While waiting for a new, long auger bit to finish the truss rod access channel of the latest electric guitar build…..I decided to use the time to start rebuilding an old and very broken bouzouki. The owner had been told by another Luthier that it was beyond repair, so in a moment of insanity, I said I could fix it.
Here is a little pictorial story, to explain my approach to the reconstruction of the broken sound board and broken joints in the sides, as well as my design and build of a new neck.
It started with the invention of a way to build up layers of wood in the ripped and splintered sound board. The surface had been splintered and holed when a heavy object had fallen on the neck, split that in two and ripped it and the fingerboard away from the body. Here to the right you can see the fine shavings of wood being glued one on another over the cavities and splintered sections of the soundboard. I build this over the height of the sound boards surface, then sand everything back to a perfect match, (see below). This will all be under the fingerboard eventually, so we are going for strength and flatness, rather than any perfect aesthetic, though I was very pleased with the surface finish. Perfect for a good strong and durable gluing, when the time comes.
Its possible to see, where I cut the neck off flush, a little rectangular hole that was the remains of the channel for the the neck reinforcement rod, which in the original neck was just a rectangular piece of cheap steel.
In the new neck I created a shorter channel, that does not run all the way into the heel and body.
The main reason for this is that the heel stock was badly damaged in the breaking of the neck and I cut about midway through it, to give myself a gluing surface for the new neck heel. I had to make a tapered sliding joint, (see pic below) and a rod going all the way into the old heel stock would have weakened that joint. Hence a shorter, and this time a round reinforcement rod. The joint at the apex of the side, where the two pieces of wood meet was coming apart, so that also had to be routed and filled with an inlay. I chose an off cut of ‘Wenge’ I had used to build the neck of another instrument. I will use the same approach to reinforce the neck joint, when I attach it to the body. Its clear in this picture how poor the surface finish of the body is. I will strip this all back to raw wood and do a full shellac finish. It will take ages, but I think it will be worth it, to try and get this very broken and cheap bouzouki transformed into something special.
I wanted to plug this great new tool I have purchased. Actually I bought two versions. It is a hand router, which did a fantastic job of routing out the channel for the truss rod, without the need for any power tools. This allows me to move closer to my goal of building guitars and other stringed instruments, without the use of any power tools
The router is called the “Cowryman Router Plane“. A really good idea and design, made quite well. I had to grind the surface of the larger plane but the blades are very well honed and the overall design is great. I picture them here.
I used the larger one to rout the channel for the reinforcement rod, it has a simple “built in Fence” that works very well. I am now beginning the fret board, which will be made from a lovely piece of ‘purple heart’, and the off cut I have used for the laminated surface of the head stock. Unfortunately, now the long auger bit has arrived in the post, so I suspect the bouzouki will go on the back burner, while I finally move forward with the electric six string neck construction.