the crimson guitars luthiery blog | 250612
Welcome to the Crimson Guitars guitar building blog, you’ll have noticed an distinct lack of updates over the past few weeks for which I must apologise, we’ve had a very interesting year or so and it’s all come to a point now, a sharp and hard point that could yet prove to be rather painful. Obviously we’ve been living through a recession.. or two if you’re in the UK with me and this has had a direct bearing on the day to day cash flow at Crimson Guitars but this is not the current problem, our real issues lie in our much too full order book! A lovely situation to be in to be sure but I am simply unable, on my own at least, to both run the business and build the guitars fast enough to keep up. It is a true catch 22 situation, I have the ability to build a top notch custom guitar in only a few weeks if I’m allowed to put the hours in (and don’t get drawn into too much fiddling around like in the Eyry detachable twin neck guitar build!) .. um, back to the catch 22, I can build guitars fast enough while keeping the quality up but can’t while I also have to run the website, the social media and the day to day mundanities that come with a business of any sort.
Apprentices come and go and once we have a few fully trained it will speed us up no end but right now we can’t afford the time.. it is a real bind! Anyway, as an immediate solution, albeit a long term one, I’m going to stop taking all but the most interesting, beautiful and exclusive custom orders; this will help to slowly bring the order book to parity. In the meantime I need a partner, or two. We have 30 or so custom guitars to build and more enquiries daily plus another 20 stock guitars in various stages of completion, I’m looking for two kinds of people, someone who already has the skills in the workshop to help fulfil the demand and someone to take over the day to day running of Crimson Guitars… one other possibility is, of course, someone who wants to invest a medium sized chunk of cash to allow us to straight out employ the required people. If you think you may be up to the task drop me a line at email@example.com or call 07799003701 during office hours.. we’re excited to move on to the next stage in our business and are very very interested in seeing how that actually comes about.
Now, a video.. it’s taken a while to edit together but here you can finally see, and hear, the result of the last five months of crazy guitar building.
The Crimson Guitars Eyry is a unique twin neck guitar and bass guitar combo, it is detachable and if the client wants to he can take it apart and have.. well, a bass, or a guitar. The electronics are cunningly routed from the guitar side through to the bass output jack when you clamp the pair together so you can put the pair through one amp if you like or you can run two leads to separate amps. The fanned frets are an ergonomic design feature that makes for a much more comfortable playing feel and the pickups were custom made for us and then further customised with bespoke timber covers. The bridges were also both made in our small engineering workshop. The client specified that the bass be on the bottom of the pair, putting the headstock of the bass lower down than I would like, in order to counteract the resultant head drop I’ve built both guitar and bass with hollow headstocks, a very pretty part of the design as well as functional. Of course with a twin neck guitar weight is of prime importance and separated the guitar weighs just 2 kilos and the bass 2 and a half, this is a really really lightweight double neck guitar. The custom dragonfly inlays on the fretboard, in abalone, are complimented with alloy flight path inlays that travel across the bodies of each instrument. From start to finish this is a true custom guitar, unique, gorgeous and a real challenge to build.. but then, we do love a challenge at crimson guitars
Now, back to work… this guitar is destined to have a load of custom electronics installed soon but before I get there the lacquer needs to be flattened somewhat. The fret board masking is removed, being careful not to take any lacquer with it!
And the therapeutic process of rubbing the finish down begins in earnest.
The project of the week though is the new acoustic guitar we’re building.
The back has been glued up and the excess material removed from the edges.
All the clamps come out and the front is glued up in its turn.
Back to the Muse guitar (for it will have the requisite Kaoss pad controlling x-y MIDI touchpad etc) The front is buffed and re-buffed until I achieve the high gloss finish we want.
The back is a different matter entirely, a mix of wire wool and t-cut gives us this gorgeous, and comfortable, matt effect… note the all-access neck joint!
We now have a rather lovely guitar just waiting for strings and electrickery.
