Study in Microtonality and Lutherie – three

Since my last post, I took some time to become more acquainted with my tools, and then returned to working on the neck. The biggest hurdle has been in understanding how to keep my tools sharp.

Another hurdle has been in understanding how to best preserve tools and supplies. For instance, many steps call for sanding boards, which are made custom by adhering sandpaper to planed wood. It takes experience to understand how to pull a full life from a board. Sanding boards are also used in the preparation of tools. It is incredibly rare to find a plane which has, itself, a plane surface. I thought that, because I paid for a plane of higher quality, it came conditioned for use. Yet, in fact, I had to prepare its face, and I have to sharpen the blade regularly.

I am trying to arrange a weekend workshop with a luthier later this semester. I hope to receive an education in the complex skills of sharpening and caring for tools.

In my proposal for this project, I had planned that, at the end of the summer, I would be moving from building the neck of my guitar towards the body. This is about where I stand presently, but I wish I was farther along; upon having the opportunity to go forward with the project, I approached it as if I could finish the guitar during the summer, gung-ho really. Of course, I am not in such a convenient position, primarily because I have been so cautious and so deliberate.

Presently, I expect to finish the instrument around the beginning of December. To buy myself some time for to compose, I decided to re-fret an old guitar in 17-TET, and I am just about finished. I plan to post a video demonstration next week, as well as some notes on how I intend to notate my writings. Having chosen to install a brand new fingerboard, for the sake of experience, this job was more labour intensive than I anticipated; in the past, I had re-fretted using a fret puller, filling veneer, a fret saw, and fret wire. I had never prepared a full fingerboard for installation onto the neckwood, and it demands accuracy in places which I would never have predicted. A major surprise was that the fingerboard endures a slight change in thickness from end to end, which compensates for variations in string tension and length. I must admit that, for having dedicated myself to such a project in the spirit of passion for precision and accuracy, I am tired of exactness.

Another major problem to solve has been in the revision of the instrument’s design. I still have yet to build and test the device which holds the fretboards stiffly in place. It has a little lip of leather to give it some give and appeal. Rather than describing this more vividly, I will soon make a post concerning the design as it stands, and perhaps my studies of soundhole ornament.