Haven Guitars – Electric Guitar – Starling

So over the last 3 months I’ve been slowly working away building my very first guitar. I mean – how hard can it be, right? After completing my mandolin (see How to Build a Mandolin) I figured a solid body electric guitar can’t be too hard. Of course, I started searching on Youtube for some guides before I got started, found the whole new post here. Fletcher Handcrafted Guitars was by far in the way the best series of tutorials out there. I then went about trying to source wood. I was surprised at how unhelpful millsgu, mouldings and finishers, and joineries were in helping to find some native New Zealand timbers, but only in small quantities. All up I think I needed about 2 metres of 120×25 Matai to build this, with some bits and pieces of Rimu added in to give it some flare. The rest of the parts were ordered in bits and pieces to help spread out the cost of the guitar, and along with some must-have tools, began to complete this project. I have learned heaps along the way, and am much more confident in trying to build more in the future. I have already begun my second guitar, which will be a Rimu Telecaster with a chambered body.



















Sound Check

Here is the first sound check of the guitar. The quality is a little rubbish due to only videoing with my iPhone, but it gives you an idea.    


Guitar Body Sizes

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been looking into building my first solid body electric guitar. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, preparation is the key. Now I am at the stage where I’m looking to purchase some native timbers in order to make some guitars with a New Zealand flavour and quality.
My first guitar I intend to be a Rimu one, as it has beautiful qualities.
However, I am forever forgetting the sizes of wood that I need for the build. I have the neck sorted, with needing about 700mm lengths (90x700x25). These get laminated together with a piece of hardwood in between them. However; the body keeps slipping my mind, and so I pulled together all the images of different guitar measurements and compiled them into one easy reference chart.
Hopefully you find it as useful as I do.
EDIT: Apologies for the earlier heading “Guitar TONEWOOD Sizes”. As I was incredibly naive when I made this, I was ignorant to the meaning of tonewood when talking guitars, and in particular, electric guitars.

How to Build Your Own Pedalboard

As a guitarist one of the things you eventually get into is effects pedals. For many years I used the programmable multi effects units and never needed a board. I upgraded to start building a collection of the good reliable and hard working Boss Pedals – also it’s a kind of the best wah pedal for the money. For a while I only ever used two, and so setting them up with a tuner never took long. However, I decided that it was time to make a more permanent setup. So here’s a bit of a guide as to how I did it.

1. Research

The first thing I did was have a look at all the different types of pedalboard out there. Holeyboard was one design I liked in terms of attaching pedals to the board. These designs I also liked in terms of their style and finish. I also saw the DIY boards made from IKEA Gorm shelves. So I decided to make something that was a mix of these.

2. Get all that you’ll need.



Here’s the things I used:

  • lengths of wood – enough for 4 lengths of 600mm approx + extras
  • moulding – for edges
  • wood stain
  • wood glue
  • wood screws
  • polyurethane
  • cable ties
  • drill with drill bits and screwdriver heads
  • countersink drill bit
  • measuring tape / ruler
  • handsaw

3. Layout

The first thing to do with layout was to actually list down the pedals I wanted to put on the board. Then get them written down in order. Ordering your pedals has got some freedom to it, in that everyone’s preferences are different, and you should make your pedals in an order that you like and that you want. As a general guideline however, I found these pages helpful.

After that I drew them in the general layout with the general shape and layout I wanted for my board. I find by drawing it out, I had a better understanding of the spacings I’d need and an idea for the board itself.


Get all your pedals laid out in the order you want. Then work out how long the pedalboard needs to be to fit all your pedals on. Don’t forget to include space for your patch cables to fit as well.

To help with this, there is this website – Pedalboard Planner, which has set sized pedal boards with the matching pedal size laid on top. Very cool tool.



During this process I also took into account some pedal expansion, where I may wish to add on some more pedals at a later stage. On the top row, I can compact the three pedals and fit four along the top. Likewise the bottom row can be moved closer to each other, and allow room (hopefully) for a wah-wah pedal as well.

