8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

A place where you can let us see your finished instruments in all their glory.

Moderators: kiwigeo, Jeremy D

Post Reply
User avatar
Mark McLean
Blackwood
Posts: 636
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 pm
Location: Sydney

8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by Mark McLean » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:38 pm

Blackwood and lutz spruce
Blackwood neck (ebonized)
Macassar ebony fretboard
Blackwood bindings
Hand-rubbed hard-wax oil finish
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
This is a strange creature - made on a whim and for the want of trying some new techniques. I have made 5 acoustic guitars so far, so I am far from expert - but I feel like I have got the basics sorted out and wanted to have a go at something original. The idea started with making something like Joe Veillette's terz guitar ( http://www.veilletteguitars.com/acoustic_terz.shtml ) which is small bodied, short scale, and tuned a third or a fifth above a standard guitar. I played one once and really liked it. I thought I might make a 8-string version (octave strings paired with the 3rd and 4th string, but single strings for the others). This gives a sound much like a full twelve-string but it is easier to play (and maybe to build). Then I started to play around with ideas for the body shape and ended up thinking I should try a bouzouki style. So I bought Graham McDonald's Bouzouki Book and this got my rough ideas forming into something real. The Bouzouki Book is excellent - highly recommended if you want to try building this sort of instrument ( http://www.mcdonaldstrings.com/bouzoukibook.html) Since I have never played a bouzouki or mandolin before I decided to string it like a guitar, for my own use. But if the nut is replaced with one slotted like a mandolin (4 double courses of strings) this thing could easily be converted to something like an octave mandolin.

Then a few other ideas came along. I fancied the idea of making it fan-fret, just for the fun of a new experience. Then I read a bit about carbon fibre rod bracing, as used by Rick Turner and Jan Brentrup (and others) so I thought I would give that a go. This meant that f-holes would be a better choice than a central sound hole - also a first for me. The CF rods recess into the hollow neck block (this is Graham's design) and the tail block, which is ply.

I had some nice figured blackwood which I got from Gerard Gilet, but it was a set of orphaned guitar sides without a matching back. I have had this timber for a few years and didn't know what I would do with it, but it is very pretty. The sides were unusually long and I worked out that one piece would be long enough to do the whole body of the bouzouki (no butt-joint needed). The other piece could make a 3-piece back. I teamed it up with a lutz top. This is a flat-top, not carved, pressed into a 15-foot radius and braced with a X-brace, and lattice in the lower half. Offcuts of the blackwood for the bindings and f-hole bindings.

The neck is also blackwood, but I ebonized it using iron acetate. The fretboard and the headstock faceplate are from the one continuous piece of macassar ebony. Bridge is rosewood. I tried to make my own timber tailpiece, with a macassar ebony/CF/blackwood sandwich which attached to a bolt into the tailblock (hence the t-nut in the tailblock in the picture below). This idea turned out to be a complete failue. Also shown is my first version of the tailpiece. It looked nice but the string tension pulling against the bolt cracked out the end of it. I made another with metal and more CF to strengthen the end where it sloted over the bolt. This attachment worked OK and it got almost to full string tension before the whole ring-structure failed and it exploded into five pieces with a horrifying noise. So I gave in and bought an Allen brass tailpiece (RS-2 model) which turned out to be the perfect solution.

The scale length is about 23 inch on the bass side and 21 inch on the treble with a zero fret and the neck joins the body at (about) the 13th fret. The neck joint is one of the versions outlined in Graham's book, with no heel. Given that i had already thrown out any "traditional" look for this instrument I was happy to adopt a shameless bolt-on attachment for the neck. It is strung with 10-47 light guitar strings, and the octave strings are 0.012 and 0.007. I intended to tune it GCFBbDG (i.e. a third above standard) but the tension was a bit too high and I snapped a couple of strings. So at the moment it is tuned to F#. If I was doing this again I would probably make it slightly shorter scale so it can be tuned a little higher.

It is finished with a hand-rubbed satin hard-wax oil. Tuners are Gotoh mini-stealth. It sounds bright and brash - like a bouzouki, not a guitar. But very pleasing to my ear, and lots of fun to play.
image.jpg
image.jpg (136.2 KiB) Viewed 820 times
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
Attachments
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg

User avatar
Allen
Blackwood
Posts: 5037
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:39 pm
Location: Cairns, Australia
Contact:

Re: 8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by Allen » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:22 am

I like that Mark. Very ambitious.

That neck has really come out black. Never tried ebonizing before, but now it has me thinking it may have some interesting applications.
Allen R. McFarlen
https://www.brguitars.com
Facebook
Cairns, Australia

User avatar
Mark McLean
Blackwood
Posts: 636
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: 8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by Mark McLean » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:15 am

Hi Allen
Ebonizing is an interesting pocess. Results are highly variable depending on the timber species, and even the individual piece. It depends on how much tannin is in the wood. Blackwood tends to go very dark, but you still see a hint of golden colour shining through. It is very superficial, less than 1mm deep - so you need to do it after shaping and sanding. It is easy to sand through the ebonized layer, but then you can just apply more ebonizing solution and it goes black before your eyes. Quite a fun magic trick.

User avatar
lamanoditrento
Blackwood
Posts: 182
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 9:50 am

Re: 8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by lamanoditrento » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:18 pm

I have no idea about bouzoukis at all but love all the experiments and tests of skills and process you have jam packed into it. Are the f holes your design? Wow and love you have done the fan fret on a non-guitar. Makes my mind boogle with everything going on :cl

User avatar
Mark McLean
Blackwood
Posts: 636
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: 8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by Mark McLean » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:43 am

Thanks Trent.
I did a google image search on "f-holes" and looked at lots of pictures, found something a bit non-traditional that I liked and copied that picture into a graphics program to play with the size and proportions. Printed it, cut it out and pasted onto some stiff card to make a template. The soundboard is doubled by a spruce patch inside the surrounding area, which also gives a deeper face for the binding to be glued to. Bending the bindings into that tight radius was a pain. I snapped quite a few.

Fisherman
Blackwood
Posts: 128
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:10 pm
Location: Canberra

Re: 8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by Fisherman » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:12 pm

I’ve never seen one of these before.... very cool! There are so many ways this could have gone wrong (well, if I attempted it...) but it has worked out great :) Way to turn the difficulty level up to 11...

User avatar
Mark McLean
Blackwood
Posts: 636
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: 8-string fan-fret bouzouki guitar

Post by Mark McLean » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:33 pm

If you ever want to have a go at a bouzouki I really suggest that you get a copy of Graham's book. He has great instructions and plans for a number of different designs. I picked what seemed to be the easiest, but then added a couple of customized features.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests