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1 June 2014

Highwayman Banjo - Fret-bending Folly

I've been up to a couple of different things today, but right now I'm going to make you smile with a little bit of folly. Remember my last post on my Highwayman Banjo build where I joked that I might make a fret bender? Well, read on...

If you search for Fret Benders on the internet you are going to find all sorts of home-made ones and even some pretty snazzy professional ones like the one pictured. This one is by Sintoms and retails on Amazon for £68.99. As much as I like the look of it, if I'm going to have a fret bender, it will need to be homemade and manufactured from parts that I already own.

I'll come clean and reveal that I don't really need a fret bender. The thing is... I was bored. There's nothing like solving a problem to keep things interesting. Thinking about it... a fret-straightener would actually be of more use to me.

Never mind... we mustn't let small details like this hold us back! I dug into one of my boxes of useless-crap-that-I-save-for-no-particular-reason and came up with the above door latches. They have two plastic drums that rotate and which are held together by a metal spring.

Wouldn't it be great if I could somehow fashion these into a fret-wire bender! There just had to be a way!

I drilled holes in the backs to allow the wire to be fed through... 

Isn't this looking brilliant! See what I was thinking here as I placed them side by side! I can pass the wire through the middle. All I need is something in-between to rest against the wire so that I can bend it. 

I fashioned an adjuster arm using a screw from a broken violin bow! Genius! I just knew that I'd find a use for it one day! Ha ha. By tightening the nut, the little black "knob" moves to the right applying pressure to the wire. Bending ensures and everyone is happy!

Well, that's the theory...

Actually, it was a real sod to feed the wire through once the nut was tightened. And there was that annoying problem of the wire turning sideways whilst it was being bent. Worse still, I'd pull the wire out apparently bent and as if my magic, before my very eyes, it would return back to its original shape! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Don't worry, I came up with a Mark 2.

See the above block of MDF with the hole drilled through the middle. It turns out that I can put wire into it and bend it. To prove how easy it is, I've only gone and straightened the bit of wire I was farting about with earlier. It almost seems too good to be true! ;-)

Next week I will be building a time machine!

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