Mark Riess's Blog (30)

Up to my neck...

 Okay, this is turning out all right. I decided to reshape the neck while I was at it:…


Added by Mark Riess on March 30, 2011 at 11:00pm — No Comments

The florentine fitting

When I left yesterday, the cutaway piece was pretty much fitted up and ready to go, so with a few minor adjustments to the kerfing, a trial fit or two, a dry run at clamping, and some finish sanding to the exposed surface, I glued it up and put the clamps on:…


Added by Mark Riess on March 28, 2011 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Classic guitar remodel

I rounded up an old classical beater, and, while tossing and turning one night, decided to retrofit a cutaway design into it as well as add a home-made piezzo pickup. I happened to have an orphaned pre-bent piece of brazillian rosewood made for a florentine cutaway knocking around my inventory of random guitar woods. I personally prefer the venetian style cutaway, so this was a perfect excuse to use it up in an experimental self tutorial.

Here is the victim, an old "Orlando" I…


Added by Mark Riess on March 27, 2011 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Oud work

Oodles of ouds are coming across the workbench these days. Yesterday I removed the peg head from a neck/head assembly a friend had shipped from Jordan to replace the peghead on an oud he has. The oud maker in Jordan had mistakenly sent a neck assembled to the peghead as well, which my friend did not want. So I fired up the espresso steamer and separated the two. 



Added by Mark Riess on February 16, 2011 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Tommy's guitar

Added by Mark Riess on February 12, 2011 at 9:07pm — No Comments

Restoration of cheap 12-string guitar, with new homemade pickup

I bought a cheap Japanese Yamaha-copy 12-string guitar at a second hand store for $50. It had an over-bellied top, a bushing missing from one of the tuners, old strings and a misaligned nut. I hung it in the garage for months, planning to torture it as a repair experiment.

Then, as I researched repair methods for over-bellied tops, I discovered the JLD Bridge Doctor, a simple, mostly wood device easily installed inside the guitar that flattens the top and also acts as a soundpost,…


Added by Mark Riess on January 28, 2011 at 9:22pm — No Comments

The m guitar

Spruce (Engelmann, Sitka?) top, Brazilian rosewood back & sides; ebony bridge & fretboard,

mahogany neck, heel is capped with laminates of redgum eucalyptus and rosewood, peghead veneered with rosewood; bindings of ebony & rosewood; rosette, position markers, peghead inlay, end and back trim are of 'found' abalone. Saddle and nut are bone. Scale = 24-13/16". Fret board is bound on each side with ebony.

Body is 14.5"…


Added by Mark Riess on February 18, 2010 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Gluing on purfling to the streichzither

The clamps are a little heavy handed...the blue tape works fine, but i needed a few clamps to get things started. I used the hot pipe to pre-bend the purfling to rough shape.

Note the spruce patches to the longitudinal center brace. They are to replace material that was lost during removal of the back, and will be… Continue

Added by Mark Riess on December 23, 2009 at 9:01pm — No Comments

Bouzouki restoration

I've been restoring this instrument I made some 34 years ago. It started out with 4 strings and tapered violin pegs, but about 4 years ago I really wanted a bouzouki, and since I couldn't afford one, I decided to convert this (I used to call it a) dulcilyn....kind of a combo between a dulcimer and a mandolin. I…


Added by Mark Riess on December 23, 2009 at 8:30pm — No Comments

Restoring the streichzither

Adding a spruce brace to the back to flatten it out.

mixing rosewood sawdust and clear epoxy to fill some voids on the top.

The top with voids filled...…


Added by Mark Riess on December 18, 2009 at 7:11pm — No Comments

Have you ever seen something like this, or do you know what it is?

My father-in-law gave this to me back in the 80's, and I never had time to do much with it. It was in extreme disrepair at the time, but he recognized it as a unique and lovely piece of work. I don't know where he got it. Probably in a second hand shop of antiques up in the gold country between excursions prospecting or treasure hunting. I certainly think he found a treasure in this.

But, try as I might, I've been unable to find anything similar,… Continue

Added by Mark Riess on December 6, 2009 at 3:37pm — No Comments

Finished...been too busy playing it to post the finished product photos...

It has met and exceeded my hopes and expectations. It actually has better intonation and pitch accuracy in all positions and tunings than any guitar I've ever owned or knowned. I first strung it up 2 days after gluing on the bridge, using D'Addario phosphor bronze light guage strings, then after a day or two, unstrung it and compensated the saddle. Played it for a couple of weeks just to let it sink in that it was done and that it sounded as good as I… Continue

Added by Mark Riess on October 25, 2009 at 8:40pm — 2 Comments

Gluing on the bridge

I french polished the body with shellac using the Milburn tutorial. Thanks! you guys.

Then, after buffing out with Meguiar's #7, I carefully positioned the bridge using Mottola's guidelines...(what a great website!). I taped the bridge down and scribed around it with a fine pointed tool. Scraped off the shellac and, using liquid hide glue, glued down the…

Added by Mark Riess on October 5, 2009 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Beginning the finish, part 2

Decided to french polish shellac the body, the head stock veneer and the heel cap, and use wiping oil varnish for the neck. After sanding everything to 1500, I've applied first coats to everything and it's looking great to me.…


Added by Mark Riess on September 7, 2009 at 9:30pm — No Comments

Guitar is progressing

Added by Mark Riess on September 7, 2009 at 9:29pm — No Comments

Fretting over frets

I found my slots too narrow for the fret tangs...was banging too hard on them to drive 'em in. So I chucked in a dental bit into the dremel that was slightly larger than the slot width, yet still narrower than the fret tang. It was nerve-wracking to turn on the dremel and then insert it carefully into the fret slots and run it along the channel, widening the slot. I didn't widen the entire slot. I left small parts of the slot alone and that seemed to work best for allowing the fret to seat… Continue

Added by Mark Riess on September 7, 2009 at 9:24pm — No Comments

Fingerboard glued to neck, neck shaped, fitted to body

Added by Mark Riess on August 20, 2009 at 6:40pm — No Comments

beginning the finish

After much inner debate and consideration I've decided to french polish the guitar with shellac. I like the hands-on approach, the old-world technique, the non-toxicity, the fast drying, the ease of being able to work in my restricted space, etc. After several "spit" coats of 1/2 n 1/2 shellac and alcohol, I'll fill pores using the pumice method. I tried to find paste wood filler locally, but no one even knew what I was talking about. Then I discovered this method described by Milburn Guitars.… Continue

Added by Mark Riess on August 20, 2009 at 6:37pm — No Comments

Adding an inlayed end piece of abalone...

I decided to run a strip of abalone down the seam where the sides meet. I glued the abalone onto the surface of the sides with "amazing goop", a fast-setting flexible adhesive, scribed the sides of the abalone when the goop was dry, removed it and began carving out the slot. First, using a razor knife I cut down the scribe lines, then I angled the razor knife from the inside area to carve out an edge. Then I chucked in the dental burr to the dremel… Continue

Added by Mark Riess on August 11, 2009 at 6:30pm — No Comments

Mark binds up the edges

So I ended up using the rosewood with basswood accent binding for the back edge and the ebony/basswood binding for the top trim. Wanted to use ebony for all, but only had 2 pieces, enough for top OR back. So I ordered more ebony from LMI, but when it came, I realized that they don't make it the same thickness anymore, and I'd already routed the rabet on both edges. So I used the rosewood binding I already had for the back, and the ebony for the top.…


Added by Mark Riess on August 8, 2009 at 11:00pm — No Comments

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