4. Make the cuts


Once you’ve measured up, it’s time to cut the wood. Make sure you’ve measured twice , so you only have to cut once! When hand-sawing, let the saw do the work, and keep 90 degrees to the wood so you have a cut straight.


5. Spacing Check

It was about now that once I’d made all the cuts I’d better check that there was enough space for the pedals and a little riser for the back pedals as well.



Better to be safe than sorry, and gave me an idea as to how spaced the wood lengths need to be.

5a. Riser


Using the off cut from the riser, I found centre, then made a mark 10mm either side of it to create an even angle. This would allow the riser to tilt slightly forward when assembled. I made sure I checked the height of the risers (plus the top of it) to make sure that it cleared the height of the pedals in front. After all, the purpose for having the riser is so that you don’t accidentally knock the knobs on the front pedals of course.



After playing around I decided to have these risers on the edges of the board, rather than ‘indented’ as per the photo above. Either option works, just comes down to personal preference.

6. Moulding

This is essentially an optional step as you could make a pedalboard without this; but I think you’ll agree it looks a lot better with it.



Measure (twice; three times a charm) and cut this on 45 degree angles, so that they meet flush in the corners. The measurements should be taken from the inside of the 90 degree right angle of the wood. It’s difficult to then get the cuts right, but take your time and it will all come together. Double, triple check before you cut.

7. Bracing

Using some off cuts from an earlier project, I cut my back bracing runners to length and laid them on the back of my 4 lengths that would make up the board. These add strength to the board and keeps the spaces nice and even. It also takes the pressure off the mouldings to hold the boards You’ll notice that I have used some scrap pieces of wood that are all the same width to create spacer guides. This ensures that all the boards are evenly spaced and will stay that way as you do the work. Once in place, I drilled some pilot holes for the screws; one in the centre (approx) of each board. Do this for both runners.



At this stage I also counter-sunk these drill holes, though this is optional. You do want the screws to be flush with the wood, and spending a little extra time with a counter sink was better than risking splitting the wood and having to start all over again.


8. Glue (But not really…)

This is where I made my first mistake of getting too far ahead of myself. In the photos you can see that I glue and then attach the bracing to the boards using the woodscrews. However, once I’d done this, I realised that actually – it was going to be easier to stain all the wood BEFORE I constructed it. Just meant I wasn’t going to have to push and prod at the corners and gaps with a paintbrush.



But keep this in mind – AFTER you stain it, and you’re ready to put it together, glue the wood before you use the screws. It will mean a stronger bond and will help it last longer, especially with all the stamping that you’ll put it through!



9. Attach the moulding

Once you have glues on the bracing, it’s time to glue on the moulding to the edges. (Once again, stain the wood before you do this!)



Make sure you line up the 45 degree cuts that you’ve made with the corners of your board. It will also be important to drill into the edge of the wooden boards. I found that to drill into the bottom of the moulding would mean my woodscrews would come out the top. So I put a woodscrew into the sides of the boards. I even got darker bronze coloured screws to make it look pimping.



As part of the bracing support and the moulding for the horizontal mouldings, it will be necessary to make a couple of cuts in the wood to wrap around the runners.

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10. Base board done

So that should be it for the base board now. Here’s what mine looks like, with the top shown above, and the bottom shown below. (And now magically the staining I “did earlier” has finally come out in the photos!)



And the bottom of the base with the bracing runners.



11. Back row riser

You can now add the top of the riser to the sides supports ready to go onto the base board. Attach initially with wood glue, and then drill four pilot holes with countersinking. Tighten up the woodscrews and you’re ready to go!



If you are going to polyurethane or varnish your board, now would be the time I suggest that you do it.

12. Place riser on the base board.

Figure out where you want to place the riser. Take into account the placement of your pedals at the outset and stay true to that. Changing plans now may stuff up the placement and spacing of your pedals.



