Ken McKay guitar build log for OFC

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by dotmkr, Mar 14, 2014.


  1. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    [​IMG]
    One-for-Cliff
    I'm going to document a build that Will benefit Cliff Cultreri.
    I have a customer who was kind enough to order this guitar, the first of its kind, and the proceeds will go to the benefit for Cliff and Patricia.

    Is my pleasure to do this for such a great couple. many of you know that Cliff is a powerhouse in the boutique guitar market. And he's a great guy to talk to about guitars and amps.

    The build log will be in real time and therefore you will have to be a little patient with me here. I'm going to updated as I can but of course I need to build other things in the meantime.

    Please don't hesitate to ask questions.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ken
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  2. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    http://img.tapatalk.com/d/14/03/15/aqa6azu2.jpg[/IMG
    I usually start off with a plan drawn in a CAD program. Or perhaps on paper or even on a sheet of plywood.

    This was drawn in Rhino. You can see there are essentially two versions of this guitar which I call Sunrise.


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    Ken
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  3. Barkster

    Barkster Member

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    Hey Ken, looking good, cant wait to see the plates. Nice too see you today and thanks for the truss rod it went in great!
     
  4. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    [​IMG]
    After I draw it I usually make a mockup in MDF.
    That way I can hold it and visualize and get a good feeling for how It feels and where my arms will rest and where my left-hand will reach etc.
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    These are the two versions of the sunrise guitar. The one in white is the sunrise 16 and the tan colored one is the sunrise 19. The number is where that fret joins the body.

    The sunrise 16 has a slightly smaller body and the neck is joining at the 16th giving a shorter neck which could be familiar to a lot of players. The 19 has a longer neck and more frets out of the body. So this was my thought and we will see how the 16 feels.


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    Ken
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  5. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    Hey barkster we will start working on the wire scheme for this one soon.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ken
     
  6. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    The plates are in the cooker right now so I'll see them tomorrow morning.

    So on with the build.

    I like to make laminated guitars. In my career I have made many different styles of guitars both solid wood and laminated construction. I make double bases for orchestra players with fully carved top and back plates and Big old bent ribs. All hand carved with little Lutherie planes and tons of shavings all over the shop. I love doing that it's a real pleasure. But I started making laminated guitars several years ago and found them to sound very interesting. There is no "better", just different, and essentially I just go for the sound that I'm after. I use very high-quality materials and I think that's one of the keys to making a good instrument. The veneers that I use are custom sliced for this specific requirement. I choose the thickness that I want for both the core and the skins and laminate them using Urea formaldehyde glue.
    But first I need a mold. here's how I make the mold

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    I guess before I show the mold I will talk about the veneers. The outer skins are a thicker veneer that gives me more sanding room. They're very high-quality rotary sliced maple, all clear and if you look at the grain patterns you will see that they look very vintage and Similar to old guitars from the 50s and 60s. For the core material I use crossgrain maple. I like to use thin sheets of maple for the core but have used other configurations with good success. This is critically important to get the right sound I'm after. The attack note is very apparent in the type of laminate that I use. I hear a very distinctive attack to the note, that I can identify as stemming from The thickness, stiffness, and sonic properties of the laminated plates. I think it has a lot to do with damping characteristics mostly.


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    Ken
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  7. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    This is a 19 plate mold set

    When making the mold, the outline of the guitar body is drawn and the mold is carved so that there is a certain contour that will be replicated when the veneers are pressed. I have also used a convex mold, and they work well too. I'll try to get a picture of one of those. I like to add a little contouring in the horns that creates a little reflection of light in that area and creates in interesting feature.

    here's the 16
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    Luckily my son was in town on spring break to help me out a little bit
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    We have the method down using a paint roller. We apply a specific amount of formaldehyde glue, stack the the veneers together remembering to put the good side down. Then we put the lay up into the vacuum bag, apply the vacuum, and cover with the heating pad.

    So let's see how they turn out I'll tell you tomorrow


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    Ken
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  8. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    [​IMG]
    Another desperate mockup attempt.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  9. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    Cutting the veneer stack on a table saw. They are orientated the way they will lay in the pressed plate


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ken[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  10. Gilky

    Gilky Gold Supporting Member

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    This is going to be great Ken, looking very forward to it.
     
  11. 94prs22

    94prs22 Gold Supporting Member

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    As an owner of one of Ken's superb guitars for over a year and a half, I can say that he's an absolute master of the laminated semi-hollow!
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  12. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    Thanks guys.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ken
     
  13. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    Thanks. Hopefully and expectedly, the new models will live up to that degree of coolness.





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    Ken
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  14. korfist

    korfist Member

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    Also an owner of a block and a SHs, they get as much time as my Gil Yaron. Having been to Ken's shop on a couple of occasions, I can vouch for the shavings etc in the shop and the amount of wood that gets rejected for his projects.
     
  15. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    Let's make sure the topic stocks to this exact build and not the whole product line or it'll have to get moved to builders forum, and I think there's lots to learn from seeing it here, thanks.
     
  16. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    Thanks Mike, will do.
     
  17. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    I have done more than my share of experimentation with measuring sonic properties of guitar parts, tonewood and whole guitars and determined that there is value in some of this. Outcomes are the important thing though and I find that I can speed up a good outcome by simply doing some "lutherie forensics". I have the utmost respect for other luthiers who are able to take a set of wood and make an instrument into something they envisioned. I usually take a different approach by using materials and methods that were used in a specific instrument.

    Here are some of my beliefs:

    Electric guitar pickups can "hear" the wood and parts of the instrument. This is the stiffness, weight, damping characteristics of the parts.

    Air resonates at a certain frequency, determined by that volume which is enclosed. Guitar pickups also "hear" this. This is in large part determined by the flexibility of the "corpus" and whether or not there is an opening.

    Body shape and length of the guitar parts help determine the sonic properties of the instrument.

    Joinery of the instrument parts effects both the "standing waves" and impulse of the finished instrument.

    Tone is "timbre". Attack is the first impulse of the note. Decay is rate of volume decrease.

    Playing technique effects attack and decay and lesser on timbre.

    Electronics effects, after the pickups, effect attack, timbre and decay.

    Heavy guitars are hard to play for a long time. Lightweight guitars might also be hard to play because the neck might dive or the expected amount of pressure on frets might get transferred to body movement rather than the desired tremolo or string movement.
     
  18. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    [​IMG]
    After that rambling in the previous post I went out to the shop to check the vacuum bag. As expected the pressure is still holding fine.
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    Here's what it looks like. Possibly you can see a little bit of the arching in this light.
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    Notice the black rectangular thing. That is screen material. It is necessary to bridge the evacuation hole with this material so that air can escape. And also I avoid putting the nipple anywhere where the plate outline can be seen because it can cause a little dimple.
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    The underside looks good.
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    Flip it over and insert the bushings to drill a quarter inch registration hole.
    Since this is the first one I'm a little nervous to see what the outcome is. A lot of work has gone into making these molds and if the plate doesn't turn out right it's back to the drawing board with many more hours of labor.
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    A top and back is revealed. Success!
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    Since there is a little bit of water in the glue it needs to completely evaporate out of the plates. I do this while it's clamped to a flat bring that allows air to get to both sides of the plate.


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    Ken
     
  19. '59_Standard

    '59_Standard Member

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    Ken, IIRC, when you made the (non-vacuum) mold for the 335 shape you had to make the mold slightly different as it flexed when you removed it. Is that the same for the new model here?
     
  20. dotmkr

    dotmkr Member

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    Yes it is compensated for spring back. Just like the now defunct 335 mold. It doesn't take much.


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    Ken
     

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