Octavina is a family of bandurria. Just simply an octave lower than a bandurria. It belongs to a 14 strings family that consist of Octavina, Laud, and Bandurria.
Though, nothing so special compared to an acoustic guitar construction, except that this should be a little bit stronger and smaller than that of a normal guitar. The frets are exactly spaced as the guitar depending on the total span of the frets. However, the notes are not so arranged to make chords but rather to produced a vibrato melody. The alto of a rondalla.
The time I received this 40 years old octavina, there is not hope in restoring it but to make repairs. Here are some of the condition when I found it:
1. The head is split into pieces. The tuning mechanism are still there but not moving anymore. Needs to be reconstructed.
2. Bouts in the ends are still in good condition but there was spliting on one piece at the tail portion.
3. The frets are in good shape since these are made of brass. The good thing is the fretboard can be unglued to the neck easily. Probably because of the glue quality used years ago.
4. The back plate and front plates were split on each joint. I cannot find the other half. These I have to make my own back and front plates. Luckily, I have pieces of jackfruit board that I have sawn manually and used it.
5. Other pieces that needs to be replaced: Tailpiece, bridge and the trimings and brace for the plates.
Based on my assessment, it is better to buy a new one rather than restore it. The neck, head and fretboard are just made of ordinary wood. It is a cheap! But the sentimental value of it being a family heritage, I have to restore it. In making it, I will be making nearly 80 per cent of the materials renewed. What will be left and be used back are: Bouts, frets and the neck.
Despite of the hardship and difficulty, I have made the process as simple and scientifically composed of trial and error. I have to make a jig to form the exact shape and trim. This work is redundant with the violin making and no need to go back to step by step explaining. So below are the photos of how far I am now in the restoration.
THE FRONT WITH NECK AND HEAD
Notice the shape exactly as guitar but only smaller.
The flipside… you will never see this again when assembled.
The head… totally repaired. I made a plate that has to become the backing then reconstruct the middle part and the end part. (Take a close up view.. you can see the wood differences in the color and grain near the neck. Also, there are no holes yet on the middle ridge for the tuning pins.) What I used is only the two sides where the tuning mechanisms should be attached. Near the neck, I use 4 dowels of brass materials (1/8 diameter) to make it strong. I cannot use a wood or screw because the diameter are so big while the brass pin are just enough acting like nails on it. The glue helps also in it. If this was not restored, I will not post through with the restoration.
Here is the basis of how cheap those early people to do such extraneous job using a low quality of wood. They use thinner board to make the neck and head then extended a piece to complete it on the post section. What a nice saving technique. Well, the good story about this octavina… it played for nearly 10 years in our family rondalla.
The fretboard… again this is softwood.. not ebony or any hardwood. It was just painted.
THE PLATES…. I AM PROUD I MADE THEM MYSELF ..
The new plates are made from the jackfruit that I was the one who seasoned it for nearly 2 years staying in my file of lumbers just waiting to be a part of an instruments. The wait is really worth.
The new backplate… I made it.. I am happy with it including the sound. The test I use is to just knock and then find if there is a cracking sound… Well sounds good… Notice the beauty of the grain pattern. The black spots are normal with the jackfruit but don’t worry is is really solid and not cracking.
The front plate…
The strength of this board will be tested when the 14 strings are tightened and the push on the bridge will push it. My design as you noticed, I make a bulging effect on the middle (camber).
Up to here only… The bouts will come next then the final test…
Hope you enjoy reading and learned something about restoring and repairing musical instruments.
Have a nice day!!