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Main Forums => Technical Discussion => Topic started by: L07 Shooting Star on November 01, 2016, 05:30:26 AM



Title: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 01, 2016, 05:30:26 AM
So, this fall I decided I am going to build two guitars from scratch (more or less).  One will be an electric and one will be an acoustic.  I am tackling the electric first, and have already started it.  This thread will document the build and hopefully solicit input from members in terms of comments, suggestions, tips, advice, and such.

Here are the things I have decided on so far:

-The guitar will be based loosely on a Tele-Gib or Malibu design but it will have a mahogany (not Alder or Ash) slab body like an RS2 or Gibson LP Special.  I will probably contour the back somewhat but haven't decided for sure.  If I do, I will use my Strat as a guide.
 
-The body will be one-piece African mahogany (Khaya).  I found a nicely grained 8/4 by 15.5" wide board from which I purchased 22 lineal inches for $64.00 CAD.  I have already cut out and shaped the body and the edges are rough-sanded.  I traced my Telecaster to come up with the shape.  It is still too thick (2") and has to be planed to the final thickness of about 1 13/16" or so.  My goal for the finish is to replicate the classic Gibson SG cherry red on a mahogany body.

-The neck will be a bolt-on Fender-style neck made from quarter-sawn maple.  I already have the wood bolt from which I will saw the neck.  It is a 3" X 3" X 28" piece of maple that I got cheap from where I work (Lee Valley Tools).  We occasionally obtain these pieces from a Quebec manufacturer of furniture and baseball bats, believe it or not.  This piece was from a pile of surplus baseball bat blanks that I rummaged through to find a quarter-sawn one a couple of years ago.  I should be able to get 2 or 3 Fender-style necks out of it.  I chose this style of neck because I think it will be the easiest to build and attach for a first attempt at building.  Plus, I can use my Telecaster's detached neck as a template for shaping.

-The fingerboard will likely be maple from the same piece of wood.  I won't make it a one-piece neck even if it is all maple, since I think it will be much easier to install a truss rod if the fingerboard is separate.  I may use another wood for the fingerboard but haven't decided for sure.

-The pickups will be the 2 hand-wound-by-Matt-Larrivee humbuckers that I purchased from Kevin (Headsup) a few years back.  I bought them thinking someday I would find the perfect application, and now I think I have!  Thanks Kevin.

So those are the "givens".  From that point, I am still undecided on the final bridge/hardware configuration and wiring configuration.  I'm assuming these decisions are going to have a significant effect on the final tone.  Preferably, I would like the guitar to have at least one setting that gives a Tele-like country twang, but maybe that isn't feasible with this guitar.  That said, I'm absolutely open to the final result as I consider this whole project as somewhat of an experiment.

Here are some ideas I'm considering and would welcome any input from you all.  These are my 2 primary considerations.

1. Regardless of the wiring, should I use a Gibson-style bridge and stop tail like the Malibu?  Or should I go with a tele-style bridge/string thru body configuration?
2. Regardless of bridge style, should I wire it like a Gibson Les Paul with 2 tones, 2 volumes, or like a Tele with a tele plate mount and 1 volume 1 tone?

Potential combinations are:  (Note, I'm not interested in tapping the coils of the humbuckers and they only have 2 wires in any case.)

Total Tele-Gib configuration with Gibson-style bridge/tailpiece setup and Tele wiring/plate only with humbuckers instead of single coils.
Total Telecaster bridge/string thru and wiring setup using the humbuckers instead of the single coils. (like a Deluxe Telecaster from 1972-1981?)
Total Gibson LP special bridge and wiring setup (2 vols, 2 tones).  Essentially a LP special or RS2 setup on a Telecaster slab body.
Hybrid Les Paul 4 pot wiring with Tele-style bridge and string thru body.
Is there a way to use the Gibson bridge and still have the strings come thru the body?  In other words, not use the stop tailpiece?  I would be all over that and I might try it.
Whatever you members suggest.

I have my own ideas on how to proceed but would really value any input from the members at large before I fire up the router.  Pictures to follow tomorrow.





Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: rockstar_not on November 01, 2016, 02:43:48 PM
I think you will have some difficulty getting Tele like twang without tapping the HB to get single coil and not having an angled tail positioning.

Sounds like a fun project regardless. As for bridge, what does the heel of your picking hand prefer?  String through might be harder to manufacture without some type of drilling jig for the 6 holes


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: ducktrapper on November 01, 2016, 04:28:35 PM
Sounds like a cool project. All I can add is my preference for a Tun-o-matic type bridge over any Fender style.  But then it's your guitar. Have fun.   


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: Barefoot Rob on November 01, 2016, 07:51:54 PM
OK from the crazy one.....Bridge wise there are a few ways to go.A tele bridge designed for a HB pu this is a strings thru,standard tune-a-matic and stop tail.a tune-a-matic with string-thru body drill,or if you want real old style just a wrap-a-round like I did on mine.If your going with duel HB's give it a vol/tone for each pu.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: rockstar_not on November 02, 2016, 04:10:35 AM
Here's a link to a Michael Kelly Tele with dual HBs and what looks like a string through type of bridge but with individual saddles:
https://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/en/products/view/1955-custom-collection


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: George on November 02, 2016, 07:27:49 PM
I have some Tune-O-Matic style bridges on string through bodies.  One even has a Babicz full contact hardware style that replaced the original.  Nice to have all of those adjustments...  The only caution I would mention is to be sure and allow plenty of spacing between the bridge and the body string through holes, at least as much as to accomodate a tailpiece and preferably more.  If you get them too close there is always the possibility of a string contacting the back of the bridge and deadening it, especially on those that require more forward intonation settings...  With a tailpiece you can always raise it a bit to overcome this.

I have some Fender style string through bridges with adjustable saddles as well.  I put one of those on a jag body I built with Lindy Fralin P92's.

My favorite bridge of all time is the TonePros wrap around style and would pick it over any of the others on a guitar I might build...


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 03, 2016, 05:23:46 AM
Great suggestions and lots of pointers to contemplate.  Just what I was looking for.

Rockstar_not, I think you are right about not trying to get the tele sound from those pickups.  I think if I abandon that wish, I will have one less variable to cloud my thinking and will make a better choice given what I have to work with for pickups and wood.

Rob, I think you are right about using 2 vols and 2 tones with the 2 humbuckers.  Plus, it is a solid mahogany body after all, which seems to indicate going the way of a LP special or RS-2 type of wiring configuration with a tune-o-matic bridge and stop tail.  If the body were ash or alder, I might be more inclined to go with the tele style throughout.

I'm thinking more and more I will go with the LP style wiring and bridge configuration.  In other words, a guitar that looks like a telecaster,  but sounds more like a LP special or RS-2 perhaps?  Makes the most sense for the body wood I'm using.

Sorry pictures didn't happen tonight as promised.  I had to work today and then game 7 took over this evening!

Stay tuned.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 19, 2016, 05:29:58 AM
Time flies when you're trying to make a guitar.  Anyways, here's an update.  The one-piece Khaya body has been cut out with my jig saw, rough-sanded to final shape with a "robo-sander" drum sander on my drill press, and hand-planed to final thickness.  No routing or chiseling of the pickup, electronics, or neck pocket has taken place to date.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 19, 2016, 05:46:00 AM
The neck.  I "re-sawed" my 3" X 3" maple board, slabbing off a board of suitable thickness for the neck.  I don't have a band saw, so I used my circular saw from both sides.  Then I cut it out to rough shape, using my warmoth telecaster neck as a pattern.  I just clamped the tele neck onto my board and traced it.  Then I rough-cut it to shape with my jig saw.  Next, I planed the top surface flat and true by hand with my jack plane.  After that, I used rasps and spoke-shaves to start the final shaping of the sides and back of the neck.  There is still a lot of shaping left to do.

