The Ham Jones Jr. Grande

The Ham Jones

Jr. Grande

This build started after a conversation with the infamous string plucker, Neal Crowley of Asheville, NC. Neal was playing one of my HJ Jr. guitars, discussing it’s attributes when he stated that he sometimes wanted more neck. The result is a guitar with a slightly expanded Terz body, a 24.9 inch scale length with the neck to body at the 15th, fret. Similar to a Martin 0 Concert model.

The woods I used are figured Sapele for the back and sides, Sitka Spruce for the top and a quartersawn Sapele neck. For the binding and other trim I chose Rosewood and Maple. The Rosette is purchased from Duke Luthier, http://www.dukeluthier.com/. They offer beautiful rosettes, MOP, and other inlay products.

I began by making the back and side pieces. I re-saw each side and back piece from their respective blanks, the back pieces go to the jointer and get glued with the back center strip in place. then thickness sanded to .140” which leaves room for finish sanding to .125” +0/- .015”. The sides can be closer to .100” for easier bending. The tops I order come as two pieces which go to the jointer, get glued together and thickness sanded. I can’t specify top thickness, although I do measure during the process, feel is the determining factor and each top will yield a different measurement. With the top as one piece and thicknessed it’s time to inlay the rosette and next rout the aperture.

Top bracing is done after the rosette is installed and the aperture cut. I make my own braces which I glue in as a rectangle shape and then I carve them once they are glued in place. Same with the back braces. Side braces are generally a strip of wood made from the cut ends of the side and glued vertically between the kerfing above and below the waist . All of my side braces are cowboy boot shaped. When all braces are in and carved it’s time to make the box.

I now have top, back and bent sides ready for assembly. The sides go into the body mold so I can cut the ends to fit tightly end to end with no overlap.

The next step is gluing the heel and tail blocks to the sides while in the mold. While these items are drying I make kerfed lining for gluing the top and back. The kerfing glues in the sides top and back just a little proud of the side which aides in sanding the rim in later steps. Wooden clothes pins are used to hold the kerfing in place.

Sanding the rim (sides with heel and tail blocks, side braces and kerfed lining) is done by sanding the top on a flat surface square to the side at the heel and tail, then the back of the rim is sanded in a dish to match the curve desired on the back of the body while in the mold at all times. I use a 24ft. Radius dish. The sanding is done when the surface is being sanding at every point on the circumference. Use caution not to sand the top in the dish or the back on the flat surface. You will not be happy.

It’s time to assemble the top and back to the rim. I do the top first because I like to see it inside one last time. I don’t think it really matters. When the top and back are glued to the rim the box can finally come out of the mold. After trimming the excess on top and back I route binding channels, install the end graft then binding. Now, when the binding glue is dry, the real fun of scraping and sanding begins. Scrape/ Sand, REPEAT.

The neck, this is the part that started it all and more of it. I had fun trying calculate and decide how I was going to make this long neck fit this small body while maintaining some critical measurements. Two things to note: this 24.9 scale is a half inch shorter than the dreadnoughts I build, and I was able to use the same truss rod which didn’t require a special order item. I build a stacked heel neck with a scarf joint which in my opinion is the only way to do it. The process re-enforces the wood and one piece neck can break and deform much easier.

I make the dovetail joint using LMI template and home made jig. It works like a dream, especially the more I use it. Final fitting is always done by hand and has become pretty easy for me by now. When I am sure it’s like want it and know that it will glue in correctly I can locate and drill for tuners, route for and install truss rod, locate the front of the nut and locate the 15th fret and add 5/8” , cut the neck shaft/ heel at this mark then cut the dovetail in the body, then the neck, leaving the neck a little proud (1/16) max for final fitting.

Next step is fretboard, frets, carving the neck and assembling the two. After slotting the fretboard I mark a center line then mark and saw the taper on a bandsaw, true it up on the planer, layout and install pearl dots, and sand the desired radius along the length of the board. Finally I install side dots on the board. Frets go in next and then final fitting of the neck before I glue the fretboard to the neck shaft. This is done by aligning the desired fret at the end of the shaft where it contacts the body.

With neck fitted and the fretboard glued on it’s neck carving time. I’ve learned not to rush this step and to be sure the neck is carved to satisfaction and sanded before assembly.

When the glue is dry there is endless sanding and prepping for lacquer and then more endless sanding. Finally buffing and the reward.

