Michael McBroom (Houston, TX, USA)
PAGE FOUR - Journal of the construction of two 10-String Guitars

[Michael's journal is an edited conversation with other luthiers at Luthierforum.com. If you wish to comment or ask questions you may either post at Luthierforum (membership required) or email Michael directly.]

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Jun 9 2005, 04:18 PM

I've cut tuners before too. If cut at a screw hole, you can use a single screw to hold the cut ends down. Just depends upon how those end screw holes line up with the middle holes when both are cut. Shouldn't be any problem with as many screw holes as there are to hold things together.
Those Alessi's are pretty. What's the knob wood? Snake wood? That is one nice 10 string you are building. Top quality components. Fun project.

Jun 10 2005, 04:17 PM

Hey Steve,
What you describe is what I plan to do. The Hauser tuners have screw holes that line up so that I can pull this off. The only thing I was somewhat concerned about was that the two cut ends might want to spreat apart slightly because of the beveled screw hole. But I guess as long as I don't cinch that screw down too tightly it should work ok.
I believe the tuner buttons are made from palisander (Dalbergia baronii). I visited Alessi's website and found a photo of a set of Hauser-style tuners with the same wood. Palisander was listed as one of the available button woods.
Best, Michael

Jun 10 2005, 07:15 PM

You might take a look at using gold plated round head screws on your tuners instead of the issue flat heads. That way, you won't have the spread issue. I get my gold tuner screws from StewMac. [I use them for my truss rod covers.]

Jun 10 2005, 08:08 PM

I have seen individual tuners for slotted peg heads-the had the fat boy posts for classicals too-I beleive this was in a recent S&M catalogue.
Cuttings okay as long as you can finish the metal so it matches well
Be wary, cheaper ones may not allow this.

Jun 10 2005, 08:46 PM

Well, these are Schallers. Granted, not expensive tuners, but far from being low quality, IMO.
I should be able to get reasonably smooth and straight cuts using my milling machine.
Best, Michael

Jun 11 2005, 06:40 PM

These last few days, I've been working on guitar 8's neck. After gluing down the fingerboard, I cut the nut slot using my mill.

It might seem like overkill, but it helps me maintain perpendicularity.
Finally, after cutting the nut slot, I was able to lose the "wings" on the neck, and get started contouring it. 

I prefer to use a flat-bottomed spokeshave for the initial contouring, then I switch to rasps and scrapers, then sandpaper. I find that it doesn't take very long at all to establish the basic shape I want. But it takes a lot more rasping and scraping and sanding before I'm finally satisfied with the neck's feel.

Many -- if not most -- 10-strings have a rather sharply beveled fingerboard to allow for the movement of the low bass strings. The following photo doesn't really show the bevel all that well, but you'll note how shallow the fret slots are on the bass side. I had to deepen them.

And here it is after installing the frets and contouring them.

Next, more sanding.  
Best, Michael

Jun 11 2005, 07:11 PM

Guitar 9 is coming along as well, albeit a bit more slowly. I am following a set of Contreras plans for this guitar -- Stephen is fond of Contreras guitars (hey, so am I). According to the plan, Contreras contours his top in a rather distinctive fashion. 
I decided perhaps the best way to contour guitar 9's top was to shim my workboard, set the soundboard atop it, and run it through the drum sander.
First, I sketched out the contour on the inside of the top, just to get a basic feel for things. 

I laid five layers of masking tape down onto the work board. I used some wide stuff I had sitting around, and alternated the direction of the tape with each layer. Doing so comes in handy when it comes time to start removing layers.

After removing the layers that need to be removed, my workboard looks like this:

Since the contour is left-right symmetrical, I flipped the top over after each pass through the drum sander. 

Contreras curved his fan braces. I was able to curve these braces pretty easily using my heating blanket and mold. He also scalloped his tone bars. I find the bridge pad to be rather distinctive as well. 

That's it for now.
Best, Michael

Jun 12 2005, 09:14 AM

Are those fan braces cut into arches, or did you bend them? 
Greg N

Jun 12 2005, 04:34 PM

Hi Greg,
I bent them using a heating blanket and mold. After bending them I contoured them in my 28 ft. dish.
Best, Michael

Jun 13 2005, 12:02 AM

If you can bend those like that you should have not trouble with the purfling -Couldn't you glue it to something maybe a bit wider but like that and then trim it off?

Jun 14 2005, 05:46 PM

Hadn't thought of gluing the wide purfling to anything to help bend it. That would keep the mosaic pieces from moving around, which is where things go wrong when trying to bend it.
Best, Michael

Jun 14 2005, 06:06 PM

Wow, Michael - VERY cool - Now you have me paying attention to Classicals! Well, that and just getting Sloan's book, I s'pose...  

Jun 15 2005, 09:26 AM

I dont know if that would work just an idea--Perhaps a better method might be :
In my present studies Rik Middleton uses a copy of the bend cut out of modelers plywood. the curve is glued to a base. He presses the purfling around it using a flatiron. He only does the bends that will not force fit, like the waist. After popping out the channel spacers he just glues them into the channel on the guitar.

Just in case...
To make the channel He takes small cuttings of purfling and acting spacers glues them temporarily around the outside perimeter-installs the bindings.

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