Introduction: Electric Violin With Frets

Picture of 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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Then I glued the neck in place.

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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.

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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)

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Once it was complete I used India ink to color the fingerboard and glued it in place.

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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.

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installed a 1/4 inch output jack on the back.

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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).

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Finally!!

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.

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A similar one I built and put in a sound hole.

Wasn't really meant to be an acoustic but sounds OK.

Comments

Swansong (author)2017-08-24

That's awesome! It sounds beautiful :)

LeighC11 (author)Swansong2017-08-25

Thanks Swansong!! Glad you like it!

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