Wednesday 13th February ’08
Today I start work again on Frieder’s guitar.. the neck had her beginings last week..
all the fret slots are marked out, very carefully… I remember the first time I fretted a neck, I cut the slots on a very rickety aluminium kitchen table with a blunt saw and couldn’t believe that the notes played properly when the guitar was finished! .. then again I id manage to get the scale length wrong…. by about 4 inches!!!
and then they are cut, it’s taken years to come up with the combination of these two saws..
on to the abalone inlay at the twelfth… the guitar will end up with a beautiful blue stain on the maple cap.. so to balance her off this will be the only face inlay..
the cavity is cut out, and I manage not to cut myself in the process this time!
after the inlay is glued in everything is sanded through the grits.. right up to 1200 grit wet and dry.. we’ll end up with an ebony feeling fingerboard, smooth and lovely..
which is important as I’m using small frets in order to get the action down… here you see that I went a bit mad and drilled 24 holes in my bench to hold fretwire when it’s cut to size..
each fret is carefully glued, and then hammered in place
and then the edges are profiled over with this newish file and then polished with wet and dry..
now, the body timbers are chosen… Sapele (south African mahogany.. farm grown and sustainable!) and European maple (sustainable and local and wirth a more open tone than hard American maples!)
Now.. lecture time… guitar wood has to have around or less than a 14% moisture content, we tend to use Kiln dried woods and store them in a humidity controlled room (for ‘room’ read shed!) .. in the UK the weather is understandably variable (I used to call it Mud Island!) .. all this really means is having a dehumidifier going all the time and good insulation.. and of course it is always best, though sometimes not possible, to keep the timber in storage for a number of years!
the mahogany is run over the planer to give four good surfaces
as is the figured maple top.. here I run the pencil over it so that I can see where the planer is taking material off..
using the template I find the best figureing for the body shape
and then rough-cut the bits to size on the bandsaw
the most important bit of guitar making is the joints.. here I use the back-light from the window to see miniscule gaps as I hand plane the body blanks.. I used to have a low flourescent light behind my bench for this job..
the break angle on the neck is marked out.. taking into account the thickness of the top.
and is cut roughly to size..
and then I fine tune the joint and check it from every angle.
and then she is glued.. I mostly use polyurothane glue, it expands and fills gaps (not neccessary with my guitars of course) but also uses any moisture in the timber and air to help it cure.. making a stronger joint and frthur reducing the timbers moisture content.. the other major bonus is that it is usually dry within an hour of clamping
now, the top is jointed… obviously the plane has to be razor sharp.. and the shavings should be so thin as to be transparent. the planed suface should look shiny and clean.. this is difficult.. getting a proper suface on one of the two bookmatched chunks takes me half an hour… the other worked perfectly after only five minutes! A way to test, as well as looking for light through the gaps, is to rub the two bits of wood together, if the joint is good it should feel as if they are sucking each other together and there won’t be any rocking.
once the glue is applied I rub the two bits together which gets rid of excess glue and, as above, sucks the two halfs together.. I’ve tried doing this and then leaving the clamps off and still had a perfectly stable joint!!!!
she is clamped and left to dry..
next up, I’ve been meaning to redesign the RF models for a while.. internally at least.. so need a new template..
the old template is used to get the correct outline..
and the new cavities.. including a massive route for all the wires, are marked out.. ready to be cut tomorrow..
All my best, Ben
Crimson Guitars HQ