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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun May 19, 2013 1:50 am

Thanks Kev.

Nothing magical or mystical about the polishing mixture. I just read the instructions that came with the Rottenstone I bought from Luthiers Mercantile and used those as a starting point.

As I mentioned much earlier in the thread, these are the first instruments I've finished with shellac so I am learning as I go.

The instructions basically pointed to using the Rottenstone with a mineral oil as a lubricant and applied with felt pads. There was also a recipe for a polish based on methanol that scared me (as that would soften the shellac) but was more directed at restoring old finishes.

So I searched online, and found some more articles. Read through them, and then bit the bullet and came up with something that made sense to me. I took some Rottenstone, added a drop of washing up liquid as an antistatic/antisurficant and then added White Spirit (mineral oil) until it was the consistency of pancake batter.

So, basically, I relied on existing knowledge and experience, did some reading, and came at it from 1st principles. It worked well, and there was nothing in the mix that could have done any harm.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun May 19, 2013 2:17 am

OK...

I needed to trim a little off the width of the nut, so I did. And then I applied a couple of tiny dots of glue to the bottom of the nut, put it in place with the strings on, and left it to dry.

The nut is never permanently glued in place, just enough to stop it slipping and sliding and dropping off when you take the strings off. A neatly applied tap with a hammer will ease it off if needed.

Then I watched the cricket and a vintage England batting collapse just as I was settling in for a commanding 2nd innings lead.

Then it didn't take long to file the nut slots to final depth, take the saddle down to final height, shape the top of the saddle, polish it nicely, remove the excess from the nut and polish that too.

And now it's looking and feeling good. I'm leaving it overnight for the strings to settle, but basically it's all done. The action is satisfactory, but I might take the nut slots a little lower tomorrow.

Image

Image

I've tried out a few chords and all sounds good. But, as always with nylon strings, it takes a while for the tuning to settle. And yes, it needs a truss rod cover. But I am always lazy when it comes to putting them on my own instruments. I'll get around to it sooner or later :)

But, essentially, this one is now finished !!!!

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Sun May 19, 2013 3:40 am

zenguitar wrote: I've tried out a few chords and all sounds good.. essentially, this one is now finished !!!!

Andy :beamup:

Far out Andy :) As for the strings, I always think steel ones take three or four days, maybe a week to settle in to my ear. Nylon ones somewhat longer... You may disagree (if you don't keep us on the hook before you record it). Have you signed it yet? The back of the truss rod cover might be a discreet place. Has anyone done that?
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Goddard » Sun May 19, 2013 6:03 am

zenguitar wrote:And then I applied a couple of tiny dots of glue to the bottom of the nut, put it in place with the strings on, and left it to dry.

The nut is never permanently glued in place, just enough to stop it slipping and sliding and dropping off when you take the strings off. A neatly applied tap with a hammer will ease it off if needed.

Yep, deduced that bit long ago when I removed all the strings on my old cheapo archtop jazzbox and the bridge fell right off, and I had to line it back up using the outlines on the top left by glue reside.

Although violinists will scoff at gluing a bridge (and will sensibly change only one string at a time)...

Nice to see project uke back in action! Can't wait to hear it! :D
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Mon May 20, 2013 12:41 am

Thanks chaps. :)

The strings are settling in nicely. But I might give them a fright tomorrow when I fine tune the nut, still need to take the 1st fret action down by 1/3rd of a millimetre. But that's just a matter of popping the strings out of the slots, running through them with the fret files again, and re-polishing the slots.

I really must get around to making a label, but that can wait for now. When I do, it will probably be a piece of parchment lettered with Indian Ink and glued in place with hide glue.

