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  1. #1

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    I posted some pictures of a back and side set in an earlier post and I thought I would update some of the progress I have made.

    Plate carving is the big hurdle in archtop guitar construction. Before I tried my first AT build, I converted a duplicator to accommodate a guitar plate and a plate pattern. The result was a fairly accurate duplicator with the slight draw back of being a bit too small, leaving a small section uncarved on a guitar plate. The best feature of this setup is the dust collection that really does work well on the finer dust. Without dust collection the job is a nightmare.
    Attached Images Attached Images Carved archtop-p1010017-jpg Carved archtop-p1010014-jpg Carved archtop-p1080004-jpg Carved archtop-p1010026-jpg Carved archtop-p1010036-jpg Carved archtop-p1010027-jpg 

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    interesting..so how do rectify the uncarved portion...by hand? or repositioning top in device?

    good stuff

    cheers

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    interesting..so how do rectify the uncarved portion...by hand? or repositioning top in device?

    good stuff

    cheers
    Thanks Neatomic.

    There is only 1 small section that is uncarved on the outside only. I remove all but the last 1/8" of this section with a forstner bit on the drill press. The last 1/8" is removed with a finger plane. It is easy to shape as it is at the lowest point of the plate. It is a 4 square inch area directly below the tailpiece. The stylus is hitting the frame of the carver preventing the router from cutting an area that the router can reach. That means if I want to I could remove the stylus and free hand the router in that area. It does a better job on the inside than on the outside. The outside of the plate has more hills and valleys which is where most of the inaccuracies come into play.

  5. #4

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    Your master template looks just like what I use when pressing individual veneers into a top or back. Wood frame, plaster of some sort making the shape in the center. You can't really tell from the photo, but one is a positive and one a negative and they nest with the veneers in between.
    Carved archtop-dscn1406-jpg
    Barry Grzebik - Grez Guitars
    www.grezguitars.com

  6. #5

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    grez, always enjoy/ed all those vids you posted on laminate construction...& honoring rc allen!


    good stuff...pt 1




    cheers

  7. #6

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    Thank you Neatomic, much appreciated!
    Barry Grzebik - Grez Guitars
    www.grezguitars.com

  8. #7

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    After sanding the carved top plate to 100 grit is when I add the bracing. I cut the braces from straight vertically grained spruce. To fit the brace to the curved surface of the top plate the brace has to match the shape exactly. I start shaping by first removing some wood from the ends of the braces.
    Carved archtop-p1010005-jpg
    Now the brace can be marked with a pencil and a washer to approximate the shape of the top.
    Carved archtop-p1010013-jpg
    I fit the brace for full contact by using sandpaper stuck to the top plate. Then with pencil knife and sand paper I work the brace down to an exact fit.
    Carved archtop-p1010020-jpg
    Once the brace fits perfectly I mask the area around the brace and glue the brace with HHG. I don't use a clamp. I hold the brace for about 2 min. then I place a small weight to hold it. It is important not to clamp with too much force as this can squeeze all the glue out.
    Carved archtop-p1010023-jpg
    Once the glue has dried I begin the brace shaping. The final shaping is done after the F-holes are cut.
    Carved archtop-p1010029-jpg

  9. #8

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    meticulous as always matt c! nice!

    cheers

  10. #9

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    Matt, thanks for sharing. It looks great and very enjoying to see the process unfold! Love the archtop! Steve

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    meticulous as always matt c! nice!

    cheers
    Thanks neatomic ! The fastest way to get her done is to get her done right the first time.


    skykomishone
    Matt, thanks for sharing. It looks great and very enjoying to see the process unfold! Love the archtop! Steve
    Thanks Steve! I am moving kind of slowly on this guitar. I have several builds going at the same time.

  12. #11

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    It’s very nice to see what my future guitar is gonna look like when it being made.
    You work very neatly. I like the washer idea. And I thought I was MacGuyver...

  13. #12

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    I don't really believe that Matt was the first to ever come up with the washer idea. They've been around a long time.

  14. #13

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    Yeah? Maybe so but no one else does it with the same style, grace and class like he does. Nobody!

