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View Full Version : StewMac Tenor Kit - "Slightly" modified. Progress Report



eleuke
10-25-2009, 07:13 PM
Aloha all,

As stated in earlier posts, I got myself the StewMac Tenor Kit and jumped in the deep end. I've got a bazillion pics and reams of advice for all those considering this project. This is just a tease. Full story coming soon. I'm only about 60% complete at the moment. The body is complete sans sanding. Pics or it didn't happen, right?
Let the sanding begin! The tap tone is surprisingly amazing at this point. Sounds a lot like a wooden wind chime. Very 'bell' like. I think this is gonna be a good one.

mokai
10-25-2009, 07:20 PM
wow eleuke, I like your modification

looking forward to seeing more and reading what you have to say

Pete Howlett
10-26-2009, 12:01 AM
Of course it will - it's mahogany... you know those Hawaiian players? They often go for a mahogany Martin rather than an Island built koa. Also many guitarists record with a mahogany bodied instrument and take their bling oujt to play on stage. mahogany is wonderful as a tonewood, especially for all sizes of ukulele.

sweets
10-26-2009, 08:40 AM
Nice modification! I can't wait to see the rest of the story/pics.

Question: How did you deal with the center tone bar? Mine has a cut out to accommodate the bridge plate, but it almost seems too deep for them to be joined with glue (I've attached an illustration). I consulted the instructions and the video but neither reference this brace specifically.

eleuke
10-27-2009, 01:16 PM
I chose to not join the brace and the bridge plate in any way. The gap on mine is open. My thoughts were "less is more" in that area. I didn't want to make the soundboard too stiff as to detriment the sound. My wild imaginings made me think that bonding them would make for a dead soundboard. Don't really know if I did right, and won't know till it's playable. Will let you know how it turns out. Good luck with yours!

loondoo
10-27-2009, 05:55 PM
Very nice so far! I've built a few Stew Mac soprano kits, and am tempted to try the Tenor kit.

I may substitute the top with an Engelmann Spruce top I purchased, but I may just keep it as a mahogany uke.

What kind of finish are you planning on using on it when you're done?

P.S. I hope to build one of Pete Howlett's koa uke kits one of these days as well! I enjoy following your Uklectic videos on You Tube!

eleuke
10-30-2009, 07:30 PM
Thanks Loondoo, the tenor kit is a good kit. It has it's problem areas, like the neck joint, (dowels suck!) Worst way to attach a neck I've ever seen, imho, and the mahogany parts are VERY rough cut, so get out your sander cause you're gonna be there for a while! I'd keep the mahogany top. A completely mahogany body just rings like a bell. I'm amazed at the tap tone on this build and it's just a kit! As far as finish, not quite decided although I need to soon as I'm sitting here staring at the completed uke over there, just waiting for finish. Any recommendations? I can't really spray where I'm building, (my living room floor) so I'm leaning towards a wipe-on, wipe-off, let dry and buff type finish like True-Oil or Tung. I need to learn more about the options now that I'm at that stage. I don't wanna screw it up now with a lousy finish. Yes, Pete's kits look awesome. Also on my agenda to someday go for. Not worthy yet. Soon...

cornfedgroove
10-30-2009, 07:38 PM
I need to soon as I'm sitting here staring at the completed uke over there, just waiting for finish.

strange...I dont see ANY PICTUUUUUURES!!!

you pull another stunt like this and you're getting bad rep :biglaugh::nana:

eleuke
10-30-2009, 07:45 PM
strange...I dont see ANY PICTUUUUUURES!!!

you pull another stunt like this and you're getting bad rep :biglaugh::nana:

OK cornfed, you're right. Pics or it didn't happen. Well here ya go...

vahn
10-30-2009, 08:51 PM
Wow that really looks great!

cornfedgroove
10-31-2009, 06:02 AM
OK cornfed, you're right. Pics or it didn't happen. Well here ya go...

dang, she's looking good. that mahogany should really pop with the right finish

mzuch
10-31-2009, 06:48 AM
I just received my tenor kit from Stew-Mac, and I hope mine looks as good as yours at this stage. How did you rebend the sides to accommodate the cutaway?

Also, for an easy finish, check out Bartley's gel stains and geltopcoat. They got good reviews for easy application from the folks who wrote the Stew-Mac guitar finishing book.

eleuke
10-31-2009, 04:35 PM
Well, to put it simply, I just hacked a big chunk out of the right side upper bout and reversed it. Made an inner brace and glued it up t othe brace and the neck block. I got the template image into my computer and started hacking away at it in my image editing program until I got the look I was going for. Transferred the measurements onto the wood and hacked away. I'm pretty pleased so far. Thanks much for the Bartley's tip. New to me so I'll look into it. Good luck with your kit.

eleuke
11-03-2009, 06:39 PM
Finally done! Woo hoo!