The Lap Steel Project

The Lap Steel Project

Time to talk about the lap steel project. More fun every day. My friend Neal reminded and suggested, I incorporate my signature Cowboy Boots, ( inside all of my Dreadnoughts), into this design. I listened, made some Pearl Boots, and placed them on either side of the fretboard beyond the twelfth fret. Because when you get up there, you’re Kickin’ It!

It has been one long winter and I have had no time since mid-December to even think about an instrument build. I keep a list of things I want to build and when it’s time I choose randomly from that list as rule. Recently from the list I heavily favored an Octave Mandolin and a pair of “Ham Jr.” aka “Hambone” guitars from Sapele. Then, while searching my lumber pile I found a nice plank of Walnut. It was quarter sawn, 8/4” X 8” about six feet long. I had used part of this piece for a couple of mandolin necks. I thought of using it for an electric guitar body and that’s when it hit me. Lap Steel.

This piece looks perfect to me. Quartersawn dead center on the heart of the log with a perfect circle at the tail. After sizing this chunk of wood via planer and bandsaw I began to layout the body shape and consider other design elements such as fretboard wood, pseudo fret material, inlay and trim. I did a lot of research, reading everything from forums to product pages covering construction and playing techniques as well as a myriad of individual preferences, in order to determine exactly what I wanted based on which design elements are necessary to build a precision instrument and which ones allow me to be creative.

As with any guitar, the bridge/saddle and nut placement are critical, yet the scale length or distance between the two can vary as long as fret placement is correct. However the hardware required is, or can be quite different. Most notably, is that due to the string height, the bridge/saddle and nut heights are quite a bit higher that a standard nut and saddle. In order to help facilitate this I made my fretbaord 3/16”, used a top mount hardtail bridge and made the nut from 1/4” X 1/2” cold rolled steel. With that figured out I designed the body shape, placement of hardware, trim, inlay type and placement.

The overall plan is done and I have my hands full at first trying get this board shaped and the headstock formed. What I have is a one piece Black Walnut body, Maple fretbaord, Maple nut backer, Maple binding, Maple headplate veneer, MOP inlays, Golden Age overwound bridge pickup, CTS 500k pots, Gotoh tuners, wood purfling for frets. It is 39 inches long, has a 25 inch scale and although most lap steel’s are 22.5 inch scale some are like mine, the same as a standard steel guitar which just makes it seem correct to me.

Once the body is shaped and sanded I rout the pickup and control cavities, create a wire tunnel between the two and pre-drill for the control shafts. Drilling the tuner mount holes was again a bit tricky clamping and holding this thing in place on the drillpress. Before drilling the jack mounting hole I will rout for and install binding. This was a lessoned learned while building my second electric years ago. It’s not nice to guide a router around an edge with a large hole drilled in it.

After successfully installing the binding and drilling the jack mount hole I am only several sheets of sandpaper away from spraying on sealer coats. Prior to spraying I will locate and fit all hardware including drilling pilot holes and inserting screws temporarily.

Finished product:

Body : Black Walnut 39” long

Fretboard : Flame Maple 2.750” x 19.5” x .187”

Binding : Flame Maple

Pick Up Ring : Flame Maple

Headplate Veneer : Flame Maple

Inlays : Mother of Pearl, Thanks to Neal Crowley for suggesting the boots.

Pick Up : Golden Age Overwound Bridge

Bridge : Golden Age top mount

Tuners : Gotoh enclosed mini

Pots : CTS 500k w/ .022 cap

Nut : Cold Rolled Steel .187: x 2.750” x .562“

Strings: .013 to .038

Now that I have finished the Lap Steel it’s time to admit I was wrong first time around on string choice. Something I read made me think a heavier string would give me a meaner growl and that may be true to some degree with a shorter scale length, but with 25” the sixth string, (lowest) was so slack it would rattle under the slide. If I raised the pitch to suit a different tuning then my third string would likely break before reaching pitch.  More research, some strings added,  some moved, success. 

Home Made Tools

Home Made Tools

During my many years of taking things apart, putting them together and making a lot of the ‘things’ needed along the way, I’ve had the need to make or modify a tool. I could say I get this from my Dad ‘cause he does it as well, but I think it goes much further than that. Perhaps some of us are more inclined to this way of life but I think most of us have it. That being said, I wanted to share something I came across in one of my Dad’s toolboxes.

At first glance I thought it was just a flexible screwdriver made by any major tool company. With a closer look it’s clear that is not the case. It has a wood handle which didn’t seem odd since most of this stuff is more than four decades old. From the wood handle is actually an 1/8” aircraft cable inside a precisely fitting clear vinyl cover and welded to a 3/16” ball end hex key which has been cut to about ¾ “. It’s very well made and the aircraft cable allows for pretty high torque.