  15. #14

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    Is that an optical illusion from the angle of the photograph, or are the braces not symmetrical compared to the centerline? I have always just assumed the bracing is symmetrical, not really for any particularly good reason, but perhaps that is not the case.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    Is that an optical illusion from the angle of the photograph, or are the braces not symmetrical compared to the centerline? I have always just assumed the bracing is symmetrical, not really for any particularly good reason, but perhaps that is not the case.
    It is an illusion. One brace is longer than the other, and this gives it a uneven appearance. Each brace is located an equal distance from the centerline throughout their length except at the neck end. With the angled placement of the braces, the very end of the longer brace is closer to the centerline at the neck end of the top plate. It is not always the case that braces are symmetrically placed. Most mandolins with parallel bracing (also called tone bars ) are not parallel at all and have braces that are located slightly shifted to the bass side. The braces usually are not a uniform size after their final shaping.

  17. #16

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    OK, so I can stop poking my fingers in through the F holes to see if I can tell whether the braces are symmetrical! Thanks, Matt!
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    OK, so I can stop poking my fingers in through the F holes to see if I can tell whether the braces are symmetrical! Thanks, Matt!
    I think you will need very long fingers. Your guitar is X braced.
    Last edited by Matt Cushman; 01-28-2018 at 09:22 AM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman View Post
    I think you will need very long fingers. Your guitar is X braced.
    LOL!

    So how do you choose whether to brace a guitar with "parallel" versus X bracing? What is the difference in sound the two methods produce?
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    LOL!

    So how do you choose whether to brace a guitar with "parallel" versus X bracing? What is the difference in sound the two methods produce?
    The X brace is typically a softer more mellow sound than a parallel braced model. For a louder voice with more projection then parallel braces are the choice. The top can be carved thinner in the center with parallel braces. The parallel pattern is more centered with greater longitudinal strength. The X brace is very popular and most of my guitars have featured X braces. The goal of this build is for a loud acoustic guitar.

  21. #20

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    With the top braced I proceed to cutting and binding the F-holes. I use a pin router system to cut the f-holes.
    Carved archtop-p1010016-jpg
    The router does a clean job and with a little sanding the F-holes are ready to bind. Some of you know that I like to bind with fiber. I posted a thread previously about the process
    F - holes bound with fiber
    Before I glue in the binding it is a good idea to seal the end grain with HHG and let it dry.
    Carved archtop-p1010031-jpg
    Clamping the multiple layers of fiber takes a bit of MacGyver. Clothespins make great spreaders to hold the strips in place while the glue sets.
    Carved archtop-p1010034-jpg
    Carved archtop-p1010005-jpg


  22. #21

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    great stuff & nice spruce!

    cheers

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    great stuff & nice spruce!

    cheers
    Thanks neatomic! I buy all my spruce from Home - Alaska Specialty Woods

  24. #23

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    Mat, it's a treat to see "the birth" of an archtop step by step. Thank you very much for letting us watch the great work you do.
    _________
    JazzNote

  25. #24

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    Matt, very nice work! As I think about perhaps building an archtop(s), I'm thinking about getting a duplicator...

    Dave

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Richard View Post
    Matt, very nice work! As I think about perhaps building an archtop(s), I'm thinking about getting a duplicator...

    Dave
    I’m not sure where you buy a duplicator these days, but you can make one relatively easily.

    That said, we have an old cast iron one at the school which we use in the archtop building class. One plate is hand carved and one duplicated to expose the students to different techniques.
    FWIW, using the duplicator is such an unpleasant experience that many students say they would rather hand carve a plate even if they had a machine in their home shops. Hand carving may take several days compared to an hour or so on the machine, but what a stressful and miserable hour!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  27. #26

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    Rhett, that's a good & true point about the relative pleasures and stresses of hand vs machine work. While I'm confident I could carve the plates without a duplicator, I like the idea of roughing them out by machine, then finishing with hand work and tools(as do my aging hands, forearms, back, etc!).

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    I’m not sure where you buy a duplicator these days, but you can make one relatively easily.

    That said, we have an old cast iron one at the school which we use in the archtop building class. One plate is hand carved and one duplicated to expose the students to different techniques.
    FWIW, using the duplicator is such an unpleasant experience that many students say they would rather hand carve a plate even if they had a machine in their home shops. Hand carving may take several days compared to an hour or so on the machine, but what a stressful and miserable hour!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    I was a little surprised to learn that the students disliked operating the duplicator so much. My first thought was they must not have good dust collection. Even with dust collection, the effort of passing the router over the plates so many times is considerable.
    Good hearing protection and a good foam pad to stand on are a good idea.

