Making Leo's "Suzanna"

"Suzanna"

 

I'm making a piccolo guitar - "Suzanna"  - for Leo Roberts with a Lawson's Cypress top and American Black Walnut back, sides and neck.

 

Last updated 24/6/2018.

 

The main components are assembled.

Start with a cunning plan.

The American Black Walnut sides are thicknessed ready for bending.

The sides are then bent one at a time in the Fox-style bender using a heating blanket. The wood is given a very light spritzing of water, wrapped in brown paper and then put in the "sandwich" of slat, wood in paper, slat, blanket, slat.

Here are the sides in the mould after being shaped on the hot pipe and cut to length.

The American Black Walnut neck block is marked up and the two 7mm bolt holes drilled.

The neck block is then drilled for the 6mm carbon fibre rod flying buttress braces.

The slot for the fingerboard support cut and the fingerboard support glued in using hot hide glue - the final depth of the slot will be determined when the neck is fitted.

The sides are glued to the neck-block with fish glue.

The Ovangkol end graft is glued on to the American Black Walnut tail block using hot hide glue.

The sides are then glued to the tail block at the same time together with black/ white/ black purflings using fish glue.

The Lawson's Cypress top is initially thicknessed, jointed and glued up using hot hide glue and the tent method.

The back will be four pieces of American Black Walnut which are thicknessed and laid out.

The lower bout wings are then glued to the main pieces using hot hide glue and the tent method.

The two pieces are then glued up using hot hide glue and the tent method.

Here's the resulting back.

The soundhole is going to be "bound" with American Black Walnut. Firstly an American Black Walnut soundhole patch is cut to shape and glued on using hot hide glue and a caul.

The American Black Walnut central rosette ring is cut using the circle cutting jig . . .

. . . with this result.

Then a rosette channel is cut in the top down to the soundhole patch . . .

. . . with this result.

The American Black Walnut rosette ring and black/ white/ black outer purfling are test fitted and glued in using white pva glue.

Next a step is routed in the inner edge of the rosette and then the soundhole is routed out. This gives the look of a totally bound soundhole and the fingerboard edge will finish at the beginning of the step to give a complete American Black Walnut ring around the inner edge of the soundhole.

Here's the completed rosette.

The Lawson's Cypress X braces are profiled to a 13' radius, notched and then glued on one at a time.

Here's the second one being glued.

Then the two A frame braces are glued on.

The upper transverse brace is glued on after notching to span the A frame braces.

Next the American Black Walnut bridge-plate is glued on using hot hide glue and a caul in the go-bar deck.

The sides are profiled to match the front to back taper and the back's curvature. The American Black Walnut reverse-kerfed linings are then glued on using fish glue.

The sides are profiled to match the top's curvature and the American Black Walnut reverse-kerfed linings glued on using fish glue.

Then the American Black Walnut side braces are notched into the linings and glued in using hot hide glue.

The 6mm carbon fibre flying buttress braces are then glued in.

Here's the completed rim set.

The back is marked for the position of the braces. The Lawson's Cypress back X braces are profiled to a 10' radius and notched. The centre strip is notched and the first X brace glued on in the go-bar deck using hot hide glue . . .

. . . followed by the second.

The lower bout ladder brace is profiled to a 10' radius glued on using hot hide glue.

The American Black Walnut X brace cap is glued on using hot-hide glue.

The braces are then carved and the back "voiced" - here's the result.

Notches are cut in the linings for the back brace ends and the back glued to the rim-set using fish glue.

The Lawson's Cypress X brace cap is glued on using hot hide glue.

The brace behind the bridge-plate is then glued on.

Then the first tone bar is glued on . . .

. . . followed by the second split brace.

The bass side finger braces are then glued on . . .

. . . followed by the treble side ones.

Then the "voicing" process starts - the braces are profiled to give the top response I am looking for. When the top has been "voiced" to my satisfaction I sign and date it.

Here's the voiced top.

The American Black Walnut back centre strips are glued in using hot hide glue.

As access through the soundhole will be tight I decided to glue the label in before the top went on.

Notches are cut in the linings to fit the top's brace ends and the top is then glued to the rim-set using fish glue.

The Ovangkol bindings have b/w/b side purflings glued on and are taped with the top and back purflings ready for bending.

They are then bent in the Fox-style bender.

Here's the result.

The Ovangkol bindings and b/w/b side purflings are then bent on the hot pipe and the top binding channels are cut using the binding jig to the depth of the bindings plus side purflings. The channels are stopped just short of the end-graft. Purfling pieces are stuck using double-sided tape over the end-graft. The binding channel is then cut over the end graft with the jig riding on these so that the depth cut is just that of the binding. The end graft side purflings can then be mitred using a chisel.

The process is repeated on the back.

Next the top purfling channels are cut . . .

. . . followed by the back.

The top purflings are glued in using fish glue . . .

. . . followed by the back puflings.

The top bindings are glued in using fish glue . . .

. . . followed by the back bindings.

The bindings are then scraped and sanded flush and the side soundport is cut out.

The top is cut for the floating fingerboard - here's the finished box.

The five piece neck blank is glued up using fish glue and lots of clamps. This consists of two book-matched pieces of American Black Walnut around a central core of Maple, American Black Walnut, and Maple.

Here's the neck cut out.

The truss rod slot is routed out.

Then the slots for the outer two carbon-fibre rods are routed.

The truss rod with a Maple cap and the outer carbon fibre rods are glued in with fish glue and clamped while the glue dries.

The Ebony headstock veneer is glued onto the top of the headstock using fish glue.

The Ebony veneer is bent to the shape of the volute and glued on the rear of the headstock using fish glue.