Greek Bouzouki Construction Blog
This is my Greek Bouzouki Construction Blog. I will be posting pictures and an explanation of how I design and make my instruments. I will also be covering other Greek bouzouki topics related to purchase, proper set up, and playing accessories. Please stop by often, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Archive for July, 2008

Making the fretboard

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Glueing side fret markers

The fretboard is made of ebony.  It is cut to length, but not tapered.  The fret slots are cut into the fretboard first, and then the fretboard is tapered, and bound with binding to match the body.  Then small dots are inlaid in the binding to mark the fret positions.  They are glued in with cyanoacrilate glue.

Tracing the fret markers onto the fretboard

The front fret markers are then inlaid, just like all the other inlays.  First the inlays are cut out, and traced onto the fretboard.

Routing cavities for fret markers

Then the cavities are routed with a flexible shaft router in a base.

Glueing the fret markers

Finally, the inlays are glued into the fretboard with black cyanoacrilate glue.  When the glue dries, the inlays are sanded flush with the fretboard.  The fretboard is now ready to glue onto the neck.

Installing the soundboard purfling and binding

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Rabbet routed in soundboard

The soundboard is surrounded with purfling and binding.  On higher end bouzoukis, the purfling usually consists of multi-line black and white purfling surrounding abalone strips.  The binding is then installed outside of that.  Unlike guitars, which have the binding installed with the narrow edge up, the bouzouki’s binding is installed with the wide side up.  First, a shallow rabbet is routed into the edge of the soundboard.  A slightly deeper rabbet is then cut into the first to accomodate the thickness of the binding.

Glueing the purflings

The inner most purlfing is then glued to the soundboard using cyanoacrilate glue and held in place with push pins.  Then the abalone and outer purfling is glued in after that.

Glueing binding

The binding is then bent and glued onto the edge of the soundboard and held in place with filament tape.  Once the glue dries, the binding is trimmed with a router and a flush cut trimming bit, and sanded level with the top with a random orbit sander.  The top is now complete.

The finished top

The finished top. 


Attaching the soundboard to the body

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Glueing the top

The soundboard is glued to the body with instrument maker’s glue.  The body is placed in a special fixture, which holds the body and instrument making clamps.  Glue is applied to the kerfed lining and the top is held in place with the clamps and filament tape.

Flush trimming the top

After the glue dries, the excess soundboard wood is removed with a router and a flush cutting bit.

Top attached

The instrument with neck and top attached.


Inlaying the body

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Routing the body inlay cavity

The back and sides of the body can be inlaid with various designs.  The inlays are usually placed on the wide capping strip, or on the side pieces, just above the capping strip.  This process is the same as inlaying the soundboard.  The inlays are cut from shell with a fine jeweler’s saw, and then are placed on the body in their exact location.  Trace around the inlays, and then with a flexible shaft router and a fine bit, route out the cavity to receive the inlay.  The cavity should be just a tiny bit shallower than the depth of the inlay.

Sanding inlay flush

Glue the inlays into their cavities with epoxy or super glue.  Sand the inlay flush with the body using a sanding block.  If you do not use a sanding block, the softer wood around the inlay will sand quicker than the hard shell, and the surface will not be flat.

Body inlays

The finished body inlays.

Lining the bowl

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Glueing in paper lining

After the neck has been glued to the body, the body is lined with paper.  The paper acts as reinforcement to the seems of the staves.  Five pieces of paper are cut out and line the body, and then two more are cut out to line the tail block and head block.  They are glued to the body with hide glue, instrument makers glue, or Titebond.  Most luthiers in Greece use an embossed foil paper of various colors.  I use hand made, acid free, embossed paper.

Lined bowl

The bowl completely lined.


Once the glue has dried, attach your label to the inside of the bowl.  Position it so it will be viewable through the sound hole.

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