    The thought of not using the duplicator never crossed my mind. There is plenty of hand carving to do as it is. I am always tweaking the patterns and other things in an effort to reduce the amount of hand carving that is needed. I find it helps to restrict the movement from side to side. To do that, the x axis is locked by clamping with spring clamps and working head to tail or z axis and then moving across x axis in .25" increments. The router makes a smoother cut if the depth of cut stays more consistent as you progress with the carving across the plate. This also helps with dust collection.

  29. #28

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    After a brief delay, here are a few photos to get you caught up on some of my progress so far. After the f-holes were bound with an extra thick B/W/B/W fiber binding lay up, I glued the top to my sound ported sides. With the top glued on, I gave the inside a couple of wash coats of shellac.

    Carved archtop-p1010001-jpg

    After the shellac dries I glue the back in place.

    Carved archtop-p1010002-jpg

    After the glue is dry I cut the plates flush to the sides and then cut the body mortise.

    Carved archtop-p1010009-jpg

    Next I will fit one of the necks I have in progress. Then it is time to decorate this build with a bit of inlay and binding.

  30. #29

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    nice work matt!..so glad you came back to this thread...

    there's pro's and cons regarding shellacing inside...what's your take on why you do it...is it traditionally done on mandolins?

    cheers

    ps- ever considered carving a wooden port tube??

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    nice work matt!..so glad you came back to this thread...

    there's pro's and cons regarding shellacing inside...what's your take on why you do it...is it traditionally done on mandolins?

    cheers

    ps- ever considered carving a wooden port tube??
    Thanks neatomic!
    I have used shellac on the inside of all my builds. I saw Benedetto do it in his book and I thought great idea. It only takes me a few minutes. I seal the inside of my mandolins but most mandolins are not sealed on the inside. I think the down side is rather slight and the upside is you have some protection from sudden moisture fluctuations and it seals the glue joints against moisture. It also looks a bit better inside the guitar with some finish to seal it.

    It might be stronger to use wood veneer to bend a wood port tube to shape.

  32. #31

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    thanks..good stuff...also gives you a preview of how beautiful that outside spruce top is going to look!! hah

    cheers

  33. #32

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    I started a batch of 6 archtop necks a while back. I often build in batches and decorate the headstock and fingerboard on an individual basis. Carved archtop-p1010024-jpgCarved archtop-p1010004-jpgCarved archtop-p1010009-jpgCarved archtop-p1010016-jpg
    I thought I would have some fun with this build and cut out some some intricately shaped pieces of extra colorful and well figured M O P shell.Carved archtop-p1010022-jpgCarved archtop-p1010007-jpg

  34. #33

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    Nice work, Matt!
    Best regards, k

  35. #34

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    as always, beautiful workmanship and materials!! well done matt c


    cheers


    ps- double bound multi ply headstock binding is super nice touch!
    Last edited by neatomic; 05-07-2018 at 10:01 PM.

  36. #35

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    Matt, a question regarding the soundport which i believe is mainly for the player to hear himself better:
    Does it alter the sound of the guitar for an audience who is sitting in front / does it change to the volume of the guitar heard at the audience side?
    _________
    JazzNote

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    Nice work, Matt!
    Thanks K !
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    as always, beautiful workmanship and materials!! well done matt c


    cheers


    ps- double bound multi ply headstock binding is super nice touch!
    Thanks neatomic! I bound the body with an extra thick bind to match. I will post some photos soon.
    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote View Post
    Matt, a question regarding the soundport which i believe is mainly for the player to hear himself better:
    Does it alter the sound of the guitar for an audience who is sitting in front / does it change to the volume of the guitar heard at the audience side?
    That is a good question Jazz Note. This build is an experiment which will hopefully provide the answer to your questions. From what I have read, the sound port helps the player hear better without reducing the projection. I can say the box has a very strong tap tone. I can tell from the tap that this is sure to be a loud archtop.

  38. #37

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    Very nice!

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by plasticpigeon View Post
    Very nice!
    Thanks! plasticpigeon.