It was most likely made for a specific need at one time, a certain automobile or other piece of equipment which is probably long gone. But, if you need an 8” flex driver for a 3/16” socket head screw then I have the tool you need.

Morgan Monroe Mandolin Repair

Morgan Monroe Mandolin Repair

Looks and Deceit

In a previous post, “ A Special Gift” , I wrote about repairing a guitar that a friend had given to me. Recently, that same friend asked me to check out a Morgan Monroe mandolin with some badly worn frets and one tuner that seemed stripped. I happily accepted and brought it to the shop to look it over.

Starting with the broken tuner, I quickly realized that things weren’t what they seemed here and that this was actually an easy fix, provided I could locate the correct tuner button. It was obvious that the tuner button was broken, yet when you tried to turn it the shaft seemed to move. Once I removed the retaining screw and the button it was obvious the sleeve over the actual shaft was turning, not the shaft. An ‘Optical Illusion’ or, as a friend’s young child once said, “Hoptical Disillusion”. The only button I found to fit the shaft wasn’t a perfect match, however the customer is fine with it so I bought a spare. I did have to counter-bore the new buttons for the screw head using the drill press and a brad point drill. Tuner repair is done.

The frets were worn so badly in the most often played positions that it was impossible to play these notes without buzzing. I failed to get a true ‘before’ picture but I do have one showing the worn spots during the ‘re-dressing’. At first glance I was sure some of these frets would have to be replaced. Again, looks can deceive. I began by marking the top of each fret with a permanent marker. Using a flat sanding bar and 1000 grit paper I sanded the frets enough to see how they were laying. Then I checked the fret board for level and adjusted the truss rod as needed. After sanding again with 600 paper until all of the tops were level there was hope that maybe these frets would clean up. Next I re-marked the tops and used a diamond fret dresser to round and level each fret, followed by sanding each fret with 600 and 1000 grit papers respectively, to polish them. This is where I cleaned up the last traces of the deepest worn spots. After all of that I marked the tops again very lightly and sanded lightly with 1000 grit paper checking for any high frets.   Dressing out the worn spots makes the fret shorter and the rest of the frets must be taken down to the same height. When I think it’s ready I string it up and see how it plays and listen for buzzing.

I found there was a buzz on the 13th fret at the G and A strings. I add-DRESSED the culprit, tuned it up and worked for a while on the action which had to be lowered as well. I spent a good hour working the nut slots to get the proper string height at the first fret. The twelfth fret height is easily adjusted at the bridge.

This repair turned out really well. No major surgery required and it’s good as new. One thing I am not sure about is the back side of this instrument. This Mandolin has a gold marble sunburst front and back. On the back it appears to have had a “dam” around the sunburst and a weird greenish epoxy-like material. Not sure if this was unfinished in the factory or if this was done later.  All the images I’ve seen of this model have the same finish front and back.  Whatever the story this is  a really good sounding instrument.

Electric Mandolin Update

Electric Mandolin Update

Previously on “Electric Juniper Mandolin” I reported poor results for my home made pickup. I am happy to announce today that the second pickup I made has proved successful. I made the second one from the same design. The one difference being that I was actually able to accurately count the number of turns on the coil itself. Easily done with a cheap electronic calculator and a magnet switch, plus some ingenuity. In this case I was shooting for 6500 turns however coil was closing in on my connecting pins so I stopped at 5500. One thing I learned along the way was that apparently most pickup manufacturers use the 6500 based on the theory, that the resulting larger coil gets too far from the magnet itself.

So with the newly made pickup and a set of nickel plated strings it tested positive. The pickup is hearing all sets of strings evenly with no excess volume from the A strings as before. There you have it, the mysteries of science. The first pickup had as few as three thousand turns based on my guesses vs. the actual count. I had phosphor bronze strings on before. Of these few differences something worked.

I will fine tune this and get some audio posted and list it for sale soon.

Electric Mandolin / What to do?

Electric Mandolin

Nothing to do? Why not use another piece of the Juniper to build a Mandolin, make it electric, build your own pickup and maybe learn something…. Well, I learned a lot, but there is more to learn, apparently.

The Juniper mentioned above is the same piece of wood I used to build the electric guitar in my previous post. Western Juniper which was once a hat/coat rack. It also has holes and natural edges which I left untouched except for a lacquer finish. This wood, surprising to me was very effective on the guitar, so why not for the Mandolin.

