5/10/2017

Workshop: Another Hackety-Hack Cuban Tres





The world is awash in what are, essentially, toy guitars -- intended to let a kid "start playing" for $49.99 at your nearest big-box store. I've done this same mod before and it turned-out swell (if ugly), so why not do it again, even if it can't live-up to the cool factor of the Nat'l electric version? This Kawasaki-branded 19" scale guitar was traded to me for one of my spring rumblers (yes, I'm making more).

I'd originally thought to string it up uke-style for my father-in-law whose fingers are just too big for a soprano uke. Fortunately, I spared him that and have a nice old Harmony baritone uke on the way. That left this free to hack to bits. I quickly leveled and dressed the frets (amazingly, the neck is straight),  yanked the saddle (which was located over 1/8" too far to the rear), and then made a new nut and added new "screw-style" saddles -- which are a thing I use from time to time on oddballs as I can add compensation easily and adjust the action up/down with a turn.

I strung it up with pretty light gauges -- 9/20, 15/15, 10/10 -- so I could tune it to a variety of different tunings. It sounds good in standard GCE tuned up a step to ADF#, relaxed in AC#E open A (that's what's in the soundclip), and has a nice sparkle and chime in GDG open modal G.

So -- now I have an acoustic tres I can loan, gift, or play down by the river on a hot day. Fair enough! It's also, ironically, in the spirit of the tres as a "converted small guitar" to begin-with.



The new nut is really just a spacer as -- shock of shocks -- this thing has a zero-fret.


Obviously, this uses the finest junk plywood for the body and random bits-bin hardwood for the neck and fretboard.



Even if this were strung as a guitar, that saddle slot would've put intonation pretty flat. I've filled the old slot very clumsily as, like that DIY suitcase speaker cab, I didn't want to waste much of my off-day time with this project.

FYI, the bolts under those dots are just about the only thing holding the bridge on. That's also very typical of this kid-sale riffraff. I still can't help wanting to recycle stuff like this, though.


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