Introduction: Electric Violin With Frets
I set out to build a fiddle that would be easy to play and easy to build.I am in the process of building a traditional violin and have learned enough to know what the difficult parts might be and how to avoid them.The first thing I discovered was that it is really hard to make a neck scroll. So I didn't. I discovered I could buy a perfectly good neck on Ebay for about $10.00. (not much more then I would pay for a good piece of maple to make one with).
The second thing was the process of shaping and carving the top and bottom panels,installing purfling,and cutting F holes.
The first solution was easy.Make the top and back flat. (Works for guitars,mandolins and ukuleles).The shaping and carving being eliminated I solved the problem of F holes by making it electric.
I did later make a semi acoustic with a sound hole. turned out not bad.Sorry I didn't take and build pictures but I'll post video of it at the end,
So hi ho hi ho!!
I started out with a piece of 1 X 5 poplar. I cut it into 2 flat panels,glued them together and sanded them smooth on my homemade thickness sander.I did this for both top and bottom panels.
I cut pieces of the same poplar to 3 mm by 1.5 mm for the sides. I used my home made hot pipe bender to shape the sides,(yes it started out as a can of tomatoes).I then cut out an outside form to clamp the sides to until they dried.
Next I placed the sides into in outside form and using the same system as the sides I cut and bent rib supports for gluing the top and bottom panels.
I added bracing to the bottom panel and 2 tone bars and sound bar (in place of a sound post) on the top panel.The sound bar fits all the way from top to bottom both for support for the flat top and to transfer vibration from the bridge.
The next step was to make a mortise for the neck.I clamped the neck in place and marked the mortise with a sharp knife. Then I used my router to router almost,but not quite to the lines. I finish it with a chisel.It took some time to file and shape the mortise so that the neck sat straight and square, but not to difficult.
Then I glued the neck in place.
Cutting the slots for the frets was a bit of a challenge.Not much information available on cutting slots for a violin.Guitars,mandolins and ukuleles have a flatter curve and slots can be cut pretty much with any mitre box.
After a lot of searching and testing the solution turned out to be rather simple. I set up a jig in my scroll saw. Set the depth of the blade to depth I wanted the slots. I used a program called wfret to make a template with the fret locations and transferred the lines to my jig.I set the saw table to the angle of the neck and simply placed a stop block on the line and pushed the fingerboard into the blade. A slight rocking motion was all I needed to cut the slot to the curve of the neck.
As I cut each one I simply moved the stop block to the next line.Once I was set up it only took about 5 minutes to cut 12 slots.
Once the fret slots were completed the frets were hammered into place, filed and dressed.(the process of filing and dressing the frets was a bit time consuming but not difficult. I won't go into the process here but there are any number of videos available regarding fret dressing)
Once it was complete I used India ink to color the fingerboard and glued it in place.
After a lot of sanding and fussing I finally stained the fiddle with 2 coats of cherry stain and 4 coats of wipe on poly.
installed a 1/4 inch output jack on the back.
I installed a piezo violin pickup under the bridge. I made the solid bridge from the same poplar as the rest, but you can use a regular bridge if you want. I find the solid bridge gives better control with the electric pickup.
The pickup,bridge,tailpiece and tuning pegs can by bought on ebay for under $20.00 for a set. If you want pretty good cheap strings look on ebay for german silver strings.(I bought 10 sets for $10.00).
Turned out pretty good. Nice and light and easy to play.
The strings are new and still stretching and little tinny but I'll post a video anyway.
Sorry I'm not a very good fiddle player . If I was I could probably make it sound better.
A similar one I built and put in a sound hole.
Wasn't really meant to be an acoustic but sounds OK.