After planning and laying it all out on paper I started out building the neck shaft from Walnut. The fingerboard I ordered pre-slotted along with tuners, fretwire, tone and volume controls, jack and jack plate. Once the neck was complete, I re-checked my layout and neck angle, then routed the neck, pickup and control cavities. For the sting keepers I used 1/8” Brass rod and a Rosewood plate attached to the top. To ground the strings I used conductive copper tape on the body, placed so the Brass pins would penetrate it and make contact via a ground wire which ran through the pin hole and was soldered to the tape. The Bridge is a flat piece of Rosewood with screws and wheel nuts from and old Archtop guitar bridge. The Saddle is hand carved from Rosewood.

The mystery seems to dwell in the magnetic pickup which I made myself for the first time. The actual making of the pickup was not difficult, however making it correctly while guessing at the number of turns when winding the wire, has been.

Once I had it put together and during the set up process I got a feel for how it played and sounded, (unplugged) and was very optimistic about how it would sound plugged. Sad to say it sounds great if you want to play on on the A strings. Otherwise, there is very little pickup of the other strings in comparison to how the A strings sound. There is no notable volume on the other strings. I realize my pole pieces aren’t exactly aligned under the pairs, however they are equally ‘off’, so why isn’t the D pair equally as ‘hot’?  I’ve read about a few things to try, like depressing the string at the nut or behind the bridge/saddle, the headstock is tilted and the break angle at the bridge is surely sufficient and no these were not the problem. In fact I am convinced the problem is the pickup, the magnetic field, plus the size and composition of the strings. When it’s played unplugged, it sounds perfectly as it should and all string volumes are equal.

At this point I am going to remove the pickup and check that my magnets are installed correctly. I am sure they are correct side to side but I may have the end poles set wrong. I plan to build another pickup with more coils and proper alignment. I also have some .012 strings to try for E’s, and Nickel wound G and A strings which I will try eventually as well. I will update here asap.

A Special Gift

A Special Gift

Recently, a good friend and musician in Asheville, N. C. gifted me a very worn out AXL acoustic guitar. I knew nothing of the brand, and after looking online quite a bit I still know nothing. The only identifying mark is the headplate logo. The label has been scratched off and there no other markings. According to Neal it was purchased new around ‘03 for under $300 and in his possession until it came to me. He also noted that he had often been told that it sounded really nice. Hey, it’s free and a run-o-the mill factory made guitar that may be a gem. I need to see if it can be saved.

The final straw in this case is that the neck joint failed. The only other critical issues being the worn frets and the wear on the fretboard behind these frets. I also checked the saddle location from the twelfth fret and found it to be a bit off. I will check this after the neck is re-set and adjust when re-gluing the fretboard if necessary. Cosmetically it’s in pretty rough shape. I know it had a strap malfunction once and hit the floor, splitting the top and separating the binding. This happened a few years ago and I repaired it at the time. I have cleaned it up, sanded and buffed some of the worst areas and probably the only place I will spend time on the finish is at the neck joint.

I began the repair by removing the frets and the fretboard. Revealing the neck joint was interesting to me because of the truss rod installation. The top half inch or so of the neck tenon extended up to the ‘top bar’ brace at the sound hole. Just another way to skin the proverbial cat that I had not seen. Once the neck was out of the body it became clear why the joint had failed. The dovetail mortise in the body was tilted from the plane of the top so, ‘they’ put a shim at the top of the joint, and at the bottom nothing. The bottom half of the dovetail tenon was in a void and not locked in. There is a picture of the neck and body together after I removed the glue and it’s easy to see how loose this was.

Moving on, the fretboard was was bound with black plastic binding that was loose and needed to be replaced. Replacing this would mean notching every fret on each end, allowing the tip of the fret to lie over the binding. Not the way I do things. In this case I decided to glue rosewood binding on the side of the fretboard and later saw the fret slot through them when fully cured and trimmed. This plan worked out well and I could fret normally without notching. There were also divots in the fretboard, mostly in the area behind the second, third and fifth frets at the B and G strings. I filled these with rosewood dust and Titebond. When the fill was cured I sanded the fretboard to a 16” radius and cleaned the fret slots, then re-fretted it.

The neck joint though sloppy, was a fairly easy fix. I began by gluing maple shims inside the mortise until the tenon was tight and neck plane was proud of the plane of the top. At this point I used a very sharp chisel to remove material from the appropriate surface of the neck face and tenon in order to get the proper fit.

