A board of plywood was purchased .3/4 inch thick and the outer surface had microscopic splinters that I hate. One little memory was standing in the warehouse entrance while the wood was being cut and jumping as an Electric Skoda car came up behind us in complete silence. Those silent cars make me nervous.
I cut the guitar outline with a large fretsaw . I had added a steel bracket to the handle with a blob of lead covered in sticky tape. It counterbalances any position I hold it in .
Around the edge of the board I drilled pilot holes for screws to stick out sideways .The last inch of the screws protruding has no thread to upset the elastic bands . Then I cut a pile of one inch offcuts to form a raised edge to allow some room for the bulge of the back . I stuck them on with Titebond .It`s better to use it up before it goes off . I read somewhere that it should have a use by date. This bottle has no date on it .
In the Dutch video Ad van Kuijk only applies glue to the binding and not to the guitar groove. I only noticed that yesterday .
After some delay I moved the job forward slightly . The board to support the guitar when attaching the bindings had screws fitted all round. Then small blocks were glued around the edge to leave room for the body bulges. I had planned to glue on some cloth padding but bypassed that and added a blob of sealant /polyurethane glue to each small block . The sealant is Sikaflex EBT and takes three days to dry or cure . It has a very useful ,almost magical , property ( when it is fully cured ) in the way it will hold any shiny ,varnished surface in position without it slipping. . It`s not sticky either (when it is fully cured ) It just won`t let any shiny surface slide sideways . When the sealant is applied just cover it with cling film and with the guitar face down turn the board over to lay on the guitar back . That will level out all the sealant to make a good even contact. Remove the board next day and gently peel off the cling film. Then leave it to cure for 2 more days . It will simplify the elastic job if nothing slides around .
Yes the timetable is a bit scattered lately . So Friday 5th to Monday the 8th is quick going. Today I glued two blocks underneath the guitar shaped board for holding it in the vice .They will be reinforced by screws tommorow . With the neck attached I had to make sure there would be enough room to get at both ends (top and bottom ). I have a rotating tool rack on the right of the vice so that is an obstacle to avoid. Most of my tools are at another house I am working on . I have worn out 3 electric drills there so here it`s all done by hand lately .
One thing I like about the Aria is the very traditional sound and when you pluck near the bridge it gives a slightly harderer quality but much less than my other guitars . It`s basically a mellower character .
I`m getting closer now . The wooden blocks are glued on the binding frame . I did a dry dummy run to get the elastic bands sorted. They needed joining together in threes and fours ( see below. All 4 s will be better ). I wanted to make sure the elastic was not overstretched. The non-slip sealant on the frame will not allow any sudden slipping between the guitar and frame .One thing I would like to avoid is all the reaching over the guitar to hook on the elastic. There is a good chance I will be getting glue on myself. So attaching the elastic on the far side and hanging the loops on a raised wooden dowel would make for a smoother operation . If I make every elastic into a four part loop there will be no delays or confusion . Some of these ideas are just ocurring to me now. It was a good dummy run . I even worked at making the elastic layers had no twist on the final sections. Using elastic bands the exact tensions can be adjusted by looping onto adjacent screws .I still need to get a small paint brush for applying the glue and the glued on blocks need some screws fitting .
One detail was to cut the end of the lining to fit against the side of the neck .Obviously that has to be the starting point with a neck attached .. Normally the best place to start is at the waist area. I will try to make a slanted join at the bottom end. It will be simpler to creep up on the exact fit by filing or sanding .
Well what a relief today to get some gluing done. Apart from being too busy I left the job hanging around too long . It was giving me a guilty conscience. Maybe I was waiting for any problems to pop into my head . Nothing ocurred to me so I did the job today . I had set the elastic bands up for keeping the lining in position loosely . Starting at the side of the neck and applying Titebond for about 5 inches was a good start .Elastic applied to hold that down with a wet inch still loose and I carried on adding a few bands as I went . Getting the waist tight was important but keeping the flow towards the bottom end was the aim . Then It was easy to fill in the gaps with more elastic. Then tweaking the bands to get the glued side tightest. I had done a few dummy runs to get the general idea in my head . The elastic I used is nice and wide and I tested the glue to see if it affected the elastic last week . It just peels off so no problems there .I kept fretting about the bottom join but in the end I just went past the centre line and stopped . I will cut an angle with a sharp chisel later . The elastic method has no nightmare problems . It`s a safe way to do it .