Place the riser on, and using sight and alignment, drill some pilot holes from the baseboard through to the riser. Add some glue, and then fasten the woodscrews from the bottom.

13. Cable tie holes



From here, you could go about adding velcro tape to the board and your pedals and you’d be done. But I like the idea from holeyboard – not in the sense that I’m going to add lots of holes in a repeating pattern to serve most sized pedals, but in the sense that there’s nothing stopping me adding more holes later on if I need them. I placed each pedal in the place that I wanted them on the board, and then using a pencil, made a little mark where the cable ties would be coming from each side of the pedal. When I drilled the holes, I measured the hole that a cable tie (370mm) would fit through (snuggly at 4.8mm) and then drilled them slightly on the ‘inside’ of those pencil marks so that the holes are marginally covered by the pedal, but will still allow for the cable tie to fit through.

14. Insert cable ties

Now it’s time to attach your pedals. Slide in the cable ties from the bottom. The holes should be big enough to allow the length through, but should get stuck at the latch head. For this reason, insert it from the bottom so that the head is on the bottom of the pedal board.

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At this stage you probably want to connect up all your pedals with patch cables first, check that the cable ties are in the right spot, check that the pedals are spaced right before tightening up the ties.



As you go, attach the daisy chain and the patch leads. Don’t tighten up the cable ties until you’re 100% happy. And even if you’re not 100% happy, it’s easy enough to replace them anyway! No velcro to peel off, no wear and tear on your pedals, leaving them pristine to sell on to the next musician.



15. Non-slip Rubber Feet

Get a pack of these for a few dollars down at the hardware store. Just stick them on the bottom of the risers – even cover up your woodscrews like I did. And that’s it. Done, a homemade pedal board ready for you to shred out some masterful riffs.


Best of luck!

Don’t forget to share this with fellow musicians when they ask about your pimping new board!





















Guitar: Large Worship Team


Earlier I wrote a post looking at how to play guitar in a small worship team. But what if there are many other musicians to fit in with, usually as a part of a larger church. For this scenario we will assume that there is a keyboardist, a pianist, a drummer, bass player, and maybe two guitarists, an acoustic and an electric, and a violinist to throw in for good measure. We will look at what to do for both guitars in a larger worship team. From experience, playing in larger teams is a lot more difficult, as it requires a lot more listening to make sure that you are fitting in, rather than competing over the same space.

What is your role?

What is theirs?

These questions well answer and give you a few ideas on things you can try next time you play.

Acoustic Guitar: What is my role?

In a large team, you may find yourself preferring to play acoustic sound, depending on the style and feel of the service you are playing in. Its unlikely you’ll want to play a thrash distortion on an electric guitar if the majority of your congregation are of an older generation.
If you are playing acoustic guitar, then your main role in the team is to compliment the rhythm set by the drums and the bass guitar. A tip to help keep things tight is to aim for your down strum to link in with the snare. Its important that you stay in time.
Once again, use of a capo dramatically improves your ability to play without having turn to barre chords, which are difficult to play on an acoustic. I always aim to change the “key” into G or C through use of the capo.
In turn, you may find playing arpeggios fitting for quieter times at the beginning or ends of a song. At times however, this may have been picked up by the pianist, so make sure you’re listening to where everyone else is.

Electric Guitar: What is my role?

If you are more of the electric guitar persuasion, I have a few tips. I’ve been playing the Electric guitar in morning service at our church for 3 or 4 years now.
Firstly, there are 2 effects pedals you need. One is a decent overdrive or distortion. This helps brings your guitar out to the front of the mix a bit more. I prefer overdrive as it gives you the crunch you need when you play a bit harder, but mellows out when you’re a bit softer with it.
The other effect you will want is a delay pedal. When used effectively, this can add a great amount of depth to the sound, whilst also able to bring an ethereal feeling to the sound. I use a Boss DD-7, as it allows me to tap in the tempo of the sound and matches the delay perfectly.