I have found a nice thin maple board that will become the fingerboard eventually.  I need to groove the top of the neck to receive a truss rod and contour the headstock, front and back, etc.  I am trying to adapt an old hand-powered mitre-saw for sawing the fret slots.  I'll post some picks of that when I get it completed.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: JOYCEfromNS on November 19, 2016, 10:56:50 AM
GREAT THREAD!!! Enjoying, thanks!!


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: ducktrapper on November 19, 2016, 02:09:52 PM
Cool beans. Nice piece of wood.   :thumbsup


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 20, 2016, 07:34:47 AM
Lots of hand work with hand tools, but I'm learning a lot about using those tools, so it's all good.  If I can build it so it plays with good feel and action and intonates properly, I'll consider it a success.  If it sounds good, so much the better.  If it also looks good, I'll be ecstatic.  We'll see.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 23, 2016, 03:12:42 AM
Awhile back, I bought a fret-slotting saw in anticipation of building the guitar I am now working on and eventually an acoustic guitar.  Knowing my limitations in sawing squarely and accurately by hand without any kind of guide, I was very worried about doing it that way.  I discovered there were fret-sawing mitre boxes available from Stewmac and others, but I didn't think it was worth the expenditure given I will probably only slot a handful of fingerboards for the rest of my life.  So I started thinking about making some kind of saw guide or miter box that would be a lot cheaper.  Then, I remembered I had an old Canadian Tire hand-powered mitre box that I had bought at Value Village for $15.00 a few years ago and had never really used.  It uses a long and heavy back-saw that is guided by rollers and saws very accurately given it's heft.

So I decided to try and attach my fret saw underneath the thicker and longer backsaw blade in line with it and centered on it.  I had to remove the turned-wood handle from the fret saw leaving just the blade and it's brass spine.  I divised a means to clamp the thinner blade with it's spine underneath and centered on the back saw teeth by using readily available and cheap aluminum "transition" strip as used in flooring applications.  The 36" strip I used was about 5 dollars.  I cut 2 - 9" lengths, tapped them to accept small bolts, and bolted the strips to both sides of the larger backsaw blade and the thinner fret saw blade.  I had to drill holes through both of the saw blades to accommodate the bolts which went through from one side to the other.  NOTE:  IF YOU EVER TRY TO DRILL HOLES THROUGH A SAW BLADE, BE AWARE THAT IT IS VERY HARD STEEL AND WILL DO A NUMBER ON YOUR DRILL BITS.  Once the bolts were through and holding, I had to hack-saw them flush with the aluminum and file down their heads so it would slide through the upright posts on the mitre saw.  (looking at the pictures will clarify this issue).  With a lot of thinking, "engineering" and ham-handed clumsy hole-drilling and tapping, I created something that worked!

Second and third pics show blade from either end.  It was hard to take perfectly square pics with my phone.  The blade lines up almost perfectly in reality.

I now have a serviceable fret slotting mitre box that hopefully will do the trick if I'm very careful about marking where to cut and lining up the saw with that mark.  It has enough heft to saw smoothly and quickly.  It also has depth stops to control the depth of cut.  I will just have to make test cuts till I get the depth correct.  It ain't purty, but I think it will work great.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on November 23, 2016, 03:34:19 AM
A couple of pics of my first test cut on a piece of spruce.  Cuts came out perfectly square and vertical.  Woohoo!


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: Barefoot Rob on November 23, 2016, 05:28:39 AM
So far so good.Though I have assembled a few dozen or so guitars over the years the main reason I never got into building them was I figured I was already insane enough to just want to fix them.BUT I see you haven't reach that point yet so I assume that you just drink at the end of the day as I just eat toast as booze and other things don't seem to do anything for me. :nanadance






 :humour: :gotdonuts: :nice guitar:                                 


OK I drink more coffee then most in reality. :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :coffee :wave


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on December 03, 2016, 04:48:32 AM
So, a bit of a disappointment and a set-back.  I spent several hours very carefully and meticulously marking my maple fingerboard for the location of the fret slots using my telecaster neck as a guide.  Then I spent a few more hours lining each slot up perfectly on my Rube Goldberg fret saw and sawing them.  It took me awhile to get the slot depth perfectly adjusted with the stops on the miter saw.  I was super careful to make sure the blade was perfectly centered on each of my pencil marks on the board.  I even clamped the board in position for each cut.  When I was done, the slots were perfectly parallel to each other and perfectly perpendicular to the edge of the board.  I was pretty pleased with myself for coming up with the saw idea.