After the elastic was removed I could see tiny gaps here and there . Only minute gaps and I added some Titebond to hopefully run into the spaces . Maybe I should use superglue for that . Ebony is a rigid kind of wood and this was a completed guitar before I got it . (Got at it .) As I used a gauge around the edges there must have been slight variations in the edge squareness because of the sanding machines they used . Either way the guitar will be held together more securely and won`t have the tatty effect of chipped black varnish on the edges . The rigidity of ebony resists minor flexing , to minimise gaps , that plastic binding would allow . But it will suit me when it`s complete . It was a cheap guitar and I just like the sound character .For ebony I would recommend two curved shapes and a clamp across the waste . The section of ebony that kept trying to twist did not fit too badly but for a perfect instrument you would best avoid twisters .
Stewmac may help here . They have amber coloured superglue ,just right for the top , and black superglue for the side joins where it`s black against dark brown . I never knew about that till yesterday .
Up till 2 days ago I had only fitted the left top binding. That was shaved down level and scraped smooth . I noticed on the section that tried to twist that the grain direction changed as I trimmed the binding . So if you try ebony bindings beware of that nasty danger. Some videos show the edge being planed all round as if it would never cause a problem .Just be a little cautious to save repeating it all over again .
The Dutch maker who uses elastic bands takes them out of a plastic sandwich box as the glue is applied. I improved on that . I had 3 steel chromium plated hooks that hang on a metal pipe above the guitar .All the elastics are in place ready to go and no tangling. I used three sizes of elastic so three hooks . The elastic has a good grip on the edges so it`s easy to ensure a simple right angle on the curve to wherever it happens to fit on the opposite side .There is no need for elaborate planning. Starting off I have one large band full length for the top end .One not very tight at the waist and one on the widest curve just to hold the binding in place before gluing begins. I put glue in the slot and on the binding .The Dutch video shows only glue applied to the binding. I am not such an optimist . Because this was a first attempt I used Titebond . That allows plenty of time without rushing. After some practice I could use hot glue as I am familiar with it already . I made sure to have plenty of tight bands across the waist curves .
After a few days delay I fitted the right top binding and the tiny experience already accumulated made the job very smooth and simple. Dried overnight and planed and scraped the next day . The slanted bottom join is almost invisible .
Now the guitar is face down on the board . I cut out a gap in the board to allow for the fretboard . I`m looking forward to fitting the ebony substitute . It must be some kind of lamination or resin combination . Nice material .
The ebony substitute .which is very hard to tell from the real thing , keeps it`s shape very well ,if you do not glue the bindings on straight away . I noticed the curve shape is still accurate but it has developed an unevenness in the flat plane. Laid on a table it is going up and down a bit . I will warm it up again to correct that . Maybe when I bent the shape originally I was not keeping that in mind. Or I allowed it too much freedom soon after shaping. A dry fitting with the elastic still looks like a good fit though .Again less of a problem than very stubborn original ebony .
There are two answers to whether bindings change the sound . Some say yes. Others say no .My guess is that ebony or other woods will improve resonance. Plastic bindings might not do so much as it is not a resonant material .You pays your money and your takes your choice .
I am still wondering if any makers use machines to bind laminated constructions. The complications of three brittle top layers and two side layers which are even thinner makes me doubt it . Then the stronger back lamination enclosing a soft thicker layer make for a tricky cutting job as there is a continual change in texture and grain direction . Hand tools on solid tops and backs would be child`s play compared to the amount of attention needed for laminates . I don`t think I have ever seen adverts for laminated guitar sheets . Avoid them if possible . Guitar making is hard enough as it is .
To round up the work on ebony edging I have to admit the part near the bottom end did not go perfectly .I planed and scraped the edging all round but the scraper blade went at the wrong angle in one part near the centre bottom on the back .There was a tilt towards the belly that left the ebony edge tip too thin and a small flake came away to expose the surface below. It might fill in with black superglue and some ebony dust. The guitar was already varnished and scraping the lining removed a thin strip of varnish around the edges . The varnish quality is very brittle and flakey and will chip away fromm the wood leaving a clea surface . So , very minimal contact with the wood .I have revarnished a guitar before so I might as well do it all over with this one.I need to choose the dark brown back and side shades . So no disasters . All in control .I would never expect to scrape the edging and not affect the varnish . It`s been a good ground breaker to tangle with interesting guitar problems. I`m also currently retuning the frets to Thomas Young temperament and finding out how to minimise the out of lineness of the frets . This time I have chosen to have the octave fret exactly straight and will see what that tuning results in .There is plenty of room to experiment with fret positions .