Mandolin Build: 15th Fret Marker

(Prev: French Polish Side)

This was a tricky little area to construct …

Normally, the 15th fret marker has no trim – it’s just a white line of plastic. Of course, I wanted to be different!

So, I added a piece of rosewood trim in front of the 15th fret marker to complete the look of the rosewood […]

Mandolin Build: Fret Board Inlay

(Prev: French Polish Top)

Again, one of my “signatures” on my hand-built instruments is abalone position markers.

This is a picture of the abalone inlay on mandolin #1. I use smaller 5mm dots, as opposed to 6mm, for this application. I like the look of the dots to be comfortably inside the frets. The larger dots […]

Uke Build: Fret Board Glue-up

(Prev: Fret Board Crowning)

This can be one of the trickier aspects of instrument building because Tightbond adhesive is very slippery until it begins to set up! Trying to hold a centerline on two ends gets interesting as the viscous nature of the adhesive rears its ugly head. All one can do is allow the glue […]

Uke Build: Fret Board Crowning

(Prev: Tuner Bushing Holes)

The frets will cause a little back bow in the fret board as the tangs push the slots apart – a little mist of water and some weight relieves the back bow! The picture doesn’t show that the fret board is being held up by each end so the “sag” is set […]

Uke Build: Filling Fret Slots

(Prev: Fret Nipping)

Whenever I sand a hard wood I keep the dust and store it for purposes such as these.

The fret slots are filled with a paste I make up from the dust and Tightbond Wood Glue. I simply fill the fret slot with this paste and allow it to dry out overnight. There tends […]

Uke Build: Fret Nipping

(Prev: Fretting)

The ends of the frets are nipped off with a special tool. This nipper tends not to pull the fret out of the slot, as would a standard nipping tool.

Notice how much of the slot is left under the fret wire? That’s pretty standard, it needs to be there to allow the fret to […]

Uke Build: Fretting

(Prev: Side Dot Inlay)

The next series of pictures are of the fretting process. I’ve always liked rosewood as a fret board material, mainly because of its acceptance of the fret tang during the fretting process!

Ebony, on the other hand, is much harder and tends to chip and split as a result. In cases where I […]

Uke Build: Side Dot Inlay

(Prev: Abalone Dot Inlay)

The side dots are cut from small, round plastic sticks (1/16” in diameter). They are installed with super glue and trimmed, then sanded.

(Next: Fretting)

Uke Build: Abalone Dot Inlay

(Prev: Fret Board Inlay)

Here you see the abalone dots super glued in place and rough sanded. One has to be careful of the abalone dust, it will actually cause serious breathing problems!!!

At this point in the construction the fret board has not had Tung oil applied to its top surface, once done it brings out […]

Uke Build: Fret Board Inlay

(Prev: Body Glue Up)

Here’s a picture of the layout for the abalone dot markers on the fret board, those centerlines are critical, especially as the frets get closer together!!!

One of my “signatures” is the use of abalone for position markers, I like the appearance of abalone and every piece is unique, no two instruments will […]

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 […]