The Santos that never was.

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Aaron Green
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Aaron Green » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:34 pm

Yup. I'm building one...
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:27 pm

Mine doesn't have much. Just 2 x 3 ft. 30 W BL 350 tubes. BL stands for black light, the 350 for the wavelength. These are the visible blacklights, the type that printers use for drying inks or the insect zappers that you see in food stores. They both tan wood, dry oil varnish and are relatively safe. Some fiddle makers have masses of tubes in their cabinets, sometimes as many as 8! I normally switch just a single tube on and I can get a decent tan on maple in 5 days. This time I was in a rush so I switched both on.
You need the correct ballast for the tubes you are using. They act as a current limiter, get the wrong type and it will burn the tubes out in no time.
Mostly watch the temp and humidity inside the cabinet. I turned a domed guitar back into a concave back when I first tried mine. I did go to the precaution of having a baby bottle warmer in the base but I also had a fan which was meant to extract the hot air. I found that it was also extracting the humidity that the bottle warmer was creating. I took the fan out and just left the vent holes. No problems ever since. That's in my cabinet though. It's a case of experimenting and monitoring. I probably don't need a fan because the door isn't a great seal, not much light comes out but it's obviously providing another air intake. I also have a couple of smoke alarms above the cabinet and an extinguisher. It's low risk but better to be safe. I rarely leave it on unattended. I have it on a timer so that it goes off last thing at night, switches on early morning.
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Matthew Stidham

Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Matthew Stidham » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:48 pm

Beautiful! Can't wait to see the finished product!

Aaron Green
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Aaron Green » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:11 pm

Thank you Michael. Much appreciated. I had a UV cabinet for a short time whilst a friend was borrowing shop space. It was a very handy tool esp for some of the restoration work we were doing. I've also noticed WRC can be turned from stripey or rather greenish to the dark brown we all love so much.
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:48 am

I masked the soundboard from the UV, trying to keep the light colour of the spruce. I thought it would look a little better if the spruce formed a better contrast with the yew. Of course eventually the spruce will colour but there's not a lot that can be done about that.
This is what I term the 'one day finish' . . . . because it can all be done in a single (but very long) day. I only use this finish for the soundboards, on romantic guitars or when folk prefer it, which isn't very many. I fit in to the 'not very many'. It's similar to what Aram does on his guitars, although I use a different approach and I'm not fond of the Danish or Liberon oils. It relies on sanding to a very high grit. I take it to 800G, some take it even higher. 800 grit is good enough for me. All the sanding is done in deliberate, very straight lines. I then do a quick French polish with very thin shellac, probably 1/2 lb cut. Watery thin. No need to spend very long on the surface, 5 minutes should easily be enough. That's allowed to dry for 30 minutes at which point it's cut back with 800 again to remove the raised grain. Another two sessions of this french polishing is done before it's allowed to dry for a couple of hours. It gives a very slight sheen and seals the surface of the wood. Then I apply Tru Oil, in French polish style and wipe it off, again in very straight lines. I can get 3 or 4 coats of this done in 10 hours or so. I do have the UV cabinet which certainly helps accelerate the drying.
That's it, nothing more to do but let it harden for a couple of weeks. It can then all be buffed with a linen cloth.
It doesn't offer the protection of a full French polished surface but providing you aren't playing flamenco or using some avant garde technique it's a perfectly nice, very silky finish.

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tom0311
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by tom0311 » Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:11 am

Looks lovely Michael. My type of finish. What do you do about the bridge, just glue it onto the finish?
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:23 am

No. Scribe around it with a scalpel, scrape back to wood. I haven't slipped yet with the scalpel but there's always a first time.
Bridge fitting next installment, along with my version of the poor man's bridge clamp.
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tom0311
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by tom0311 » Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:27 am

I'll be interested to see the clamp. I use the same method I saw on John Ray's blog with no clamps or caul, mainly because bridge clamps seem to be pretty expensive and a lot get rubbish reviews.
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Adam
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Adam » Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:58 pm

tom0311 wrote:I'll be interested to see the clamp. I use the same method I saw on John Ray's blog with no clamps or caul, mainly because bridge clamps seem to be pretty expensive and a lot get rubbish reviews.
Do you have link to the blog entry?

