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Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:49 am

Hi all, long time no post! Hope everyone is well.

A couple of months ago I was looking round my brother's workshop at all the stuff he can't bear to throw out. I wondered if I could make something from some of the bits, had been thinking of buying a resonator, so hatched a plan to try to build a 'Dobro' using parts from a couple of guitars that were beyond economic repair.

I remembered Zen's Project Ukulele and how much I enjoyed reading it (just read it again - such a shame Photobucket screwed their users over but I did manage to view the photos on my phone while reading the thread on the laptop). I wondered if there was any interest in me posting how this build goes? I won't be imparting any of the wisdom that Zen did as this will be a learning thing for me, but you are welcome to have a laugh at my mistakes and chip in advice as I go.

Here are the bits: A neck from a Hofner acoustic, a smashed Tanglewood body, a resonator from a Dobro (it must have been badly seated because someone screwed the edges down - might not be salvageable). I'll post a photo when I figure out how best to do it...

cheers
Adrian
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby Wonks » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:03 am

Hi Adrian, nice to hear from you again!

Yes, I at least would be interested to see how you get on.

Is this going to be more a square-neck slide-only resonator or a round-neck slide and normal type?
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby blinddrew » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:00 am

Me too! Love this stuff :)
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:28 am

Hi Wonky! How's stuff.

Is this going to be more a square-neck slide-only resonator or a round-neck slide and normal type?


Since I'm starting with a normal round neck from the Hofner acoustic it'll be round neck. But that suits me anyway.

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Adrian
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby Wonks » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:29 am

Better start taking some pictures then!
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:07 am

OK, pix. I have a few on my phone as I started a couple of months ago.

The bits: Damaged resonator, Hofner neck, Tanglewood body.

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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:15 am

More bits:

The wood for the new back. This and the front come from a plank of unnamed African hardwood my brother was given years ago. Notice the dark stains at the bottom - a couple of splits that I have run some superglue into. What are the chances of that being a problem later?? (Just thinking of Zen's Pheasant wood back....)

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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:17 am

And here is the wood for the new front, from the same plank as the back:

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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby zenguitar » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:32 am

Good luck, and have fun :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:46 pm

Thank you Zen :)

Is it my imagination or can I detect the quiet reflection of a man who knows something of what I am about to blunder into...
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby zenguitar » Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:02 pm

As long as it isn't the Abyss you'll be fine :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby Wonks » Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:27 pm

I presume you've looked up several resonator builds on the web already? Their construction is quite different to a normal acoustic guitar.
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:06 pm

Wonks wrote:I presume you've looked up several resonator builds on the web already? Their construction is quite different to a normal acoustic guitar.

Some.. yes I know I'll soon be departing from 'normal' acoustic guitar construction. And I'm getting good advice from someone who has built several resonators from the ground up (my brother).

Plus starting off with bits and pieces brings its own challenges e.g I need to get a back onto the smashed body so that I can take the front off, and need to figure out exactly how to attach the neck, etc.
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:08 pm

zenguitar wrote:As long as it isn't the Abyss you'll be fine :)

I was thinking more in terms of 'swamp'. ;)
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby Wonks » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:33 pm

The Tanglewood body doesn't look like it's set up for a dovetail neck joint. What's on the Hohner neck?

The more I think about it, the harder some bits of the construction become. Unlike a normal acoustic, you can't fine-tune the bridge position as the last thing to do once once the neck and body are all assembled. Instead its pre-determined by where you cut the round hole for the resonator cone and spider to fit. But until you can actually fit the neck onto the body (which you can't do until the top is on), you can only roughly measure, then guestimate the right saddle position.

Hopefully the Tanglewood and Hohner had the same scale-length necks, so that the existing bridge location can be measured and transferred to the new top.
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:08 pm

@Wonks
Yep the whole neck/bridge setup is a fog to me at the moment. I asked my brother how we were going to do this and he said don't worry your pretty little head about that for now - get on and make the back. He's been building and restoring stringed instruments for a living for over 25 years so I'm going on trust.

But I don't think we'll be able to rely on the scale lengths of the two guitars being identical, so using the existing bridge position probably not an option. Hmmm...
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby Wonks » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:22 pm

If you knew the Tanglewood model you could look up the scale length from their web site - but that's on the sticker on the inside of the back - which I presume you haven't got.

You can easily measure the distance from the nut to the crown of the 12th fret and double it to get the nominal scale length of the neck you do have.
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:26 pm

These from a few weeks ago (I get to visit the workshop for a day or two a month, so it's going to be slow progress).

Planing the back ready for jointing: The edges to be joined need to be absolutely straight and square.

Image

and gluing the back:

Image
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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby adrian_k » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:32 pm

And then when the back is dry, thicknessing. Since I have limited time in the workshop I'm using the sander rather than planing/hand sanding as Zen did in Project Uke.

Image

And here are the glued, thicknessed front and back, cut to rough shape on the bandsaw. The remaining sawcut mark on the back will be hand sanded out. That will be the inside of the back.

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Re: Build project - resonator guitar from recycled bits

Postby Wonks » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:32 pm

You could always assume that the 14th fret would have been on the neck/body join and measure the distance from the bridge to the body edge. You can then use the StewMac fret calculator to work backwards and try and confirm the likely scale length. http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator

Looking at the Tanglewood web site at their dreadnoughts, they all seem to have a 650mm scale length (25.6"), so that would be my first guess at the scale length of the body.
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