So, what do you think?

cornfedgroove
11-03-2009, 06:45 PM
dang doood...look absolutely incredible. Love the grain, it really pops with that finish.

is the tailpiece and floating bridge part of the build plans or is that a mod?

eleuke
11-03-2009, 06:50 PM
Plans? There were plans? Just kidding. No the plans called for a standard glue on bridge. I've never been one to follow directions... I wanted a floating bridge so I could adjust intonation. Didn't trust myself to get the bridge in the perfect spot. I made the tailpiece and saddle.

cornfedgroove
11-03-2009, 06:51 PM
Plans? There were plans? Just kidding. No the plans called for a standard glue on bridge. I've never been one to follow directions... I wanted a floating bridge so I could adjust intonation. Didn't trust myself to get the bridge in the perfect spot. I made the tailpiece and saddle.

cool...send me the bridge and I'll stick it on a cigar box:)

makes me think maybe I could do this

eleuke
11-03-2009, 06:54 PM
You can make one way better than mine already... I would hate to degrade one of your fine ukes with my junk bridge..

cornfedgroove
11-03-2009, 07:07 PM
You can make one way better than mine already... I would hate to degrade one of your fine ukes with my junk bridge..

you're crazy...but if you like mine so much, send the check and I'll mail you one out LOL

eleuke
11-03-2009, 07:16 PM
Actually, I already got the final bridge on order from elderly. The one I made was just a temp. I'll have too see how much the neck responds to the tension before I decide to use the store bought, or mine. The action came out just a bit too high for my liking and the store bought is even higher than my temp. I might have to make a better one to get the action down to where it should be. We'll see... Still, it's pretty ugly. I didn't use a single power tool for the kit build. Not even my drill. I used a Friskars, just so I could say there were no power tools needed for the kit build. I had to battle lot's of drill drift. Forget drum sanders, I want a drill press!

cornfedgroove
11-03-2009, 07:25 PM
I can make a bridge with a little extra time these days...as opposed to not being able to at all before. just sand down the feet or the top and lower the action.

I dont know about response differences...we'll have to wait and see eh? haha

I dont know what a friskar's is, and I wish I had a miniature drill press so I could be more precise/consistent with tuner placement...also start doing inlay that way as well.

eleuke
11-03-2009, 07:52 PM
Friskars makes cheap hand crank drills. Got one at Ace for like 12 bucks. It actually works really well, even with bits designed for high speed. I'm impressed. The slow bit speed and light weight does give you an element of control that a heavy power drill won't, (If you haven't had too many beers,) but a press would be great for uniformity and precision. That's my trouble right now doing it by hand. I don't think it would help much with inlay work. You really need a plunge router for that. Next on my wish list...

Scorpex
11-04-2009, 02:01 PM
I've built seven Stewmac kit sopranos and I've just watched the Stewmac Uke DVD. While Gordon and Char put on a good show, IMHO it doesn't really cater to the guys (and girls) who are putting ukes together in their kitchens or even their amateur workshops. I'll just do this on the drum sander....and the fret press....and the drill press....let's get real.

However, there were some good tips. I've developed my own technique for neck alignment, but the method used in the DVD is pretty good. This has got to be the single most difficult step in making the kits.

I was interested to see dowel used on the soprano neck in the DVD....is this standard in later kits...or was it just done to illustrate the tenor technique?

sweets
11-04-2009, 02:22 PM
While Gordon and Char put on a good show, IMHO it doesn't really cater to the guys (and girls) who are putting ukes together in their kitchens or even their amateur workshops. I'll just do this on the drum sander....and the fret press....and the drill press....let's get real.

However, there were some good tips. I've developed my own technique for neck alignment, but the method used in the DVD is pretty good. This has got to be the single most difficult step in making the kits.

I was interested to see dowel used on the soprano neck in the DVD....is this standard in later kits...or was it just done to illustrate the tenor technique?

I'll agree that some of the stuff was decidedly not aimed at amateurs (sanding the side on the belt sander being the one where my jaw dropped), I thought the video did an excellent job of making the kit seem less daunting. There was a lot of talk about "If you don't have this tool, you could use..." but not a lot of demonstrating the "lesser" methods.

The soprano instructions PDF on the stewmac site doesn't mention dowels, but it may not be up to date. I loved Gordon's method and even bought some dowel centers, but I don't understand the part about using spacers to make up the fretboard width, when you can just locate the neck before the fretboard is attached! The tops of these kits have no dish, so they should lay flat.

eleuke
11-04-2009, 08:21 PM
I'll agree that some of the stuff was decidedly not aimed at amateurs (sanding the side on the belt sander being the one where my jaw dropped), I thought the video did an excellent job of making the kit seem less daunting. There was a lot of talk about "If you don't have this tool, you could use..." but not a lot of demonstrating the "lesser" methods.

The soprano instructions PDF on the stewmac site doesn't mention dowels, but it may not be up to date. I loved Gordon's method and even bought some dowel centers, but I don't understand the part about using spacers to make up the fretboard width, when you can just locate the neck before the fretboard is attached! The tops of these kits have no dish, so they should lay flat.

Bingo sweets, you're absolutely right. The instructions are just plain wrong about gluing up the fretboard before attaching the neck to the body. I saw that first thing. The top is perfectly flat as well as the top of the bare neck. That made alignment much easier. Spacers under the body? What were they thinkin?

cornfedgroove
11-05-2009, 04:26 AM
I've built seven Stewmac kit sopranos and I've just watched the Stewmac Uke DVD. While Gordon and Char put on a good show, IMHO it doesn't really cater to the guys (and girls) who are putting ukes together in their kitchens or even their amateur workshops. I'll just do this on the drum sander....and the fret press....and the drill press....let's get real.

However, there were some good tips. I've developed my own technique for neck alignment, but the method used in the DVD is pretty good. This has got to be the single most difficult step in making the kits.

I was interested to see dowel used on the soprano neck in the DVD....is this standard in later kits...or was it just done to illustrate the tenor technique?

they call that "business savvy"...so you will go and buy more crap that you dont need. After all, if you dont have their fancy tools, it cant be done right? I dont like that kind of business, but that's just me. Stewmac is a great resource, but dont get suckered in. Just like the discussion a little on cutting the soundhole. You can start simple...there are resources to do do the same things cheaper. It may take longer and be more difficult...but alot of people, especially these days, have more time than they got money.