Your role as an electric guitarist is to add an extra layer to the sound. You don’t want to be competing with anyone. But at the same time, remember; its not all about you. As a general rule, you share the same sound space as the vocalists. So if there are vocals, the presence of the electric guitar should minimise. This could just be playing three note arpeggios in the chord, with a simple delay to fill. When there is a break in the vocals, that is when the lead switches to you. Don’t over do it. Keep to a simple riff and repeat it.
Some songs don’t require you to play lead guitar. If it is a bit more up beat, then your role is to support the rhythm section, without walking all over the acoustic guitars. Muted power chords with a bit of overdrive are a good way to add some support to the rhythm without dominating. When it gets to a chorus, nice open strums on the 1st beat of each bar adds in extra sound. Because there are a lot of instruments, the rule of thumb is to keep it simple!

What Are Their Roles?

As with any team, the drums provide the foundation and the bass guitar will lock in with them as well. The acoustic guitar, as mentioned will also slide into this role as well.
The keyboard should provide the main fill sound that fleshes out the sound. The piano should also work into this position, often providing instrumental support to melodies or introduction riffs for specific songs.
The violin will also be in the same space as the electric guitar, and so you will need to link in with them so that you don’t compete, but work together in that space.

Things to Try

Acoustic Guitar

  • As mentioned, try using a capo, up to anywhere in the range of 7th fret. Any higher and it begins to get difficult to fit your fingers in ( – but not impossible!).
  • Try using a reverb pedal or effect on the channel on the sound desk. It will fill out your sound and give your guitar much more presence.
  • Begin a song using simple arpeggios, individually picking notes of a chord in a regular pattern.

Electric Guitar

  • Learn your scales. Begin with the pentatonic box shape. This will allow you to play any song, in any key, without having to use the music at all.
  • In the box shape, find two string chords. Around the B and G, and G and D strings in the scale, there’s a cluster of double note chords that are really easy to fall back to in any song, to fade the electric guitar back into the majority of the sound.
  • Find a couple of riffs that you can use and repeat in certain songs. The congregation appreciate some familiarity as much as they appreciate something that’s a little different each time.
  • Learn some inversions, in E, A, and D shapes throughout the fretboard. I’m still learning these, but can see how they can improve one’s guitar playing.

I hope this gives you some ideas as to where you fit as a guitarist in a large worship team, and maybe give you some things to try next time you’re on stage.


Guitar: Small Worship Team


So you’re in a small worship team. There may be a keyboardist, a drummer and of course, you on guitar.

What is your role?

What is theirs?

These questions well answer and give you a few ideas on things you can try next time you play.

What is Your Role?

In a small team, you’ll no doubt want to play acoustic guitar. You’ll find that this fits with the mix a lot nicer. Your role is to play the rhythm and to do this you’ll need to lock in with the drummer. Try finding different strum patterns to master and stick with them in the song. Don’t play complicated fills or try and solo. It’s best in a small team to fill that mid range and rhythm with nice big, simple strums on open chords.
For keys that are a little more difficult to play open, such as F and B, use a capo and aim to transpose so you are playing in C or G which are easier. For instance, playing in G with capo at 4 will mean you are playing in B, and can add a nice feel and sound to your guitar.

What Are Their Roles?

In this instance, the drums provide the foundation and you will need to follow them. A basic guide is to make sure at least that your down-strum is at the same time as the drummer hits the snare drum. You’ll be surprised at how this tightens up the end sound.
The keyboard should provide the main fill sound that fleshes out the sound, and provide the additional pieces such as intro riffs or melodies.

