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View Full Version : Sometimes the voices in your head must be obeyed...



OldePhart
06-06-2014, 12:15 PM
As the thread-title says...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/obeying_voices_01.jpg

lakesideglenn
06-06-2014, 12:20 PM
You're nuts...well actually you're a nut shy!

OldePhart
06-06-2014, 12:28 PM
You're nuts...well actually you're a nut shy!

That's just the beginning of what the voices are telling me to do...

zac987
06-06-2014, 01:16 PM
I have a feeling there will be more than four strings on this when it's done...

SteveZ
06-06-2014, 01:17 PM
Do all the frets look the same as the one in the photo?

OldePhart
06-06-2014, 04:36 PM
I have a feeling there will be more than four strings on this when it's done...

heh, heh, heh...you're on the right track...but it's not the full story...

OldePhart
06-06-2014, 04:39 PM
Do all the frets look the same as the one in the photo?

You talking about those greenish spots? Interesting, isn't it? It only shows up in that super close photo under the bright light - never noticed it before that. It's not really wear, might be very light corrosion or residue from strings, I'm going to investigate under high power magnifiers as I work on this.

John

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 02:03 PM
Had to poke a few holes in the bridge...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/bridge-holes-from-top.jpg

Here's the view from the bottom, shot through the hole for the endpin jack. I was really impressed that my little Canon PowerShot SD1300IS P&S got this shot. I got out my tripod and the DSLR thinking I'd need to set up a manual shot to get a picture focused on the goodies and not the body. Turned out that all of my batteries for the DSLR were low and the little P&S got it right first click.

BTW, I wasn't looking under here for the sake of idle curiosity...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/bridge-holes-from-bottom.jpg

That big screw is one of three that run through the bridge and bridge plate - now you know why KoAloha's have that little "decorative" strip on the bridge... :)

Also...for the sake of scale note that the vertical drill bit is a tiny #60 or something like that, and the angled drill bit is a 5/64" bit. Also keep in mind that the space between the screw and the vertical bit is kind of critical for what I have in mind...

John

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 02:12 PM
Here's a handy hint when you need to rip a piece of stock narrower than your rip fence will close to. My rip fence will only close to 1/2" so I cut a 1/2" strip and used that to set a fence for the 1/4" strips I needed.

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/rip-narrow.jpg

A saw table also makes a dandy sanding surface when you need to get it absolutely straight...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/saw-table-as-sanding-surface.jpg

And a great flat mirror for ensuring that an edge is, indeed, straight...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/saw-table-as-mirror.jpg

John

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 02:21 PM
Measuring the bridge for about the 50th time...remember that tight clearance I mentioned?...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/measuring-bridge.jpg

What the heck is this ugly thing...sure hope this danged fool ain't planning on gluing that monstrosity in that nice KoAloha!

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/birch-plywood-block.jpg

Oh, crud, that must be exactly what he's planning; he's broken out the poor-man's glue pot!

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/poor-mans-glue-pot.jpg

John

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 02:36 PM
Hmmmm, what have we here? Looks like something that would go into an R/C model airplane...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/positioning-block.jpg

In case you haven't guessed, the above is a couple of braces tacked to a positioning block with a bit of rubber cement...since I have to work almost blind through the sound hole that was what I came up with as a way to position the braces and clamp them until the hide glue sets.

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/spring-clamp.jpg

And it's clamped. I'm glad I bought two clamps at WoodCrafters today. I picked up a small box clamp that I thought would fit and it would have let me horse the thing down really tight. Unfortunately, it was about 1/8" too large to sit squarely on the positioning block inside the uke. After I got it clamped with this spring clamp I realized I could have cut the aluminum end of the box clamp and made it fit. Oh well.

Well, remember the tight clearances I talked about? Now it's just a matter of waiting 24 hours to see if this worked or if have a real mess in there. I dry-fit the piece about a dozen times to get used to the feel of it and, after I got the clamp on, I did slip drill bits down those holes to make sure that the braces clear the holes. The 1/8" thick brace had to fit in a space about 5/32" on the G side...

