Finished Pics! Dreadnought Acoustic Build - Black Limba

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Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
edited September 30 in Making & Modding
Hi

@Ttony inadvertently reminded me that I've been a bit tardy on posting one of my latest builds, that of another Dreadnought Acoustic.

It's a bit of a background job but is actually progressing quicker than I was expecting.  I won't turn it into one of my interminable sagas   But do feel free to shout if you want more info of any specific aspects of the build, especially if you are thinking of doing one yourselves - I have plenty of photos of the various stages.


I got a nice Black Limba back and sides set from Germany:



I'd got an old bass neck blank leftover from another build (changed the concept during the build and made a second neck), which I was able to build the heel up from with some offcuts and some blocks of walnut:





...and bought a nice AAAAA European spruce top set from David Dyke

 
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    I thinned down the limba to around 1.9mm and got the bending pipe out and the former I'd used in the two previous builds.

      

    It bent pretty well!  First time ever no splits on the sides!  This is the sides bent and the kerfing strips being installed, set proud of the side edges to allow for sanding to the 15 and 25 foot spherical radii of the back and top:




    I jointed the slimmed-down bookmatched back panels and glued those too:




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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    So now it was time to get out the home-made Go-bar rig and the 15 foot radius dish for the back.



    The maple braces are radiused on the bottoms, using the dish as a spherical sanding block and then, using a combination of dowel and fibreglass rods, the back is forced into the dish and the shape set by the braces and middle-joint reinforcing strip:






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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 16218
    Always good to see one of your build threads
    :)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    The top also needs slimming down close to its final 3.0mm thickness and joining.

    The braces also have to be cut to and again radiused for their respective positions, this time using the 25 foot dish as the sanding block.  I have left the profiles flat on the tops to allow maximum usable surfaces for the all important Go-bar rods to press down on:
     

    But before these can be fitted, the rosette needs designing and fitting.

    For the last build, I did an offset rosette that worked quite well so I thought I would do try something like it again.


    Trying to remember by schooldays geometry, I set two centres on some bookmatched walnut and got my Dremel out.  This is the only thing I use this attachment for, but it is SO useful:



    OK - that worked (to my slight surprise and great relief :) )



    And then used the same two centres and Dremel rig to rout the channels for the rosette to fit into, ditto some purfling channels and then, finally, used the Dremel precision router base to a chamber for a MoP swift, cut out with a jewellers saw.


    Still a bit of sanding to do to tidy up the ragged edges, but this is broadly how it's looking





     
     
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    And bringing it up to date - glue drying as I type - the gluing of the braces can start.

    Using the 25 foot radius dish, the all important X braces are fitted first and will be allowed to fully cure before I continue with the other braces:



    Progress will slow down to a crawl now, but I'll update as and when there's anything of note to share. :)

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    TTony said:
    Always good to see one of your build threads
    :)
    You see - now look what you've started!  ;)

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  • IvisonGuitarsIvisonGuitars Frets: 5919
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    Ah, some proper guitar building! ;)

    That looks stunning! I’ve promised myself I’ll tackle an acoustic build one day, just the time and the confidence. Can’t wait to see this completed :)
    http://www.ivisonguitars.com
    (formerly miserneil)
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  • DanielsguitarsDanielsguitars Frets: 1445
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    That's really nice, haven't seen much limba on acoustics, I'd love to get one made later this year if i get time and try and remember what I'm supposed to be doing

    Let us know what the tones like compared to the usual woods used
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
    (formerly customkits)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    Ah, some proper guitar building! ;)

    That looks stunning! I’ve promised myself I’ll tackle an acoustic build one day, just the time and the confidence. Can’t wait to see this completed :)
    Thanks! :)  

    It's an enormous hike up the learning curve but VERY satisfying.  Go for it and shout if you want any tips from someone who almost certainly has done it wrong many times and had to do it again ;)
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  • IvisonGuitarsIvisonGuitars Frets: 5919
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    Thanks @Andyjr1515, you may live to regret that offer! ;)
    http://www.ivisonguitars.com
    (formerly miserneil)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    That's really nice, haven't seen much limba on acoustics, I'd love to get one made later this year if i get time and try and remember what I'm supposed to be doing

    Let us know what the tones like compared to the usual woods used

    Thanks, @Danielsguitars ;

    It will be interesting.  Theoretically, the back and sides make little difference to the tone, but it will be interesting just the same.  

