So I Made an Electric Violin

I taught myself how to play the violin two years ago, and one of the problems bugging me was how hard it was to practice without disturbing others. Sure there were those silent practice violins for sale, but they were way out of my budget. After seeing people posting build logs of their self made electric violins, I decided that it was not impossible to make my own, although I had limited access to tools and zero wood working knowledge.

Drafting the design

The first step was to come up with a design that adheres to standard violin measurements. From the various sources I found online, I find this site by Vojtěch Blahout to be the most complete and informative, with complete step by step guides to making a traditional acousting violin. The site also provides vector graphic tempaltes in adherence to a standard violin, which I have based most of my measurements on. For any of you who plan on going down this path, I highly recommend this site as a starting place.

After some researching and doodling, I finally came up with a plan for my electric violin design: plans

Wood and tools

With the design in place, it was time to source for wood and ways to process it. In the place I live in, it was uncommon for people to dabble in woodworking as casually as people in western countries (or at least that's my impression). It was extremely rare for people to just have a bandsaw or a drill press at home. Fortunately, I manage to find a woodworking workshop in a community center in my area, which charged a monthly fee for using their tools. They had just the tools I expect I would need: a bandsaw, sanding belt and also a drill press. Perfect!

Having the tools out of the way, I needed to find wood to work on. The best wood I could get my hands on was planks of poplar, 70mm wide and 19mm thick. I'll just have to glue them together so they're big enough for the different parts of my violin.

Starting the project

To make the main body of the violin, I cut two pieces of wood to suitable length and glued them together. I then needed an angled piece for the neck, so I had to cut off a slice of the wood at a weird angle. Inexperienced as I was, I botched it. As the wood was too thin and at a weird angle for the bandsaw, I decided to cut it by hand, which was probably not a good idea.

mistake1 mistake2

I ended up with a huge chunk chipped off in the centre. In hindsight, it would be a better idea to glue the two pieces together to give it thickness before feeding it to the bandsaw.

Finally, I glued the piece of wood that was supposed to be the neck onto the slanted surface.

neck1 neck2

Making the scroll and shaping the body

While waiting for the assembly to dry, I started working on the scroll. As I was pretty sure it wasn't worth the hassle to carve an actual scroll, I just made a simple one out of two planks glued together. Unfortunately, I got too excited and forgot to take some pictures of the scroll while working on it.

After the glue has dried, I shaped the profile of the neck on the wood using the bandsaw. Luckily I did it right this time. The scroll was then glued on to the neck piece after I cut out a mortice that matched the neck's profile.

neck_profile scroll

With the scroll glued, I proceeded to thin down the body into the correct width and shape. body_shaped

With that, the general shape of the violin is done. the next step was to make the pieces that make up the body "outline". As this post is getting quite long, I'll put it into another post. Part 2 here.