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Old 01-05-2022, 07:49 PM
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morgankelsey morgankelsey is offline
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Default A pair of Kelsey drum guitars

For the past few months I've been prototyping an idea that came about last fall after talking with a customer about a commission. This person is a percussive fingerstyle guitarist, and we got the idea to build tongue drums into the sides of the guitar to expand on the palette of percussive sounds available.

After many iterations, and several attempts at forming a process, I produced a prototype that worked really well.

I'm now building a pair of these guitars, one for this client and one that will be available if anyone is interested.

My client selected a set of Gabon Ebony and an Adirondack top for his guitar. I also found a beautiful piece of snakewood for the fingerboard and bridge that goes really well with the Ebony.



Here is the back jointed and ready for bracing:



The shape here is my version of something akin to a small jumbo, it is 15" wide and 20" long.

The sides are doubled with Padauk, I'm doing this both for the sonic benefits of a stiff rim and to support the extra weight the tongue drums will introduce.



Here the shapes of the drums have been cut. After the sides are formed the drums will be added to the insides. The oval slots you see are for magnets which will allow the drums to be tuned to a certain extent (I expect by about a minor 3rd)



The second guitar I'm making alongside this one is Oregon Myrtle and will have a Sitka spruce top.



It's drums have been cut and the sides also paired with Padauk. This set is a little further along and has been bent and cleaned up a bit:



Next I will make the actual drums, which will be about 1" thick and made from Mahogany or Khaya (not sure which yet). They will be slotted to match the sides.

Lastly I have a couple of rosette ideas for this pair:





Thanks for reading!
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Old 01-05-2022, 08:57 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Cool! Not for me, but I sure want to see how this turns out.
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Old 01-06-2022, 02:06 AM
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Bongo fury.

Keep the pics coming, please.
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Old 01-06-2022, 06:08 AM
FLRon FLRon is offline
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What an amazing time we live in where the boundaries of guitar building seem almost limitless! Love the wood choices and those rosettes are incredible!
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Old 01-06-2022, 08:23 AM
gerberguitars gerberguitars is offline
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Funny I was scrolling on Instagram last night and came across your page. I noticed these pictures and was intrigued, and then saw your picture of a tongue drum and connected the dots. I've also made some tongue drums which is a very satisfying thing to do if you can get it right. I wouldn't say mine turned out as well as they could but the kids enjoyed them. Anyways, I'm excited to see how this turns out!

You say that the drums will be inside the slotted sides. Can you elaborate more on this or should I just wait to see how it unfolds? My assumption would otherwise be that the long tongues themselves would be the drums. Maybe I'm not understanding correctly.
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Old 01-06-2022, 05:47 PM
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Thanks, all, I'm planning to document these right here until they are complete!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gerberguitars View Post
You say that the drums will be inside the slotted sides. Can you elaborate more on this or should I just wait to see how it unfolds? My assumption would otherwise be that the long tongues themselves would be the drums. Maybe I'm not understanding correctly.
Ryan, you are correct, the tongues represent the drums but don't have enough mass themselves to make much sound. They end up capping the drums that go on the inside. This pic of the prototype build shows what ends up happening:



This pic ended up being one of my most popular instagram posts ever -- people just love to see a saw sticking out the side of a guitar
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Old 01-07-2022, 08:18 AM
gerberguitars gerberguitars is offline
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Thanks for the pic of the prototype, I understand now where you're headed.

Very cool concept! I look forward to following along.
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Old 01-07-2022, 08:26 AM
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This should be most interested. You'll have to post a sound sample when this is all done.
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Old 01-07-2022, 08:47 AM
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Just when you think that you’ve seen it all—something like this comes along.
Very cool, very adventurous. Good luck with this. And certainly, we would love to hear a clip of this being played.

Steve
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Old 01-07-2022, 09:00 AM
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Very interesting
Will be greate to watch the progress and would be cool to also have a demo video/recording of the actual sound when finished . I have an actual tongue drum in my collection of percussion instruments

The percussive guitar style is interesting if almost a bit cliche' now days ...I think the real challenge for the players in the style is not falling into repetitive droning of pattern , and perhaps this will be a way to help make it more interesting ?
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Old 01-07-2022, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morgankelsey View Post
Thanks, all, I'm planning to document these right here until they are complete!



Ryan, you are correct, the tongues represent the drums but don't have enough mass themselves to make much sound. They end up capping the drums that go on the inside. This pic of the prototype build shows what ends up happening:



This pic ended up being one of my most popular instagram posts ever -- people just love to see a saw sticking out the side of a guitar
Funny the different reactions that saw invokes, makes my stomach turn in knots to see that LOL. Good luck, this looks really cool and the woods and rosette choices are stunning.
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Old 01-07-2022, 04:52 PM
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morgankelsey morgankelsey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerberguitars View Post
Thanks for the pic of the prototype, I understand now where you're headed.
Very cool concept! I look forward to following along.
Thanks, Ryan!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jklotz View Post
This should be most interested. You'll have to post a sound sample when this is all done.
I will definitely post a sample, which unfortunately means I'm probably going to have to figure out how to play some percussive guitar....volunteers welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kinnaird View Post
Just when you think that you’ve seen it all—something like this comes along.
Very cool, very adventurous. Good luck with this. And certainly, we would love to hear a clip of this being played.
Thanks, Steve, this means a lot to me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Very interesting
Will be greate to watch the progress and would be cool to also have a demo video/recording of the actual sound when finished . I have an actual tongue drum in my collection of percussion instruments
I built a few tongue drums over the past few months to try and figure them out. They are as unpredictable as you'd expect a wooden instrument to be, but can be manipulated through careful material removal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
Funny the different reactions that saw invokes, makes my stomach turn in knots to see that LOL. Good luck, this looks really cool and the woods and rosette choices are stunning.
It was definitely a "brown pants" operation - even on a prototype with $20 mahogany sides. I've worked out a way to do it that will be a little less hair raising (or hair losing).
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Old 01-07-2022, 07:41 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Truly innovative! Thanks for sharing this!
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Old 01-08-2022, 05:10 PM
jt1 jt1 is offline
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Very cool! Thanks for sharing the build with us.

I look forward to following the process and seeing/hearing the completed guitar.
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Old 01-08-2022, 07:14 PM
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morgankelsey morgankelsey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
Truly innovative! Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks so much, Mandobart!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jt1 View Post
Very cool! Thanks for sharing the build with us.

I look forward to following the process and seeing/hearing the completed guitar.
Thanks, John! I must say, I loved "Kalamazoo Gals".
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