at Crimson Guitars we build entirely unique custom guitars and basses and here you can follow each one as they come to life.
We’ll begin this week, as last, with a video.. instead of the old format where I would recap the weeks work, rather redundantly as you then went on to look at photographs of that weeks work, I have a video of another kind.. this week the demo video of our newest completed custom guitar the PAF ‘elm’.. we’re getting better and better at recording accurate audio for these videos, while there is still a way to go I’m rather happy with the result.. what do you think?
..and here it is encased and getting used to being strung up.. a beauty that I’m very proud of indeed!
Now, to the ergonomic bass guitar that makes up one half of a detachable twin neck guitar, built in light-weight figured poplar (two words that don’t often go together!) I’ve had a few interesting problems with the lacquer.. some of the softer spots of the guitar and some places around the binding have sucked up more lacquer than the rest.. easy to repair though by adding more lacquer where needed.
On to the guitar half of the build.. both instruments are buffed, and buffed… and, you guessed it, buffed!
This is the first shot of them in their combined layout with a gloss finish.. I’m loving this build!
In the interests of comfort the necks of both guitar and bass are give a slightly more matte finish.. it still brings the multi-laminate mahogany to life though!
This is one of the Stock(ish) guitars.. the first Dissident to near completion, we’re slowly building up the beautiful oil finish.
The last job before hardware is applied is a little fretwork, the bubinga fretboard is masked off carefully under a double layer of tape.
Each fret is leveled, profiled and the slowly rubbed down.
And finally polished to a high high gloss for an effortless feel under your fingers.
also in the interests of comfort the sides of the fretboard are carefully rounded over, it will end up feeling like a well played in old friend.
After years in the workshop the bubinga fretboard is nice and dry and it needs sustenance.. many many coats of lemon oil are applied.
Excess lacquer is reamed out of the tuner holes with a tool left over from my days building viola da gambas..
Just for fun here’s an earlier iteration of myself, a hairier rather more svelt little upstart studying how to build early stringed instruments..
Back to the real world, Wilkinson saddles lifted from a stock tremolo..
I make up a plastic template
and then painstakingly turn that into a custom bridge for the guitar.
Part way there..
We needed a custom bridge of some sort to fit with the fanned frets we’ve used on both instruments.
More machining in our small engineering room as I drill and countersink the fixing holes.
Everything is carefully lined up with the outer strings and we’re good to go.
Needless to say I’d changed my mind when I decided to build this unit, ideally I would have recessed this before applying finish but this is the way it went and it works perfectly..
The through body stringing is drilled next using the pillar drill while holding my breath and crossing every digit..
And finally the string ferrules are hammered into place.
Now, I’m not going to trust boring old wood screws in my guitar, machine bolts and threaded inserts all the way!!
It is in..
and it is sexy, and stable and again I’m really rather happy with the result!
In a break from the norm I pootle off to Yandles to lust after some wood.. walnut here..
but I come home with a chunk of beautifully spalted beech for an explorer we’re soon to build.
After pausing to lovingly fondle this incredibly pretty, and expensive, 4 foot high log of snakewood.. I would have it if I could!!
Back in the workshop and it’s time to start installing the customised custom pickups..
The original surround-less look is not dong it for me so I start work on a set of bespoke pickup surrounds to match the padouk covers.
The padouk on its own would not be strong enough so I glue the surrounds on to a veneer with opposite grain.. effectively creating a very expensive ply.
While that cures the tuners are installed.. you can see here the angle I carved in the side of the headstock.. who needs 90 degrees anyway!
Or a solid headstock for that matter!?
Now, some hippo ivory is marked out
and carved into one of my (trademark?) scalloped nuts..
And finally the guitar is strung up, and strummed, for the first time!
A bit yellow under the tungsten lights working at night but a guitar indeed
I love my job!!!
Back to the surrounds, excess veneer is cut away.
and they are carved and shaped
and oiled.. you’ll have to come back next week to see the final, superlative, result.. or you can sneak a peak at the daily picture feed through twitter, flickr, facebook et al.. links at the bottom of the page.. Thank you for reading.. All my best, Ben
Crimson Custom Guitars UK