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Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

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Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Greg Steil » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:00 am

I am finally getting close to finishing a project that has been hanging around for way too long. It is an old Silvertone(Harmony) N-10 arch top on which I plugged the tuner holes, added an overlay and then recut the headstock to the "Snakehead" shape. Will just be using regular Mando tuners. I also took off the fingerboard because it was loose, and inlayed a steel bar. Since the fingerboard is Maple, I have to "ebonize" it, so Stew Mac stain for that. How can I get a more Ebonyish look to this? I have not re-fretted yet. What would I do to get that? The neck will be sprayed with Black Lacquer and maybe a clear coat. Tailpiece? Probably just use the six string one and double up on two slots. Bridge? Not sure yet. Thinking about stringing like a 12 string with Octave strings. Anyone else done this?
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:29 am

" How can I get a more Ebonyish look to this"

Replace it with a dark wood rather than ebonize the maple.

" Thinking about stringing like a 12 string with Octave strings"

I do that with double strung tenor guitars that I build.
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:37 am

I just did some experimentation with ebonizing alder. It came out a deep, coal-black, and it's a color that actually forms in the wood, so it might be a good choice for a fingerboard.

Get a pad of 0000 steel wool, and wash thoroughly with dish soap and rinse thoroughly. Squeeze it dry in some paper towels and shred it. Put it in a jar (hopefully slightly larger than a quart) and fill with a quart of white vinegar. Leave the lid loose as the reaction will create a bit of hydrogen gas (not enough to be a danger) but it needs to escape. This will also create bubbles that will expand the volume, so don't fill the jar to the top unless you set it in some kind of glass plate or dish to catch it when it overflows a bit.

Let this sit for 5 days or so, then strain through a coffee filter. This is now a solution that contains iron.

Make up a "tea" solution of quebracho bark (available from any leather tanning supply - Amazon has it. This forms a solution high in tannin that will react with the iron to become black. Highly tannic woods like oak don't require the quebracho bark tea, but using the tea will ensure very consistent results, even on oak.

Wash the wood liberally with the quebracho bark tea and allow to dry. Brush on the vinegar/iron solution, and watch it slowly turn black. Let dry, lightly sand, then repeat the process.

Ebony, inky, coal-black is what you get. I'm going to use this I think on my next build to color the sides and backs of a body that will be veneered and bound.
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Jim McConkey » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:43 pm

Another readily available option is black fingerboard stain (StewMac, International Violin, etc.), which is a specialized version of India ink made specifically for the purpose of making fretboards very black. It is commonly used to make non-uniformly black ebony and even rosewood solid black, but a few years back I used it on a maple violin bridge (see my avatar) and it is still as black as the other violin hardware.
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Beate Ritzert » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:33 am

Steve Sawyer wrote:Ebony, inky, coal-black is what you get. I'm going to use this I think on my next build to color the sides and backs of a body that will be veneered and bound.


But like any other wood stain the color will not go very deep, so You have to be careful sanding it...
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Greg Steil » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:59 am

thanks for all the suggestions folks, however replacing the fingerboard is not in the picture for this beast, mostly just an experiment anyway.
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Joshua Levin-Epstein » Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:53 pm

Unless you've already drilled the holes, I would suggest using guitar machines rather than mandolin machines. You might even need to drill out a guitar machine to accept that low "C".
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Re: Arch Top Mando Cello conversion

Postby Mark Wybierala » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:34 am

I'm really into octave mandolins right now. My tailpieces involve taking an off the shelf trapeze tailpiece, removing the original string anchor cross-piece and replacing it with a length of 3/8" aluminum rod drilled for 8 string holes. McMasterCarr has the aluminum rod. Its an easy fabrication. You can polish up the aluminum rod to a mirror. Allparts sells both a long and short version of this tailpiece. I'll post a picture if I can get my camera working again.
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