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Violintar

In my intro to woodworking class at College of the Redwoods a few of my classmates decided to build guitars. After a couple months of being asked questions and watching their progress I decided it was about time for me to build my own.

I have seen many bass guitars in the shape of a violin (most famously, Paul McCartney's), but have not seen many guitars in the shape of a violin, so I decided to build one.

I had a nice slab of mahogany lying around, so on a long weekend I finally decided to start my "violintar". Because I was at home without access to band saws or anything I went at my slab of mahogany with some hand tools, and here is what I turned out:


It is made of three pieces of 3/4" mahogany and a strip of maple that I planed down from 3/4" to 3/8". Even though the face of my guitar will be mahogany, the sides will be made of maple, so I decided to make that reference to the body in the neck with that stripe of maple.

All of the violin shaped basses have a traditional guitar headstock, so I decided to go with a slotted headstock more like an actual violin:


When I got into the wood shop I took the rest of my piece of mahogany and resawed it in half and bookmatched it to create a thin and almost seamless soundboard. I then had to make a special jig in order to glue the two pieces of 3/8" thin stock edge to edge:


It is a bit complicated to explain, but I will do my best. The two C clamps in the middle hold down a piece of oak to ensure the pieces are flat on the table and even with each other. The two long horizontal clamps pull in two pieces of scrap wood for even pressure on the outside edge. Unfortunately because the stock I am gluing is so thin, the pieces of scrap wood pulling inwards have a tendency to roll over the mahogany, so the vertical orange clamps hold pieces of wood to brace them. You can't see it, but there is a piece of aluminum foil under it all to prevent everything from being glued to the table. I unfortunately forgot to put a piece under the oak that is aligned over the seem, so it stuck a bit, but I was able to remove it with only a little effort.

Once glued together, I traced out my body shape and laid out some parts on the soundboard to see what my general layout will be and to figure out my scale length.


Yes, I know, all of my components are chrome except my gold humbuckers. But I am trying to use all parts that I have already accumulated over the years, so unless I feel like actually buying some new pickups, the final violintar will have these mismatched finishes.

For the rest of the guitar I plan on constructing in the fashion of a telecaster thinline, where instead of bending sides and all of that extra effor, the back and sides are all one piece of thick wood that is hollowed out:


Thinlines, however,  are only semi hollow bodies, as you can see the center is solid. I plan to hollow out more so that it is closer to a full hollow body.

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So I got my body nearly done with only one mistake, unfortunately it is quite a bad mistake:

As I was routing out the body cavity, the router bit started to slip out of the collet  unfortunately by the time I realized what was happening I had already blown a hole through.


Instead of a traditional roudover on the edges of my guitar, I went a little fancy and grabbed a bit for making moldings and ran it around my body:


I then moved on to the neck, which I decided to dovetail into the body. 


After the glue set I decided to get to work on patching the hole. I used a coping saw to cut the hole larger to a size  and shape that could be easily filled. after dressing the hole, I then placed a scrap of 3/16" mahogany behind the hole, and traced the inside of the hole. After some cutting and filing and fitting I was able to get a patch that looked a lot better that what I expected to turn out.


the glue around the edges will be scraped off before any finish is applied.

Next I glued the face on, then routed the same fancy pattern around the face. after that I decided to make myself a maple bridge in more of a traditional violin pattern. I am worried about the strength of the face plate between the f-holes, so I am still not yet sure If I will cut them out completely or just leave them decoratively carved. 

Here I am gluing the fretboard down to the neck:


I then went to work and dressed and fretted the fretboard up. I also did some sanding to take out all of the pen and pencil  lines.


here is a closeup of my rough carvings for the f-holes:


And of course, my crazy headstock:


after some wood burning and a little bit of oil and wax, there is what it looks like strung up:


after installing the electronics and doing some bridge work it sounds great. Check out the chatoyancy on my mahogany:




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