Call it The Dude, His Dudeness, Duder, or even El Duderino, but don’t call it Mr. Lebowski.
I received a request to modify this old classical, parlor acoustic. The gentleman had seen a few of my other acoustic modifications and wanted something similar for his acoustic. He gave me full artistic control, so I added materials based on the guitar’s size, shape and the condition of the neck.
Here are some before pictures:
Body and Finish:
Initially, I liked the the color of the finish, but there were a lot of scratches and the finish was cracking—this isn’t necessarily a problem in all cases, but the condition of the finish did not seem interesting or artistic, so I sanded all of the finish off in favor of creating something more impressive.
I usually stain instruments with a concoction made from vinegar and steel wool. For this project the plan was to use multiple colors in order to bring out the natural nuances in the wood and to create depth.
In all, four different vinegars were used: white, apple cider, red wine, and balsamic. Each vinegar was applied and allowed to dry and then wiped down with a damp towel to remove excess material. Individual flavors/colors pull out different nuances in the wood, even though it can appear similar in color and darkness.
Tuners and Strings:
The tuners were trash, so I traded them out for two plates of Schaller steel guitar machines. My choice of strings is always DR Pure Blues nickel strings—nickel strings offer more magnetic surface and generally have a louder, fuller sound.
For this build I chose 10’s; since I had to cut through at least one of the braces, and that reduces the stability of the top, I prefer to error on the side of caution and use lighter strings.
Bridge, Cone and Tailpiece:
The cone is comprised of a small stove drip pan and a 1 gallon paint can lid. In the past, I used a bolt to hold the two together, for this build I placed magnets on the inner ridge of the drip pan to hold the lid in place.
The tension hinge had to be modified in order to better fit the build. The center sleeve had to be cut off and the and the inner area filed back about 1/16th inch in order to allow for the strings to pass through.
The tailpiece is a nickel hinge and there is a second hinge the places tension on the strings relative to the bridge. The tension hinge is attached to the paint lid and the drip pan to further fortify the structure and offer the best sound possible.
The bridge is made from a piece of 1/2″ rebar that is filed flat on the bottom. The bridge is held in place with three strong magnets located on the underside of the paint can lid; it is held firmly, but it can be easily adjusted for fine tuning.
Sound Hole, Pickup, Vents, Endpin Jack:
The sound hole was left as is and 2″ vents were added both to vent a bit more sound and to add to the overall resonator aesthetic.
The endpin jack is wired straight to the pickup, which is comprised of two JSA Nd144 Electromagnetic Cigar Box Guitar Pickups taped together.
The pickup is located beneath the fretboard around the 15th-17th frets and is held in place with magnets inherent to the unit.
Accessories and Embellishments:
For this build, I wanted to add a feature that showed that it was modified by Junk Shop Audio, so I cut my brand/initials out of duct tape and placed it inside the sound hole where manufacturers place their labels.
The gentleman who commissioned this build appears to be a big fan of The Big Lebowski and perhaps bowling in general.
Therefore, I added a very cool metal stamping to the headstock to further personalize the guitar.
I also added a black headstock strap tie made from duct tape and an orange/clay colored strap for fun.
There were many opportunities for learning on this build, which is the best part of building. One major difficulty was that the fretboard had a slight hump on the bass side around the 12th or 13th fret which blocked frets 8 – 11 completely.
I leveled and dressed the upper part of the fretboard several times before frets 8 – 11 would play, but eventually it worked out. https://wp.me/P3WRqw-VO
Check out these quick and dirty demonstration videos—one is amplified with distortion the other is unplugged and ends with a little Nuge, but hey, it’s a free for all: