Friday 6th March ’09
Her Majesty’s revenue and customs are a prime example of an over-complicated sytem run by a bunch of twits who can’t seem to converse with each other inteligently! ..it turns out that the departments I’ve been chasing for several months about my tax return have sent it out four times.. unfortunatly, though they have the correct address on their screens when I ask, the department that mails out the required info have the wrong address.. and can’t change it! .. the most exasperating feature of this mornings conversations have been the fact that they cannot tell me what the wrong address is.. how does the data protection act preclude me from knowing what address my online tax return password is going to??? ..and funnily enough this situation transfers quite nicely to my ideas on guitar design.. it’s not original really but too many instruments have too much going on.. not just the over-the-top wiring that some people require (over-compensation??).. but the number of frets.. I had one chap last year ask me to quote for a bass with frets set at the demi-semi-tone.. so a standard 24 fretter would have 48!!! Sometimes the complexity is fully warrented, for example Andy at wizard pickups has designed a set of humbuckers that can generate several hundred distinctly different sounds.. you would have to be a studio musician with the time to write, and refer to, a massive cheat sheet to make use of them. But try take it onto the road.. the sound guys nervous breakdown could be rather spectacular!! knid of like my state of mind while dealing with HMRC!!
anyway.. here is the first of Nimrods necks.. excess glue and veneer is removed in preperation for planeing etc..
but first off we need to make his second neck blank.. each section (bubinga in this pic) is planed perfectly flat by hand..
before clamping it all up.. I’m using standard titebond woodglue here which has to be left to cure for about 24 hours.. this is because my usual fast drying polyeurothane glue would start to set halfway through applying it to the eight glueing surfaces!!
..a bunch of screws arrive in the post.. but the bits I’ve been looking forward to are the bright red inlay dots and the quilt maple top for 05Ric’s eleven string Extended range bass!
If you saw the last diary post you’ll realise that Ive let myself become slightly disracted by the building of a hollow body PAF model.. here I start preparing the glueing surface of the Bubinga top..
after planing it perfectly flat the PAF’s oultine is marke in place..
the interior of the bosy was roughly hollowed out earlier in the week.. here we carefully shape things with various sharp gouges and mini-planes
before fine sanding the whole shebang (what’s the etymolgy of that word.. sounds vaguly naughty really??)
the top is roughed out (you can see that I couldn’t be bothered to change the blade..I’m sure the inch deep ripping blade is a slight case of overkill)
the neck pocket is marked out
and, after some more bandsaw fun, the opcket is filed to fit.. and triple checked in the process..
two small sections on the back of the hollowed out body are routed flat..
to accept these soundposts (again you see here my violin-building heritage!).. these are low mass in comparison to the huge block that most luthiers would use but fit under the bridge and tailpiece and are made from bubinga, which is a nice hard… hardwood.. this will help both sustain and hopefully cut feedback.. though obviously in this picture I’m fitting them and checking that thyey are perfectly aligned with the top..
on to the top again… the outline is routed out
after wortking out where the pickups and bridge will end up..
the top of the rtop is then gently carved to shape.. and roughly sanded as well..
the pillar drill is set up so that the drill bit stops about 4mm from the dwang (a technical term beyond your ken!) in the center of the drill base..
then I drill out these holes
which give me a reference point to carve to.. basically we’ve carved the top about three mil thick.. this is the same process I would use building violins etc.. though my master would have a puppy if he saw me carving it out with an angle grinder.. I was taught to spend weeks banging away with a gauge and mallet! Unfortunatly that gave me a lot of time to think.. I came to the conclusion that I despise early musicians in general and in particular anal retentive violinists who want an exact copy of something first built 400 years ago!! ..I started building guitars in my garage.. and here we are..
another relic of my days as an apprentice are my violin-makers planes.. they are brought out to help perfect the shape of the interior of the top..
and here she is after fine sanding..
I’ve wanted to use a D’Aquisto esque soundhole for years.. he built some fantastically sexy archtop guitars and is one of my inspirations!! .. I draw them out roughly along with the basic positions of the pickups and bridge etc.. after reaching a final shape I make a carefull tracing
and double it up.. and then proceed to make the cuts.. in other words the point of no-return has been passed!!
but I must say that she is going to look stunning in the end! (remember that I’m building this as an experiment and to prepare myself for other hollow bodies on the to do list.. and as such she will be up for grabs in a few weeks if you feel the need for a unique bespoke guitar..)
All my best, Ben
Crimson Bespoke Guitars UK