The custom guitar builders blog | 160112
Last week we fretted this new custom guitar, the Honduras Rosewood fretboard marries up with the elm body perfectly.
With the glue under the frets cured .. (it’s there to fill any holes in the slot and not really to hold the fret in) the ends of each fret are snipped off and filed off at an angle to the fretboard.. keep on with this process and take away a little of the wood as well if you want to get that comfortable ‘played in’ feel.
Side dots.. I can’t tell you how paranoid I am about getting these in the wrong position!! The worst I’ve done, very early in my career it must be said, was put dots down the right hand side on a left handed guitar.. or was it the time I completely forgot to put any in at all.. the depressing thing was that it took a good few minutes before I realised why I couldn’t seem to play any more!!
Anyway, I check now.. several times! The 2mm plastic dots are installed and left to cure. I’ve installed many different side dot materials befotre, from copper to cubic zirconias.. glow in the dark seems to be the big thing now.. what do you think?
ahh.. the fret board comes to life under a few coats of lemon oil
stunning.. I’ve had the plank that this board came from for about 8 years now and we’re coming to the end of our supply, a sad sad thing!
Now, I’ve been playing with shot blasting recently.. here is Fred Wisdoms signature masked off over his bridge pickup.
and here it is when shot blasted in place.. the smallest details are what makes a true custom guitar.. in fact it took longer to get this right that it would have done to create a unique one off body design!
Again with the small details.. it is easy to get shiny plastic pickup surrounds.. and they look just that, shiny.. and plastic!
With a few minutes and some wire wool they look closer to ebony than plastic.. without ebonies propensity to split at the short grain when made into surrounds!
Where to next..?
Of course, other than an opening to get to the floyd rose systems springs there are no back plates so the wiring has to be done before the bridge etc goes in.. as befits the best guitars we’re keeping it very simple here… volume, tone, 3 way switch and output.. the tone is in the guitar and Freds fingers.. oh, and the 12 guage strings he’s specified!
The custom made padouk control knobs go on.. and despite being wired for sound I can’t test this little beauty.. no strings!
Ok, you do not often find Floyd Rose tremolo’s on a les paul type guitar.. it is even rarer to see one on a hollowbody.. and this guitar does NOT have a block of wood between the front and back like PRS et al use.. we’re a bit more clever than that! (teaser over :)
I need a new jack-plate and so I get out the jewellers saw and cut into some stainless steel.
Half an hour later.. I love the juxtaposition of really shiny metal with the matt finish of the trem etc.. I could easily make it match but the contrast just works too well.
Now to the clever bit.. two stainless steel rods are drilled and threaded.
These are lighter than the amount of wood we would need to use and much much stronger, boled from both the front and the back the guitar is homogenised and the trem will not rip the top off the guitar (as I’m sure some of you thought would happen!)
The spring claw is bolted to the end of the neck and the springs hang behind the bridge pickup… the entire guitar has been hollowed out and the front and back are only 5mm thick!
As a result when it is strung up for the first time the tone, both acoustically and through the amp is stunning.. this is truly one of the best sounding guitars I’ve had the pleasure to build!
Now, while I wait to see if the top will stay on the new PAF Hollow (here’s the original one btw) it is on to the new design, a detachable double neck guitar..
A neck blank, of multi-laminate mahogany with maple veneer stringers, is prepared..
then run over the thicknesser.
While in the mood for some machining I go back to Pauls PAF.. something tells me the neck angle is a little steep!
Padouk dust flies and the neck is brought down to size… Please don’t berate me.. I’m very very naughty, I know the blade guard should be much lower than that and I do not want to cut my hand off.. I castigate myself!!
ohhhh.. the action hasn’t moved one iota.. though the alloy plate has proved to thin to adequately support the trems posts and will need an addition for now I am very happy!
In order to correctly work out the break angle the wrap around bridge/tailpiece combo needs to be put in place on the hand made paf guitar.
After some fiddling with various hand planes we arrive at the correct angle.. much of my job is now done by eye and instinct!
Now to the twin neck..
and finally it is under way.. the truss rods channels are routed carefully. We use lightweight, low profile dual action truss rods for stability, tone and versatility.
The final dimensions of the necks are drawn out.
and it is back to making dust.. by far my favourite part of being a guitar builder!
By hand I bring the necks down to size.. incidentally you get a perfect finish with a properly sharp plane, better than you could get with any amount of fine sand paper and elbow grease!
The headstock break angles are planed in next
and the truss rod access routed in both necks.
Finally I need to cut out the bubinga fretboards.. seeing as the guitars are going to be side by side I’m going to bookmatch the fret boards.. Nobody but you and I will ever notice it but there you go..
Through the drum sander to thickness the boards evenly.
and they are glued up and left to cure.
Richard and I have been working on getting the first proper batch of stock guitars ready for sale, the necks have each been fitted to a body and truss rods installed..
While Richard slots a few fretboards I plane up some padouk
to build up the headstock of Pauls PAF guitar
Then it is to the real hard work of planing in the compound radii of these two custom guitar necks.
I can’t wait for this bass design to come to fruition!
On a cross grained section of board that rips under the plane and is too hard to sand flat I use a file without it’s handle.. chalk on the board is removed from high spots and shows me any holes or inconsistencies in the board..
and here you see the book-matching.. it’s not quite so impressive without loads of figuring etc, but it’s there nonetheless.
Both of these custom guitars will have fanned frets and these have to be marked out carefully by hand.
.. an hour later..
and it’s time to start slotting.. Japanese saws are perfect for this!
Finally you get to see the start of the vision.. I cannot wait!
The inlay is next.. this is a bit.. florid??
But this.. well, it’s a bespoke custom guitar hand made for one man.. what would you have me build?
All my best,