About Craig Rantz

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So far Craig Rantz has created 80 blog entries.

Uke Build: Radius Dish Prep

(Prev: Radius Dish Top)

This picture shows the holes located and drilled on the top plate of the radius dish. I was able to “back drill” the top plate from the lower hole positions once the centerlines were established with respect to both plates.

Next, using a countersink, I prepared the holes in the top to accept […]

Uke Build: Radius Dish Top

(Prev: Radius Dish Tooling)

I had to make a compass large enough to create a 16 inch upper radius plate. How did I start, and what did I use?

First, I needed a mechanical pencil to present a witness mark on the ¼” MDF. With that found, I needed a method to hold the pencil in a […]

Uke Build: Radius Dish Tooling

(Prev: Radius Dish Equation)

When the scotch comes out, it’s serious!

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do what’s necessary for a good final result. That was the case for introducing a 15 foot radius to the back of this ukulele. A truly flat back is much weaker than one with a compound curve […]

Uke Build: Radius Dish Equation

(Prev: Bracing Extensions)

I used to teach school, one of my best memories was homeroom math for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. You know THE single biggest question about math from the perspective of the students, don’t you? “Where are we EVER going to use this junk?!” Well, fast forward 20 years and I finally have […]

Uke Build: Bracing Extensions

(Prev: Completed Kerfing)

Recall the “flat top” design and issues of integrity? The small brace running between the front and center braces allows me to build a flat top instrument (with no top radius). This, and the corresponding brace on the opposite side, will keep the top from “sinking” and maintain integrity! The clamping pressure is […]

Uke Build: Completed Kerfing

(Prev: Back Kerfing)

These pictures show the completed top and bottom kerfing.

I always used to look through the sound holes of prospective guitars as a kid and search for glue drips… I can’t stand glue drips, it smacks at a lack of pride in workmanship! I use a wet Q-tip to wipe away the “squeeze out” […]

Uke Build: Back Kerfing

(Prev: Tooling)

These pictures show the back kerfing being glued in place on the ukulele. The “C” clamps are gripping the sides to hold the kerfing edges in position at the neck and tail blocks. Then it’s a simple matter of using clothes pins to hold the kerfing while the glue cures. Take note that the […]

Uke Build: Tooling

(Prev: Glue Top)

These pictures show two specific areas of interest for this ukulele where tooling is concerned. First, note the wing nut extension pieces on the front edge of the tooling, and secondly, the clamp bolted through the sound hole location. The wing nut extensions lets me mechanically lock in the neck block and the […]

Uke Build: Glue Top

(Prev: Back Bracing)

In this picture the solid mahogany top has been glued to the solid mahogany sides. The kerfing is traditional on this ukulele and is only .080” thick, so there will be no binding on this instrument. In future builds I could use thicker kerfing, similar to that used on a guitar which will […]

Uke Build: Back Bracing

(Prev: Top Cleating)

My greatest burst of learning all things mechanical came from 4 years at Boeing. I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Boeing Model Shop with some of the best model makers in the world and used some very unique machinery in the process. One of the first lessons taught was layout […]

Uke Build: Top Cleating

(Prev: Gluing Top)

Notice the small “cleats” anchoring the front brace to the kerfing? This is an idea I wanted to implement to take note of sound transference. It seemed to work just fine – and I didn’t need to cut into the kerfing to “lock in” the top braces to the sides, which is a […]

Uke Build: Gluing Top

(Prev: Top Bracing, Tooling)

These pictures show the solid mahogany top being glued to the solid mahogany sides of the instrument.

I elected to make a truly “flat top” ukulele. In doing so I changed the fundamental response to a lower pitch, softening the sound a bit. Most ukuleles have a 28 foot radius to maintain top […]

Uke Build: Top Bracing, Tooling

(Prev: Kerfing Install, Tooling)

The top of this ukulele is solid mahogany and the braces are Sitka spruce. I hand carve each brace and work the top to a consistent thickness to bring the best out of each element of the instrument. The bracing design is traditional in this case, except for the 45 degree chamfer […]

Uke Build: Kerfing Install, Tooling

These pictures show the solid mahogany sides of the ukulele already bent into shape. The issue at hand was if I wanted to build a side mold to hold the body in position for construction. That will come after the first instrument is completed. The kerfing used for this ukulele is traditional, it is […]

Well, well – Eric Clapton agrees!

I’ve said for years that a person plays up to their instrument!

Listen through this interview, Mr. Clapton agrees …

By the way, the black & white photo is a pic of my father on the left, Mike Rantz (real name = Robert Marion Rantz) and my uncle, Joe Rantz, playing guitars together. Picture was taken in […]

Some of the finest new guitars

The Martin Guitar Company will often send some reps around to different location throughout the US. During one of these episodes I had the opportunity to play some Martin Authentics. These guitars are built to “old world” standards, using hide glue and a bit more “hand” fitting in the process of construction.

Take a look:

These […]

Guitar care in the New Year

Well, a few of you may have received new instruments for Christmas. That, of course, is excellent news!

With the gift of a new guitar, banjo, mandolin, or ukulele, comes the responsibility of understanding the needs of the instrument. Especially during the winter season. The reason I specifically mention winter is that it is typically […]

Steel or nylon strings…

Do I want a steel string guitar, or a nylon string guitar?

This question comes up at some point when students begin taking guitar lessons or shopping for their first instrument.

Steel strings are a little tougher on the finger tips, especially in the beginning phases. Nylon strings are a little easier on the finger tips, […]

Tour of Martin Guitar Factory & Museum

As I continue my tour of American-made guitar manufactures, I had the chance in 2010 to spend time at the Martin Factory & Museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The pictures are of the instruments in the museum (no pictures allowed in the factory).

There are two buildings in Nazareth, PA representing the Martin Guitar company. The main […]

Taylor Guitar factory tour

In 2004 I took the opportunity to visit the Taylor Guitar company in El Cajon, CA. This is another manufacturer of American-made guitars.

If you find yourself in the San Diego area and have a few extra hours, do drive a bit east and visit Taylor Guitars, it is well worth the drive.

Taylor is an […]