the 4th of September 2011 – the Crimson Guitars blog
The Delta, This is one of the more radical guitar designs we’ve had the pleasure of working on and it is nearing completion! The lacquer takes the better part of a days work to flatten with wet and dry paper starting at 800 grit and proceeding through 1200, 1500 and ending up at 2000 grit and a creditable matt finish.
The first bit to be polished is the head stock… I am certainly getting the hang of the finishing processes. For more than half of my career as a custom guitar builder I searched for a reliable finisher to farm the job out to and every one screwed me over in some way, the problem was that finishing is an entirely different skill to gluing two bits of wood together and takes just as long to learn and perfect. Anyway, I guess the gist of this is that with this last batch of finishing I seem to have breached some barrier and can finally be perfectly happy with what we’re delivering; after all the final finish is the first thing you see and is arguably more important than anything else. In this world aesthetics rule and functionality tends to come a distant second, just take a look at all the gadgets you own that are actually engineered to die after one or two years, a travesty if you ask me!
Here’s the difference between the polished and matt sections.. one day I would like to mask off a tribal design or something while polishing to create a very subtle but cool effect… any takers?
It takes a bit of thought to even see the guitar in this picture!
I could not resist taking a few photo’s in real light…
A beautiful guitar and it looks like being perfectly balanced in the end as well.
A rather big part of any job that involves making things is either making your own or redesigning your tools and machines, this old pin router has a hole drilled in the table.
Which is threaded and this bearing assembly is bolted in place.
An aluminium blank is turned on the lathe and drilled out.
Fitting in the chuck when it slips down the outside of the bearings the router is perfectly centered and can be locked off, the centering jig is then replaced with a router bit and away you go.
This router bit is bigger than the bearings and cuts a channel for the top binding of this stock 45rpm.
I love it when a new idea pans out well!
So many templates.. but still not the one I need…
To rout the back binding channel around the neck to body joint.
The rest of the channel is routed using this bearing cutter loaded router. (you can never have too many routers, or new router bits for that matter.)
The router is up-ended, held in a bench vice and turns into a mini-router table to do the head stock binding rout.
An acrylic glue is used to glue the black and white plastic strips in place. a word to the wise, this glue burns like hell when you get it in an open wound!!
I normally match the head stock cap to the top wood but I find myself leaning towards the more traditional, darker, look… maybe I’m getting old?
Part of achieving a perfect finish is knowing just how thin a layer you can get away with, mass produced guitars almost always have much too much lacquer on the surface and this inevitably deadens the tone, the downside of doing it properly is that this takes much longer! This beasty goes back into the spray booth one final time for some touching up where I’d gone too thin!
The buffing wheels we use are evolving too, the first stages are polished with a stitched mop which does get a really good final finish, however it turns out that using a loose leaf polishing mop, gently, for a few minutes will get the best gloss imaginable!
Shiny pretty bit of custom guitar loveliness… really messy floor!
An unfortunately large part of my time is spent working on the website etc, however I’m getting to the point where I’m happy with almost everything, at the bottom of each page you’ll find links to the social media services I post on through each day and also vimeo and YouTube where I’m building up a nice collection of videos. This will make following us and engaging in the conversations easier. The old ‘resources’ section of the site was never particularly well organized and I’ve completely rebuilt it under the Build A Guitar tab at the top of the page, all videos and articles will be appearing here from now on and it will become something of a resource for other guitar builders and guitar geeks.
The spray booth, again! the twin necks and paf hollow all required more finish.
and the twin necks body is definitely ready for rubbing down.. rather boring to watch I’m afraid but once this last batch of guitars is done I’ll be free to concentrate on just one custom guitar at a time, I’m really looking forward to that day!!!
By hand we start flattening the lacquer…. during the day.
At night I edit video footage.. and finally I have a chance to talk in person about my plans.. the about us video is here.
this is after the initial mop and you can see the chameleon finish in all its glory.
in early.. we seem to be nearing the end of summer already, I don’t understand where its gone!
The area around the 14 string bridge has to be polished by hand
And while we’re about this I decide to go through two compounds and just do the whole guitar.
Again, this does take longer than machine work but the result is spectacular in my opinion.
Into the sunlight we go.. blue.
and purple. I’m in love with this finish!!!
Time to film the demo video for the Muse Descendant.
And pack her away for delivery.. you’ll see on the video how complex she is but with the built in zvex fuzz factory and the ability to control a Kaoss pad it is well worth learning how to play again, I found myself hankering after those distant days when I thought I could be a strutting guitar wielding frontman… it’s always good when a guitar brings out those particular feelings; it means I’m doing my job right.
At this point in the diary I have reached my fill of finishing and web design, I must create, and what I must create is dust!
The tuner positions are drilled out from both sides of the head stock to minimize tearout of the grain.
Before I get to the real dust though the guitar needs a mother of pearl logo inlay.
Which I cut out by hand with a jewelers saw.
I mark around the inlay with a scalpel to make sure we get the perfect fit.
And then the cavity is recessed by hand with a couple of sharp chisels.
When it is glued in there is practically no gap at all. :)
This doesn’t look particularly comfortable right now.
But with judicious use of a gouge and mallet the carving is finalised.
The top was only roughly carved,
But the dust flies and this is remedied.
The back has a very slight dish carved into it now as well, not too deep as this baby has extensive tone chambers.
My mini air-powered random orbital sander is used on the cutaway and all-access neck joint.
And along with some hand sanding perfection is achieved. The deep carve on the top means the bindings don’t meet and this is the one thing I’m regretting about this build…
The final piece of carving is the top cutaway carve, again by hand with a small gouge and the mallet.
This stock beauty is nearly ready for final finishing… I can’t wait to meet her with strings on.
Finally I have found the best way to show you all the workshop, for a full immersive 360 degree tour of the four main areas check out this page of the Build a guitar section of the site.
All my best,