Also, I have stored the uke face down on a couple of boxes - I was sparing with the hide glue but I really don't want any to run down and glue the braces to the positioning block.

Well...tomorrow evening I'll be able to remove the clamp and (hopefully) tap the positioning block loose and discover whether those braces are where I intended...

John

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 03:01 PM
@Captain Simian - hilarious!

Jim Hanks
06-07-2014, 03:01 PM
I was proud of myself for installing my own strap pin on a $200 laminate. You, sir, have nerves of steel doing this to a big K! :worship:

OldePhart
06-07-2014, 03:12 PM
I was proud of myself for installing my own strap pin on a $200 laminate. You, sir, have nerves of steel doing this to a big K! :worship:

Well...nerves of steel or brain of bird...I guess we'll find out tomorrow evening! LOL

John

Ukejenny
06-07-2014, 03:18 PM
I'm a bit braver just by reading the posts. Wowzers.

Teek
06-07-2014, 05:43 PM
So what are your plans for your new one of a kind 5 string KoAloha? Will we get a sound sample? Can I send you my Kanile'a for your next conversion? :cool:

Dane
06-07-2014, 05:45 PM
As the thread-title says...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/obeying_voices_01.jpg

You've decided to go stringless and full percussive! Cool!

OldePhart
06-08-2014, 08:28 AM
I'm a bit braver just by reading the posts. Wowzers.
Part of me wants to bask in the glow of admiration from those admiring my bravery...but, honestly, there is a back story that diminishes the bravery required by a fair amount.

The short story is this long neck soprano that I bought used (only a couple of months after it's manufacture date, though) always had some intonation issues (up the neck). I went so far as to glue up an extra thick bridge saddle with a "bump" for the C and E strings so I could get intonation. Like most KoAloha ukes it didn't like the really high tension strings that I use on many of my ukes. I found, however, that it sounded great and, after carving my new saddle, had great intonation with Ko'Olau Alohi tenor strings. Then two months later the intonation was horrible again even with a fresh set of strings.

That's when I looked closely and realized that the bridge was curling forward. The top had only dimpled a little more than usual between the bridge and the soundhole but it was enough to throw the top of the saddle forward and mess up the intonation up the neck. It had apparently been curling even with the stock strings and the Alohi tenor strings hastened the process.

I took the strings off about three months ago and started hydrating the bejabbers out of it. The top returned to it's normal profile but I had the feeling that it would start curling forward again as soon as I put strings on it, even the mediums it comes with. So, I was kind of in a quandry.

I couldn't in good conscious ask KoAloha to fix it because they have such great service they would probably insist on replacing it under warranty even though the damage was really my fault for using the tenor strings.

I also couldn't in good conscious string it up with light strings and sell it to someone knowing that it might curl again.

So, I decided I was going to have to put braces in but doing so would destroy the resale value completely and that's when I hit on the idea of converting it to 5-string, too since I was going to be "stuck" with it and I find that I'm really enamored of 5-strings.

I expect that the braces are going to reduce some of the "openness" and volume characteristic of KoAloha ukes, but it will still be gorgeous and probably a very good player...just not fully up to what one expects from KoAloha.

I also decided that I would pull the under-soundboard pickup out and put in a MiSi as an under saddle pickup should do a better job of picking up the low G notes on the small body than a soundboard transducer.

So...not so much bravery as "nothing left to lose. " :)

John



So what are your plans for your new one of a kind 5 string KoAloha? Will we get a sound sample? Can I send you my Kanile'a for your next conversion? :cool:

Heh, heh. I don't work on other folks instruments...too much stress involved!


You've decided to go stringless and full percussive! Cool!

LOL - well, if the five string doesn't work out...that's a possibility!

