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Fanned Fret Guitar

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Project by brdf11 posted 06-08-2017 11:39 AM 1100 views 6 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve only ever posted smaller projects here, so I thought I would share something more serious that I just completed. This is the 7th stringed instrument I’ve built, and the second guitar. I started designing it back in October, and strung it up for the first time on June fifth. It was about 170 hours of work from start to finish, and I tried to limit myself to hand tools as much as possible. I designed and built every part of this guitar by hand except for the tuning machines.

The top is Carpathian Spruce, and the back and sides are Indian Rosewood. The neck is maple, and all of the fittings are ebony and cocobolo. This guitar also has full abalone purfling, and a 12th fret inlay inspired by victorian era banjos. It also has a secondary sound hole on the bass side of the body which allows the player to hear themselves more clearly.

Most notably, this guitar is designed around a fanned fret layout where all of the strings are different lengths. This means that the frets aren’t parallel, and it was a much more challenging design process than anything I had ever built.
You can read more about fanned frets and the benefits of the design here: Fanned Frets

You can hear me playing the finished guitar here:

https://youtu.be/-kumUFFvVS8

Some photos of the build process:

The fret slots cut and the floral ornament inlayed in pearl at the 12th fret. It took about 4 hours just to cut the mother of pearl:

The mold, made out of a scrap piece of glulam:

The sound hole cut and the abalone sound hole rosette inlayed:

The sides drying in the mold after steam bending by eye:

The neck block is a tricky bit of shaping:

Profiling the sides and blocks to match the slight arch of the top and back:

The back braces glued and carved:

The top braces are a complex lattice of lap joints, and need to be extremely light and strong:

The top joined to the sides:

The channel for my logo inlay routed out:

The first fret installed:

A cold winter’s day of fretwork:

The beginning of carving the neck with rasps and files:

Inlaying the abalone purfling on the top. The binding (outermost layer) is cocobolo:

Filling the pores in the rosewood back:

Carving the bridge:

Leveling and polishing the finish with micro-mesh and 3M Finesse-it compound:

I’m quite happy with how the finish turned out:

Thanks for looking! I strongly encourage anyone considering building a guitar to give it a try. It’s a great combination of a bunch of different tool skills and processes, and it’s an incredibly rewarding thing to complete.





26 comments so far

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2703 posts in 3432 days


#1 posted 06-08-2017 12:01 PM

WOW! Fantastic looking Guitar!

-- Dennis Zongker

View brdf11's profile

brdf11

11 posts in 349 days


#2 posted 06-08-2017 01:06 PM



WOW! Fantastic looking Guitar!

- Dennis Zongker


Thank you!

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1036 posts in 2601 days


#3 posted 06-08-2017 01:37 PM

Beautiful job of guitar building. I built one from a book back in the 1970s so I know the skill this takes.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

29208 posts in 2707 days


#4 posted 06-08-2017 01:52 PM

You have done a beautiful piece of work on this guitar. It’s an outstanding instrument.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2643 posts in 2013 days


#5 posted 06-08-2017 02:15 PM

Outstanding! That is a beautiful guitar. I’m guessing it sound as good as it looks.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

13751 posts in 3937 days


#6 posted 06-08-2017 02:19 PM

Stunning work.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1796 posts in 1809 days


#7 posted 06-08-2017 02:32 PM

Great work! The sound is top notch, nice bass tones but with happy trebles too. A life time guitar for sure. If that is your 7th instrument you are well on your way to being a great luthier.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View DreganTepis's profile

DreganTepis

36 posts in 352 days


#8 posted 06-08-2017 02:39 PM

I am amazed. Truly a great work of art!

-- Red pencil, red marker, marking knife... doesn't mater, the wood will end up the same color.

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

3061 posts in 3367 days


#9 posted 06-08-2017 03:28 PM

Wow – that is awesome!

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View brdf11's profile

brdf11

11 posts in 349 days


#10 posted 06-08-2017 03:28 PM

Thank you all! I’m very happy with how it turned out. You can here it here:
https://youtu.be/-kumUFFvVS8

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2643 posts in 2013 days


#11 posted 06-08-2017 04:28 PM

Great sound. Congrats on daily top three.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16272 posts in 4058 days


#12 posted 06-08-2017 04:56 PM

This is incredible. I’m insanely envious of your skills!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

1263 posts in 1514 days


#13 posted 06-08-2017 05:49 PM

Very nice indeed! This is the first time I’ve seen an extra x brace behind the bridge, a place I’ve always thought needed support to avoid the top deforming behind the bridge. Are the other braces shaved a bit more to keep the top limber and responsive?

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View brdf11's profile

brdf11

11 posts in 349 days


#14 posted 06-08-2017 06:13 PM



Very nice indeed! This is the first time I ve seen an extra x brace behind the bridge, a place I ve always thought needed support to avoid the top deforming behind the bridge. Are the other braces shaved a bit more to keep the top limber and responsive?

- Texcaster


Thank you! I’m of the belief that more smaller braces is stronger than a few large ones. I tried out that double X idea on flat top mandolin family instruments first, and this is the first guitar with that layout. It remains to be seen whether or not it’s better, but the top has been extremely stable so far and it’s one of the loudest guitars I’ve played.

View Kerry's profile

Kerry

20 posts in 2162 days


#15 posted 06-08-2017 07:20 PM

Very nice work and a bit of an interesting top bracing pattern.

-- Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light...(Helen Keller)

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