Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

The neck dovetail will be locked in place with two screws installed from the body interior. Drilled the holes though the neck block from the outside, then inserted the neck and marked the hole locations in the neck heel. ( The third hole is left over from the dovetail fixture).
D099 - Dovetail screw holes.jpg
I am not planning on gluing in the neck after finishing. Looks like the dovetail joint, locked in place with the screws, will be strong enough. I like the idea that the neck can be removed for any future repairs or adjustments. Time will tell...

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Under this forest of clamps is the fretboard glued to the neck. This is where the two pins really help with alignment.
D100 - Gluing fretboard.jpg
You can never have too many clamps!

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

The remaining dot markers are glued in where the alignment pins where and leveled.

Ebony grain filler was applied to the head plate to close up some of the open grain of the walnut.
D101 - Ready for final sanding.jpg
After lots of shaping and sanding, the neck is basically completed. Now, some long hours of sanding to prep for staining and finishing!

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Several hours of sanding completed. Wet with distilled water, wait overnight to dry, sand to 220, look for flaws and repeat two more times! Taped to expose the binding, then dyed with Honey Amber, sanded and dyed again.
D110 - Taped for Dye and Finish on Binding.jpg
Two coats of finish on the binding to seal the dye.
D111 - Binding Finished.jpg
Taped off the binding to protect it from the dye on the main body and neck.
Dyed with Vintage Maple, then sanded back when dry to help accent the curly figure.
D112 - Vintage Maple Sanded back.jpg

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Here is the sunburst dye before blending with alcohol.

All using TransTint dyes in alcohol: Honey Amber for the entire body, then Vintage Maple from edges, followed with Medium Brown for the edges and waist areas.

I have really limited experience with sunburst finishes like this. It's a challenge to have everything flow and blend evenly, and have to guess what it will look like after the varnish is applied. The goal is to get the curl in the maple to "pop".
D114 - Sunburst before blending.jpg

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

The finish is General Finishes EnduroVar waterborne urethane varnish, applied with a foam brush. We have a HVLP sprayer but have not taken the time and effort to figure out how to spray this finish.

The schedule was:
1) 3 coats, wait 1 hour between.
2) Dry overnight, then dry sand with 400 grit. The finish does raise the grain some so it feels rough before sanding. The finish sands to a non-tacky fine powder and easy to vacuum off the dust.
3) Repeat with 3 coats an hour apart, dry overnight and 400g sand again.
4) 3 more coats, as thin as possible with even coverage.
5) The finish needs to hang and cure for 5 days...
D115 - Endurovar brush marks.jpg
The brush marks are obvious in reflected lighting, but not to worry...

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

After 5 days curing, the finish can be level sanded with 320, 400 and 600 grit dry, then wet sanded with 1200 and 2000 grit. The goal is to create a level and smooth satin finish.
D116 - Sanded to 2000g.jpg
D118 - Before rubbing out.jpg
Then it hangs another 5 days to cure some more. (So hard to wait!)

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Five days later...
We use automotive rubbing and polishing compounds with a 6" buffer to "finish the finish"
D117 - Polishing Supplies.jpg
A few hours work and:
D119 - After rubout and polish.jpg

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Carved and installed the bone nut and slotted for the strings (0.325" string spacing). Installed the Gotoh 510 tuning machines - these are really good machines!
Neck meets the body again! Two screws with bellville washers are installed through the neck block from the inside of the body to lock the neck in.
The walnut fretboard gets 3 coats of Formby's Furniture Restorer oil.
D120 - Neck meets Body.jpg
The Beard Shockwave saddles (Hard maple capped with Ebony) to the spider bridge, Bevel the front edge, then measure and notch for the strings (0.450" center-to-center string spacing.
D113 - Bridge Saddle Notches.jpg

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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

With the assembled cone and spider dropped in the ledge, the outer strings can be installed to check alignment and confirm the position of the tailpiece, then drill and screw on the tailpiece using a strap lock button. (Landed right where it was supposed to - what a relief!)
D121 - Aligning Tailpiece.jpg
Now we can finish the assembly:
- Check and tweak the string notches at the nut and bridge.
- Install the coverplate with screws.
- Install the sound rings.

And... It's a dobro! Tuned up to pitch and it didn't fold in two!
Here's a picture out in the sun.
D122 - Completed in sun.jpg
It's staying reasonably in tune considering it was just assembled. Sounds really good, not as bright as I would have expected given the solid maple construction. The intonation is excellent. Pretty loud also, and I already think it sounds better than my other dobros (My bride thinks so too).

I'll try for some "glamor" photos and post later, but I'm not much of a photographer.

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Some reflections on where I'm at in the lutherie craft:

Been thinking about how my skills are evolving, and whether I have achieved "control" in the many processes and skills it takes to successfully create an instrument. By "control", I am defining it as having developed the skill level to achieve the intended goal(s). Of course, this also means the ability to react and adjust to variations in materials, or the little errors that always creep in during the work.

At the most basic level, we have to have some mastery of our tools, both hand and machine. Accurate milling, or sharpening chisels and setting up bench planes are fundamental woodworking skills. After many years I feel I have good control over these processes.

With this as the 9th instrument build, and after many many setups of instruments over the years, I feel that I have developed processes and a way of working that I have good control over. All the jigs and fixtures we have developed and created help achieve this control. The instrument mostly ends up how I intended, and I am comfortable adapting to the unexpected.