John

OldePhart
06-08-2014, 03:22 PM
Well...this is a good sign. The positioning block came out easily and didn't bring the braces with it...I guess tomorrow or Tuesday...I'll get brave and look to see if the braces lined up...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/positioning-block-out.jpg

OldePhart
06-08-2014, 03:30 PM
You know better than that! Ready on the left...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/ready-on-the-left.jpg

Ready on the right...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/ready-on-the-right.jpg

We are ready on the firing line! You can see I carved the notches for the bridge plate too long and too deep. I was working almost blind. I really wish I'd thought to take pictures like these when I was carving the braces and fitting them. These pictures are so much clearer than my crummy near vision. It's okay, though. First, the braces do make contact with the top again just out of view in these photos and run almost to the kerfing so the top is well braced. Second, now that the braces are in place I am going to fill the gaps with epoxy. I'd planned on touching up the glue with a bit of epoxy anyway because I'd been so sparing with the hide glue so I could remove the assembly easily if it ended up in the wrong place or something else wonky.

I know some people might think epoxy is sacrilege in a musical instrument but I do NOT want these braces loosening up and buzzing a year from now!

BTW, that bridge plate is THIN - I don't think it's over 1/16". I carved the slots as near 3/32" as I could manage and you can see there is quite a gap. For purposes of scale...the new braces are precisely 1/4" top to bottom along the unscalloped section over the bridge plate...Edit: let me clarify...the new braces were cut 1/4" high from the basswood stock (you saw that in the earlier photos), then carved down from there.

John

Dane
06-08-2014, 03:46 PM
That poor KoAloha, subjected to torture like this

OldePhart
06-08-2014, 03:47 PM
That poor KoAloha, subjected to torture like this

:) But this way it will get played, instead of languishing in its case... :)

John

Dane
06-08-2014, 03:58 PM
You could have sent it to me. Just sayin.

OldePhart
06-09-2014, 01:32 PM
Drilling the hole in the headstock for the extra tuner. Note that this is why I like these "pilot point" bits. You can set the stop on the drill press so only the pilot goes completely through. Flip it over, slip the pilot into the hole, and drill through to meet the other hole. That way you don't risk chips on the back side.

Also note the little container of drill excrement I'm keeping in case I ever need to fill some small holes in Koa...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/drilling-headstock.jpg

Filing down the new ebony nut. It started out pretty tall and took about 30 minutes of patient work. I can't count how many times I glanced at the Dremel tool in the corner! Don't you love the precision depth gage I used to estimate when I should switch from the rasp to a sanding stick? (Precision sanding stick...one of those little doohickeys some of you ladies mistakenly think is for shaping your finger nails.) Note saving some ebony dust, too, for potential use later filling holes. Oh...and I knew those Java books would be good for something, someday!

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/filing-top-of-nut.jpg

John

OldePhart
06-09-2014, 01:40 PM
"...the wa-iting is the hardest part." New tuners are in, just need to install the pickup and string it up and file the slots in the nut. However, I used some epoxy to reinforce the brace and bridge plate so I am forcing myself to wait 24 hours for the epoxy to fully cure so I don't risk having strings under tension set the knots into the not-quite-fully-cured epoxy. That would be difficult to drill out because the fluorocarbon string is harder than the wood of the bridge - it would be like drilling a hardened-steel stud out of an aluminum block.

Edit: Hey @Dane...the poor tortured KoAloha is looking pretty happy... ;)

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/waiting-epoxy-cure.jpg

Hmmm...while I'm waiting...maybe I'll...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/pineapple-sunday.jpg

John

OldePhart
06-09-2014, 01:44 PM
...play my Pineapple Sunday for a while! :)

I am, however, doing some serious thinking about this one...

http://johnatchley.com/files-referenced-elsewhere/pono-mbd.jpg

It's going to be at least a year, maybe two, before I can afford to have Jerry build me a baritone 5-string Boat Paddle to match my tenor. In the mean time, this Pono MBD sounds great, I already put a MiSi in it, it shouldn't need any extra bracing, and it even has an adjustable truss rod to compensate for the tension of the extra string...

