Irish Bouzouki build thread 7: binding, fretboard, neck

The wenge body has been bound with black Rocklite ebano, a jet black ebony substitute. Matched up with smart, sober black and white purfling lines. The rosette is the same with a little decoration added, you’ll see that soon.

Once the binding had been scraped it was time to fit the fretboard. But first, it too had to be bound with black Rocklite. I’ve only recently started binding fretboards. It feels nice to the fretting hand and whilst it is more work, it adds a touch of class. Then the holes for the side dots were drilled. I’ve made loads of jigs over the years for this job, but the latest one is the best. Its a simple hardened steel bushing and a clamp. You mark off where the dots go, and drill. Simple. All the best ideas are.


The neck is fitted with a steel 2-way truss rod and a carbon fibre stiffening rod. The carbon rod goes on the treble side to keep that side nice and straight, but the bass side will have a little relief sanded into it. I’m not keen on the idea of having a carbon or graphite rod either side of the truss rod. I’ve seen necks so stiff the truss rod was rendered useless. You need stiffness, but you also need the ability to adjust that stiffness.

The next step is to test fit all the angles to see if the fretboard is pointing down the centre and will give you the correct height above the sounboard when glued. The fretboard is located with a couple of small dowels so it can’t slide about when being glued on. But that’s a job for tomorrow. In the meantime, here she is. Still a way to go – a lot of cleaning up and sanding, fretting and finishing. But the end is in sight…