Bass-Bar Confession—the truth and nothing but...

We’d been looking forward for some time to fitting and gluing the bass-bar; it would mark the completion of the top carving (the inside, anyway), and it seemed like a straightforward sort of job, one that Ed could work on with a strong possibility that it could be completed before he left. We attacked it allegro con brio. 

Here we’re trying to make as good a glue joint as possible between the bass-bar and the top; the basic curved profile of the spruce bar has been marked out, cut close with the bandsaw, and then hand-planed to a reasonable (but inadequate) fit. To get the desired wood-to-wood contact we used the well-known rubbed chalk technique: a coat of red french-chalk has been brushed over the marked position of the bass-bar on the bass top, and the bar then placed in position and firmly moved to-and-fro to reveal any high points:


The french-chalk ready for rubbing.


Ed moves the bar back and forth in small increments.


The red patches on the bass bar were then planed or scraped off, and the process repeated…and repeated….and repeated... until the chalk was evenly distributed over the whole surface.

After clean-up, we mixed up a new batch of hide glue and prepared to glue the bar in position. For this we needed to make yet more clamps, with enough depth to reach across the top to the bar. Rather than make a new screw or cam clamping mechanism, I thought we’d just use normal C clamps (which I remember my father (whose (red) clamps we’re using) transposed up a fifth and called G clamps):


Done and dusted!

Altogether most satisfactory. Or it would have been, if we’d been intending to reverse the normal placement of strings and put the lowest pitched string on the left of the instrument.