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Monthly Update 
August 2009
In This Issue
Product Highlights
Luthier's Tip
Quick Links
More About Us
Dear Luthiers,

Our new web site has been "up and running" for just over a year now, and, we've received many compliments on its looks and functionality. Developing it was quite an undertaking, and I continue to owe a great debt of gratitude to our Marketing Director, Kali Nowakowski and to Russ Bunge, the web guru she employed for the task.

Kali and Russ went through great effort to develop a site that would both look good and be easy to navigate, and I think they knocked it out of the park. But even with their diligent efforts, we get emails from time to time asking us where this or that is. So, I wanted to take a few minutes this month to review some of the hidden structure of our site.

On the left side of the page, above my photo, there is a box entitled Products & Info. In this box, I'd like to call your attention to our Product Information, Dedamping Service, and Virtual Editorial pages (among other things). The Product Information page is divided into the same basic product categories as our on-line parts store, but it is here that you find a lot of background information about our products that is not in our on-line parts store, which is for making your purchases. Also, since our Dedamping Service is provided through direct contact with you and not through our on-line parts store, details about this service are provided here. Lastly, Products & Info is where you will find the link to our Virtual Editorial pages where additional content is available for each of my books - valuable information that is made available after the books were printed.

On the right side of the home page is a list of main "Site Links." Of special interest is our "Search This Site" like where you can type in a key word to see if we have addressed it in our site. For example, if you type in "Loar" you will end up with an extended search that provides 94 different links to Loar-related topics in our site.

On another subject, we are happy to present some new luthierie templates this month - be sure to take a look at our Product Highlights below.

Thanks for your continued interest in our books, products, and services - we really value our relationship with you, and we appreciate your business.

Thanks for building with us...

Fret Scales...

I continue to be amazed by the fret scale formula; not so much that it works, but rather that the foundation of a fret scale formula was first explored more than 2,000 years ago.

Initially, the well-known Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (c 572 BC - c 490 BC) had worked on developing a formula to establish the frequency ratio between any two notes of a given scale. His formula became known as Pythagoran tuning. In the 16th Century, an Italian musicologist and lutenist named Vincenzo Gallelei (1520-1591) developed a fretting scale known as the rule of 18. And, around the same time, Prince Chu Tsai-Yu (1536-1611) of the Ming Dynasty developed a precise formula to determine the lengths of musical pipes so they would produce the 12 equal tones of the equal temperament scale. Chu Tsai-Yu's formula was to be known as the 12th root of 2 and this formula endures today as the leading method for calculating fret scales.

Chu Tasi-Yu's formula was a fairly simple calculation. To find the next larger pipe, he would multiply its length by the number 1.05946309. To find the next lower pipe, he would divide its length by 17.81715375 and then subtract the result from the length of the known pipe to find the length of the desired pipe.

For the purposes of applying the formula to today's fret scales, we typically use only three decimal places. So, to calculate the distance to the next higher fret, one would multiply the existing scale length by 1.059. To calculate the distance to the next lower fret, one would divide by 17.817 (and then subtract that result from the existing scale length to find the new scale length).

Why only three decimal places? Well, three decimal places will provide us with results to an accuracy of a hundred-thousands of an inch, and this is more than precise enough for a string scale. I don't mean to suggest that more accuracy wouldn't be better, but rather that the accuracy provided by three decimal places is more accurate than all of the problems associated with fretting; i.e., installing frets exactly in the center of the slot, ensuring the string is stopped (when fretted) exactly at the crown of the fret, the height of the frets as it relates to intonation problems, different string gauges as they relate to intonation problems, exact nut placement, finger pressure when fretting, and more.

If you have need to use a fret scale calculator, there is a free download (Microsoft Excel) in our site here, fifth one down in the "Other Downloads" section.

Product Highlights

Scroll TemplateF5/F4 mandolin body scroll peak template, laser cut, 1/8" luminescent plastic, hang-up hole. To easily re-draw the peak of the body's scroll during carving and sanding, simply lay the outer edge of this template along the outer edge of your soundboard and re-draw the centerline of the peak. Part #370-S, $14.95 plus P&H. We also have one for the H5 mandola, which is part #373-S, $14.95 plus P&H

Neck Profile Template
F5/A5 mandolin neck profile template, laser cut, 1/8" luminescent plastic, hang-up hole. Use this template to draw the side profile of the neck onto your wood. Part #370-NP, $14.95 plus P&H. For the H5 mandola, the template is part #373-NP, $14.95 plus P&H, and for the F4/A1 mandolins the template is part #372-NP, $14.95 plus P&H.

The Virzi Tone producer continues to draw a lot of interest. The Tone Producer enhances the overtone series and provides the instrument with a warm, rich sound. We produce an exact replica that includes the patent stamp info and a replica Virzi label. Kit includes assembly and installation instructions. Our Virzi Tone Producer is part #390, $30.00 plus P&H.

NOTE: Please consult the Shipping & Returns page on our website for a P&H table.
Luthier's Tip...

We are often asked how we make that nice transition from the truss rod slot to the truss rod pocket and how we keep the slot and pocket aligned. While some luthiers prefer to install the truss rod before they shape the neck, our necks are shaped on a pattern carver, and because the necks are bolted to the carver we can only cut the truss rod slot after the necks are carved. With the necks held in an alignment fixture, we use a regular saw table with a special blade to cut the " wide slot down the neck. The neck is held at an angle so that the slot is deeper at the heel than it is at the nut.
Luth Tip
After the truss rod slot is cut all the way through the neck and through the face of the peghead, we move the neck to a drill press where the neck's truss rod slot is aligned to the drill press table. To drill the truss rod pocket, we use a " diameter cutter called a "changeable-pilot counterbore." This is basically an end mill with a hole in the center into which you can fit a guide shaft called a "pilot." We made our own pilot that is 2" long and has a cutting edge ground into its face. The pilot shaft is designed to follow the truss rod slot as the counterbore drills the truss rod pocket. (The pilot's cutting face prevents the pilot from getting stuck in case it doesn't initially align perfectly to the truss rod slot.) Changeable-pilot counterbores are available from most better machine tool stores or from on-line sources such as McMaster-Carr or MSC.

Product of the Month: Needle Files

For Two Filesthe month of August our marketing director, Kali, is making a special needle file "twofer" offer available; you get two files for the price of one! These two files are perfect for shaping mother of pearl parts. Here's the deal: if you buy a flat needle file (part #451), you get a round needle file (part #452) FREE! An $11.90 value for only $5.95 plus P&H! To take advantage of this offer, order parts #451 and #452 and then use promotion code freefile when you check out. Limit two sets per customer.

Buy 1 get 1 FREE!
Flat and Round Needle Files
August's Product of the Month: Buy one flat needle file (part #451) and get a round needle file (part #452) FREE. When ordering online enter freefile during checkout to receive the free file. Limit two sets per customer. Offer not valid for triangular nut file.
Offer Valid: July 29, 2009 through August 30, 2009