Friday, January 6, 2017

How I made my first Pontian lyra ( kemenche )

This is a stringed bowed musical instrument coming from the Eastern Mediterranean,  particularly Greece, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and regions of the Black Sea. The black sea is also called “Εύξεινος Πόντος”.

I begun this build from a spruce 2x4. For this part it is best to use hard tone woods. This is not a traditional build, so I used war ever I had around. 

I designed the basic shape of my lyra using a ruler and a divider. The body is hollow. I used my router with a straight bit to remove most of the material. I completed this process in three passes. I then used chisels and carving gouges to clean up the left overs.

I cut the basic shape on my bandsaw. 

I then used a rasp to shape the neck and round over difficult areas.

The top has to be made with soft wood like pine or spruce. I used three pieces of spruce with no knots and tight grain. I joined the pieces before glue up, using my hand plane against a 2x4 to keep it at 90 degrees while cutting.

I then cut the basic shape of the top on my band saw.

The top is arched. Like violin’s tops. I carve the inside using my carving gouges. I used a goose scraper to clean up the left overs. I shaped the outer side of the top with my block plane.

Under the top I added a bass brace. This is used in violins but I thought I should try it on this build as well. It also adds strength to the top.

I traced the curve of the top, using a washer and a marker. I cut the basic shape on the bandsaw and fine tuned it to fit the top with my block plane. I then glued the brace to the top.

With a razor sharp chisel I carved the the bass brace to it’s final shape.

I then glued the top to the body of the instrument.

To trim the top flush to the body, I used my block plane, a chisel, my disc sander and finally a sanding block.

To make the fingerboard, I cut two spruce pieces to size on my table saw, using my cross cut sled. I glued them together, cut an angle on the bandsaw, and sanded it flat on my disc sander. I finished shaping it with my block plane and the bandsaw. I also rounded the fingerboard with my hand plane.

I drilled the sound holes of the instrument.

Using a knife I cut out the S shaped sound holes.

I then glued the fingerboard to the neck.

I drilled the holes for the keys.

I applied spray varnish to the hole instrument. I applied around 8 coats of varnish while light sanding between coats.

I screwed the keys in place. To prevent wood splitting I predrilled the holes.

I shaped the top nut on my disc sander and used a V shaped file to open grooves for the strings.

I shaped the tailpiece on the disc sander. The tailpiece, the bridge and the nut were made out of hard wood. I drilled the holes needed on the drill press and added thee rivets for the strings. I added a drop of super glue to keep them in place.

I predrilled a pilot hole to receive the end pin. I screwed the end pin in place. The tailpiece is hold in place from the end pin with a cord.

To match the curve of the bridge, with the curve of the finger board I used a pencil against the finger board.

I cut the bridge in my bandsaw, shaped it on the disc sander and opened grooves for the strings with a small V shaped file.

At this point my instrument was ready. Please note that this is not the traditional way ( or materials ) to make a kemenche. This is just the way I did it.

I hope you enjoyed this build as much as I did!

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