Then, I compared the slots side by side with the center of the frets on my Tele neck.  75% of them matched perfectly.  25% or so did not!  Some were out by more than 1/32".  I can't figure out why.  My guess is that there is too much side to side play in my rig and the saw didn't follow the same line from the first cut to the bottom of the slots, but I can't tell for sure.  Bottom line is my fret saw experiment is ultimately a failure.  There is no way I can use the fingerboard since I'm sure it won't intonate properly.  The disappointment comes mostly because the challenge was to make everything from the raw materials.  I have resigned myself to the fact that I might have to compromise on that wish.

So, last night, I went on StewMac's website and ordered a pre-slotted maple compound radius fender-style fingerboard.  The darn thing is only going to cost me 23 bucks Canadian.  I could have saved a lot of time and grief just buying one in the first place.  :crying: Oh well, live and learn.

Stay tuned.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: George on December 03, 2016, 04:22:49 PM
I have made a worse mistake than that on an electric build, and I was just buying precut/prebuilt parts and assembling them.  I bought a body and a neck from a seller of such things and when it came in I finished the body and I put it all together with my tuning machines, pickups, toggle switches, bridge, etc.  Much to my dismay, I found that when I tuned the guitar it would intonate on the first fret but it was totally out of tune from there on up the fretboard.  Turns out the guy had sold me a 25.5 inch scale neck and a 24.75 inch scale body with predrilled bridge mounting holes and body string through holes.  He denied it and would not make it good, so I took it all apart and used the neck on another body.  Later while adjusting the neck relief, the weld on the truss rod broke and the neck failed.  The seller at least made good on the neck, but it took 4 months of nagging before he finally sent me a replacement.  What a lesson learned...  I am still looking for a neck for that body...  Thankfully all the rest of my homemade electrics have worked out just fine... so far have not broken any more truss rods either....

Keep the faith, it will turn out fine in the end.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on December 21, 2016, 05:32:31 AM
I have made a worse mistake than that on an electric build, and I was just buying precut/prebuilt parts and assembling them.  I bought a body and a neck from a seller of such things and when it came in I finished the body and I put it all together with my tuning machines, pickups, toggle switches, bridge, etc.  Much to my dismay, I found that when I tuned the guitar it would intonate on the first fret but it was totally out of tune from there on up the fretboard.  Turns out the guy had sold me a 25.5 inch scale neck and a 24.75 inch scale body with predrilled bridge mounting holes and body string through holes.  He denied it and would not make it good, so I took it all apart and used the neck on another body.  Later while adjusting the neck relief, the weld on the truss rod broke and the neck failed.  The seller at least made good on the neck, but it took 4 months of nagging before he finally sent me a replacement.  What a lesson learned...  I am still looking for a neck for that body...  Thankfully all the rest of my homemade electrics have worked out just fine... so far have not broken any more truss rods either....

Keep the faith, it will turn out fine in the end.

Thanks for the encouragement.  I'm still plugging away at this thing and am about to provide a couple of posts updating my progress.  Here goes.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on December 21, 2016, 06:59:35 AM
Since my last update about the screwed up fret board, I have addressed the neck proper while I awaited the arrival of the pre-slotted fret board and a bunch of other parts I have ordered including fret wire and truss rod.  I decided to use the "low profile truss rod" offered by Stewmac.  It requires a slot in the neck that is 1/4" wide by 3/8" deep below the bottom of the finger board.  I have chosen to install it so the adjustment is at the body-end of the neck (old school fender style) as opposed to trying to make it a "bullet" type which, for me, is beyond my skill.  Plus I lack the sophisticated tools I would have to possess to make it that way.  I would prefer it the other way, but so be it.  So, I had to cut the groove down the middle of the neck to accommodate the soon-to-arrive truss rod.

