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View Full Version : Thinning a soundboard that's already installed?



Tommy B
03-25-2015, 06:36 PM
Hi everyone. Occasionally I come across a uke that seems well-built but has a soundboard that's too thick and/or overbraced. I've often wondered if it was possible to remove the back panel (for access) and somehow thin the soundboard without removing it. I would never attempt this on a good uke, but on a cheapie, I've fantasized about removing the braces, getting something like a Safe-T-Planer and removing some stock. What do you think? Insane idea? (And if it's not obvious, I'm no luthier!)

Thoughts?

Allen
03-25-2015, 06:57 PM
Why not thin the front of the soundboard?

This is very common for us to do once the box is all closed up and the tap response isn't quite what we want or expected. Then we'll thin around the perimeter of the lower bout to loosen up the top. You go easy, as a little can make a big difference.

Of course, you are going to need some refinishing to do, but if you pop off the back to do this, you will also need to do some refinishing, and are going to be opening up a can of worms if you don't know what you're doing.

sequoia
03-25-2015, 07:00 PM
One wonders Tommy why you don't just throw this overbraced, thick ukulele on the scrape heap of history and get a better sounding uke? What you are proposing to do is going to be a lot of work. Sentimental value? Looks nice?

ksquine
03-26-2015, 04:13 AM
Yes, its insane. But I've seen crazier things done.
Maybe you could remove the back and carve the braces some. It would be better to take the top off and work on it directly. Either way, it would be a lot of work.

Tommy B
03-26-2015, 05:04 AM
Why not thin the front of the soundboard?

This is very common for us to do once the box is all closed up and the tap response isn't quite what we want or expected. Then we'll thin around the perimeter of the lower bout to loosen up the top. You go easy, as a little can make a big difference.

Interesting! So you don't actually thin the entire top in a uniform way? This actually sounds like something I might attempt someday, if a suitably expendable instrument comes my way. Thanks Allen.


Yes, its insane. But I've seen crazier things done.
Maybe you could remove the back and carve the braces some. It would be better to take the top off and work on it directly. Either way, it would be a lot of work.

For me, this isn't really in the arena of "work" so much as it is in the arena of "tinkering." And at this point, it's more like the arena of "idle thinking." Thanks ksquine.


One wonders Tommy why you don't just throw this overbraced, thick ukulele on the scrape heap of history and get a better sounding uke? What you are proposing to do is going to be a lot of work. Sentimental value? Looks nice?

LOL, sequoia. I actually do have a few nice, great-sounding ukes. But I was just wondering what was possible/advisable in a scenario like this. I know over the years I've had a few cheapie mass production ukes (no-name baritones, for example) that were solid wood but with overly thick soundboards, and I've wondered if they were beyond redemption.

Doc_J
03-26-2015, 05:27 AM
Yes, its insane. But I've seen crazier things done.
Maybe you could remove the back and carve the braces some. It would be better to take the top off and work on it directly. Either way, it would be a lot of work.

This sounds similar to what Steve Perry of Mandovoodoo (http://www.mandovoodoo.com/acousticblueprinting.html)does.

The term used by MandoVooDoo is Acoustic Blueprinting. I've heard from others that it does do wonders for an instrument's sound. Never tried it myself.

Steveperrywriter
03-26-2015, 07:46 AM
Geez, not another Steve Perry, Hodge ...

Not me, folks. I got the manual dexterity of a walrus ...

Tommy B
03-26-2015, 06:03 PM
This sounds similar to what Steve Perry of Mandovoodoo (http://www.mandovoodoo.com/acousticblueprinting.html)does.

The term used by MandoVooDoo is Acoustic Blueprinting. I've heard from others that it does do wonders for an instrument's sound. Never tried it myself.

That was really interesting, Hodge. Thanks for sharing that.