Now I also make jewelry

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Mandrake ukulele

In keeping with the medieval theme, this is a second soprano I made alongside the previous one and very similar to it. The freshly dug out mandrake root and the celtic cross provided a perfect accompaniment for its coming out.
Nice piece of highly figured burl veneer on the headstock (no doubt what attracted the mandragora).

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Friday, 27 August 2010

Red, red rose

Actually, not red: variegated...
To cliché or not to cliché?

Thursday, 26 August 2010


Cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Another barytone - I'm in love

This one was completed about a week ago and I can't stop playing it.
Same silhouette as the "deep baritone" of the end of July, but with a shallower body, a more pronounced slope of the back and a different bracing pattern.
I love the sound of this instrument, but also with the fact that it feels so "alive" as I'm playing it (maybe because of the way it fits my body so well that I can feel it vibrate all the time). This may be a familiar experience to players more experienced than I am, but it's definitely new to me. Though I dislike hocus pocus as much as any man, it would be tempting to wax a little bit lyrical about it. At any rate, there's certainly an ounce of magic in this for me.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Third nut

Irresistible title, but I must be allowed some levity after spending the morning fashioning three of those to get one exactly right: right thickness, right length, right slope angle, right depth and shallowness of the string slots and right spacing of the slots so that they fit with the spacing of the slots in the saddle and bridge. Test with the fourth and first strings for optimum spacing from the edges of the fretboard. Test for proper action. Make adjustments or re-do the whole thing (twice). All right; check for possible buzzing: only one small buzz easily corrected by pressing the guilty fret further down: relief!
One saddle was enough, so I'm counting my blessings.
I've put on all four strings, brought the tension to proper tuning, checked for buzzing with all four strings, checked the intonation: so far so good. I'll let the strings settle and re-tune them several times today before really testing this new baby.
Hard to take a proper picture of the beast: so tiny. Everything done with razor saw, files and sandpaper: a fraction of a millimeter here, a fraction there... un travail de bénédictin !

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A Proustian moment

Freshly baked madeleines and scones: a nice occasion to bring out some of last year instruments.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Carpe diem tenor uke

Time to smell the roses... literally, since these are the last, albeit no less glorious, of this abundantly sunny season.
A lot of experimentation with this one, including a double layer (padouk and anigre) of very thin banding veneers. A lot of veneer dots too (I did go a bit dotty with the veneer for a while), inlaid in the fingerboard or just glued on around the soundhole.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Frugal molds

I'm making preparatioms for my next building season. Along with new designs and building ideas, I'm planning for less improvisation and more discipline this time around, which means framework and, among other things, frames or molds.
I've glued blocks of wood together and bandsawed them: the mold for the larger instrument is big enough that I can fashion a second mold out of it for a smaller size ukulele.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Second coming of the baritone

This is my second baritone this season, with a brand new silhouette, more slim-waisted.
I really love the way that back shimmers.
The soundboard is made of Western red cedar: I chanced upon this stunning yellow-hued piece and it did not disappoint.
The neck is yet another experiment in gluing various woods together.
Nicely veined canary wood for the fretboard and bird's eye maple veneer over the headstock.
I'm enjoying the baritone sound more and more. This one is mellower than the previous one.