Day two and there’s a lot of sanding and hand work to do.
In the meantime, I have settled on a set of Grover banjo tuners; they have a straight design more like traditional pegs and sport dark tuning knobs. Plus, Grover tuners have the quality without breaking the bank. Especially since I will have to buy two sets to get enough for the six-string design I’m planning on.
I still have no idea how to do the tailpiece. I saw a design on ancientmusic .co.uk that simply uses heavy cord for the tailpiece — no special, carved wood piece — which I like for the fact that the less parts you have, the less things can go wrong. Plus, I can retrofit it to the carved tailpiece if I need to.
I purchased some Tung Oil at the local lumber store for the finish. After researching various methods of finish for instruments, I opted for this because an oil finish is period-correct and while not necessarily available in Anglo Saxon Europe (it comes from the Tung Tree native to China), it was on the shelf. The truly authentic Walnut Oil was not. Another reason for an oil finish is that as durable as polyurethane finishes are, they’re real iffy in a musical application. Some of them are okay, but some can decrease resonance properties, and trying to figure out which one is which is terribly difficult. Plus, I have an abhorrence for super-shiny instruments. They show too many fingerprints! An oil finish tends to give wood an appealing “soft” look. Instruments should be touched, should be something you want to touch.
So, I guess I should say Medieval Period Nazis beware. Haha. My goal is to create a beautiful, playable instrument; certainly, I want my hearpa as period-correct as possible, but being a musician who has played many different instruments, I have certain things I want in terms of practicality. Hence why I shortened the design (easier to hold and carry for long periods). Hence the modern friction tuning machines (I refuse to fight with ill-shaped pegs of my own making, plus, having done a stint playing violin, I know modern tuners are MUCH easier to use). I seek to maintain the integrity of a period instrument while making it so a modern musician can still get what they want from it. We shall see how well I do! We are nearly ready to assemble!