Kenneth Michael Guitars est.1978
|KMG "Success Kit" Top assembly
The top braces in the KMG “Success Kit” are precision contoured and marked but not
cut to what we refer to as a standard scallop pattern. Some advance builders may
choose to profile the bracing to their own specs. Place the long “X” along the pre-
marked top layout with the edge on the line closest to the neck block. Re-draw the line
on the bridge side to match the actual thickness of the supplied brace material. Do the
same for the other “X” brace. Our strategy is to use the bridge plate as the anchor point
for the “X” brace positioning.
Place one of the “X” braces on the top layout; use some masking tape to keep it from
moving around. Use a straight edge to mark the intersection on the top of the brace.
Make an identification mark on the top plate and the brace. Repeat the process for the
As mentioned above keeping the “X”
braces properly oriented can be a bit
confusing. To prevent mix up mark
each brace in the area of the
intersection. The mark will indicate that
one brace gets notched out at the top
and the other on the bottom.
Using a square and sharp pencil, very
carefully layout the notch on each
brace. The depth of the notch is
exactly one half the height of the
brace. Care at this point will be
rewarded with a tight fitting
professional interlocking joint.
Using a razor saw carefully cut each
notch to depth --- leave the line we
want a tight fit. A jig that can be made
to help make a more precise cut is
A utility knife is used to cut the notch at the bottom – work slowly from both sides and
the chip will release cleanly.
1/8” x 1 7/16” maple strip is used for the bridge plate. Since we are going to use the
bridge plate as an anchor point for the bracing it needs to be prepared and glued in
place accurately. Start by carefully placing the bridge plate blank strip on top of the
brace layout pattern. Use some masking tape to keep it from moving.
|Use a straight edge to mark the exact shape of the plate.
Cut the bridge plate to size and carefully sand to square up the edges and remove any
Dry assemble the “X” bracing, put a piece of plastic packaging tape on each side of the
“X” in the location of the bridge plate. The tape acts as a release agent to prevent
gluing the plate to the bracing.
Fabricate a “bridge plate” clamping caul from a scrap piece of wood. Make it slightly
smaller than the plate. Cover the angle edges with packaging tape. Clamp the “X”
braces in the exact location DO NOT GLUE THE “X’ BRACES AT THIS TIME. Make a
dry run of the bridge plate clamping set-up. The plate should butt perfectly against the
“X” brace. When satisfied with the fit, apply glue to the bridge plate and clamp in place.
Clean up as much glue squeeze out as possible without disturbing the clamps.
Cut the two pre-contoured bass bars to shape. Save all the pieces we might need them
later for clamping cauls. Each bass bar will be a different shape so mark the bar and
the corresponding location on the top to for future identification.
Place the bass bars in the proper locations on the top. Using a thin piece of material
(1/8” Masonite works good) draw the angle on the bar at the “X” brace intersection.
Trim the bars to form the “X” brace butt
The outside ends of the bass bars do not extend to the outside of the rim. The overall
length falls short of the rim kerfing. Mark the rim perimeter line than make another line
the thickness of the kerfing. This line represents the overall length.
Trim the bass bars to length.
The ends of the “X” braces actually run through to the outside of the rim. Mark each
end slightly longer than the perimeter line.
A standard scallop pattern is drawn on each “X” brace. Using a square draw a line
about 1 ½ “ long x 3/16 “ from the contoured edge of each brace on the short leg
(upper bout end).
The ends can now be cut from each “X” brace. To define the shape of the upper bout
ends, place reference marks in the locations indicated on the photo below. The
measurements are from the center of each notch. Connect the marks with a smooth
curve. We use a 3” diameter container lid. The same dimensions are used for both X
The “X” braces can now be cut to profile. DO NOT ROUND ANY EDGES AT THIS TIME.