Back to the acoustic, based on our NST Guitar shape we’re going for a light weight resonant instrument but using the non-standard birdseye maple woods..
With the top glued up it is time to start work on the neck
The chosen neck blank is a three piece Sapele blank that I made, wait for it… TEN YEARS AGO!!?
You’ve seen the flip flop strat we’ve been refinishing, it has a neck..
and that neck was in dire need of some fretwork and a good clean. Lighter fluid is great at removing all the sticky rubbish that accumulates on your guitar.. can also be used to create a good show if you fancy a fire :)
Here’s the body in the process of being buffed, it brings the Kameleon purple-blue paint effect out a treat.
This stock 45rpm with the tigers eye stain is also ready for fret leveling..
Profiling and polishing.
With the masking removed we start to see the guitar that will be.
The acoustic is in need of a sound hole inlay.. I can’t very much call this a rossette now can I?
The inside is cut with a hole cutter.
And then the real work begins, inch by inch the custom sun inlay is cut out.
From the macro to the.. well, fret slotting is pretty damn macro too but you know what I mean..
it does go quicker now that I’m using templates and a powered saw though!
The excess ebony removed.
And I plane in the final dimensions of the neck.
The radius is also achieved by hand.
Ebony has to be bound and I like the subtlety of black binding in these cases.
Once cured the binding is planed flush with the fretboard.. incidentally do you recognise the paint on the block plane? I had a bit much flip flop in the can last time around and sprayed a few tools.. I love my job!
Now, with the heel extension built up and truss rod channel routed the neck joint is cut.
If you ever want to cut end grain it helps to wet it and then use a very sharp blade.
The dual action truss rod is installed.
and then the fretboard is clamped up.
Back to the fine work, the one piece alloy inlay is clamped in place.
and the outline marked out with a sharp scalpel blade.
Using the tiny Proxon router I rough out the inlay cavity.
at this stage it is almost tempting to just leave out the inlay.. the cavity looks as good as it needs to already :)
The fretboard has cured and the neck is planed down to match the dimensions of the fretboard.
The headstock extensions are glued up now.
as was the inlay.. as I start filing away the excess alloy it doesn’t look like much at all.
But when we get to the fine sanding time it starts to look pretty amazing.. in my own incredibly biased opinion of course.
a nerve wracking time as the binding channels are routed on the small, makeshift, router table.
The rosewood binding is bent to match the cavities.
And, using masking tape, is glued up.
The next day the excess binding is planed away with the block plane.
A simple inlay for the neck, a block of alloy at the 12th fret.
Inscribed with the date of the wedding..
glued up and left to cure.
The final headstock shape come out of the wood using the bobbin sander.
With the inlay sanded back and the engraving tidied up a little the side dots are installed and we have our fretboard.
Which is in need of frets.
They are hammered and glued in now.
Once cured the fret ends are filed down
and I come at last to my favourite bit..
The dust.. it FLIES!!
A final little piece of the puzzle as the headstock veneer is applied.
I feel in the need to some more rosewood.. it’s an expensive habit but I’m incorrigible.
yes, a bridge is needed. My bobbin sander is a wonderfully useful machine!
The clamps come out and the glue glues.
Before I glue the neck in the entire body has to be sanded down.. or up, through the grits.. 400 ought to do it
The tuner holes are drilled.
A friend has cut our logo out for us on his waterjet machine.. a very very useful toy to have I feel.
The cavity is cut, by hand as usual..
And an epoxy/ebony dust mix is used to glue the steel in.
The final finish of the neck binding is achieved using a scalpel as a scraper followed by fine wire wool.
and, finally the neck is glued up. The guitar becomes.
I can’t sit still, though I have to use a fairly standard eq unit as per the specs I don’t have to leave it looking overly plasticky do I..?
The headstock is sanded down and, to all intents and purposes,
I have a complete guitar, I’m looking forward to seeing this one finished I tell you!
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All my best,