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DWitt
03-08-2015, 01:24 AM
Not a building question, but just converting—I figured this was the closest board on the forum, though . . .

Anyone have experience/advice/angry ramblings about the idea of putting custom strings and custom-slotted nut and bridge on a guitar to make it into a four-course instrument? For example, maybe an octave Lili'u:

G3 - C3/C4 - E3 - A3/A2

or a six-string bouzoukitar:

G2/G3 - D3/D4 - A3 - E4

or a six-string mandocello:

C2 - G2/G3 - E3 - A3/A3

granger
03-08-2015, 03:33 AM
I took one of Antonio Aparicio's solid wood used student classical guitars with a 23" scale and modified the neck. Narrowed neck to 1.5" at the nut and 1.8 at the body (12th fret). Put a new 4 slot nut on it and drilled through the tie on bridge to make a pass through bridge with new string spacing. I modified the slot head by cutting it down and putting a new top and bottom overlay to hide the glue lines and add strength. I cut the three on a plate tuners back to two. I have it tuned DGBe like a baritone uke. You could string it up with any number of tunings as there are a bunch of strings available through D'Addario for all the tunings you mention. I think narrowing the neck is important for comfortable playing. Any 23" 3/4 size student guitar would be a candidate for this. They are inexpensive used. Select one with a decent action and tone and go for it. I was inspired by Pono's new nylon string tenor guitar but am in to this project about $250 rather than $800-$900 for the Pono.

DWitt
03-09-2015, 05:21 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience!

mvinsel
03-10-2015, 09:35 AM
After reading Keith Richards' autobiography I converted an Ibanez Daytripper mini guitar into a five string, dropping the low E.

The neck was pretty narrrow for me for six strings but with a new five slot nut it feels much better.
At the bridge end I cut grooves in the saddle and filed little grooves at five bridge pins to point to the new string locations on the saddle.
I like it better this way and can always turn it back to how it was.

In your case, adding strings, you need to be mindful of the total tension you're adding. If you have some careful way to check for any deflection in the top while you're tuning it up, you might avert a break before it occurs.

-Vinnie in Juneau

DWitt
03-10-2015, 01:34 PM
Cool! That sounds fun.



In your case, adding strings, you need to be mindful of the total tension you're adding. If you have some careful way to check for any deflection in the top while you're tuning it up, you might avert a break before it occurs.

Oh—I'm looking at six-string arrangements specifically to avoid adding tension (or tuners!). I figure this should work with just cutting a new nut and grooves in the saddle, just like you did, right?

kypfer
03-10-2015, 02:00 PM
By way of experimentation, to see if I wanted to pay full price for a baritone ukulele, I found a 1/4-size "Skylark" guitar, very cheap, and reworked the nut to take four strings tuned GDAE. The experiment worked and I bought a Brunswick baritone ukulele :) ... anyone want a 4/6-string Skylark with a slightly bowed neck ;)

Barbablanca
03-10-2015, 02:12 PM
I converted a travel guitar into a six string (3 course doubled strings) Greek Bouzouki (Tuned DAD)

Here are a few pics. One of the overall instrument and details of the headstock and the tailpiece. As you'll appreciate, the wide neck of the original meant there is a lot of wasted space on either side of the first and six string. But I soon got used to that.

This instrument had arrived slightly damaged in shipping and the supplier kindly sent me another one. So, I fixed up the damaged beast. But I didn't really need two travel guitars (although this model is a superb finger picker) so having tried and loved a three course bouzouki in a Greek restaurant in France, I decided to try a conversion.

It works well enough as a first instrument. If you decided you want to deepen your playing of the three course bouzouki, then you can always get a better model later. This was a good learning tool and I still noodle on it occasionally. When I went to Greece I had planned to get a "proper" one. But in the end I got the smaller bodied Tsouras (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZR9cxOdmCY) because it has such a different quality to anything else I play. The standard three courses I tried sounded too much like this one ;)


77223

77224

77225

mvinsel
03-10-2015, 03:52 PM
Cool! That sounds fun.



Oh—I'm looking at six-string arrangements specifically to avoid adding tension (or tuners!). I figure this should work with just cutting a new nut and grooves in the saddle, just like you did, right?

Oh yeah - I'm sorry I didn't read it closely enough and thought you might be going from six to eight.
-Vinnie

DWitt
03-10-2015, 04:34 PM
Very cool! Thanks especially for the pictures!