Violin related information
Bluestem Electric Violin Construction Guide ***************************************** Quiet violin with optional bridge transducer Click HERE to enlarge and rotate this instrument. This instrument resulted from my wish to have a relatively silent violin to use for quiet practice, but could also be used as an electric when desired. I had already developed the bridge transducer to use on my conventional violin, so the only thing I needed was a quiet violin to attach it to. I wanted an instrument that had minimal weight, but retained all of the reference points of my regular instrument and would also accommodate a regular shoulder rest. I had fitted a few sets of tapered violin pegs in the past, but wanted to try geared tuners on an instrument. A check of my spare parts box yielded a fingerboard, tailpiece, bridge. The Ukulele tuners (available through various online suppliers) were perfect for this project because their lightweight construction and short posts ensured an instrument that would not be overly heavy and would also be properly balanced. After gathering the required materials together, I proceeded to the drawing of the plan. The CAD drawing process was relatively easy, using all the dimensions of my acoustic instrument and adapting them to a lightweight skeletal frame. The following information is presented for you to use as an overall guide if you wish to build a similar instrument and/or bridge transducer. The construction notes that follow are REALLY basic, and assume you have some sort of skills in woodworking and basic soldering. They are meant to give you a quick outline of the construction process and are not meant to be an
and other materials can be hazardous if used in an unsafe manner. so you're on your own. Conventional reference points to facilitate easy transition to playing a skeletal frame instrument 3. metal. Use for quiet practice or as an electric violin when the transducer is attached to the bridge 2. No fine tuners needed! 4. I assume no responsibility for the use of this information. The machines and tools used to work with wood. Please read all machinery operation manuals and follow the safe working practices outlined within them. and all personal protective equipment must be used where it is applicable. Please remember that woodworking is a potentially dangerous endeavor. Do I sell completed electric violins or transducers? No. would it? OBLIGITORY STANDARD DISCLAIMER As always. standard safety practices must be adhered to. *****************************************
Click HERE for violin and transducer plan in PDF format. Read them if you wish. otherwise wing it.
***************************************** Quiet Violin Violin features and construction notes: 1. you can have any competent luthier build them for you. Low overall weight coupled with good instrument balance (23 ounces or 652 grams without shoulder rest)
. Otherwise. I'm presently occupied with all the work I can handle. But that wouldn't be any fun at all. Bridge transducer installs or removes in seconds 5. Lower body section rotates to hold a standard shoulder rest at your preferred angle 6.exhaustive essay on the building of either item. Geared tuners for easy and accurate hassle-free tuning.
I currently use a Coda Aspire that I find to be satisfactory. BODY WINGS Trace wing side profiles on edge of 2-1/2´ wide by 2´ thick by 32´ long using body center section for a pattern. This area will be difficult to sand after the wings are glued in position. Place nut and fingerboard on top of center section at the line where the peg head slope begins and mark sides of the finger board directly on board. Glue the wings to the body center section. Plane body and neck sides to these lines. Extend these lines through body area and cut out slightly oversize. Leave peg head area full width at this time. stopping at the nut position line. TOP PROFILE Orient the center section top side up and draw the peg head shape on the top surface of the sloped area. SIDE PROFILE Position the center section on its side once again and cut all of the remaining side profiles. saving cut-off pieces. fingerboard.You will need: 5 feet of 2-1/2´ by 2´ hard maple 1/8´ by 8´ by 24´ figured maple top wood (also u sed for lower body section) Black 3/32´ guitar headstock overlay (save the waste pieces to make the transducer) 1 set of economy Ukulele tuners with black plastic buttons. 4. Sand the front area of the wings where they will meet the center section. Cut the angled surface that extends from the nut to the end of the blank to form the peg head top slope. PEGHEAD SLOPE Place the center section on its side and draw the complete side profile. Otherwise you¶ll be sorry«) Do I need to tell you that you need a bow and lightweight case? I hope not. these were chosen for their minimal weight and short string posts Violin finger board blank Violin nut Bridge Tailpiece with end fastener Endpin Strings (don¶t skimp here! Use a good synthetic core string set. 5. Keep the top arched surfaces of the wings aligned with
. bridge. Cut these out slightly oversize. 1. 2. The cut off pieces saved when cutting the side profiles can be taped temporarily in position to make it easier to cut the side profiles. LAYOUT CENTER SECTION Mark Locations for nut. and instrument ends on top of the 2-1/2´ wide by 2´ by 24´ center section. 3.
counter bore at least 1/2" deep for the tee nut flange and body and install it.
