Maple-ene

The Oblique journey or The Building of Maple-ene

Long ago there came to me from the west coast supplier, along with other items a set of Maple back and sides for a Dreadnought . Recently the time seemed right and I finally got on with building the Maple guitar I had wanted to build for a long time, since well before the Maple set was purchased.

It’s been said, by me, that I have the ‘Build of Dreams” philosophy. Meaning I build instruments as a hobby. I build them for someone. I don’t know who that someone is yet. When I build it, they will come.

I had set my mind to use a two step dye process with red over black. At some point after getting the back halves glued and the sides bent I had a vision of something a little on the dark side. As I list the parts and hardware I’ll need the personality of the instrument emerges. It starts with necessary things like, bridge, bridge pins, end pin, strap button, position markers, tuners and either natural or bleached bone nut and saddle. With this build I got hung up on making my own position markers from MOP. What I came up with was a small Oblique triangle. I also chose to use Maple throughout, almost, and name her ‘Maple-ene’.

Having started on the MOP position markers I also embarked on a hunt for a MOP rosette. Not really hard to find except for the size I need, which meant special order, normally two weeks only thing, it’s coming from Vietnam, Tet starts in one week and the factory will close for three weeks, so I said “make that two”. One decision I really sweated over was to make the end cap the way it’s done with MOP. Still not sure if it flies but I like it. I have the top thicknessed, braces roughed and just waiting, waiting waiting. Three months after ordering the rosettes arrive. Once the rosette is in I cut the sound hole, glue on braces. Carving braces and voicing the top is next then, make the box.

Maple-ene is mostly Maple. Back and sides, back center strip, binding, bridge, fretboard, headplate, and parts of the neck. I am trying to keep the flame going, ha ha, on the surface, with the red over black it looks a little “hellish” to me. There is something inside hiding in the same skin as the outside. I mentioned dark earlier, right? The first unconventional thing I did was cut that Obtuse angle on the headstock. Some one out there will tell you that headstock looks short and stupid. Well, when they look down and see the bridge they’ll flip! That was the second unconventional thing I did. It was well thought out and I calculated the footprint or square inch gluing surface, it’s almost the same as a standard Martin bridge. I’m happy with the way the bridge turned out.

The third unconventional thing I did was float the fretboard over the top. It’s really not much above the top and is ‘glued’ in so it will not flex. Two reasons, no more planing the fingerboard to compensate angle drop created naturally when an angled neck meets a flat top. Secondly there is nothing to dictate having the fingerboard on the top of a dreadnought other than tradition. Many builders and factory guitars are made this way today. Archtop guitars and mandolins for instance also float the fingerboard over the top.

I always finish up the build process by stringing up the instrument and doing a preliminary set up to get dialed in real close before final sanding and lacquer. This one came together very well, played like an old friend sounded awesome.

The Oblique triangle, having no right angle and therefore being unable to make a square, is like our world today, things are off, including me.

It’s been way too busy here to explain why I took so long to get this posted. So, a wrap up is in order. This one is done and in it’s case “waiting for love”. RIP Nanci.

Author: Rick

A life long woodworker, I've been building guitars for just over ten years. I build acoustic dreadnoughts, electrics, and the "Hambone", a Terz guitar. I am a North Carolina native and am currently located near Charlotte, NC.