I really am lazy about truss rod covers for my own guitars. I like to think of it as the luthier's equivalent of the plumber with a leaky tap, one of those easy jobs you keep meaning to get around to doing :)

One thing though Goddard... Whilst a dab of glue is normal for fitting a nut to a guitar, we don't glue arch top bridges in place because the exact location will vary depending on string gauge and action. And besides, its fun watching guitarists work out where it should go when it drops off unexpectedly :)

Anyway, by tomorrow I should be recovered from an accidental overdose of cayenne pepper in my chilli tonight. Trying to cook and watch the cricket at the same time. Note to self; pay attention in future.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Mon May 20, 2013 3:03 am

zenguitar wrote: I really must get around to making a label, but that can wait for now. When I do, it will probably be a piece of parchment lettered with Indian Ink and glued in place with hide glue.
Andy :beamup:

Jessie Hoff of Lazy J Projects told me he spent his last few quid having the labels for his amps knocked up when he built his first one and never expected to be asked to build another. Those were desperate days for him, which is on record. He only wanted a minimum number but had to order a batch of 100. Nearly broke his heart to part with the money because it pretty much broke him on the day. When he told me he'd just put one of them on my amp, which was number 75. And he was in the process of ordering another hundred. Never know, do yah! Parchment is probably a good way to go. Less stress and that has to be good for the ukes.
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Goddard » Mon May 20, 2013 3:17 pm

zenguitar wrote:One thing though Goddard... Whilst a dab of glue is normal for fitting a nut to a guitar, we don't glue arch top bridges in place because the exact location will vary depending on string gauge and action. And besides, its fun watching guitarists work out where it should go when it drops off unexpectedly :)

Well, I'd assumed the crud on the top below the "feet" of that archtop's bridge was some kind of glue residue but it might well just have been "crazing" of the top's finish rather than any glue, as it certainly didn't keep the bridge from popping off once the string tension was relaxed.

I didn't use any glue when remounting the bridge, only lined it back up with the "crud" marks on the top before bringing the strings to tension. It was a cheapo Harmony "imitation L-5" model (but still quite a nice playing and sounding box for what little it cost) with thumbwheel height-adjustable bridge, like this:

http://harmony.demont.net/images/0/H1407_Patrician_05.jpg

Actually a better bridge imo than the tune-o-matic on ES-330/Casino hollowbodies.

:)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue May 21, 2013 12:14 am

Nut tweaked, 1st fret action top-notch...

Has anyone ever mentioned that a ukulele is a [email]d@mned[/email] silly instrument? Far too small for proper fingers, and no relationship to guitar tuning!!! Who's idea was this anyway?

At this rate I'll be making a truss rod cover rather than playing it.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Dynamic Mike » Tue May 21, 2013 12:34 am

zenguitar wrote:At this rate I'll be making a truss rod cover rather than playing it.

Andy :beamup:

An inverted white 'U' with a pheasantwood veneer?

By the way, do you normally have a logo on your handbuilt instruments?
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Venaal » Tue May 21, 2013 9:24 am

Please do!
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby dwebb » Tue May 21, 2013 10:16 am

I won't argue about the damned silly instrument bit, but I did think that the tuning was effectively the top four strings of a guitar capoed at the 5th fret?
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby yelemusic » Tue May 21, 2013 12:24 pm

dwebb wrote:I won't argue about the damned silly instrument bit, but I did think that the tuning was effectively the top four strings of a guitar capoed at the 5th fret?

Yep, that's right. Which leaves us with G C E A. So you can play all your guitar chords on the Uke (minus the bottom two strings), only their names change. A D-Chord becomes a G-Chord, your average Cmaj (or Am7) turns into Fmaj (or Dm7) and so on.

Takes a little getting used to, but otherwise as a guitarist you shouldn't have any problems playing the Uke.

@Zen
I wouldn't mind having a go on this gorgeous Uke of yours :) Send it over, I'll do that recording for you 8-)

Unfortunately I'm not in the UK :frown:

I'd love to compare it to my commercial made Ukes (which aren't too shabby either). But then again, maybe not, I might end up GASing for a new Uke by the man himself :)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue May 21, 2013 1:45 pm

I know guys, but it's the four silly strings on a guitar, not the sensible EADG strings :)

And besides, I decided to go for the traditional re-entrant tuning of gCEA with the octave G. Once I get the hang of different chord voicings beyond the first position it'll be fine, but for now some progressions have weak roots and contrary bass movement. Although the first thing I started learning was in B flat which could well be the worst key for those problems :)

So far, no headstock logo. I might come up with one one day, although I like to use the headstock for inlay sometimes.