John

Doc_J
06-09-2014, 01:46 PM
Looking good John! I could see KoAloha making a production version of your 5-string longneck. :)
Great thread, can't wait to hear you play it.

OldePhart
06-09-2014, 02:12 PM
Thanks Doc and Bill! This has been one of the most fun projects I've done in years, and has gone more quickly than other things I've attempted for the last few years. I think that might have something to do with telling my Dr. I'm done with his beta-blockers and statins! I'm still taking the meds I need to keep my blood pressure under control but that other stuff was killing me, or at least my quality of life, more quickly than was the heart disease! For fifteen years I've been steadily gaining weight and losing muscle tissue...and getting dumber by the year. I quit those "extras" about 3-1/2 months ago and I've lost almost 40 pounds without even trying (no change in diet or exercise), I'm starting to get a little muscle mass back, and I can freakin' think and remember things again! (For those who haven't heard the story...massive heart attack at 41...my screen name comes from the fact that at 50 my cardiologist told me I had a healthy heart...for a 75 year old...and he has no discernible sense of humor.)

I literally had to reach the point where I decided I'd rather die younger than "live" longer getting weaker and fatter and dumber every year!

John

Dane
06-09-2014, 02:29 PM
You better not hurt that pineapple sunday or I will hunt you down!

5 string looks good

OldePhart
06-09-2014, 02:37 PM
You better not hurt that pineapple sunday or I will hunt you down!

5 string looks good

Fair 'nuff. I wouldn't ever do something like this to the PS! I don't know if you read the kind of long back story post - this longneck really was languishing in it's case because I was afraid it was forever dead, anyway. The top had returned to normal profile but that was without strings and I figured even light gage strings were probably going to have it curling again - once wood has "learned" it can flex it usually will. If this brings it back to life it will be a win all around.

John

PereBourik
06-09-2014, 03:49 PM
This thread is fascinating. I love the idea and the way you've gone about it. Thanks.

Dane
06-09-2014, 04:03 PM
Fair 'nuff. I wouldn't ever do something like this to the PS! I don't know if you read the kind of long back story post - this longneck really was languishing in it's case because I was afraid it was forever dead, anyway. The top had returned to normal profile but that was without strings and I figured even light gage strings were probably going to have it curling again - once wood has "learned" it can flex it usually will. If this brings it back to life it will be a win all around.

John
I should probably read things, but that requires an attention span! I find I cannot read and type on the computer very long when I have an instrument on my lap.... I'm sure you'll understand and forgive me :)

bobinde
06-10-2014, 09:57 AM
heh, heh, heh...you're on the right track...but it's not the full story...

In other words, "Watch This Space?"

bobinde

OldePhart
06-10-2014, 11:18 AM
In other words, "Watch This Space?"

bobinde

a-yep! Latest update, I put the pickup in, strung her up, and slotted the nut during my lunch break today. THE BRACING DIDN'T MAKE ANY CHANGE IN THE SOUND!


Ah...no...we all know better than that! Seriously though it didn't make as big a difference as I feared it might. It doesn't sound like a KoAloha any more but it still has very nice tone and decent sustain. It is a little louder and has nicer tone than my Kiwaya longneck soprano (which is no slouch, BTW). I guess to be fair I would have to put new strings on the Kiwaya before I make that claim, as the ones on there now have been on a while.

It's also a nice player...that I did expect because nothing I did was likely to have an impact on intonation and action. Well, technically carving a new nut obviously had the potential to booger up the action but I've carved a nut or six. Actually, come to think of it, the only new territory for me on this project was fabricating and installing braces.

I'll do a video once the strings settle in and I do the final tweaking on the nut and decide which bridge saddle to go with; probably in the next day or two.

John

Kayak Jim
06-10-2014, 11:54 AM
I'll do a video once the strings settle in and I do the final tweaking on the nut and decide which bridge saddle to go with; probably in the next day or two.

John

Looking forward to it.

Great thread BTW.

