That is a Young Steve playing in the background along
with many nice things he has sent me from the U.K
We share many passions, Banjos, Aircraft, Motorcycles....Hot
Custom Banjo Uke
Made in the style of Abbott 'Monarch'
Neck with Mahogany/Ebony
Brass Rim assembly
I will get it completed,
with fresh nickel plating
The finish will be Mohawk
Examples of the parts
being sent over (Sans neck)
Work in progress
Tuner drill outs complete
(repaired small chipout)
Compressing the frets
Sealing with #10 Stew Mac
Staring the level, I see
a low spot in 3 places.
This means fingerboard
had a few dips in it, not perfect level.
a little more, still some
Remarked to see where I
After one pass, I see
some lows in the center which means a little cupping too.
That much more leveling,
and I finally "kiss" the one low wire, I will halt right there.
After recrowning and
polishing, dressing the ends and fine wool to smooth it all.
Ready for marker dots
Repaired the area of the
chip out in the sycamore from the drilling
It should hide
behind the tuner collar and look like a shadow.
Nothing ever goes
Ready to add amber
I will use my Cup gun furnished by You know who...
Steve says "OK" on this shade so lets
stamp it before going further
Ready for center stripe, I
will do Medium brown, it should batch up with the heel color
very well on this tint
Fineline tape for the
Cover for the rest
1 thin coat of medium
Its the light tape that
looks light here.
Went on good
I like the match better
Now adding 3 coats clear
and then cure
Marker dots at 5-7 and 9
are next, that will hold us until the "spinning" arrives with the other parts
all set, waiting on parts.
Hell of a time to find my Christmas Card eh???
Sorry Steve, didn't know it was in there!
OK, I got the Rim assembly out to get going on her.
Found a big whammy dent, i will dollie that out.
First thing I see is that the shoe alignment with the hole in
flange is off on every hole.
This must be addressed if the hooks are to be able to tighten
I will 220 then 400 sand this spinning to get all the old
oxidation from it.
Ready to machine buff and polish
That will be all I do on the metal until i get the assembly all
sorted out then I will tear it down for plating
I did do the same light amber inside the rim to match the neck
I will measure out this radius after the rim is together and see
how much runoff should stay to obtain optimum bridge position.
Steve can tell me the exact scale I should have.
I will not use the premium vellum for the first setup, I want to
use a cheap hide so I can learn the ways of the Abbott tension
The hooks have to be just long enough for now, until I see if
Steve allows me to oblong the hook holes so that an end may pass
All installed, not to bad a job considering its not a perfect
union with holes out of alignment but at least I can build it up
Nothing is ever perfect, tis a damn good replica.
You can see how much I need to elongate here
All are almost the same, it was lost in the radius of the
spinning from wall to flange.
And with no room to go thru I can only go so tight or they will
if you cut hooks more, you would never get a vellum on it.
So we need to relieve those holes a bit.
I tapped the nuts to 8-32 NF and used all new 8-32 hooks, not
the old ones.
Made 4 extra to go home with it.
Steve's friend Dave sent me a pic of how the attachments look,
and it appears the heel cap is sliced a bit.
I will have to reduced the overrun substantially, a factor I had
overlooked from the onset.
For some reason I thought it would just need the radius work but
i got the correct info from Dave as to basically how much runoff
After much studying I will make the reduction.
It is very easy to remove wood, much harder to add it back on
so...it has to be right the first time.
I have used the hoop to mark the area to be reduced
And the black line will be the depth, allowing for head
The bottom of the line is my mark
Main cut completed
Sadly, the "D" on Fleetwood went away with the cut.
I did not visualize in time,the amount of reduction as I said,
so I missed the mark here and must regroup.
I used my hand piece, taking my time and built in the radius for
the top cut first.
I do not recommend this to anyone with no experience with using
a burr in a hand piece.
I do not want to build some fancy jig to do the work as I do
have the experience.
I am close enough here to stop for now
Making the bottom cut, a different radius against the spinning
Neck is attached with proper hardware, I will trim the threads
to length later
I still have to alter all of the holes for the tension hooks,
With the Tension hoop, I have my distances very close on this
I still have some angle to build in for the proper neck angle,
and you can see I am shaping it t go up into the curve in the
With the neck set tight to the flange and spinning, I have 1/16"
of fingerboard over the plane of the head bearing.
The only way to drop that height would be to reduce heel cap
thickness by 1/16, so I need to know...
"Is this why the heel cap looks like it has been reduced by half
of Dave's example?
Does it need slicing just outside of the flange and 1/16 taken
It is the only answer I can see to get the head and fingerboard
After I talked with Steve...I reduced the heel to proper
I could not live with one missing "D". after the heel cut
reduction so off came the finish and the letters are next.
I toyed with saving the stripe here, but off it came too,
I can do it over in the time it takes to try and save this
Heel reduction gave me what I needed
Now I am level with the plane of the head
but I do not like the way the fit is to the spinning, no matter
how much profiling you can only get close so I intend to make it
up with a custom spacer around .050"
using "Friendly plastic" from Luthier's Merchantile Co.
This plastic melts at around 150 F so boiling water is perfect
I use it for cauls and spacers, custom tool handles, you name it
Some used is in the can, I will cut a piece off for this.