With the neck fitted and glued into place I check the fit of the fretboard, and using my trusty saddle locater I adjust the position of the fretboard for correct intonation. Now that the nut pocket has effectively been narrowed by moving the fretboard toward the headstock .085”, I decide to widen the nut pocket by cutting through the headplate veneer with a razor knife. Next things needed were nut and saddle made from bone, some fret work and set-up.

Like I said, “A Special Gift” . This is a good sounding guitar. It has lots of punch and brightness which I had nothing to do with. Every string rings out equally, again not me. I just replaced the frets, nut and saddle then put it back together. It kind of plays itself. Like it’s possessed, gives me that Robert Johnson feeling, ya know?

Like A Fender

Like A Fender

Recently in need of an instrument project, I settled on building an electric Fender style with a flat top. Part of this decision rested on the fact that I had for some time been storing some body material for just this type guitar. The wood is Western Juniper which may or may not work out but the nice thing with this type guitar is that the neck is removable, the hardware could be pulled and the body trashed if it’s that bad. Other reasons for this build were: learning a new type build, it will give me some freedom to try some new ideas.

Using hardware I had on hand I began by laying out the Bridge and Stop locations for a TOM, (Tun-o-matic), set up based on the neck to body location along the scale length, in this case 16th fret. Which is normal but I had to make sure things would fit because my body blanks are short.

Once everything is laid out it’s time to begin on the necks. The necks will be Cherry, (another part of the experiment). These are very similar to necks I make for my Archtops so I’m gonna follow that pattern, leaving off the heel piece, binding and tenon.

With the necks done except for headplate and logo I moved back to body construction. After making a template, I rout the neck pocket, next the pickup cavity is routed with my existing humbucker template. Cavity routing always makes me a little anxious which is fine ‘cause it makes me take my time and be sure every thing is correct and secure. I get the neck pockets and pickup cavities done and prepare to set the necks.

At this point I have discarded one of the two bodies and will continue with just one guitar for now. I really didn’t like the shape of it and will use the extra neck another day. I also finished drilling/ routing for the bridge, tail stop and control cavities. I made a template for control cavity with cutouts for both cavity and it’s cover fitted for two cts pots.

As I was about to declare the body ready for spraying, I realized that I had not made access for the ¼” jack, oops! Now, the body is ready to spray and l have only to trim the headplate veneer, final sand and tape the fingerboard so the neck will be ready to spray as well.

The jack location is taken care of, the neck is finished, all is sanded and being sprayed initial sanding coats. I am also making the truss rod access cover which I will spray along with the control cavity cover.

With the first few coats sanded and any surprise finish issues taken care of, I’ll spray a few final coats of Lacquer, then let it cure before buffing.

After buffing the body and neck it’s time for hardware and electronics on the body, fretwork and tuner installation. Once the neck was installed I started stringing and adjusting. I’ll work the action down a little at the nut and the bridge and that will be it. I played a while plugged in and it sounds very good.

After final adjustments and a few days of me playing, I took this to my good friend and expert strings player Neal C. He gave it a smile and a thumbs up.

My First Mandolin From Scratch

Mandolin Two First From Scratch

Upon completion of the A-Style Mandolin kit I embarked on a scratch build of my own making, or unmaking. Using some Walnut on hand, I planed and sawed until I had two backplates and two sets of sides. I had an F- style mold but didn’t want to use it specifically, so I traced it and made changes as I wished. Next I cut my block set which became design as you go. Once in the ball park it was time to start bending my side pieces and that’s where the story gets ugly.

I made the main bout piece first, the large curve easy of course, however the curl into the upper point I created raised more than a few bad words and growls. After about 8 hours of swearing and breaking wood, breaking wood and swearing, I finally have something to manage but, “it ain’t pretty” .

During the bending process I was fitting the sides to my mold and blocks, during the next two hours I managed to get all blocks and rim parts glued into the mold.  In light of the horrendous bending and difficult time I had with the Walnut, I have decided to just make one unit at this point.

After finally getting a rim together, it’s time for the kerfed lining. I make my own most of the time and had some blanks for small instruments. Using my home-made kerfing jig I have two 36” pieces. At the end of the day, I have the rim finished except for more sanding. At this point I’m a little stumped as to what’s next so I’m gonna build the neck which I need prior to finishing the top or back. There are also plenty of other things to do before the top and back, so I need to be sure not to get my ass out front.