OldePhart
06-10-2014, 12:43 PM
Actually, I take it back, after a head to head test where I was singing I would say the Kiwaya is a bit louder than the KoAloha, though the KoAloha still has better tone. However, the Kiwaya also has CH strings on it vs. CM on the KoAloha. Now that the KoAloha is braced, I'm thinking CH strings might work really well on it...

In any case, the project certainly met my goal and then some. My thinking was that I could "salvage" the KoAloha to use as a 5-string festival uke that would be easy to carry on the motorcycle and, with the MiSi, convenient for open microphone and the like. I'd say I've achieved that much, for sure. It's not going to replace my BP 5-string tenor, by any means, but it's going to see some play time again.

John

Doc_J
06-10-2014, 01:41 PM
Glad to hear it was a good result. That will be an excellent travel/festival uke.

OldePhart
06-14-2014, 02:16 AM
It took a few days to find time to throw this together. I apologize for the length but I was too tired to fool with editing last night. Also, the mic placement could have been better. Still, this is pretty representative of what she sounds like now, just a tad too much emphasis on the A string and it shows in rolls, especially. It's close-mic'd so it's hard to judge the volume so I'll describe it as best I can. The volume is about the same as a decent import solid-wood soprano like a good Ohana and most Mainlands. It is about as loud as my Mainland mango soprano, but not as loud as my Mainland mahogany soprano (but that is a one-in-a-million cannon wearing very heavy CH strings and loving them).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaHcceFNodQ&feature=youtu.be

BTW - strings are Seaguar fluorocarbon fishing leader in same gages as a Worth CM set and a Thomastik-Infeld CF30 flat wound chromium classical guitar string for the wound low G.

John

Doc_J
06-14-2014, 04:46 AM
Best save of a uke I have seen! Sounds great John, different from a regular KoAloha, but I like it.

OldePhart
06-14-2014, 07:17 AM
Best save of a uke I have seen! Sounds great John, different from a regular KoAloha, but I like it.

Thanks Doc! I am really happy with it...one of the reasons the video is so long. I set up to do the sound sample of this but figured I'd do that silly little Woodi vid first. I played the Woodi for about three minutes and it seemed like ten because it just doesn't have the tone to catch my interest. Then, I set the Woodi down and played this for about 12 minutes when I really thought it was only about three or four! I trimmed the vid short right after I the point where I'd finally gotten around to demonstrating some strummed sounds. Vid could have been shorter if I'd gotten to that sooner. LOL

So, while it definitely doesn't have the volume or the "open" sound of a KoAloha any more it still has tone that can grab me and, of course, that great neck.

John

Strumdaddy
06-15-2014, 02:39 PM
Great project!! Thanks for documenting the journey - us tinkerers salute you.
Hey, have you seen the "Bridge Doctor" system for counteracting top sag? David Hurd's site has a page on his adaption of the principle for ukulele. http://www.ukuleles.com/BuildingHowTo/ukuleleBD.html

OldePhart
06-15-2014, 02:58 PM
Great project!! Thanks for documenting the journey - us tinkerers salute you.
Hey, have you seen the "Bridge Doctor" system for counteracting top sag? David Hurd's site has a page on his adaption of the principle for ukulele. http://www.ukuleles.com/BuildingHowTo/ukuleleBD.html

I hadn't seen that specific site, but I've seen the principle. There is a company that makes "bolt on" retrofits for acoustic guitars with sinking tops that uses that principle. I can' think of the name right now. What they do is have a unit that attaches under the bridge plate, held in place either with new screws or, if you don't want to modify a valuable guitar, replacements for two of the string-holding pins. The bottom is a block that hangs down so a threaded rod can go through that and press against the tail block.

It's supposed to be very effective and I tried to figure out a way to do it on this but just didn't see any way I could make it work without removing the back because the sound hole is so small and there just isn't any room to work like there is on a guitar.

John

Strumdaddy
06-15-2014, 03:31 PM
Guitarists have the advantage of much easier access for their fiddling. You did remarkably well considering how hard it is to get inside a ukulele.