Things to Try

  • As mentioned, try using a capo, up to anywhere in the range of 7th fret. Any higher and it begins to get difficult to fit your fingers in ( – but not impossible!).
  • Try using a reverb pedal or effect on the channel on the sound desk. It will fill out your sound and give your guitar much more presence.
  • Begin a song using simple arpeggios, individually picking notes of a chord in a regular pattern.

I hope this gives you some ideas as to where you fit as a guitarist in a small worship team, and maybe give you some things to try next time youre on stage.


How to build a Mandolin

The following is some of the things I learned along the way of building and constructing my kitset Mandolin. The kitset is a SAGA Mandolin AM-10. I suspect other kits are similar in the pieces they include. Hopefully, you read this BEFORE constructing, and so you don’t make some of the same mistakes I did. The instructions that come with the kit should always be followed above and beyond what I have written here (mainly because there are some steps I’ve left out!). Enjoy!

1. Open the box, read the instructions

This is what I did, cover to cover, so I knew what I was in for. As I did, I made a quick note of all the different things I’d need that I didn’t have (such as glue, sandpaper, clamps etc…). This allowed me to go shopping and get everything, as well as process the procedure for putting together my first Mandolin.

2. The binding

Filing out the edges for the binding, using standard needle files.

Using a small, flat file file down all the uneven bits and pieces in the edge where the binding fits. The glue they suggest is Duco Cement, which I didn’t have any of. I just used some regular UHU multi-purpose glue. Make sure you wipe up the glue if it spills out. My finish wasn’t very pristine because parts of this soaked into the wood and stopped the stain from being able to do it’s thing. I would probably use masking tape to clean up the whole thing.

Use masking tape to bend the binding around the body. Do a little part at a time, gluing as you go.

Wrap the binding around, starting at half way and starting at the bottom of the mandolin top. As you go, stick down what you have glued down with masking tape, taking regular breaks to wipe up glue and catch your breath. Make sure the tape is nice and firm around the binding, as this is going to hold it in place as the glue dries. You can see from this I have taped a little in front to hold it in place whilst I glue down the other side of the binding.

After it dries, remove the tape, and then tidy the binding up, making it flush with the edges of the mandolin with a sharp knife.

3. The tone rods

First thing, sand the inside of the top face of the mandolin. It doesn’t need to be massively smooth, but not rough like it’s just been carved. Follow the instructions in the manual for the placement of these. I found Google quite helpful for converting the inch measurements given into metric measurements.

Once the positioning has been made, tape a couple of strips of sandpaper to the inside of the top. Use a pencil to shade the bottom side (curved side) of the tone rods, and then begin making short small rubbings against the sandpaper. This will slowly but surely shape the rods to fit the curve of the top exactly. Keep checking the pencil markings. As soon as the pencil markings have all gone, then you’ve got an exact fit. Make sure you label top and bottom on each rod, as well as left and right on the two rods.

The two bars in place on the inside of the top of the mandolin. Glue wiped up to keep it neat and tidy.

These need to be glued on with Titebond glue. (Note: the instructions say to use “titebond” glue; with lowercase – which would suggest it is a type of glue. However, this is not a type of glue, but a BRAND of glue. You should be able to get it at specialist woodworking or model making hobby shops.) I used ADOS F2 Glue, which is strong, but permanent, which means if there’s any breaks or I need to reset the neck or anything, then I’m stuffed. Titebond glue allows woodworkers to add heat and steam to release the glue and reset it, whilst still providing a stronger than wood bond.

4. The headstock

Whilst the binding and tonebars dry (overnight, as you want those tone bars to be set and strong), you can begin looking at your design for the headstock. I got my idea from someone else, but made my own choice on it. They have packed an oversized headstock for this reason.

My finished headstock design.

Once you’ve decided on a design, draw it in on the back and the front. I used a paper stencil to ensure it was the same on both sides. Use a coping saw or bandsaw to cut it out. It may also need a bit of work with a file, Dremel, or sandpaper to finish this off. You can finish it off at this point, as nothing else gets done to this area until the end. You can also add an inlay at this point if you want to. I chose not to.

