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Old 07-29-2014, 05:23 PM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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Default Building Course: African Blackwood/German Spruce OM

Around 18 months ago,I decided to make whatever resources I had available, and I commenced my endeavour to build my own guitar. I had seen an ad posted by Casimi guitars (www.facebook.com/casimiguitars www.casimiguitars.com) who were located conveniently close to me, and decided to check out what they were all about...actually, it was reversed, I first saw the ad, then checked them out, then decided to go for it. Anyway, that's irrelevant.
So in April 2013 I started my 16 month process of building (heavily supervised and assisted) a guitar.

Though we started from the very beginning, on a giant drawing board, with pencils and paper, I decided to go with a slightly modified Casimi design rather than one of my own, since they had designed guitars before and I had honestly never tried.
I like the way they shape their guitars, particularly in that they are able to somehow make a very deep cutaway on their favoured 12fret neck join, but somehow disguise it and have it not stand out.

I am now just two or three weeks away from stringing this thing up, and completely overrun with anticipation.

Back pieces as they arrived from lmii:

Thickness sanded them down to 4mm, joined the pieces and cut the back to a slightly oversized shape, then it looked like this:


Joined the top pieces:


Put my centre strip brace on the back and shaped it:

gluing in some back braces:

Which were then shaped with a tiny plane before scalloping:

I had to build a mould first...my guitar has a slightly softer cutaway than the Casimi model on which it is based:

My tailblock and neck block going in. Shaping these two pieces was one of the hardest tasks in the building of this guitar. I went through more than one piece of sapele and Khaya on each of those.

Kerfling going in with some bevel blocks...these were also a mission to shape, though not as tricky as the neck block.

...and it's all in:
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Old 07-29-2014, 05:24 PM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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I got an awesome piece of kiaat with a really wild end grain. I decided to cut it up into tiles which i then used in my rosette and my tail graft.


and it came out looking like this...not perfect, but I really like it:


With the rosette finally in, we could thin the top and start bracing it:

And carving braces with Matthias's awesome Japanese paring chisel:


My neck is made of sapele and features a scarf joint headstock and a stacked heal:
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Old 07-29-2014, 05:26 PM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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I came a bit short when looking for blackwood off-cuts to use as my headplate veneer...I had not planned carefully enough when cutting my back out on the band saw...so I was forced to make this happy plan:

With my african blackwood fretboard, which is bound in west african ebony:


Which later had this done to it:

Then this:
[URL=http://s1273.photobucket.com/user/andrewharrison0/media/better_zps7f2463d8.jpg.html][/URL}

And finally, a tiny tortoise, whom I met whilst taking a walk outside the workshop. The workshop is located deep in the peninsula south of Cape Town...up in a mountain range, next to the sea:


It's late now, and I will have to sort and post more of these photos tomorrow.
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:01 PM
billgennaro billgennaro is offline
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Great stuff! Thanks for all the pics. I've got a German/ABW 00 sized guitar that I'm really fond of. I understand that ABW is about as dense and hard a tonewood as there is. Did your final back thickness remain at 4mm? Was wondering if your were aiming for a back that was stiff/reflective or one that was less stiff/more elastic in nature?

Bill
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:32 AM
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Thanks for posting this badcrumble. I really admire the journey you have taken over the past year and a half and look forward to photos of the final guitar.

Interesting that in South Africa you used ABW that came via LMI in the USA! I have recently been looking for Australian burl wood, and one of the very best places to buy it is via a fantastic website for a company based in Virginia. Our buddies in the US are really good at recognising and providing fine timbers from around the world.

Col
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Old 07-30-2014, 05:26 AM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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hi guys, thanks for your interest.
Bill you're correct, ABW is incredibly dense. A 4mm back would have been insanely heavy haha, this back was thinned to around 2.3mm on the bass side and 2.5 mm on the treble side, if I recall correctly.

Hi Colin, yes we laugh routinely at how the wood is harvested and processed just north of us, shipped across the world, processed some more and then shipped back.

I have since found a supplier in Johannesburg, however for the course , the guys still favour LMI as the wood is always ready to use (rather than having to dry for a few months), and all components can be sourced in one go. As it turned out, my initial ebony bridge and fretboard from LMI remain unused, after replacing them with an ABW fretboard and bridge from the supplier in joburg.

and now a few more pictures :

My top, pre-bracing and my braced back:


Starting work on my bridge:


Fitting my back to my sides:


Fitting the top to the sides:

I like how the light from the window glows in the top:
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Old 07-30-2014, 05:48 AM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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Once the box had been glued up, we used a 45degree router bit to trim to the sapele bevel blocks, which I then covered in 1.5mm Macassar ebony.

They both looked a little messy at first:

But only looked better and better after being filed flush:



Then we cut the binding channels using a dremel and a binding jig base of sorts. This part was super scary, and I kept worrying that I would tilt the base and end up cutting funny shapes...especially on the radiused back...but it all worked out ok...slow progress was key

Here's a shot with the channels routed, and my african blackwood binding (which is still to be processed) and some kiaat that I used for purfling on my top.