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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:51 pm

Poor man's bridge clamp, as promised:

Image

18 mm plywood, a wedge and strip of wood that gives three points of contact to the bridge.
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:19 pm

Unfortunately I haven't got a picture of the bridge caul. I often put it into position before gluing on the back, the caul stuck with a dab of poster putty.
I pre size the soundboard and the underside of the bridge. I have everything in position before applying the glue, takes seconds to apply the clamp.

Image

Note the use of stunningly beautiful wide grained wood. Pity that the wide grain doesn't go right across the full width of the board but I guess you can't have everything.
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:32 pm

Image

Done. Pretty simple and effective clamp. We shall ignore the fact that I picked up the wrong caul which is intended for a shorter bridge. I must colour code these things in the future. Bridge looks down at the ends so I left it.
All that's left is to varnish the back/sides. I have a problem with some sort of differing coloured bands that run across the width of the ribs. Not so noticeable in the white but they become very visible when a finish is applied. Never come across it before. At first I thought they were due to scorching on the bending iron but that doesn't make sense. The lighter coloured band is at the waist, the position where you would expect the dark band to be. In certain places there are several different colour bands close together. Odd. Now I'm heavily leaning towards some sort of reaction between the aluminium of the bending iron and the Yew. I have noticed that a drop of water placed on the Yew results in a stain, probably a chemical reaction between the minerals of the water and the wood. That's my theory anyway. Just as well the guitar is intended for myself.
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tom0311
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by tom0311 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:13 pm

Smart clamp, Michael. Lovely top too. It'd be great to see the whole thing in the white!
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:59 pm

That top would be considered a low grade, maybe just an 'A'. It's the grain spacing, some run out but far from being the worst. I've had master grade that has more run out (although it probably shouldn't have been called that in the first place). Apart from that there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Not floppy or weak, mid density for Euro, nicely on the quarter. Nice ring to it if you are into that sort of thing. Of course we are accustomed to seeing tight grain so anything that doesn't measure up to that appears odd. I like the wide spacing, you can see that it's wood from a distance of 2 yards. The tight stuff can all look a bit too homogenous.
I've decided to do the back/sides in Tru oil. See if I can get it all on in one day, rub it out after a couple of days and get the strings on. If there's a time to experiment on a finish, it's now. If it all goes wrong so be it. It can always be redone. My idea is to brush it on, which means it will go on much thicker than a rubbed on method. It's still thin though. I've never heard of Tru oil being brushed on but I don't see why not, at the end of the day it's just an oil varnish. Stick it in the UV cabinet and I'm pretty sure that I can get a coat on every 2 hours. 10 coats should get to full gloss, no rubbing out between coats, that's if I can control the dust. There are ways of doing that. I've done a little test piece and I noticed that dust became an issue, which indicates that the Tru oil is going on in a thicker coating. If you get a fibre from clothing land on the surface of an oil varnish it starts to pool around it. Dust is the enemy. With wipe on it's never really much of a problem.
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Michael.N.
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Re: The Santos that never was.

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:43 am

Well I've been playing this guitar for a week or so. Rough and ready set up with a temporary ebony nut and saddle, varnish still sticking to my clothing! That will teach me to try and do it in two or three days. I've left the rubbing out of the varnish for another time, probably another couple of weeks.
This Yew has a lot of 'character'. If you don't like knots, streaks or other blemishes avert your eyes.
Sound wise it's lively, especially on the wound strings. Flamenco like. Perhaps a bit surprising given an ebony saddle and that the varnish is still soft. Then again it could be that I've become accustomed to the less strident sounding wound strings like the Aquila 900. I don't know what these set up strings are, some wound nylon, probably Pyramid or EJ 45's. Trebles are the Aquila 900's, which aren't my favourite string type anyway. I'll try the Aquila wound and pure gut trebles. That will certainly calm it down and make for a warmer presentation.
As for the fleche bracing? I guess it just goes to show that many types or varieties of bracing can work. At the moment I'm saying it's very much in the mould of a fan brace tone. A little bright and lively. It's probably not that surprising given that the body is on the small side and the string length is 635 mm's. I've no qualms about using wide grain spruce again. I think it just goes to show that tonewood is largely graded on aesthetic considerations and not actual real life measurements.
Poor quality pics but I'm hopeless with a camera.

Image

Image
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