    Now tap tuning...well that really DOES make a difference.  And one of the reasons for building this one is to see if the last one was fluke.  There's a full build thread somewhere on the previous one below:


    Reason this build has started in the first place is that the one above has caused a bit of a flurry of interest.  I always thought it sounded pretty good (let's face it, I'd have been chuffed if it had sounded like rubber bands over a baked bean can) but then I fitted 2/3rds of a set of 11's on the bass strings and the top 2 with my normal wimpy 10s.  And to my ears it sounded fabulous.

    So I compared it directly with a friend's Martin D-18.  This one was better: I thought it...but more, importantly, the Martin's owner grudgingly voiced it.  It was then borrowed by a pro-player I know...who hasn't stopped going on about how good it sounds!  And he hasn't given it back to me yet ;)  And he does the slick demo videos for a very well respected acoustic guitar company!

    BUT - while I know the theory of tap tuning, I don't fully understand exactly where and how much to shave from which braces.  So it could be complete fluke and never to be repeated.  Which is why I'm building the new one.


    I'll let you know if it's a triumph or - probably more likely -  a flop :)
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 3937
    Lovely work
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  • DanielsguitarsDanielsguitars Frets: 1445
    tFB Trader
    That's really nice, haven't seen much limba on acoustics, I'd love to get one made later this year if i get time and try and remember what I'm supposed to be doing

    Let us know what the tones like compared to the usual woods used

    Thanks, @Danielsguitars ;

    It will be interesting.  Theoretically, the back and sides make little difference to the tone, but it will be interesting just the same.  

    Now tap tuning...well that really DOES make a difference.  And one of the reasons for building this one is to see if the last one was fluke.  There's a full build thread somewhere on the previous one below:


    Reason this build has started in the first place is that the one above has caused a bit of a flurry of interest.  I always thought it sounded pretty good (let's face it, I'd have been chuffed if it had sounded like rubber bands over a baked bean can) but then I fitted 2/3rds of a set of 11's on the bass strings and the top 2 with my normal wimpy 10s.  And to my ears it sounded fabulous.

    So I compared it directly with a friend's Martin D-18.  This one was better: I thought it...but more, importantly, the Martin's owner grudgingly voiced it.  It was then borrowed by a pro-player I know...who hasn't stopped going on about how good it sounds!  And he hasn't given it back to me yet ;)  And he does the slick demo videos for a very well respected acoustic guitar company!

    BUT - while I know the theory of tap tuning, I don't fully understand exactly where and how much to shave from which braces.  So it could be complete fluke and never to be repeated.  Which is why I'm building the new one.


    I'll let you know if it's a triumph or - probably more likely -  a flop :)
    It won't be a flop one thing I've learnt from the first time i strung my first build up which was a 00 style is that they mostly come out as good or much better than expected, better than you can buy mass made imo

    The trouble with tap tuning is you've got to build it to see how good it is and there could be quite a few until you're happy 

    I'll be making a sort of j185 but it wasn't a plan i just drew round a j200 and took an inch off the length and 3/4 inch out the middle to get what i think is a nicer shape, i will be trying om type bracing because i think mine was over engineered using j200 type bracing specs

    Be nice to build something else it's been years since i made one now

    Look forward to seeing it come together 
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
    (formerly customkits)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    edited July 12


    The trouble with tap tuning is you've got to build it to see how good it is and there could be quite a few until you're happy 

    I'll be making a sort of j185 but it wasn't a plan i just drew round a j200 and took an inch off the length and 3/4 inch out the middle to get what i think is a nicer shape, i will be trying om type bracing because i think mine was over engineered using j200 type bracing specs

    Be nice to build something else it's been years since i made one now

    Look forward to seeing it come together 
    Yes - totally agree ref the trial and error aspect of the tap tuning!  

    On the last one, I carried on removing material 'as much as I dared'.  So you are right - you don't actually know of you're there until you are coming down the other side!  And then it can be too late.

    While I can hear the difference at each major scrape, and I can also hear which harmonics are missing, nevertheless - other than whether it's low register or high register - what I don't know is exactly where to scrape to release the specific missing harmonics

    Majorly satisfying, though, when a note you didn't have before suddenly rings out clearly... 


    I wait with interest to see how yours develops
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    And most of the rest of the braces are on :)

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  • DanielsguitarsDanielsguitars Frets: 1445
    tFB Trader
    I love the look of the insides of a nice acoustic build, just shows how much care was taken on the rest it
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
    (formerly customkits)
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 2093
    I love the look of the insides of a nice acoustic build, just shows how much care was taken on the rest it
    The bracing of any acoustic/nylon string is the soul of the instrument!  The J-185 you told me about sounds like it'd be a great guitar.  

    Fine work though @Andyjr1515, clean and precise.  
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 2093
    That's really nice, haven't seen much limba on acoustics, I'd love to get one made later this year if i get time and try and remember what I'm supposed to be doing

    Let us know what the tones like compared to the usual woods used
    Here's a Limba/Korina Martin

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAWhO98YMck


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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    Sounds good :)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    edited July 13

    Well, this is probably as far as I dare go: 

     

    It will be a little while before I glue the top on so might have a further tweak but, as I said earlier, I don't really know how far to go - or where - so it's probably best leave it hereabouts.

    There is a great video here - the first 30 minutes is theory but skip to 31:29 and he demos tapping it at his starting point and then progressively as he mods the braces:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei5-DkVTrEE

     

    The slightly sobering thing is that I finish, soundwise, basically where he starts!   

    But, I think this is probably pretty much where my previous build was when I halted further tweaking so, hopefully, it will sound the same when it's finished...which was, after all, the purpose of the exercise.

    The only bit that completely escapes me (and did on the last build) is the flex on the bass side he talks about.  I've seen other folks wobble it like an Australian whatever-it's-called showing how flexible it is.  I do the same thing and it's as stiff as the proverbial board!

     

    Anyway, I'll pick it up in an hour or so and give a tap and, if it's as good as I'm going to get it, then get on with the exiting bit - gluing the top to the sides   

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    edited July 13
    Final bit of tidying up before the top is glued on, but everything else is ready.  The dark line in the centre of the top, by the way, will disappear at the final sanding, which won't be done until the back and the binding are all on:


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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 16218




    Just look at the design thought and then care & attention that's gone into making that.  Love the bookmatched walnut - didn't need to be done that way, but those are the design details that make the difference between wow, and WOW !!

    Beautiful work Andy.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    TTony said:




    Just look at the design thought and then care & attention that's gone into making that.  Love the bookmatched walnut - didn't need to be done that way, but those are the design details that make the difference between wow, and WOW !!

    Beautiful work Andy.
    You'll make me blush :)

    Thanks - means a lot
    Andy
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 2093
    Final bit of tidying up before the top is glued on, but everything else is ready.  The dark line in the centre of the top, by the way, will disappear at the final sanding, which won't be done until the back and the binding are all on:


    The second picture of the bracing is superb, I've not seen a fair amount of pictures of bracing but not much that looks like yours - something I mean in a good way.  Difficult to describe but the braces for the lower bout that look 'braided', not something I've really seen before - different to the standard scalloped braces. 

    With skills as fine as yours I hope you keep making acoustics but for the next time around as a sucker for Larson Bros guitars (IMO the most overlooked guitar makers of all time, and makers of some of the best) with wood working skills as fine as yours it'd be great to hear/see a guitar with laminated bracing.  It'd give you a chance to use a few scraps of rosewood you'd gather along the way as well! 
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  • DanielsguitarsDanielsguitars Frets: 1445
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    It's so long ago that i did bracing but remember it being one of the most satisfying things to do on an acoustic build
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
    (formerly customkits)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    It's so long ago that i did bracing but remember it being one of the most satisfying things to do on an acoustic build
    Yes - definitely!

    The second picture of the bracing is superb, I've not seen a fair amount of pictures of bracing but not much that looks like yours - something I mean in a good way.  Difficult to describe but the braces for the lower bout that look 'braided', not something I've really seen before - different to the standard scalloped braces. 
    Hmmm...braided.  Not sure quite what that means but if it's good then yes - of course that's fully intentional! ;) 


    The bracing starts off fairly generic 30's-Martin-standard-X-brace concept - it's the 'Elite Guitar Plans' plan I'm using.  In the tap tuning process you then modify the shape, deepening the scallops where you are looking for more flexibility, etc, but then I have followed the video guy above's preference on the two smaller side braces on the bass side of removing the scallops altogether.  This is where I am still a bit cautious.


    As @Danielsguitars said above, the ideal would be to have 3-4 tops where you could afford to take some of the scalloping and slimming to its limits and then you would know actually what you are listening for and what gets you where...but that's a lot of very expensive wood.

    Interestingly, though, decent wood for the braces is very cheap...certainly compared with the cost of decent top material which is eye-wateringly expensive!


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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147

    It's when you build the next one, you remember the things you meant to do after the last one.

    "I must buy or make some more spool clamps" I NOW remember saying and remembered at the all-important dry-run (there are things you don't want to be messing around with - such as setting the clamp heights - when the glue is on and drying!)

     


    But it is quite close fitting so, rather than wait a few days for extras to arrive, I reverted to my previous compromise of using tape to keep the pressure on the in-between bits.  Based on the additional squeeze-out, it's probably OK.

     


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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 2093
    It's so long ago that i did bracing but remember it being one of the most satisfying things to do on an acoustic build
    Yes - definitely!

    The second picture of the bracing is superb, I've not seen a fair amount of pictures of bracing but not much that looks like yours - something I mean in a good way.  Difficult to describe but the braces for the lower bout that look 'braided', not something I've really seen before - different to the standard scalloped braces. 
    Hmmm...braided.  Not sure quite what that means but if it's good then yes - of course that's fully intentional! ;) 


    The bracing starts off fairly generic 30's-Martin-standard-X-brace concept - it's the 'Elite Guitar Plans' plan I'm using.  In the tap tuning process you then modify the shape, deepening the scallops where you are looking for more flexibility, etc, but then I have followed the video guy above's preference on the two smaller side braces on the bass side of removing the scallops altogether.  This is where I am still a bit cautious.


    As @Danielsguitars said above, the ideal would be to have 3-4 tops where you could afford to take some of the scalloping and slimming to its limits and then you would know actually what you are listening for and what gets you where...but that's a lot of very expensive wood.

    Interestingly, though, decent wood for the braces is very cheap...certainly compared with the cost of decent top material which is eye-wateringly expensive!


    I don't think I described my observations properly!  Difficult to describe but the bracing looks superb. 

    I always thought really decent back and side sets were where the major expense went!  Like a set of a 'rare' rosewood can be £400-500!  Prices seem to go up by the year as well.  Just having a look at David Dyke's website, £500+ for a set of African Blackwood!  

    As for soundboards, when I had a custom guitar built for me the guy who made it went to a place in the Alps and to pick out 20 odd sets from countless many.  It's not something I know much about but I get the impression a lot of the mark up occurs from grading.  
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2147
    edited July 14


    I always thought really decent back and side sets were where the major expense went!  Like a set of a 'rare' rosewood can be £400-500!  Prices seem to go up by the year as well.  Just having a look at David Dyke's website, £500+ for a set of African Blackwood!  

    As for soundboards, when I had a custom guitar built for me the guy who made it went to a place in the Alps and to pick out 20 odd sets from countless many.  It's not something I know much about but I get the impression a lot of the mark up occurs from grading.  
    My personal view only.... 

    Well - this is a bit like the 'tonewood' debate for electrics so all I can answer is what I've learned from lots of reading and listening and what I've experienced myself.  And yes - the guy in the video talks about the contribution of the back wood to the tone of his own guitars.  But he is making guitars where everything else really is pretty much optimised...

    Basically, the back's job is to reflect the sound coming off the soundboard back to the front, through the soundhole.  

    It does affect the volume - a soft wood will tend to absorb the sound rather than reflect it - but it doesn't effect the tone very much at all providing that it has enough rigidity and hardness to act as a good reflector in the first place.  Does it make ANY difference?  I'm sure it does.  But would you notice the difference of tone in a direct comparison, given other variables?  My view is 'probably not'.  Certainly nowhere near as much as you would hear a change of string make or material, or playing style, position and attack.  But remember I am talking about tone.  The volume may well be audibly different.   

    The million dollar question is would I, if I was buying a commercial guitar - and as an acoustic guitar builder (built 3 so far - one OM and two dreadnoughts) - choose solid back and sides or laminated?  The answer is that it wouldn't even be on my list of comparison factors.  The look of the back and sides would, but there are some great looking veneered laminated back and side guitars around.

    About the price?  Well, nice looking woods are eye-wateringly expensive, whatever they are going to be used for.  And for many species, the number of examples of good visual quality at the size required - much bigger than for an electric or bass - and with consistent structural integrity over that whole area, can be a very small percentage of the overall supply.  

    The soundboard grain structure, on the other hand, IS important to the tone.  Very important.  The tighter and straighter the grain lines, the more consistently it will resonate and the more rigid it will be, allowing it to be sanded thinner - which allows it to resonate even more - while retaining the strength it needs to support the string tension without bowing or buckling.  And quartersawn timber of that width within the limits of the physical size of a pine tree...and without knots (think how many side branches come off a pine tree) means that you don't get many AAAAA quality tops out of a fully grown tree!



    And then there's the other side of me, of course, who thinks - so how can the bare timber JUST FOR THE NECK - cost me more than a perfectly decent sounding and performing complete and finished acoustic guitar from the far east??????     




      
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  • AustrianJohnAustrianJohn Frets: 988
    Wonderful build thread - thanks.
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