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Guitar to Octave Mando conversion

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:06 pm
by Karl Wicklund
I originally worked on this back in 2005, but tinkered with it this week. It's not beautiful in the classical sense, but here it is, for your enjoyment. Sorry the pic's not better - I couldn't manage the quality in compression.
This sad old guitar spent several years in a leaky shed at my parents'. The vintage is unclear, though I'd guess it's a mail order cheapo from the early 70s. There is no maker's mark. It was moldy, the sound hole had been attacked by mice, and rodents had packed it full of bedding. Someone had strung it up with steel strings, so the top had bellied, but the neck was still straight. I had just encountered a similar converted guitar online, and this one called out to me. There was no way I could make it worse; this gave me confidence.

The pick guards framing the soundhole were printed to suggest Gibson's hummingbird design. The screws sheared off, and I just left the stubs embedded in the top. You can see this in the photos. The factory finish was some sort of impenetrable red (Epoxy?). Stripper barely touched it, and I ended up muscling and sanding most of it off.

I salvaged one side's tuners, and cannibalized the others from an even worse-off guitar in the same shed. The two extra tuners that stick up like antennae were left over from another project. The channels they sit in were carved with a dremel, and left rough. I color-matched the raw wood with magic marker.
The string holes in the bridge were just eyeballed, thus the slightly uneven string spacing. The saddle is a scrap of corian about one mm too narrow. I shimmed with a wood scrap. The nut is a maple scrap, shimmed with cardstock salvaged from a cracker box.

On the sound hole, mouse chews were patched with birch scraps. On a whim, I added walnut binding.

The raw (ply-)wood was finished with tru-oil.

It is nylon strung, tuned as an octave mandolin. Given the unorthodox nature of this whole project, it's surprisingly nice to play, and the sound is pretty darn pleasing. I like the aesthetic. So, when I decided to try my hand at installing a piezo pick-up, this was my victim. Results were far more than satisfasctory. This one will definitely see some stage time.

Re: Guitar to Octave Mando conversion

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:35 pm
by Clay Schaeffer
Cool! looks like fun!

Re: Guitar to Octave Mando conversion

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:09 pm
by Jon Whitney
Great - you've made something useful out of next to nothing. Congratulations.