My New Project: To make a Strum Stick

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posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 10:01 PM
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This is an official professionally made Strumstick.

As for what it is is a three stringed guitar that sounds akin to a dulcimer yet is fretted so that it is a diatonic instrument. Which basically means that you cannot play a wrong chord no matter what you finger on the strings. While to some, that may seem disingenuous to call playing it to be the work of a musician. Since you cannot play a wrong note (for lack of a better term) and that there would be no challenge in playing it. I will feel challenged enough by building one that is capable of not being played incorrectly and have a good warm sound while being played.

Overall I think the work will be rewarding enough and having a working instrument will be the fruits of my labor.

Who knows, after showing it around a bit, I may be asked to make another.

Why such inspiration you might ask, I was shown one and found it to be a fun enough instrument to want to have one of my own. And rather than pay to have one made, I figure it to be within my woodworking abilities. Probably won't be pretty and I have a couple ideas for the body that I want to do. Including adding a simple piezo for a pickup to make it an acoustic/electric for recording purposes. Or if a friend wants to bring it out while playing a gig.

Something to do and as I have quite a bit of the hardware and tools needed it should be a fun project.




posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 10:10 PM
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I've never heard of this before did a quick google search and its awesome. I have no music ability
but have tried and tried. Now I think I might give this a whirl. Please post some pics after you get it made would love to see it!



posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 10:10 PM
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Never heard of this, but now I have.
What an interesting project!
Hope you don't mind a little tutorial I found....

edit on 13-9-2011 by spacedoubt because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 10:40 PM
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en.wikipedia.org...

The Chapman Stick


You probably know of this one. Used in rock and roll since the 70's. He used to tour the States once in awhile.



posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 10:51 PM
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reply to post by Ahabstar
 


Wow...I want one so badly. I've been playing for about 15 years mostly acoustic so this is right down my ally. I wonder if they make a case so you carry both? S & F for you.



posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 11:16 PM
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My brother would love one of these. He just got a banjo and has been talking about getting a dulcimer for a while.



posted on Sep, 15 2011 @ 12:26 AM
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reply to post by Ahabstar
 


Coolest damned thing ever!

I have to have one!



posted on Sep, 15 2011 @ 10:18 PM
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A bit of an update on the progress.

Yesterday I purchased a 4 foot long oak board that was 3/4 inch thick by 7 3/8 inches wide for about $13. Yes, quite the oddball board. I cut it to an overall length of 3 feet with the intent of making the body roughly 12 inches by roughly 1 1/2 inches thick and roughly 7 1/4 wide by gluing the 1 foot section to the back of the body. As opposed to standard guitar construction the head, neck and top of the body will be one piece. Warping under string tension should not be an issue since there are only 3 strings and the overall thickness of the top and neck is 3/4''. With the pieces cut and the body being more or less oar shaped, the long process of sanding began on benchtop belt sander that uses a 4'' x 36'' belt (giving a roughly 32'' sanding area. Why do I know the exact size of the belt. A slight oops while sanding tore the belt so it was a trip to the store to buy a new one. Which came in a 2 pack for $10 and my uncle gave me $5 to split the cost since he will have a fresh belt and a used belt in about the same shape as the one that was on there. After replacing the belt and lots more sanding until a "rough done". From there I began routing out the back piece of the body and found I had nothing but a Dremel and rounded bit.


Today, I finished routing with the Dremel. To me it looks like I took it to an angry beaver and let him work it over. A trip to Radio Shack for a Piezo Transducer, a 1/4'' jack and a second trip to buy project box to house the jack. Why would I mount the jack externally you ask? Because the housing for the jack was wider than expected and was a bit short on the mounting. In order to protect the casing and have room for additional sanding adjustments for the outer edge of the body after gluing the two pieces together, I left a 1/2'' to the outer wall all the way around. Essentially, I would had to glued the pieces together or clamped them with enough tension to have possibly marred the surface to drill the hole for the plug, chiseled out a notch for the housing of the jack itself on both the top and bottom and then prayed that could line up the notches when gluing the body together as well getting the jack in the hole and notches reaching through the sound hole. Total cost to make it electric is $7. The project box holding the jack will be glued to the back and two very small holes (1 for each wire) which will later be wired to the Piezo leads.