Since this is a first for me and something of an experiment, I decided to use the Walnut,(same board), for the neck. I know grain orientation for guitar necks but decided to read up on some Mandolin information. I was surprised at two things, some prefer the grain run parallel and some just don’t care. Also, some agree on grain perpendicular to fingerboard plane, which always been my preference. I also build stacked heels for my guitars. With all this in mind I glued two 2×2 pieces with the grain vertical and opposing. I now have a 2×4 to make my neck with the grain perpendicular to the fingerboard plane, keeping aware of my glue joint during layout. If I decide to try more mandos, I would not use a glued piece.

I spent about 24 hours on the carving the top, then another two hours cutting apertures and re-carving the top scroll. I knew my scroll design was gonna be in the way but having never carved a scroll, I had to start somewhere.  Plus the benefit of practice carving. Finally I had the two plates where I wanted them for assembly.

I decided to cut the neck pocket in the heel block first, then gluing the top on and finishing out the cut. I made the cuts for the neck and pocket on the ol’ tilt-a-table band saw jig as seen on you tube. Once the neck is fitted in I began to layout and re-carve the scroll. It turned out fine. My apertures are graduating arcs with a moon and star respectively on base and treble sides.

Next,I work on the neck and fingerboard. This took a while as I had some issues with fretwire, which caused me to pull all the frets and re-fret with different wire.  While waiting on replacement wire I finished up the neck and installed binding on the top.

Another item I was totally unsure about was the corner protectors. A small bone insert at the tip of the peaks. I used some thick saddle blanks, rough shaped them, glued them in place and finished the contours during final assembly and sanding. I believe they worked.

New frets are in and fretwork done and the neck is glued and “locked”. Next is the backplate, cutting the binding slot, installing the binding and sanding, sanding, sanding..

I’m currently waiting on lacquer to cure so I can finish up and hear how this one sounds.

Well, my little Mandolin project is buffed, and strung. I made a pretty major miscalculation on my headplate and machine placement. It works okay, but the outward ends of the tuner plates are tipped away from center causing the D (mostly), and A sets to rest against the other strings. With everything set-up to spec it sounds and plays really good for freshly built.

In summary, I learned a great deal more about Mandolins. I also learned a few new tricks and certainly some things I would do different next time. Mmm? Next?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Mandolin

Having written about building my first guitar I thought it appropriate to write about building my first Mandolin.  Just as with the guitar, I began with a kit. This one purchased online and having the Spruce top and Maple back pre-carved, the top glued onto the rim/blocks, and the neck finished,(not attached) and all parts and hardware.

First step was to examine the package contents to be sure all parts were present and in good condition.  Check.  Next I read the instructions and went through the process mentally to get a picture of what was involved.  Now it was time to sand the parts and prep them for assembly.

Using 100 grit Mirka Gold and a firm sanding pad I start with the top then the back, both inside and out.  Once all the carving grooves are removed it’s time to start measuring the thickness.  I did quite a bit of online research and also referred to Roger Siminoff , “how to construct a bluegrass mandolin”, to find the proper thickness top and back.  When I’m within .020″ of final thickness I move on to 150 grit paper, then 220.  We’re not finished sanding yet so keep that dust mask on.  The bottom of the rim and blocks assembly, and the inside of the back flange must be sanded on a flat surface so the two mate well when glued together.  If you notice inside the top how there are gaps between the lining and the rim, this was pre-assembled and would certainly not be acceptable otherwise.  There was a lot of glue run-out as well in here which again, not acceptable.  I was taught by Dan Brown , (at Martin Guitars, see ‘My First Guitar’), that aesthetically the inside of an instrument is just as important as the outside.

When the inside of the top is finally sanded the tone bars have to be fitted and glued into place.

Before the back is glued to the top, in the case of this type mandolin kit, the neck must be glued to the neck block/rim and top.  More sanding is required first and I also inlayed my logo on the headplate.  Getting the neck fit with this design was fairly easy, at least compared to all the guitar necks I’ve done.  Once the neck and back are glued on, well you guessed. More sanding.

I was surprised how quickly this mandolin was assembled and ready for stain and lacquer.   Five days.  In reality a lot of the work was already done which would’ve taken another week at least.

Before applying stain and lacquer I installed all hardware, strings and bridge, tuned it up and played it a few days to make sure it didn’t explode!  Still in one piece, stripped down and sanded, my first Mandolin entered the spray booth.

I am very pleased with the outcome of this project and plan to use this experience on the next one which will be different, as in Ham Jones style.