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Building an Irish bouzouki

Bouzoukis have become very popular in Irish music these days. We decided to try our hand at building a couple of them.

Day one

1. Opening the new kit from Musicmaker's Kits.
2. Checking the parts.
3. Upgrades! We decided to add some ebony binding (left), and replace the kit's soundboard with some -master grade- top wood from a luthier friend of ours, Michael Keller of Keller Guitars fame. Two bouzoukis are built: Joe is using Western Red Cedar (shown) for his top. Harmon is using Sitka Spruce. We are replacing the padouk fingerboard with an ebony one, and using some solid wood kerfed lining strips. The pieces of ebony will be used to make a new nut, bridge, and tailpiece.
4. Marking the centerline on the back of the neck.
5. Marking the positions of the tuners.
6. They make the peghead large enough to allow you some artistic freedom for shaping it. We decided on a simple design. We drew an arc to round the end, and narrowed it somewhat.
7. Drilling holes for the tuners.
8. Narrowing the peghead on a table saw. This was done freehand, but please don't try this at home. Always follow all shop safety rules. They are there for a reason!
9. Shaping the peghead.
10. Cutting the neck to the desired shape. Also freehand, not a recommended process.

Harmon's Notes:
Just want to re-emphasize that cutting freehand is not recommended in any way, although depicted. I could not figure out how to do the required narrowing of the peghead without sanding it all off. So I cut it close, to save some time, freehand on the tablesaw. As for the neck, we took a risk here too, as using the band-saw in this manner is dangerous for the piece more than for the person. Also I should note we later had to re-drill the holes, as we decided to upgrade the tuners to Gotoh's with ebony buttons, to match the fretboard, bridge, and binding. So it may be prudent to decide what tuning machines you're going to use before drilling per the instructions.

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