Portuguese guitar

This is going to be the next project. Instrument that is essential in fado music, the portuguese guitar.

I visited Lisbon in June when the weather was cold here in Finland and a surprise, I found a shop where they sold things that I need for this instrument.

Now I have the tailpiece and the tuning fan waiting.

Gluing the neck together. Neck is mahogany and the stripes are maple and rosewood.

Pieces are now waiting for the gluing.

Sides and back sanded now to about 2,5 mm thickness.

Gluing the neck.

Ears have been glued to the headstock and some wood has been cut away. The cutaway piece of wood will be glued to the end of the heel. Even small pieces of wood will be used.

Jig ready to route the place for the tuning fan.

And there it sits on its place.

Fretboard is going to look like that. Last frets are over the sound hole.

Rough shaping done with band saw and then with oscillating drum sander. Now starts rasping and scraping and sanding.

Sides will be glued directly to the neck wood, no separate neck block needed.

Sides have been cut. From the narrow leftover pieces I can make some stripes or heel caps to future projects. Next step for these is the bending. Should be easier job compared to guitars with cutaway.

Mold has been also under construction for a long time already. Ill take some some pictures of it when I get it ready. I started to make an inside mold. That has been causing some serious thinking because I dont have any plans for it. And because there is no separate neck block I have to be able to attach the neck to the mold when gluing the sides.

Back is glued, nice flames.

Top has been also glued. Very tight grain in the middle at the joint, more wide grain towards the edges.

Parts for the mold are getting ready little by little. For the tail block I need to cut and route a pocket where it sits while glued to the sides. All the pieces of the mold must still be glued and screwed together. For the blocks that press the sides against the neck there must be a tight fit. The neck will be screwed from the bottom and from inside the to the mold to hold it straight and keeping the correct neck angle while gluing.

Tail block has been cut and sanded to fit. Gluing blocks have the shape of the sides to press correctly while gluing. Still have to add the screws to attach the neck to the mold. Bending of the sides is going to be done quite soon.

Bracing plan for the top. On the upper bout the distance between braces is 52 mm and on the lower bout 48 mm.

Bracing plan for the back.

Fitting the neck to mold.

Sides have been bent, now letting them dry a while.

Layers of maple, walnut and ebony on the top of the headstock. Maybe I add some kind of inlay in the middle of the ebony when I have time.

Bracing glued to the back.

Place for the rosette.

And so there is the rosette in place.

Gluing the top braces, one at a time, nice evening job.

Braces glued an a little bit shaped already. Tail block is also glued to the sides. Here starts the most exciting phase when the parts are getting ready for the final assembly. But still a lot of preparations to be done.

Kerfing for the top has now been glued and soon also those side braces. The kerfing for the back can be glued after the top has been glued and the mold is out. Now I need to make grooves for the side braces to the mold to get it back in. Because the neck is so short I decided to use only carbon fiber neck rod.

Gluing the top. Im glad that there is enough clamps at the school for this work. These are so expensive.

Now it is turn for the kerfing for the back as the top is glued and I got the mold out.

Now the inside surfaces have got a coat of shellack. Soon there will be the gluing of the back.

Dot inlays next. Glue is drying. Mixture of 3, 4, 5 and 6 mm size dots.

Back is glued. One more evening only left this spring at school. I got it glued just in time.

Starts to look like what it is supposed to look. Last thing before summer is to try to make a small piece of wood between the top and the fretboard. There is about two degree angle for the neck so there is a little space between the top and the fretboard. The bridge is real moose bone which I got from my friend.

Nice flame on the back. I put a couple of layers shellack on the soundbox to protect it over the summer.

Summer is over and the building continues. Frets are on their places and the gluing of the bindings has started.

Fretboard glued to the neck. Still some bindings to be glued. Then starts shaping of the neck.


Last bindings have now been glued. A lot of measuring and fitting with those ones.

Tuning fan is fitted. I added also a peghead overlay veneer. Same wood as the sides. Neck has almost been shaped already. Soon starts the pore filling.

Filling the pores after the first layers of shellack.

Tool to make loop to the end of the string. Strings have a loop on one end but because there is two models of portuguese guitars which have different scale length (Lisboa 440 mm/Coimbra 470 mm) you have to make the loop to the other end yourself. I found this tool from the same shop as the other metal parts of the guitar.


And here I have the guitar almost ready.

Picture shows the flame figure on the sides.

This was the result in project that started by finding a couple of parts from Lisbon.

Scale length is 440 mm like in Lisboa model. Length of the guitar is 84 cm.

Tuning is D - A - B - E - A - B starting from the low end. Strings start from size .009/.009 (first) and ends to size .018/.036 (sixth).



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