View Full Version : 1/4 size guitar to resonator baritone conversion

12-10-2010, 06:44 AM
Hi, this question was supposed to be mainly about strings but as I'm writing more questions are coming to mind.

So I'm very new to building/modding, I've made a uke stick ripoff (please don't tell the Risa legal department) which works well, that has given me some courage. Ive bought myself a cheap Lauren 1/4 size classical guitar which I'm going to try to convert into a resonator baritone ukulele.

So I want high enough tension on the strings so that I can play slide without the strings going straight down on the fredboard with some pressure, but low enough tension so it doesn't warp the hell out of the neck. Taking into account that it's a 19" scale and quite a chubby neck for four strings since it was made for 6, and that I want two non-wound strings as they'll sound better with a slide, right (less scraping on the winding)?

So what do I want? top 4 strings of a medium/hard acoustic set? Middle four of an electric set (since they tend to have three wound strings, not four)? Or what?

By the way, if the neck will warp in 10 years, that's fine, but if it will warp in six months that's a bit too soon. As I understand some early 20s or 30s resonator guitars didn't have truss rods which mean they're warped now but were fine at the time...

I'm doing this on the cheap so I've bought a stainless steel bowl which is quite thin and has a nice ring to it, several different notes, not one clear one, thought there might be a hell of a wolf note if the resonator has one clear resonating frequency...? Any thoughts on this?

There is a zero fret on this particular guitar so I guess that means the action will be quite low. Too low for slide? I want to be able to play both slide and normal finger fretting so I don't want it crazy high either, I was thinking replacing just the zero fret with some thicker fret wire to get the action up a bit. Seem like a good idea?

Is it a really bad idea to use mdf to make the soundwell that the resonator sits in? Will it just eat up all the sound from being too soft?

I'm thinking of cutting out the top two unused tuning pegs, and putting back the very top of the headstock on the four that are left, will that weaken the headstock dangerously if I screw/plug and glue it on properly?

Wow, what a monster of a post, if anyone has any thoughts on any of this, I'd be most grateful.


12-10-2010, 11:17 AM
So sorry for the double post, thought I'd add Help! to the title to attract the right people...

12-10-2010, 05:35 PM
The string tension depends on scale length, string weight, and pitch. Longer or heavier strings will require more tension to get to any particular pitch.
Take the guitar as is and try out some different tunings or string gauges to see if you like it with a slide. Same thing with the action. It will be the same as it is now.

An MDF sound well should be ok. Most people use plywood for this. No idea if the bowl will work well as a resonator.

Cutting the head stock off should be ok too. That part above the tuners isn't really doing anything. It probably won't fit well after you cut it. I'd recommend just plugging the top tuner holes with hardwood dowels and re-shaping the headstock. Cover it with veneer or paint it after.
Are you going to reshape the neck? It will be very wide for a 4 string.

12-11-2010, 01:30 AM
With as much work as you are about to take on, why not make one from scratch? Probably easier.

12-11-2010, 01:39 AM
With as much work as you are about to take on, why not make one from scratch? Probably easier.

Logical, captain.

12-13-2010, 03:01 AM
Why not just keep the headstock original and double up two strings like a lot of ukes. And yeah if you want to play both slide and pick it, you'll have to spend some wicked time setting up the action. Obviously you are going to use nylon strings since it is a old non truss rod classical right ? Steel strings on a classical guitar like that is probably no bueno. Also what is this bowl you speak of ? Oh and I wouldn't use MDF either man. MDF is designed to dampen sound acoustically. It is mainly used for subwoofer boxes. Hope this helps !