Friday, January 27, 2017

How I made an India inspired tambur

I made this instrument out of a piece of niangon wood, spruce for the top and nails that act as moving frets.

It’s design combines elements of eastern Mediterranean tambura and the Indian sitar. It has moving steel frets like a sitar and also a sitar-like bridge that give a unique buzzing sound to the strings.

I do not have a thickness planer so I used my router and a special jig to flatten both sides of my stock.

I then designed the basic shape of my instrument.

I started hollowing the body using a V chisel and carving gouges. This is a slow process, so I used the router to remove most of the material and then finished the job with hand tools.

I moved on to the bandsaw to cut the outer shape of the piece.

To clean up the bandsaw marks I used my no1 rasp and then moved to a finer no2. Lastly I sanded the surface.

I rough shaped the neck with my draw knife. I moved to a spokeshave and finished the job with rasps and sand paper.

I cut two wooden rails on my table saw and glued them on the fret board.

On a piece of spruce with really tight grain I traced the shape of the body and cut it out on the bandsaw.

I created a sound hole with my scroll saw.

I glued a brace under the top and carved it to shape with a sharp chisel.

I glued the top in place and then trimmed it flush with my spokeshave and a small knife.

I sanded the top really thin.

I finished the piece with water based clear satin varnish. I applied 4 coats with light sanding between them.

I’ve installed all the metal parts of the instrument, besides the frets. 

I made the nut and the bridge. Most of their shaping was made on the disc sander. The bridge is similar to a sitar bridge. I made it out of niangon and a thin metal sheet piece. I glued all the parts of the bridge with super glue.

With a small V shaped file I opened up the groves that support the strings.

I made the frets out of thick nails. I cut them to size with my rotary tool and a cutting disc. I also created a groove on one of their ends. 

I used a red string to secure the frets in place. I used the technique used to tighten the sitar frets. I should have used a thinner string though. 

Using a tuner I moved the frets to their right positions.

My instrument was now ready. 

I hope you like it.

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