One of the fixes I had to make to ensure the binding was glued down fully at the edge.

5. Fixes

At this point, I had to make some fixes to the binding. Right at the end, up by the neck, I noticed that due to the pressures caused by the curves, that the binding hadn’t glued properly to the wood. I re-applied glue, and then using masking tape, levered and pulled the access, so that the binding was firm against the wood. Once this dried, I cut the binding following the angle of the neck cave and filed to make it nice and flat.

6. The kerfing

Clothes pegs have more than one use…

The next part is to glue on is the kerfing. This is the two strips of wood that surround the inside bottom, to provide more surface area for which to glue the base to the top. First, bend and cut to fit the inside. You’ll have to make account for the base board and the neck cave. Once you are set, begin using Titebond glue to glue the kerfing in place. It needs to be flat against the edge. Use strong spring clothes pegs to hold it in place as you go (a bit like the masking tape).

Kerfing glued in place around the bottom of the sides, ready to glue onto the bottom face.

 7. The neck

You don’t want to stuff this one up. This is the most important piece of the whole jigsaw puzzle. First, lightly push the heel of the neck into the neck cave. Take a pencil and draw around where the neck meets the face and the body of the mandolin. This will leave the areas which you have to glue.

The taped off areas for where I applied the glue to the neck

Tape them off so any glue that does get squeezed out falls onto tape and not the wood. I also suggest you tape off the fretboard so there is no chance of any damages being made to it.

Apply glue to the correct areas, both on the neck, and in the neck cave. Allow a few minutes for it to start to set, and then push it firmly into the neck cave, so that it fits all around. Using a scrap piece of wood placed on the fretboard, tap the neck with a hammer so it fits tightly.

The neck, firmly in place.

Shave the two dowels that came with the kit (there’s no way these will fit without shaving them down a bit!). Cover them with glue, and put a dab of glue in the holes, then knock them in with a hammer. BUT BE CAREFUL. I didn’t know how far to punch them in, and ended up splitting the base wood of the neck cave in the body. If your wood does split, you need to remove the dowels straight away, glue and clamp in strengthening pieces of wood to help with the split (see photo below). Knock the dowels back in carefully. Once you’ve done this, check that you haven’t displaced the neck back out. Once it’s all dry, you can cut down the dowels.

Don’t be overzealous with the hammer. I was, and split the neck joint. Re-gluing was required, and an extra piece of wood for extra strength was added.

 8. The base

The base was tricky. You need to sand it, as per the instructions. Once I did this, I also stained the inside. The reason for this is I wanted it to be quite dark inside the mandolin, as it’s quite a light wood, and I didn’t want that light wood coming back through the ‘f’ holes. I also decided to stick a label on the inside, just like a real guitar or mandolin maker would. Admittedly, I did end up putting it “upside down” and in the wrong ‘f’ hole, but it all works out in the end.

You also need to line up the centre line of the base with the centre line of the sides and neck. I used a couple of staples cut apart so they stuck into the wood to act as guides for getting it in place. Also, turn the mandolin over, so you can see that there is enough overlap around the edges for all of the base. It needs to fully cover the bottom.

Once that was done, I masked off the sides of the mandolin, and then glued around the kerfing. I also glues around the pencil marks of the base and pressed them together, using the guides I’d made before with the staples. Then clamp. Ideally, you want at least 6 clamps, though I only had 5 that would fit.

9. Fixes II

A small gap between the base and the neck.


I found out, after I glued, that the base wasn’t going to match. There was about 2mm gap between the neck and the base. This was because the neck hadn’t been cut quite right and whilst was flush with the top of the mandolin, and couldn’t be pushed down any further into the neck cave, it was not flush at the bottom, causing the gap.

Remedying the gap by removing the piece and gluing it back on.