Naturally the sound hole has been cut and the two pieces forming the body were glued and clamped about 7:00pm tonight which left me with about 20 minutes to clean up and be ready to go to air for tonight's All Things Survival show.

Next will be a blended sanding of the two body halves as they were sanded separately they did not match the body shapes exactly. Which is why I left a 1/2'' interior wall to account for that. Then is the finish sanding by hand with very fine grit paper of 220 grit. Hopefully I will complete that and be ready for or begin the staining process before having to get ready for work tomorrow.

Initial thoughts and concerns for now is the action of the strings as I come down the neck and the strings rise higher due to the bridge and how well the fret calculator online will be about giving fret measurements. Of course all that will be done by pencil lines and triple checking those lines with a tuner before cutting slots for the frets. Which of course means a floating bridge. Again these are deep concerns because the entire project has been done without prints or even a napkin sketch. Which means I will be really surprised if it works at all, let alone properly.

I would have pictures of the progress but the media server is currently down for uploading. So pictures will have to happen later. So would now be the time to mention that I have not even learned to play guitar well?



posted on Sep, 16 2011 @ 05:29 PM
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reply to post by Ahabstar
 


Ok. Since I'm thoroughly obsessed by these instruments, but don't really have the patience or skill to make my own, I'm going to buy one.

Well, actually two.

They have a buy one get one half off special!

What would you recommend? A Grand and Standard...or a Grand and Alto?

I can't decide.


edit on 16-9-2011 by loam because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 19 2011 @ 06:45 PM
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reply to post by loam
 


It depends. You can tune up and down so maybe a Grand and an Alto to cover the spread of tuning to different scales?


My bridge may turn out to be as far as 30''-32'' from the nut, so I might be able to go as low as E, although I am thinking D would be good for me.

As of now, it is stained, varnished and reading for fret calculations and stringing up after attaching the tuning pegs. All that would have been done today and I could have been playing it now, but I went on a quest to find frets. Guess what cannot be bought in any local brick and mortar store? It would seem that everyone sends out for fret work to be done at the stores that do repairs.

Sadly, I am already thinking of the next project should I make another one. Just easier ways to construct and maybe get everything done in 2-3 full days.



posted on Sep, 19 2011 @ 08:06 PM
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reply to post by Ahabstar
 


I'm thinking of skipping the Alto.

I also looked into this whole building thing. It's interesting you mention the fret issue. I was specifically curious about that and looked it up. So it seems you can buy fretting wire by the bag full online.

I watched a couple of video on how to set those, and quickly decided I'm back to buying the puppies.



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 10:43 PM
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Progress update:

It is currently functional. And by functional, I mean that it plays well. The frets were calculated to the right position so just tune it to an open tuning of D A D and you are golden. The tone is good, however the Piezo broke the solder on the red wire so it is accoustic only for now. Which is okay, I guess. The advantage of the top of the body left thick is that "might" add a pickup later. If I want that headache of working with a closed a sealed body with no room to really manipulate things inside.

What keeps it from being "complete" is that frets need the corners filed down. The buggers will cut you without a second thought the instant you start to become comfortable while playing around. And I feel the need to come up with a better bridge than just the little hand made wedge. Which will have the advantage of being able to hold the strings easier. Better than the finish nails as string pegs.

But for now it is more or less (less in my mind) done. Towards the end I wanted to just call it a "learning experience" due to the fret headache and just smash it and toss it to a campfire. But it worked too well to do that.


For those that are curious, there is roughly $40 in it right now as is and it has taken roughly 45 labor hours in it. Not bad for a first attempt and just making it up as I went along.
edit on 26-9-2011 by Ahabstar because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 10:56 PM
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reply to post by Ahabstar
 


Pics man..

we gotta have pics..

seriously....

If you put all that time into building it...

we need pics..

BTW..I'm with Loam...

Gotta get one..

been a Bass player for years now...



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 11:25 PM
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Pics will come sooner or later. I have some in progress shots on the iPod. I have to download them and then resize them in order to upload as they are too large for the new pic tool. And the MATS server died when I was going to upload earlier shots. In fact it was loam and I that noticed that MATS bit the big one within 30 minutes of each other.





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