I actually have a router (Bosch Colt), which you would think is the tool to use for this task.  Problem is I haven't used it yet or learned how to best jig up to do such a straightforward job.  I don't have a router table, and don't even know if I have the right bits.  Plus, in hindsight, I should have done this job while the neck was still a rectangle and not tapered to it's final rough shape.  This is just another lesson learned that I won't repeat in the future.  So, I decided to do this groove with a hand-tool; a good old fashioned router plane.  I don't own one, but luckily I work where we sell world-class hand tools like this.  http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=52609&cat=1,41182,48945,52609

So I borrowed one from our "Seminar Room" and installed a 1/4" wide blade in it.  I made a jig to steer it straight, and attached the neck to the board with carpet tape so that I could run it down the center-line and spent an evening cutting the groove.  Once I learned how to use it and adjust the blade depth for each pass, it cut like butter and was a very satisfying experience.

The pics were taken before the truss rod and the actual finger board I intend to use was delivered.  In the mean time, I decided to spot-glue my screwed-up finger board to the neck and proceed with trimming it and shaping the neck using it as a surrogate for the final fingerboard.  At this point the fingerboard was still flat on top, so I decided to use it to practice putting a compound radius on it with my set of StewMac radius blocks.  I won't need to do this with the fingerboard I will ultimately use, but I thought this would be a good training exercise.  My surrogate fingerboard turned out very well in terms of putting a compound radius on it.  Too bad I can't use it because of the slots being wrong.

So here is disappointment #2.  The groove I cut with the router plane is perfectly square, the correct width, and a little too deep.  But somehow in the process, even though I thought I started at and followed the center-line of the neck from body to nut end, I somehow got the thing tracking towards the treble side as you get to the nut end.  It must have shifted slightly on the double sided tape with the first few strokes!  I didn't catch this right away, so I just let the router plane guide itself on this wrong track and merrily cut away thinking "how nice is this"?  When I was done, I discovered the groove is skewed towards the treble side by at least 3/32"!  I only discovered this after completing the whole groove.  I'm thinking this won't be good as the truss rod should be more or less perfectly centered down the entire length of the neck.  I could kick myself for letting this happen.  I'm thinking the only way to fix this is to fill in most of the slot with some glued-in maple and re-cut the slot.  I would love to take the chance that a slightly askew truss rod would still do the trick, but my gut tells me uh-uh, "don't do it"!  It's an experimental guitar in some respects, but I still want it to be a playable and adjustable guitar.

NOTE:  the above work was done over the last couple of weeks.  My next post shows what has been done as of today.  


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on December 21, 2016, 08:14:28 AM
Over the last few evenings, I have shaped the neck using a Lee Valley low angle spoke-shave, a Japanese contour plane (my absolute favorite shaping tool), and a couple of rasps.  I did this with my surrogate fingerboard attached.  I used my profile gauge to compare my new neck to my Warmoth Telecaster neck's profile, fret by fret, while purposefully making my neck a bit thicker and a bit more "U" shaped.  I took profiles one fret at a time and adapted my desired shape accordingly.  My neck is now ready for final sanding, I hope.

The pics show the neck I'm copying, the tools I used to shape my neck, and an example of how I used the profile gauge to shape the neck fret by fret.  After final sanding, I will remove my surrogate fingerboard and eventually attach the real fingerboard, trim it to the neck, and unify both pieces into the final shape.

The pics show the two necks, the tools being used for shaping, and an example of how I'm using the profile gauge as guide.  


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on December 28, 2016, 07:15:56 AM
Since my last update, I have removed the dummy fingerboard, filled in the skewed truss-rod slot with glued-in strips of maple with the same grain orientation, and re-routed the entire slot precisely down the center of the neck as it should have been in the first place!  My low-profile 2-way truss rod and my pre-slotted compound-radius maple fretboard from StewMac arrived in the mean time.