My solution to this was to cut off the bit of the base. There was enough space for the rest of the base to be significantly glued to the mandolin, and the rest was just for show. I’d cut it, re-glue it 2mm down, and then sand off the base so that it lead a gentle slope down to the glued on bit, hopefully making it so it looked like there was never a gap in the first place.

Attaching the piece I cut off to the back of the neck joint.


A bit of light sanding to even up the joint and it’s fixed.


10. Sand, Sand, Sand

Using three separate grades of sandpaper (#120, #240, #320), sand down all surfaces (including binding) of the guitar. Do NOT sand the fretboard or the top of the headstock. I didn’t take any photos of this process, as I figured it’d be as interesting as a photo of paint drying. At this time, I also used a file to go around the binding to scrape off any glue that was stuck to it.

11. Stained

I decided that my mandolin needed a darker feel to it, rather than the very light wood. The instructions have outlined the various different finishes that you could produce for your mandolin.

Adding stain, like adding paint, is all about the layers.


I chose some wood gel stain to use to darken much of the wood. This was the same colour that I used for the inside of the mandolin (I also used the inside of the mandolin to test that it would work!)

The dark stain for the headstock


Follow the instructions on the bottle for application and drying times.

After adding the dark on the base and the head, I added the honey oak as a lighter tone. To be honest, I could have kept this if I was going for a contrast feel to my mandolin, rather than the vintage feel I wanted. Use a little bit of masking tape to keep the neck that separate colour.


After this layer dried, I added a layer of the darker colour again, and then very quickly wiped it off. In places, I added a bit of spit and polish, and a paper towel to wipe through and give that old vintage feel to the mandolin.

The finished stain

12. Pilot Holes

From here, I marked out all the finishes, such as the tailpiece, the tuning pegs and trussrod cover with a pencil, and drilled the pilot holes for them. Once again, follow the given instructions for these – especially to line up the tailpiece with the neck, so that the strings line up straight.

Placing the finishes in the right place to attach them later.


13. Finishes

The next step was to decide on the protective finishes. The wood gel I used suggested using a particular product (from the same company, as you’d expect) to seal in the colour. I was a little bit undecided whether to go for a matte finish polyurethane, or a gloss shiny finish. I put a layer of matte on, and saw how it was when it was wet, and knew I wanted it to be glossy. Once the layer of matte had dried, I applied the second  layer as gloss, and was very happy with the result.

14. The Bits and Bobs

Once that dries, it’s time to start putting things together. The tuning heads with the rings (you may have to sand back the insides of the holes in the headstock so the rings fit. Truss rod cover, 3 screws. The tailpiece and strap nut, put carefully into the base of the guitar.

The nut needs to be glued onto the top of the neck. But before you do, check the height of it. If it is too high, then the action at the first and second frets will make the mandolin unplayable. You can adjust the height of the nut two ways. You can either use a needle file to make the grooves a bit deeper (but beware, too deep and the strings will buzz in the deep grooves), or you can sand the bottom using a flat surface and a sheet of sandpaper. There are some tips in the instructions as to how high the action needs to be. There are also numerous guides online. Once you are happy with the height of the nut, you are ready to glue. To glue, use a bit of the glue you used for the binding. It only needs a dab as the string tension should also hold it in place.

Now for the strings. This may require a helping hand. The loops at the end of the string don’t always play fair when you then have to tighten the strongs at the other end. Having a friend hold the strongs on the hooks in the tailpiece is invaluable.

As soon as they’ve picked up the tension, slide the bridge under, making sure it is between the middle of the ‘f” holes. This is a “floating” bridge, as it doesn’t get secured anywhere, but is held in place by the tension of the strings. It may be required for you to make several depressions into the bridge for the strings to rest in on the bridge. I made these grooves with a craft knife. Over time, the strings will do this naturally. The bridge also needs to be adjusted up or down so the action at the 12th fret isn’t too high either. I found I had to adjust the bridge quite a bit, as I needed to make the bridge shallower than it would go. So I cut out parts of the bridge to allow it to be adjusted much shorter.