And I think I have some ebony veneer lying around for the truss rod cover. But tradition dictates that I wait a few months minimum before making one.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Kev Adams » Tue May 21, 2013 1:56 pm

zenguitar wrote:Thanks Kev.

Nothing magical or mystical about the polishing mixture. I just read the instructions that came with the Rottenstone I bought from Luthiers Mercantile and used those as a starting point.

As I mentioned much earlier in the thread, these are the first instruments I've finished with shellac so I am learning as I go.

The instructions basically pointed to using the Rottenstone with a mineral oil as a lubricant and applied with felt pads. There was also a recipe for a polish based on methanol that scared me (as that would soften the shellac) but was more directed at restoring old finishes.

So I searched online, and found some more articles. Read through them, and then bit the bullet and came up with something that made sense to me. I took some Rottenstone, added a drop of washing up liquid as an antistatic/antisurficant and then added White Spirit (mineral oil) until it was the consistency of pancake batter.

So, basically, I relied on existing knowledge and experience, did some reading, and came at it from 1st principles. It worked well, and there was nothing in the mix that could have done any harm.

Andy :beamup:

Thanks for that. It was the soap that intrigued me- I was picturing a bar of lifebuoy! D'oh!

I've got a big jar of polishing powder and one of a polishing talc, which is finer. I've never thought of pre-mixing the powder though. I put some in a small dish, put some polishing oil on my cloth and then pick up some powder with that. it obviously goes to a paste staright away as you apply it.
I do have a proprietary mixed polishing liquid called Super-nicko which is water based. Probably pretty similar to your mixture except for the water. I suspect that ther is something like soap in it too. The powder in that separates out when left for any time, but it reconstitutes easily enough.
If I use the talc for a final final go I put it on neat.

I have several cleaning concoctions too, gleaned from reading around. The simplest which I really like, and some times use with a bit of polishing powder, is eucalyptus oil and olive oil 50/50. Smells great! Not sure whether experts would approve of the organic as opposed to mineral oils though.
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Folderol » Tue May 21, 2013 8:40 pm

I was about to offer to take the dear little thing off your hands, so helping you avoid the frustration of trying to play it with it's 'silly' tuning, only it dawned on me that I wouldn't know how to play it at all. :D
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Folderol » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:55 am

I hear no uke :frown:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:44 pm

Folderol wrote:I was about to offer to take the dear little thing off your hands

What I think is that if Andy doesn't bond with the fruit of his blood, sweat and tears over the next few months we should all chip in so it can be gifted to a suitable trust... which between us we ought to be able to identify. Someone equipped to use it within a well conceived and executed educational project. And in my wildest imagination it should spend time at somewhere like Tate St Ives, where it can be seen and played, along with the entire Project Ukulele thread and interpretive media about the educational project. Just a thought. But only if Andy decides he just ain't going to get into the uke thing for himself.

Project Ukulele has been a wonderful success and deserves to remain an inspiration in perpetuity.
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:53 am

Yes, YES!! I Know!!! I've been slacking, started learning a few chords, even a song or two, then other things cropped up and it sat on the shelf staring at me accusingly. Even jumping off it's precarious perch balanced on my old 12-string mandolin (partially dismantled, awaiting a neck reset) and landing on my pillar drill, managing to chip the shellac discretely in the process :lol:

Then there was the wedding of the decade to attend (it made the back page of The Sunday Independent no less!!), and ordering a load of parts for some of my Arduino based projects....

But yes, I MUST get around to making a recording soon. Just bear in mind that I am largely (but not entirely) dysfunctional AND I live in Devon. ;)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:46 am

Bond away with it Andy, in your own time mate ;)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:33 pm

Mighty Uke allert!!!

For those living in the UK with access to Sky Arts One: Tomorrow evening, Sunday 4th August at eight in the evening they are screening the excellent film 'the mighty uke'. Followers of this thread will most likely find it as enjoyable as inspirational.

Cheers,

Francis
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