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Latest reclamation: Tackhead!

Posted by cbcarlisle on Saturday, June 9, 2012

A few months ago I bought a homemade fretless, probably late 19th cent., from an estate sale in Roanoke, Virginia (via eBay). The first two suites of pictures show its original condition. The massive walnut squarish, rounded neck and heel with slightly-askew slot head and guitar tuners has an integral perch-pole. The crude, one piece, 12" rim is tacked together with round-headed nails: 2 outside and 3 inside. It was likely never perfectly round. The brackets were mixed and show two different sets of holes in the rim. The tension hoop is a repurposed, very thin strip of metal (with 3 pairs of holes in it) with a copper brad fastener. It is so thin the hooks have deformed, and even broken the edge. It was minimally playable "as-is."

The hoop was the major hurdle; I needed something more substantial. After disassembling and cleaning it and doweling the holes, I liked the "bones" so I made it into a tackhead and used the hoop as a tack covering. A new horn tailpiece, Nylgut Minstrel strings, a tall bridge (to eliminate the occasional buzz from the slightly twisted neck), and it plays like a rich, bass wonder. (It's in Double C, tuned down to e.) I must use it on a forthcoming CD!

See the pictures in the "Tackhead!" folder.

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