As I mentioned before, this casimi design has a very deep cutaway and after binding, there would have been only about a 2cm gap between my rosette and the bidning on my cutaway. I didn't like this.
Usually Casimi make their guitars this way, but continue their purfling in a curve around the rosette, filling the area in with backwood or another wood,
however, my rosette had already gone in and had purfling around it, there was no way to make the pufling wrap around and look tidy as it joined the rosette purfling...Matthias came up with this ingenious solution:
We cut as if the prufling is going to join the rosette, but then pull it back in two bee sting mitres:

Which looked a bit like this after binding and purfling:


finally, work starting on my tail graft:

which I cut out and wraped in purfling to look like this:

If you look closely, you can see that the cross-hair where the four tiles are joined is not quite perfect. The guys asked me if I wanted to do it again, and I elected not to, as I intend to put a strap pin in the centre there one day...in retrospect, I should have done it again.

Last edited by Badcrumble; 11-20-2014 at 01:48 AM.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:01 AM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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Finally bound, and with a sound port cut. Many thanks to Tim McKnight, whom I emailed out of the blue, demanding information on sound port placement. Tim was incredibly helpful with his response, condensing the finding of years of experimentation into a comprehensive email.



the rib bevel looks sweet:

And that chamfer on the sound port edge matches the chamfer and layers in the headstock hollow:


Hell, even the black-white-black side and back purfling looks classy:


A little bit of neck shaping going down:


And a close up of the one bee sting mitre...I did not do this myself...Matthias Roux is a wizard with his Japanese chisel:

Dovetail joint cut, and everything fitting nice and snug:




The guitar is undergoing finishing at the moment. Hopefully we'll glue the neck joint on Saturday, then fret and fit the bridge the next saturday, and finally string her up...It has taken an absolute age, and for the last 8months, I have been convinced this baby would be ready in two months...if nothing else, this has been a exercise in patience...which, as I start my second build solo, I am realising is a large part of luthery.
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Old 07-30-2014, 07:54 AM
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I'm very impressed. This looks absolutely stunning, and I love your wood choices and design aesthetic. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:49 AM
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That is absolutely gorgeous! It is very special to be the builder (at least for a very large percentage) of this. I'm looking forward to hearing your impressions of the sound. Congratulations on the journey so far!
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:45 AM
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Very impressive, especially as a first build!
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:01 AM
ewh2 ewh2 is offline
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Great work.

What will the second build be? The builder's bug must have bitten!

Did you ever have a chance to play one of Casimi's flamenco guitars? The video of Derek Gripper playing a blanca is stunning. (Derek Gripper is a fine guitarist, one of my favourite contemporary guitarists)
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:27 AM
Badcrumble Badcrumble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewh2 View Post
Great work.

What will the second build be? The builder's bug must have bitten!
Oh in a big big way hahaha. I have already sold off all of my electric guitars except one, in order to fund a band saw, a belt/disk sander, a drum sander,some hand planes, some chisels...some stew mac foredom attachements, handpieces and router base jigs etc.
The next one has already been started in my own workshop, and will be a 12fret parlour based on Martin's parlour. I will be using Mopane back and sides with a western red cedar top...most likely with an ebony fretboard and bridge (the ones that I odered from LMI for this build, before I obtained the ABW...I'll make a build thread for that too, tho I reckon that one belongs in build and repair rather than custom shop.

This course has been without a doubt the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ewh2 View Post
Did you ever have a chance to play one of Casimi's flamenco guitars? The video of Derek Gripper playing a blanca is stunning. (Derek Gripper is a fine guitarist, one of my favourite contemporary guitarists)
Yes, I have actually had the priviledge of playing that exact Flamenco Blanca! Nowhere near as well as Derek does though

Derek actually lived in a cottage on the same property as the casimi workshop for a while. One of the guys who is building a guitar with me on this course was a student of his, and would often go for a lesson straight after the morning build session.
This kid (James) is a phenomenal guitar player, who often takes building breaks to play some guitar. I've seen James play Jarabi flawlessly too, which I believe is the song you'd have seen on youtube...
here is the link for anyone who has not: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qoUxFKa7j8


Thanks so much for all your kind words guys. I am also proud as all hell and very impressed with the guitar I have managed to put together, although it would be very dishonest not to credit Matthias and Matthew for a whole lot of the work and precision seen in this instrument...They made sure that quality was built into this instrument, often taking the reigns when things got tight or I got nervous.
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:54 AM
ewh2 ewh2 is offline
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You didn't need all those electric guitars anyway... Good to hear the builder's bug has bitten! What's Mopane like as a tonewood? Not come across it before, seeing more African tonewoods out there; which IMO are up there with the best eg Padauk, Wenge, Sapele, Movingui, Makore. Look forward to seeing the build thread for the next guitar.

What was the blanca played in the video like? I've watched that video many times! Beautiful sounding guitar, I think it works better for Derek's style of playing than his Hauser. Nice story about Derek Gripper teaching James to play 'Jarabi', James seems to be wise too; when he is tired of making a guitar, he plays one!

The Casimi guys aside from being outstanding luthiers seem to be great teachers too.
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Old 07-30-2014, 12:38 PM
J-F C J-F C is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthewpartrick View Post
I'm very impressed. This looks absolutely stunning, and I love your wood choices and design aesthetic. Thanks for sharing.
Exactly my thoughts. Congrats !
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