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Questions: Zero Fret Advantage

Questions: Zero Fret Advantage

Originally published in American Lutherie #61, 2000

 

Greg Pacetti of Fairbanks, Alaska asks:

Can you tell what the advantage is in having a zero fret at the top like on the Klein and Selmer guitars instead of a regular nut?


Steve Klein of Sonoma, California
responds:

I feel the zero fret is the only way to have an open string and fretted string sound the same. I’ve found two other things I like about this arrangement: 1. By using a slightly higher fretwire for my zero fret, I can easily set the string height over the first fret for all the strings at once by filing the top of the zero fret down; 2. This also affects intonation by moving the string termination point forward. There are other articles that explain in more detail the reasons one might want to do that.

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Letter: Bosch Laminate Trimmer and Cheap Mando Family

Letter: Bosch Laminate Trimmer and Cheap Mando Family

by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #26, 1991



Concerning Bill Colgan, Jr.’s letter and the Dremel tool: it has always been a wimpy little router, but the new one really is a dog. My new one has the same problem as Bill’s. In the middle of cutting a saddle slot the chuck began whipping around, cutting a jagged slot. Adjusting the cut to almost nothing didn’t help. Dremel has always been very good about fixing or replacing their Moto-Tools (you have to have at least two, so that you can keep working while the broken/burned-up one is in transit), but this looked like a design flaw. I splurged on a Bosch 1608L laminate trimmer, and I couldn’t be happier. The Bosch is what all Moto-Tools want to be when they grow up. Woodworker’s Supply of New Mexico (among others) sells a kit of carbide bits, 1/16", 3/16", and 1/8" cutters on a 1/8" shaft. A brass collet adaptor for 1/4" collets comes with the kit, and once you have the adaptor you can use most of your Dremel bits. You have to make all new jigs, but it’s worth it.

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Questions: Fret Shape and Tonality

Questions: Fret Shape and Tonality

Originally published in American Lutherie #76, 2003

 

R.M. Mottola of Newton, MA answers Earles L. Mc Caul’s question regarding the effects of guitar fret shape upon intonation and tonality.

The short answer is no effects whatsoever. There is a good (but highly technical) article on this subject by Steve Newberry in The Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Two, p. 106, “Fret Crown Radius: A Cause of Pitch Error?”

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Sharpening the Stellite Teeth on the 3″ Hitachi Blade

Sharpening the Stellite Teeth on the 3" Hitachi Blade

by Bruce Creps

previously published in American Lutherie #91, 2007

See also,
“Resawing Lutherie Wood” by Bruce Creps
“Grading and Curing Lumber” by Bruce Creps



With a shop-made jig you can sharpen your blade in place in less time than it takes to remove and reinstall it. You save money, conserve steel, and don’t need to fuss with fine-tuning a newly installed blade.

I sharpen blades ten times, making my “cost per blade” under $13. I discard the blade after that because I have found cracks on a few blades after 12–15 sharpenings, and because the Stellite teeth taper in width so you lose set when you sharpen the teeth down to nubs. With insufficient set a band can rub the stock and heat up or wander. The blade will generally stay sharp for eight hours of production sawing of dry hardwood. I don’t go much beyond eight hours because a less-than-sharp blade may heat up and work harden the Stellite tips.

The all-Stellite blade has a cutting (rake) angle of 22°, a sharpness angle of 50°, and a back (clearance) angle of 18°. For my purposes this blade is just right. I once used an alternate-tooth Stellite blade and got better performance when I increased its cutting angle from 16° to 22°. Otherwise I have not experimented with tooth geometry.

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This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

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Curing and Grading Lutherie Lumber

Curing and Grading Lutherie Lumber

by Bruce Creps

previously published in American Lutherie #92, 2007

See also,
“Resawing Lutherie Wood” by Bruce Creps
“Sharpening the Stellite Teeth on the 3" Hitachi Blade” by Bruce Creps



At a GAL Convention several years back a well-known luthier and lecturer stated that the best way to be assured a supply of properly processed tonewood was to harvest and air dry it yourself. He posited that due to turnaround and financial considerations most tonewood suppliers rush their kiln schedule and compromise the quality of the wood. For me, the wisdom of his statements was in stressing the importance of proper drying.

I don’t know if the percentage of kiln-dried instrument-grade wood damaged or compromised due to improper drying is higher than the corresponding air-dried percentage. I do know that it is very easy to damage wood when air drying it. You don’t have to do anything. Neglect it and you can expect degrade: end checks, surface checks, warping, case-hardening, rot pockets, fungal stain and decay, and/or insect infestation.

Improperly kiln-dried wood can exhibit checking, warping, and case-hardening. However, with kiln drying the fungi and pests in the wood will be killed, and colors can be clearer. The obvious disadvantages of kiln drying are that you need space and funds for a kiln, and you use lots of energy (unless you have a solar kiln).

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This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.