Harwood Mandolinetto and The Oahu

Lately, the shop has seen some great repair work happening.  One banjo got a refret, others got setups and railroad spikes, a 1930’s Oahu squareneck is getting a complete spanish conversion, and a turn-of-the-century Harwood mandolinetto got a new bridge.

harwood1 harwood2 harwood3 harwood4 harwood5harwood6bridge

The mandolinetto is a beautiful instrument, barely larger than a soprano ukelele, but strung with steel strings and tuned as a mandolin.  This one was found at a garage sale for $10.  I made a new brazilian bridge for it, and here it sits.  I haven’t cleaned it or even replace the strings.  I’ll soon level the bar frets, attempt to heat-set the neck, and give it a thorough cleaning.

This Oahu is a really cool project.  The customer wanted a ladder-braced, all mahogany gypsy jazz guitar, so he purchased this square neck off Ebay.  I will be resetting the neck while adding carbon fiber reinforcement, replacing the fingerboard with ebony and adding a zero fret, using a floating bridge and trapeze tailpiece, and fretting with evo wire.  In the process, I’ll fill some holes, fix a number of typical ailments such as loose braces and shrunken binding, and of course carve the neck into a satisfying chunky-v shape.  Here is the progress so far, with the carbon installed, the heel extended, and the neck set complete:

oahu2carbon oahu1 oahu3

A square neck guitar will typically have a zero neck set (neck not angled back from the body), a very tall nut, and no neck reinforcement.  It is meant to be played horizontally, with a slide and fingerpicks.  This guitar is getting converted to spanish play, which means it will also be getting a number of enhancements along the way.  It is a bit of a mystery how it will sound when finished, but I’m betting it’ll be woody as hell and be a really sweet old guitar with modern playability.

I’ve also gotten a new commission for a Roy Smeck-style, all maple dreadnought from an excellent player in Minneapolis;  I’ve started making new molds and patterns to suit.  It’ll be a great one, I’m sure of it!

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