Then it’s just a matter of tuning up your mandolin and you’re away laughing!


Mandolin: Alpha

Last week I ordered my very first (and possibly last) Mandolin kit set. It is a SAGA Mandolin Kit AM-10.

I have begun on this weekend project in order to get me away from the drab boringness of Facebook and TV. So far, none of it has been done in the weekend – such is the blessing of school holidays!

I don’t want to make a “look as you go” blog, where photos pop up as I progress. Rather, I will post many of the photos at the end of the project as one blog article called “How to Build a Mandolin” (which may turn into a How NOT to build a Mandolin!).

Here are a couple, just to give you an idea of what I found inside the box.

Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – Review

This week I got Hugh Laurie’s new album “Let Them Talk”. Lets just say one thing.


Having followed his masterful career in ‘House’ (which I’ve followed since Season 1), I have seen links to Laurie’s musical side, seeing a glorious Les Paul hanging on the wall in his apartment, and the occasional scene of House sitting by his grand piano. However, I half expected to hear the ‘House’ character with the gruff voice and slightly “Americanised” accent to be coming through the dullest tunes of New Orleans Blues.

There are quite a few tracks on this album, so you get value for money. They range from upbeat numbers, to mellow, laid back and gentle. The vocals are distinctly Laurie, and he’s supported with well mixed backing vocals. The range of sound is well catered for, from slide guitars, to saxophone, with the piano being the main feature. It’s not that this is a demonstration of raw talent, but rather a team collaboration which brings the overall sound up to a higher level.

From the first listen I loved it. I must admit, piano based songs are not my preference, but the mix is done so well, that other instruments aren’t dwarfed. There’s enough guitar based songs to keep me interested.

The only downfall to this album is the cover. Whilst the overall design of the cover is well weighted, the cardboard sleeve is unimaginative and flimsy. The CD just slides in, and if held on the side, could just slide out unprotected. It would struggle to hold its own in a standard CD rack. However, I love the fact that the disc is designed to look like a vinyl, which suits the whole feel of the album.

But lets face it, it’s the music on the disc that matter most, and it’s the music that cannot be faulted. I say let them talk… because all the talk will be nothing but praise for it.

★★★★☆ – 4 Stars

Purchase album


Less is More

Sometimes we have a tendency to include everyone and every instrument in our worship team. Whilst a bit of variety can be enlightening and refreshing to otherwise dull renditions, it can also steal the attraction away from God. It can overwhelm the congregation as the sound gets bigger and full of instruments trying to stand their ground.

It also bears thinking about, something that Paul Baloche stresses in his Worship seminars, is that the more instruments there are, the less each instrument should play.

I remember back to a worship conference called Noise where Planetshaker Henry Seeley came to Wellington to discuss worship. At the end of his talk, he sat down, rested a guitar in his lap, and humbly began to worship. Just him, and his guitar. It didnt take long for Gods presence to fill the room and open my eyes.
Our focus shouldnt be the music, the big sound. It should be on Him.

Less of us means more of God.


Tele Look

Tele Look

Tele Look

A week ago I decided to sell my red Squier Chambered Tele and upgrade to a new one.

Originally I wanted one of the traditional blonde one’s with the black pickguard – but they only make them starting from $1499, which is the kind of money I don’t spend on guitars.

So I went with a nice sunburst one, mid-range – and I’m really glad I did. It has a beautiful sound and it looks great in photos too.


Each year on Good Friday I make a cross. It started whilst on the edge of Lake Rotoroa on a lonesome Easter Friday. It was 2001. I made myself a cross out of two branches, lashed together with rope.

Ever since, I have been making crosses. One year it was out of toothpicks scattered on my bed. Another a photo of the cross made from a window.

This year, I made a cross in a short video. I hope you enjoy it.