. 7. Carefully add a wood plug in the counter bore hole at this time to prevent glue from entering the thread area when the top cap is added. 6. Drill holes in the caul where the brads will be located. Glue the overlay to the peg head face using a thin coating of Titebond glue. Any steps taken toward minimizing total weight are good. Remove the fingerboard and clean up excess glue. ADD CHAMBERS AND BORE HOLES TO REDUCE BODY WEIGHT The body shown had several 1/2" and 3/4" holes bored in the wing sections to reduce the overall instrument weight. and rear wing caps after the glue has dried. ADD FIGURED WOOD CAP Sand the top surface of the body where the 1/8´ figured wood cap will be added. A slight angle should be sanded on the edge that butts against the nut to ensure a good fit. Trim it slightly oversize and place it over the peg head area of the neck. so it gets its own section here. It¶s easy to forget this. Trim the body profile slightly oversized. Cover the rear wing surfaces with 1/8" Birdseye maple caps to cover the areas where the holes were bored if you have not done so already. butting it against the nut. The rear wing surfaces were covered with 1/8" Birdseye maple caps to cover the areas where the holes were bored. as it would have been difficult to do this after the cap wood was added. it will be finished to the correct profile after the top cap wood is added. The body can have large weight reduction holes bored through the body wings and center section before adding the top cap if desired. Make a clamping caul shaped like the peg head and cover it with 1/4" cork. Test fit the screw to make certain that it threads in easily. TEE NUT The tee nut is added at the correct location PRIOR TO adding the figured top cap wood. The center areas of the body center section should also have large portions of excess wood removed to reduce weight. Cut the body to its final shape and sand the top cap. Drill the hole for the screw. PEGHEAD OVERLAY Fasten the fingerboard and nut temporarily in position using blue painter's masking tape. Drill two small holes at two of the tuner post locations to pin the overlay to the peg head using small brads. 9.the top of the arched center section. Draw the peg head shape on 3/32´ ebony. These open areas were sanded and stained prior to adding the top cap wood on the example instrument. A thin contrasting veneer can be used between the center section and wings if you don¶t have the ability to produce perfectly flat gluing faces. Apply the oversized top cap with a clamping caul made from 3/8´ plywood covered with a 1/4´ cork face. Sand the peg head profile to shape when dry. 8. sides.
Work to the edge where the fingerboard is glued and blend the neck and fingerboard sides together.I decided to add a small mother of pearl f hole to the overlay as a nod to "proper" violin design. 11. NECK Spread two SMALL DABS (1/8´) of glue in the center of the neck surface. Most people tend to err or on the heavy side on their first instruments. ANY imperfections WILL be visible after finishing. It helps to have an instrument that you can compare your progress with. Precaution is used here because string post bushings supplied with the tuners are not used. The area where the thumb stop blends to the rear face of the peg head will also require a delicate touch. as the fingerboard will be removed to sand and stain the body. and thumb stop areas as perfectly as you can using a rotary hobby tool witted with a 3/4" diameter 80 grit sanding drum. All of the body edges should be nicely radiused to eliminate square edges. This really goe s a lot quicker than it seems like it would. The neck shape is crucial to the finished instrument¶s playability. Sand until NO marks are visible. rear contour. Do not
. so take your time with it. Work slowly and form heal. Clamp the instrument upside down and form the neck shape CAREFULLY. Pop the fingerboard off and sit down with 150 grit sandpaper and smooth the contours and marks left by the drum sander. and clamp in position. They are not necessary with the low tension of violin strings and would add unnecessary extra weight. SHAPE BODY Shape the rear body contours. with a random orbital used for flat areas and to refine all of the sanded surfaces. Any additional desired contours can be cut and sanded at this time for both weight reduction and desired look. Follow your preliminary sanding with 180 and then 220 grit paper. butt the fingerboard to the headstock overlay. The idea is to temporarily attach the fingerboard while the neck is being shaped. Perfection isn't necessary here. TUNERS Plane the flat portion of the peg head rear surface to a final total thickness of 1/2" and drill the tuner post holes from the front face. The outer edges are angled to match the fingers of the shoulder rest that you will use. Drill a 1/4´ guide hole through a hardwood block and clamp this block over the post loc ations on the ebony face to prevent chipping of the peg head face when drilling the holes. It is joined to the main body with a screw inserted through a circular wood spacer and fastens into the previously installed tee nut. You want to form the neck as accurately as possible. A drill -held 2´ drum sander is useful to shape the curved areas. 12. so work with this in mind. 13. 10. LOWER ADJUSTABLE BODY SECTION The adjustable lower body section is made from a double layer of the top cap wood.