You can see it getting clear in the hot water.
You have about 45 seconds so I warmed the brass spinning as
After tightening, it is time to remove the flashing
A little more shaping and I'm there
You can see now, the perfect fit of neck to spinning.
I am using my 3/8 carbide burr to bring the holes out
It is better than a bit because I can go thru slowly and push
sideways to help line up the uncentered ones.
Taking off the burr, getting ready to reassemble for testing
action and such
Setting back up, I am shimming to hold the nut whilst I start
2 or 3 threads, all the way round...
...Then set on the hoop, easier for me at least, on these style
head is wetted again, as I will pull down until hoop is level
It is important I figure right where I want to be so when it
comes back from plating and I install the new vellum I have an
idea how to tuck it for proper crown height.
If for some reason this hide turns out excellent I will mail it
home with it on, and the new unmounted can ride home for
the next install.
I have it marked with red shim wood, that .050" is all it will
need to pressure onto the tension hoop properly.
It will be in black and glued onto the end of the fingerboard on
Tapered reamer for fitting Grover Champions
If you do not use a taper, this defeats the purpose of the
It will remove most of that other hole repair and tuner base
will hid the rest
All in tight
Tailpiece bolt aligns perfectly with hole in flange
When I do the refinish I will go with a more Traditional
Mahogany look and a lighter stripe
I will make a nut for it and string it up
I will not use these strings, I will see if I have some plain
junk nylons, or I may
even use bronze/steel
since its only for an action test and to test how it frets out
I want to do all adjustments I can before going with final
finish and plating.
First Assembly - before plating
Strung to pitch on a standard 1/2 Grover bridge.
I have made a bone nut for it, not ebony
I have a couple of issues so I will first cut the nut slots and
bridge slots to match the strings and work on the action.
The main issue is the Grover champion tuners are made with a
shoulder so they can ride on the washer...
... but the peghead angle is very shallow, 3-4 degrees and this
makes the G and A string want to "Flatten out" and they do not
have enough tension.
You can see clearly that I am spun down onto the capstan as far
as I can go and string is flat, no angle.
The sound is tinny on the G and A until I press an angle into
the string in the manner of Fender electric guitars with string
guides to build in angle.
This must be addressed in the tuner post is my belief because
you cannot add angle and guides will probably not be what Steve
Having holes already to the size of the Champions would make me
loathe to plug and re-drill so I need to decide how I will work
over the posts.
I have chucked the post in my Variable speed drill and taken a
file to do the cutback on the brass base.
One completed, I will gain a little angle here.
Also, the base washer has been reduced in thickness by 1/4,
hopefully we will get some pressure into the nut slots on the G
and A now.
Ready to go to plater after I clean the spinning once again to
remove all the burrs from the drilling I did when widening the
First coat of sealer on the neck as we go back with its new
First coat, show next to blond maple.
will ask Steve again as before... "Darker"?
Ok, darkened up a bit, ready to add the stripe back onto it.
Plectra is working hard and not working.
2 kinds of tape, Fineline is on the inside.
Ready to re-stamp name and town before adding more clear.
I got in 2 jobs today and this was one of them, and I'm
happy that I can get back on this and final out.
They always do a good job for me at ACME, thanks Bob and
Signed the inside of the rim and then it can be hidden in
Alwas nice to be able to prove something is yours if the
Ok, now to take of the temporary hide and install he premium
polished vellum sent by Steve.
I always feel for the thickest spot (no 2 are alike) and
then position that on the bass side of the instrument
It is 100 F in my shop today, I will take some moisture out
and then set it aside a day
Ok, trimmed up and snugged down, looks like a good pull.
Ready to string up, I will just put on the strings at no
tension for one more day.
All snugged up , still nothing at tension.
I will pull it to pitch to check things once,. then it will
be up to the Master to dial it in for his playing style.
I have studied all the Formby things I can and taken in all
the tips so I hope that I have done Steve a good job and he
finds the uke to his liking.
Reflections and flash made name look unclear, does not
look like that.
The nut is free floating, Steve can glue it if he wishes
This has been fun, working on something I normally would not
have done being as the Formby style of playing is not as
prevalent here as in the U.K. .
Working with the English Sycamore was a treat, so Flamey
that it wants to catch afire.
My hope it is a Tone Generator that is easy to play
and can haul the mail when put thru it's paces.
I will allow it to settle a bit more then across the pond it
I will add some
pics of it with Steve and its resonator then hopefully we
can cajole his wonderful daughter Kirsty to rip us a video
that we can upload with the pics.
ARRIVAL in the U.K. 7-15
I love a good outcome!
After some shipping scares (late date) we had a good
arrival over at Dave's place and he set to on the
Dave's resonator is beautiful and a work of art in itself.
It feels good to be a part of this team.
I posted a video (Thanks Kirsty H.) to my Facebook wall
and to "Banjolele Underground" on Facebook if anyone
wishes to hear it.
you again for your help on the uke.It is turning out to be
one of the finest instruments that I have ever played,
It plays beautifully and it's so powerful and light to hold,
Really is a joy to play and I am so proud to own it.
You certainly worked your. Magic on this one and so has Dave
and I will be forever grateful."
and thanks for watching