    I thought I had better post a few pics in the white in case anyone was wondering what happened with this build. She has been sitting around waiting for me to get on with the finishing process. I got side tracked with some summer fun!
    Carved archtop-p1010001-jpgCarved archtop-p1010002-jpgCarved archtop-p1010012-jpgCarved archtop-p1010021-jpgCarved archtop-p1010025-jpgCarved archtop-p1010027-jpg

  40. #39

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    Matt your work is beautiful! Hollenbeck would string his guitar up and play it for usually 2 weeks before applying any finish. I assume you do this same? In some cases he would wait till the weather was perfect for nitro and the guitar might be strung up for even a month.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark View Post
    Matt your work is beautiful! Hollenbeck would string his guitar up and play it for usually 2 weeks before applying any finish. I assume you do this same? In some cases he would wait till the weather was perfect for nitro and the guitar might be strung up for even a month.
    Thanks Mark! I have strung up unfinished instruments in the past but I haven't been doing that lately. I do some testing using tuning forks to check for any wolf notes before finishing but I don't string them up anymore. I use shellac under hybrid alkyd varnish to finish so the wait time for curing is only 7 days. The varnish is tough as nails and outdoor rated and the best part about it is it does not continue to shrink like nitro does.

  42. #41

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    Very nice!

  43. #42

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    So you are not doing nitro finishes? I have to have a discussion with you about that because finishing work is one of my downfalls. I just have not dived into the mix yet. Lots of options and opinions.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedawg View Post
    Very nice!
    Thanks Bluedawg!

    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark View Post
    So you are not doing nitro finishes? I have to have a discussion with you about that because finishing work is one of my downfalls. I just have not dived into the mix yet. Lots of options and opinions.
    I only used nitro on 1 partscaster back in the 90s. After that I tried a variety of waterborne lacquers that were offered by Stew Mac and LMI. Most of these finishes were similar but would vary slightly in color. I don't remember when I started using the hybrid varnish but it was about 12 years ago. The varnish is very hard so it polishes to a very high luster. Getting good results is a bit labor intensive as it goes on thin and many coats are needed for a good result. I always use shellac under the varnish to provide an extra hard and durable base for the varnish. There is a learning curve with applying the finish but overall it is very forgiving and easily repaired. The main downside is the shellac adds a bit of amber color and so does the varnish but this is only a concern with a natural finish and can make a new guitar look aged, not always a bad thing.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman View Post
    Thanks! plasticpigeon.

    I thought I had better post a few pics in the white in case anyone was wondering what happened with this build. She has been sitting around waiting for me to get on with the finishing process. I got side tracked with some summer fun!
    Matt, thanks for the pics - i can well imagine how nice this guitar will look once it's finished. It looks great all over already now, but i especially like the way the f-holes are designed/placed - and bound. Just perfect! I couldn't imagine them to be more perfect.
    _________
    JazzNote

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote View Post
    Matt, thanks for the pics - i can well imagine how nice this guitar will look once it's finished. It looks great all over already now, but i especially like the way the f-holes are designed/placed - and bound. Just perfect! I couldn't imagine them to be more perfect.
    Thanks Jazz Note!
    I take that as high praise coming from you. I know you have great taste when it comes to archtop guitars. I think all the extra binding helps the curves stand out a bit more.

  47. #46

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    It's not possible for anything to be more perfect. Perfection is the end. Things can be more nearly perfect, but once perfection is reached, that's all, folks.

  48. #47

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    Matt, that is truly awesome. Nice work!

  49. #48

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    So pretty it hurts.

    Was lucky to have a gal like that, once.

    Thanks for the memories.

  50. #49

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    We've all been oohing and ahhing over the Campelleone that Vinny is having made, but this is just as stunning. Good work!

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by skykomishone View Post
    Matt, that is truly awesome. Nice work!
    Thanks skykomishone!
    Quote Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
    So pretty it hurts.

    Was lucky to have a gal like that, once.

    Thanks for the memories.
    I know what you mean. I remember a blonde gal that way!
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    We've all been oohing and ahhing over the Campelleone that Vinny is having made, but this is just as stunning. Good work!
    Thanks rlrhett!



    No, I didn't forget this build thread. I had to finish her in my spare time as this was part of a sonic experiment. I could not be happier with the way she sounds both amplified and acoustic. I was a bit surprised that the port had the effect of adding volume from the f holes and very little sound from the port itself. On the electric side of things, the Schatten vol. tone circuit is super quiet. I added string grounding but it isn't really needed.

    Carved archtop-p1010014-jpgCarved archtop-p1010042-jpgCarved archtop-p1010008-jpgCarved archtop-p1010018-jpgCarved archtop-p1010029-jpgCarved archtop-p1010032-jpgCarved archtop-p1010005-jpgCarved archtop-p1010003-jpg