I used two SMALL beads of Titebond down each side. TEST DRIVE Allow the instrument to dry for several days before final assembly. The finished appearance will only be as good as your prepared surface. 14. Add the tuners to the peg head. My recommendation is three coats of wipe on satin finish polyurethane. I added a small mark with a fine tip permanent marker to locate the bridge feet. ANY flaws or imperfections will be made obvious when finish is applied. A light rubdown with #0000 steel wool will knock down any dust that may have
. 16. Otherwise. Position the tailpiece and use OLD or REALLY CHEAP strings to assist in fitting the bridge to the top of the body at the correct location. Trim the bottom of the bridge and/or trim the bridge top to achieve the correct string height over the finger board. Since there are no F holes to assist in bridge positioning. If you work in a quiet. The instrument shown was stained prior to final assembly.angle all the way to the ends to ensure that the shoulder rest mounting fingers will not slide off the ends. lightly sand with #400 or #0000 steel wool before each application of finish. you may desire to add small position markers just outside the bridge feet to use as reference points. It may be necessary to shape the body and/or the base of the chin rest to obtain a proper fit. FIT AND FINISH If and when you¶re happy with your creation you may disassemble it completely for finishing. Sand the entire instrument with progressively finer grades of sandpaper until you have worked down to 220 grit. Permanently attach the finger board. FITTINGS Drill the hole for the end button and taper for a tight fit. staying slightly to the inside to avoid glue squeeze out. Wrap the board tightly with blue masking tape to fasten it temporarily in position until the glue dries. so take extra care to obtain perfection before finishing. This section can be rotated to achieve a comfortable playing position before tightening the mounting screw. dust -free area and use a tack cloth before each coat is applied then sanding between coats should be unnecessary. The fingerboard is popped off first. If you have any doubts about squeeze out apply blue painter's masking tape to any surface that may get glue on it. Add the chin rest. Mask the entire fingerboard off with blue painter¶s masking tape. After the fingerboard glue has dried remove the tape and sand the neck and fingerboard edges to blend them perfectly together. Do resist the urge to play until the instrument is finished and fitted with good strings! Speaking of which« 15. and apply finish. These should be located so the actual string length from the nut to the bridge is 12 -7/8". Very small abalone dots added before finishing would be nice here.
adhered to the finish while drying.)with a 10 foot length of special small diameter low capacitance output cable soldered to it. then the transducer will fasten through the existing bridge eye. If you use a taller bridge. I have tried many designs and I will say that this design sounds as good as any piezo-based transducer I've heard..I. The transducer can be added if you desire to plug in. and then sandwiched between two thin shielded ebony faces. Low capacitance output cable to minimize the edginess inherent in piezo-based transducers 5. you can use the oft-cited Radio Shack piezo disk ripped from their little plastic case with two leads sticking out. Bridge transducer features and construction notes: 1.) Take it for a long test drive.) You will need: (2) 1" by 1" by 3/32" ebony scraps from peg head veneer application (1) Piezo disk extracted from a musical greeting card
.a major accomplishment using this material. (I'm happy with my $30 Behringer combo preamp/D. (This is an old trick I found from banjo bridge mounting.. I drilled an extra 3/16" diameter hole between the heart and bass side bridge eye to accommodate the transducer attachment.. This will prevent string tension from pulling the bridge sideways on the flat surface of the body. otherwise you¶re done. ***************************************** Bridge Transducer The transducer notes below cover the building of an extremely lightweight piezo-based bridge transducer that can convert ANY violin into an electric in seconds. I lucked out in my experiments and came up with something that sounds good after a few failed initial attempts. Put it all back together. Extremely low mass to minimize interaction with the sound produced by the string and instrument 3. Transducer installs and removes in seconds 2. Inexpensive and easy to make 4. using good strings this time around. on par with one of the commercially available sensor-in-bridge pickups that I have fitted to a few instruments. The circular transducer has a hole through the center and attaches in seconds to the bridge face with a low mass nylon screw and wing nut. and works great in this application.. Coat the base of the bridge with rubber cement and let it dry before stringing up. DO use a preamp if you want any high impedance transducer to sound good. It uses a piezo disk salvaged from a musical g reeting card (Yes.
