I’ve got an up-close picture of it, but it’s not that interesting unless you’re a true guitar weenie. You can see it in the pictures below, right below the main X-brace.

I really enjoyed shaping the top bracing; this was just a first pass, and we’ll be refining this much more in the days to come. This is an important process, because it is the key balancing act in creating the tone of the guitar. The top (and bracing) needs to be light enough to be responsive and sound good, but strong enough to not collapse. I also planed down the back strip (a support that runs down the center of the back), although there is still more bracing to install to the back. Here are some before, during, and after shots of shaping the bracing:

In addition to beginning to shape the top bracing, the other big task for the day was to get the sides ready to be bent. This meant getting the dimensions set for the thickness of the guitar, as well as making sure you know which piece is for the treble side and which is for bass side, and in which direction. Once this was done, we were ready to hit the side bender!

The side bending machine heats the wood to 300 degrees; at that point it (in theory....see below) becomes pliable and can be molded to fit the shape of your particular body shape. This seemed to be going fine for me, until I opened the bender and found my first rosewood side had cracked. Ack! Luckily, preparing a new set of sides only takes a couple of hours, and it could have been much worse (i.e., messing up my top or back would set me back days!). But I do feel really bad for the beautiful set of straight-grained rosewood that I butchered. In my defense, I was fully supervised in that procedure and was told that it wasn’t my fault and that sometimes wood just misbehaves like this. I’ll try again tomorrow or Monday.