Elegant bridges

The project finally looks like a guitar. We have come from closing the box, putting on the bindings and fixing the neck to fretting the finger board and beginning to make a bridge and tail piece, all in one week.

My first finger board radius attempt went well. I used an 18″ radius block, started with 80grit, went to 120grit then put a finish on by hand with 240 then 400 grit. The ebony looks like glass. I also made the decision on the nature of the bridge. I had a clear idea of the height the strings were going to be at the bridge and realised a fixed bridge would not have been feasible. I planned the guitar to have a back angle on the neck but I had calculated a less acute angle because I didn’t know how much of an arch I would get into the sound board.IMG_9116 I also didn’t take into account the sound hole: I couldn’t flatten the sound board all the way up to the sound hole for fitting the finger board, because that would destroy the inlay around the hole. This was no matter As I was committed to a floating bridge and saddle, so I put a, hopefully, elegant curve in the underside of the raised finger board after the 16th fret. Giving it an ‘arch top’ style. Putting the frets on the last four positions was tricky. I wedged cardboard beneath the finger board and sound board to stop me hammering the end of the ebony off when I fitted the frets. All went perfectly as can be seen in the photos. With the neck fitted and fretted and the initial shaping completed on the back of the neck, I turned my attention to designing a bridge. IMG_9114I have fashioned one prototype, but haven’t fitted the saddle yet. I feel it looks a little ‘clunky’ at the moment and I want to do some refinements to the design, to make it look like it belongs on the guitar.

I am glad I have had to go with the floating bridge because it makes intonation adjustments easier and also makes  redesigning of the bridge and re installation of improvements easier. The tail piece is also under construction.  It is proving the most difficult aspect of the bridge assembly. This is because I cannot decide weather to make a tail piece with a right angle that is fixed on the tail of the guitar or one that is simply attached to the front. I am leaning toward one attached to the tail block through the front of the guitar. The question then is, do I screw it in, so it can be replaced, or do I use dowels and glue it in place? It will look prettier, but make replacement a pain. Whatever I decide, it is looking like it will be an attractive enough instrument. My mind is turning to sound now. How will it sound? Next blog will be on the finish and set up and a little bit about how I like to shape necks.

Note the tail piece (left) just sitting unfinished and undecided….
Finger board raised on the last four frets


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