This is important! Coat the mating surfaces with epoxy. solder the braid to it. Apply a small pad of solder to the disk where the wire will attach. You may need to carve a little out on the inside edges of the notches to get them to fit perfectly. This is the ground side. with the notches over the solder joints. Strip 1/2" of insulation from the cable. (That's important!) The piezo disk is easily damaged by excessive heat. and the copper foil will be applied to the OPPOSITE or active side. NOTE: Figure out a way to indicate which side the brass backing disk faces.
. 5. Drill the 3/16" hole through the center of the square and sand both sides flat. 25 watt pencil soldering iron. and solder the two together using as little heat and as little time as necessary. and you may ruin a disk getting the hang of working with these. Draw out the circular shape on the finished assembly and sand to these lines. preferably with a small rotary hobby tool fitted wit h a 3/4" sanding drum. (You remembered to mark the correct face.Small amount of black 60 or 90 minute working time two-part epoxy 10 feet of George-L's 1/8" diameter instrument cable 1" by 1" piece of adhesive-backed copper foil for shielding the "hot" side of the transducer sandwich 1/4" solder connection male plug Assorted tools. 3. Apply the self-adhesive copper foil to the "active" side of the assembly opposite the brass surface. so solder quickly using good technique.. tin the wire end.. small rotary hobby tool fitted with a 3/4" sanding drum 1. Solder the tip of the stripped center conductor to the sil ver surface on the other side of the disk 4. unravel the outer braid into two pieces on opposite sides of the cable end. Remove half of the stra nds from each side to eliminate bulkiness. Soldering the cable end to the disk comes next. didn't you?) Bend the foil down over the small exposed braid area. 2. The other braid will protrude for later attachment to the copper foil shielding surface. It's OK to practice this a few times.that's no problem. You will want to position the cable so the "active" side of the disk will be perfectly flat when the transducer is completed. trim. Fit the two ebony pieces to the disk with no gaps. 6. Solder one of the braided pieces to the rear brass surface of the piezo disk. Cut a 1/4" square notch in the bottom edge of both 1" by 1" by 3/32" ebony squares to contain the solder joint. Maneuver the wire ends to be perfectly positioned before soldering to the disk. and coat this with epoxy to make an attractive joint. small diameter rosin core solder. place them together and weight or clamp the completed assembly over waxed paper until dry. The edge of the brass disk will show.
making sure the center cable conductor is soldered to the center lug of the plu g. Thanks!
. Please email me at: rcordle (substitute the at symbol here) fastmail (substitute the dot here) fm Please include "Bluestem Info Request" in the subject line. Rudy's Sketchbook of Musical Instrument Plans. I'm forced to include the following text version of my e -mail address meant to confuse the automated robo-search of websites for e-mail addresses. good signal strength. There are free plans as well as construction tips and techniques available at the present time. ***************************************** Please visit my other website designed to provide information on musical instrument construction. and a very pleasant tone. Ideas. especially if you feed the transducer output to a pre -amp to match the high impedance of the piezo material to the input stage of your amp.7. 8. and Inspiration ***************************************** If you desire to contact me about Bluestem Strings products: Due to scoundrelous spammers actively mining sites for e-mail addresses. You should have no hum. Mount the transducer with the copper foil covered "active" surface against the bridge face with a #8 by 32 by 3/4" long nylon screw and nylon wing nut and play away! My violin sounds much better with the transducer mounted towards the tailpiece. Solder the plug on to the other end of the cable. so you should experiment with placement on your instrument.