I feel I have _some_ control over the finishing process, but have a long way to go. I especially realize that in applying the dyes and other details in the process I am working towards a goal, but do not have enough skill to achieve what I may have envisioned. So, I am kind of taking what I get :) The finish I am achieving is acceptable, but not near the professional level I aspire to. Control over finishing is going to take a long time to achieve.

Some years ago I read a post somewhere about a highly skilled setup craftsman creating a bone nut replacement. After working through all the details in notching and sanding, he then started buffing and polishing the bone with the statement "don't worry, we'll have this looking like plastic in no time!" The story has stuck with me through the years though I can't recall the source. To me it means that my work is hand made, and I am comfortable in accepting that it may always look hand made to one level or another, and while it would be amazing to achieve a factory finish, that is not essential to the utility of my creations or my enjoyment in using them.

Bob Francis
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Bob Francis »

What an impressive instrument. Congrats

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Barry Daniels »

One can pull off a "factory" level finish fairly easily but only with the right tools and techniques. That usually means spraying tinted and clear lacquer. There are plenty of tutorials out there to get you started.
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Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Bob,
Thank you for your kind words!

Barry,
I had done a good bit of research into lacquer finishes and feel like I understand the process. I decided early on that I did not want to tool up with ventilation, respirators and explosion proof gear in order to achieve that goal, and never even considered rattle can finishes.

I've worked with waterborne finishes for many years on furniture, and of course the instrument builds. Especially with waterborne poly on furniture, I found that Transtint dyes over various wood stains yielded a really good result. I am satisfied with the results I am getting with the EnduroVar and look forward to continuing to develop my techniques.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Barry Daniels »

I hear what you are saying about lacquer. It is a lot more technical and gear intensive than a brushed finish. And there is no reason that a brushed finish can't look great. But personally, I would rather see a well done clear finish instead of blotchy dye applied directly to wood.
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Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

With the resonator one week old, some observations:

The body design was based on a Martin dreadnought plan - I traced the dreadnought outline and then developed the layout and bracing plan for the spider resonator. I had purchased a Guardian Deluxe Resophonic case through Elderly for the reso to travel in. Much to my consternation, the dreadnought body I built is too big for the case! Fortunately, the new build is a perfect fit in the case that came with the Mastereso dobro, likely a modified Guardian Vintage dreadnought case. So, the new build is significantly larger than the Mastereso. The lesson learned is to check the fit to the case before finalizing the design! ;)

The new build is significantly lighter in weight than the Mastereso. The Mastereso has a 0.5" plywood layer under the Port Orford Cedar top laminate, and the body and neck are Sapele. In the solid boy guitar world there are some assumptions that mass = sustain. This does not translate to theis squareneck reso, since this new build may even have more sustain than the Mastereso.

The new build is definately louder than the Mastereso or the Whecter-Scheerhorn. I been able to play it for three worship services in this first week. Along with the increased volume the build is more responsive, and I am still adjusting to how it responds.

The tone is very balanced, a pleasant surprise since I had assumed the solid curly maple construction would be brighter and punchier. It has a good range of sound, and can bark when poked correctly :D . There is plenty of bass with an even balance across the strings. So far, I haven't encountered any "wolf" tones - notes or strings that are louder than the average. I believe much of the tone profile is attributable to the high quality components I selected: Beard Legend cone, cast spider and Shockwave saddle inserts. I am very glad I swung for the fences and purchased high end parts!

The reso has been very stable and tuning has been stable.

Some specs:
- 25" scale
- 0.32" string spacing at the nut, and 0.450" spacing at the bridge, matching the Whecter-Scheerhorn design.

Bob Ionta
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Bob Ionta »

Barry Daniels wrote:
Wed May 26, 2021 5:37 pm
I hear what you are saying about lacquer. It is a lot more technical and gear intensive than a brushed finish. And there is no reason that a brushed finish can't look great. But personally, I would rather see a well done clear finish instead of blotchy dye applied directly to wood.
Interesting. I have the opposite reaction to different styles of bursts. I like the slightly irregular look of a hand rubbed burst. I think it looks more natural, almost as if the instrument got that way by natural wear and tear that exposed the light colors underlying the darker color that's now just around the edges. Or as if the edges have darkened over time and with skin contact. Many sprayed bursts look synthetic to me - way too uniform - as if sprayed by a robot at the Mattel factory.

Just different strokes for different folks. Or maybe I'm just weird. Prob'ly.

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Bob, I see it the same way. The hand-rubbed bursts can have a "patina" appearance, and I feel that the chances that accenting the figure in the wood are better. I need to experiment more with off-cuts and scraps to increase my experience and confidence.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Peter Wilcox »

A really nice resophonic Mike, with lots of attention to detail I agree that a sunburst accenting the figure has a place, especially in "old timey" instruments like these, since that's the way mine turned out, and it makes them look aged from the get go. :D
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Mike Conner
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Re: Squareneck Resonator - Detailed Build Notes

Post by Mike Conner »

Peter Wilcox wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 2:27 pm
A really nice resophonic Mike, with lots of attention to detail I agree that a sunburst accenting the figure has a place, especially in "old timey" instruments like these, since that's the way mine turned out, and it makes them look aged from the get go. :D
That's right, Peter! And I'm less likely to agonize over every flaw and eventual ding. I already bumped into a music stand and acquired a very small dent in the top plate :(

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