Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:27 pm

Last year I built a long scale ladder braced 12 string. Here is a quick series of pictures of the build – I’ll do each of the parts as a separate post

The neck – a scarf jointed headstock, built a little jig to cut the angle
Image

The joint
Image

Stacked heel being rough cut
Image

And using the table saw to shape the heel
Image

Unlike a 30’s Stella, mine has an adjustable truss rod
Image

Faceting the neck with a spokeshave
Image

Routing the slot head (rosewood venier with a thin birch layer)
Image

More routing, this time for my initials
Image

Which look like hell until it gets scraped
Image

Rosewood fretboard added – I don’t miter my own boards, too much chance for a screw up. This one has a 26.2 inch scale
Image
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:28 pm

OK, now to the back. Glue up the two pieces with a traditional backstripe
Image

And brace it
Image

The top is Adi (red) spruce. Route the rosette channels – I wanted to use traditional “rope” rosette and binding.
Image

The pieces
Image

Simple ladder braces, shaped and feathered to where they will notch into the sides
Image

And add the maple bridgeplate
Image

Body mold is simple – I band saw them from MDF or particle board. This one is an 000 size
Image

Sides in the mold
Image

Kerfing added using sophisticated clamps
Image

And here are the pieces of the box
Image
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:29 pm

Top is signed and glued on
Image

Then the back
Image

Overhangs are trimmed with a flush cut router
Image

And binding channels cut. Because the bottom meets the sides at about 5 degrees I’ve tapped a couple of wedges on my router base to maintain the angle with the sides
Image

Bent some more “rope” and some rosewood for binding
Image

And glued ‘em in. Another sophisticated clamping scheme
Image

And it looks like this
Image

And this
Image














Now the details – markers on the fretboard
Image

And frets – I’m using a drill press to press them in
Image

The holes for the six-on-a-plate tuners need to be just right so I made a drilling jig
Image

Setting the neck angle. By pulling the sandpaper out as I apply a little pressure to the neck I can change the angle of the heel
Image

So that a straightedge on the frets just “kisses” the top of the bridge. The bridge is just on temporarily with tape until the git is finished
Image

Here are the pieces ready for finish.
Image

For some reason I didn’t take any pictures of that phase, but it was pore filled with a paste filler, then about 20 or so coats of water based lacquer.

Put it all together and guess what, I hated the neck (those old blues guys must have had really big hands). After a short debate, out came the chisel and
Image

The a few dozen more coats on the back of the neck
Image
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:30 pm

Once I liked the neck it all came together and looked like
Image

Image

Image

Image

The tailpiece was a bit problematic, originally I was going to try to make my own, next I was negotiating with Todd at Fraulini for one of his, but I ended up getting one of the new NRP 12 string tailpieces. Some ladder braced guitars have pinned bridges, some tailpieces – the theory says the should sound different. Another problem with a long scale 000 sized 12 string is that you can’t just put them in any old case – Cedar Creek custom built me a very niece one – even has a little pocket for the tailpiece.

The guitar really is a monster and I’m not totally sure it is a success. I’ve spent the past year fooling with strings and tuning. Here is a crappy clip I made right after it was built in open D (down four steps) of an old classic as might have been played by John Fahey

http://www.thekrashsite.com/annex/mp3s/ ... nHenry.mp3

some noodling around in A (really F, the guitar is down four steps)

http://www.thekrashsite.com/annex/mp3s/ ... uesInA.mp3

and lastly, some slide (does that make it OK to post in this forum?)

http://www.thekrashsite.com/annex/mp3s/ ... eNight.mp3
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Neal » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:57 pm

Yeah yeah yeah, we want pics of the tricone.

Nice guitar btw.
Neal
Regular
 
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:21 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby zhyla » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:19 am

Neal wrote:Yeah yeah yeah, we want pics of the tricone.


Indeed. Pony up or I'm gonna have to ban you, Freeman. :wink:

So what is the scale length on this beast?
User avatar
zhyla
Site Admin
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:43 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:41 pm

zhyla wrote:
Neal wrote:Yeah yeah yeah, we want pics of the tricone.


Indeed. Pony up or I'm gonna have to ban you, Freeman. :wink:

So what is the scale length on this beast?


working on it.......

26.2, currently strung 13-56 and variously tune to C# or C. I'm working up the nerve to put 16-60's on it and try B
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby kiwiblues » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:18 pm

Fantastic job! Do you do this for a living or is it just a hobby? :) :mrgreen:
User avatar
kiwiblues
Regular
 
Posts: 934
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:59 am
Location: Aotearoa (New Zealand) - Shaky Ground!

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:43 pm

kiwiblues wrote:Fantastic job! Do you do this for a living or is it just a hobby? :) :mrgreen:


Strickly a hobby. Lutherie (and I don't pretend to be a luthier) is an incredible marriage of engineering, art, craftsmanship - I am in awe of those who can do it well and even more, those who can make a living at it. I'm an engineer by training who has always loved working with stuff, so it was just kind of natural to try my hand at building one or two or three...

