The Crimson Guitars guitar building workshop blog | 30th January 2012
We’re back, in a guitar building workshop a week seems to go by in no time at all and, if you follow the daily social media stream, you’ll know we don’t stop!
The end of the week brought an eagerly awaited moment.. Fred Wisdom came to meet his new PAF Hollow signature guitar.. and of course we set up a few microphones and recorded a demo and a few songs.. You’ll have to forgive the odd bit of crackling in the background.. I’ll get the hang of this whole studio thing soon.. promise! :)
Back to the traditional format.. last week I left you with this pair of abalone dragonfly inlays complete..
All they were lacking was frets.. these are cut roughly to length.. for years I did this job and lost count halfway down the neck.. rather than a fiddly bit of wood sitting on the bench with numbered holes in it (works great until you stab yourself with a dozen pointy frets in a moment of stupidity!) I simply leave the frets in their position while I cut the rest.. easy, simple.. and it took me seven years as a guitar builder to figure out!!
The frets go in four at a time, I fill each slot with glue and then hammer each fret in.. the slots are cut narrow enough to hold each fret in without the glue, the glue is simply there to fill any extra space in the slot beneath the fret so I have one homogeneous neck.. better for sound and tuning stability alike..
:) I’m a very happy luthier.
just a few more to go.. I have 20 odd guitars for stock that have to be built.. Richard and I have split this into two batches though to get some to market sooner rather than later..
And here is the first that will be together, a multi-laminate flame maple neck with Goncalo Alves fretboard (don’t you love that two-tone grain?) and a solid one-piece Yew body. This is a one-off stratocaster type design.. though smaller and sexier.. (sorry if you’re a strat purist! I just don’t see the point on rebuilding the same instrument millions of times.. it’s boring and any carpenter can do it, I’d rather take a few risks and get something interesting out at the end..
The side dot inlays are black plastic rods with a stainless steel tube around the outside and they are very very cool.
I’ve had this body oiled before and it never convinced me.. this time I decide to go off-reservation and attach the Yew with a sand blaster… hthe soft, lighter, grain is ablated (great word!!!) while the harder darker grain stays proud and I end up with a very tactile, very non-standard, effect. We’ll see how I feel after the finish is on though.. one never can tell.
The neck is fine sanded through the grits..
And the finishing begins with a coat of lemon oil on the fretboard.
Followed by Danish oil on the body and the back of the neck. Wet I’m still not convinced by the finish..
But once dry I am sold and in love!!! The feel is organic and amazing, it’s like the smooth finish was getting in the way of my communication with the instrument and it is now receptive and open… did I say I love it yet? :)
By this time the glue has cured under the frets in the new twin neck guitar and the ends can be snipped off.
And filed both flush to and at an angle to the fretboard.. at this stage I slightly round over the edge of the board for that comfortable, played-in, feel.
Both ends of each fret are rounded over carefully with this customised file.. the red perspex handle, interestingly, was an off-cut from this guitar built for Siouxie Sioux guitarist Steve Evans..
The side dots on both necks of the double neck guitar are marked out carefully and drilled.
And the dots are installed.. these are coming along nicely now.. despite the look of things at least half the work in building a guitar by hand.. up until it is ready for finishing at least, is in the neck.. the body end is basic wood work in comparison!
Talking of basic wood work.. I plug my big router into a chunk of mdf and bolt that to my bench.. instant table router!
The height of the bearing cutter is carefully set.
And the binding channels are routed into all the stock necks that need it.. of course each one of these is different so it takes a while..
The first of the stock necks to be conplete (as it is one of two that does not need binding) is inlaid and fretted.. the inlays are steel tubes surrounding a copper tube with a guitar string in the middle.. now if only I could take a convincing photo of it!?
Back to the twin neck guitar.. fout mahogany off-cuts are planed flat..
and these sandwiched with maple veneers make up the headstocks’ final width.
The Eyry’s (read twin neck) bodies were roughed out last week and now I finalise the shapes using the bobbin sander.. there’s hardly a reason to build a routing template for these.. the sander is quicker.
A we finish with a look at just how gorgeous the spalted poplar is.. I love this instrument! :)
..and here is Fred.. a few seconds after picking up his new guitar for the first time.. we started filming the demo five minutes later!
all my best, Ben
Crimson Guitars HQ