The Stella-clone was my 6th and was the first completely scatch build - the others were more or less kits (necks preshaped, sides bent, etc). When I finish the tricone I've already started thinking about a ladder braced 6 string, then maybe a tele and a LP and a Wessinborn and....

Oh, its also addictive LOL
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby birddog » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:34 pm

Thats really fantastic Freeman.
Nice shop you have there.

Wally
User avatar
birddog
Regular
 
Posts: 567
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: Mid-Michigan

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:29 pm

birddog wrote:Nice shop you have there.


Well, yes and no. I actually build in my unheated unhumidity controlled garage on a small workbench. My dust collection system is a shop vac, my "spray booth" is a cardboard guitar shipping box. Total power tools in my garage are a small air compressor, a belt sander, laminate trimmer, dremel, drill motor and saber saw. You can build a kit guitar with nothing more, in fact there are many finishes that don't required the compressor, so I tell people not to let the lack of a shop keep you from building a guitar.

However I'm also spoiled - I'm an engineer at a fab shop with all the cad/cam machine tools you can imagine (milling machines, laser cutter, drill presses), a complete powder coating and paint facility and the band and table saws you see in the pictures. For things like the tuner drilling jig I just ran out to a milling machine and spaced the holes perfectly, obviously I use the drill press not only to drill holes but to press frets, and it is really cool to make router templates in Autocad and shot them out the the laser.

I'm nearing retirement and my wife is afraid that I will want all these little goodies at home - "honey, can I buy a milling machine?"... She tells me to keep working.

Image
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby birddog » Sat May 01, 2010 11:08 am

Thanks for that explaination, as wanting to do this I feel a little less intimadated.
I have a full size drill press, and the finishing iis no problem a compressor big enough to run 2 people, spray guns up the ying yang as I have been in the body shop biz way to long and a painter for 10 years in the mid 70's to 80's. I have thousands in hand tools and air tools but mostly geared for automotive work.
I need a laminate trimmer, have a router but need a better one. I have a table saw, small band saw, jig saw & dremmel. I also have some basic machinist tools, dial & vernier calipers and such as I worked in a machine shop after high school.

So if I wanted to do this, looks like I need a lot more clamps, how many is nessesary and what various lengths ?
Clothes pins will be no problem. :mrgreen:
Also, the particle board 2 peice jig looks like its made from the template ?
And that clamping like set up with the poles can you explain ?
Looks like both of these have to be made which is no problem just want a better understanding.

I really need to get back to the kit guitar forum and do more reading as I will prior to ordering anything.
I'm the kind of guy that likes to have the stuff in my arsenal although when I poised this on the kgf most of the guys said wait till you get to the step when you need the tools before you go out and get them.
I live in the country and need to be prepared for repairing many things as its usually a 15-20 mile drive to just go out and get something when it breaks around here then you loose a couple hours of working time.

Looking forward to seeing photos of the Tricone too.

thanks
Wally
User avatar
birddog
Regular
 
Posts: 567
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: Mid-Michigan

Re: Build thread - ladder braced 12 string

Postby Freeman » Tue May 04, 2010 4:44 pm

birddog wrote:So if I wanted to do this, looks like I need a lot more clamps, how many is nessesary and what various lengths ?
Clothes pins will be no problem. :mrgreen:
Also, the particle board 2 peice jig looks like its made from the template ?
And that clamping like set up with the poles can you explain ?
Looks like both of these have to be made which is no problem just want a better understanding.



thanks
Wally


The laminate trimmer is one of my most used tools - both with flush cut bits for trimming and get the stepped bits from StewMac for routing binding channels. I sometimes make patterns out of sheet metal (I work in a machine shop and can send a cad drawing to a laser cutter) for routing things like slot heads or the cavity of the tricone.

You can never have enough clamps. I have four of the long blue squeeze handle bar clamps that I use a lot, plus a bunch of the regular bar clamps in various size and a half dozen or so c-clamps. Many builders use both cam and spool clamps - I use that pole setup instead. It is called a "go-bar" deck, the poles are simply fiberglass wands from the hardware store in different lengths. There are good instructions at StewMac on building one, but there are other ways. The nice thing about a go-bar is that you can distribute the clamping pressure around your work - say when you are doing braces. I also build a lot of cauls from scrap wood to back up clamping pressure. You will need two deep c-clamps that can reach thru the soundhole for the bridge (plus a caul for both the inside and out).

Some sort of body mold is also necessary - it can range from the simple cardboard thing that StewMac suggest to full adjustable work boards. I simply make a copy of my plans and trace it on four pieces of MDF or particle board clamped together - cut all four at once on a band or saber saw. Keep the little inside pieces to make the waist expander. Use them as shown in the picture to bend your sides, then I space the four pieces with one or two 3/4 slats to make the mold.

There are lots of great references on building - the kit forum is very good, as is MIMF.com. Recommended books include Cumpiano and Kincaid, but there are many others. Sounds like you have the finishing dialed - that is one of the hard parts for most home builders (the other two are setting the neck - start with a bolt on instead of a dovetail and doing the binding).

Building at your own musical instrument is really satisfying - I recommend it highly.
User avatar
Freeman
Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:53 pm


Return to Guitar

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 7 guests