So, last night, I finished routing the slot and then drilled the required 3/8" X 1 1/2" long hole into the body end of the neck to accommodate the adjustment nut housing.  The truss rod fit the slot almost perfectly, and with a few taps with a mallet, I was able to seat it and the nut housing snugly into the neck.  When adjusted flat, the truss rod sits just below the surface of the top of the neck which meets the objective.  Once installed, I tested the truss-rod's operation to make sure there was no binding, etc.  It seems to be working great.  This truss rod is extremely responsive and a turn of as little as 1/8 turn in either direction makes a huge change.  Of course, this is in it's free-wheeling condition with no fret board glued down on top of it to tame it down.

The pics show the results of turning the nut about 1/6 of a turn in either direction from "flat", and a picture of the "flat" condition.  After I took these pics I adjusted the truss rod to completely flat, and I glued the real fingerboard on.  It is clamped and waiting for me to go on to the next step.  I will leave the clamps on for at least 24 hours before I carefully test the trust rod's action again.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on December 28, 2016, 07:23:22 AM
The last post shows 2 duplicate pics of the truss-rod adjusted clockwise, depicting the hump in the middle.  Here are the remaining pics of it adjusted counter-clockwise from flat and adjusted flat just before glueing on the maple fingerboard.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 14, 2017, 07:57:04 AM
I can't believe it's been 8 months since I last updated my guitar-build thread.  I actually completed the guitar around last Easter and have been enjoying it all summer.  It turned out great in all respects.  I am very happy with my final design and hardware choices some of which were made based on you followers' suggestions.

I don't have any pics of the neck's completion between the progress shown in my last post and the final completion of the neck.  Neck's vital statistics:
- quarter-sawn maple hand-shaped by me with pre-slotted fender/larrivee-scale (25.5") compound-radius maple fret board.

- nut width is 1 23/32, a bit wide for many electrics, but perfect for me.  I was thinking of another guitar I have.  The nut width on this build is actually 1 11/16" but I maximized(wide as I could) the string spacing on the actual nut.

- the profile is a very close copy of my Warmoth telecaster neck. Only I made it a teensy bit thicker, more U-shaped, and a bit wider at the nut tapering to an exact copy of the Warmoth from the 17th fret onward.

- my objective was to make the attachment end of my neck compatible with any standard fender-style neck pocket.  I more or less achieved this, but somehow the flat part that goes in the neck pocket ended up too thin.  I foolishly only discovered it after I had cut out the neck pocket in the body without fitting the neck during the process.  Another lesson learned.  My body's neck pocket was too deep and I had to glue a mahogany shim in there and re-establish it's bottom with sandpaper.  It all turned out well in the end, but hours of extra sanding given the bottom of that pocket is angled and has to be precise and flat.  That surface determines the final neck angle once the neck is bolted on.  The sides of the neck pocket are just as critical since they determine the neck's lateral alignment with the body, pickups, and bridge.  I had to do a lot of hand-sanding, trial and error fitting, more sanding, etc.  It turned out well, but I think I have gained a huge appreciation for well-programmed, high-precision CNC machines.

- I installed Gotoh vintage style tuners on it.

- I stained the neck to make it look old, and finished it with TRU-OIL gunstock finish.  I installed old-style string tees and have yet to create some kind of decal or logo for it.  The logo will incorporate the word "Shooting Star" for sure.

You will see final pics of the neck later in the thread.  NEXT:  the body.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 17, 2017, 05:56:48 AM
So I'm just going to start posting pics of my progress in chronological order continuing from my late 2016 posts.

These first ones were taken after I had the body more or less to final telecaster dimensions and started making cavities for pickups, switches and controls.  The 1st picture shows the "router launch" that happened when I tried to route the bridge pickup cavity using an acrylic template.  Notice the big chips in the body and the partial repair along the upper right edge of the bridge pickup cavity.  If you look close, you can see these patches in the subsequent pictures.  After that incident, I decided to complete everything by hand with large diameter forstner bits in the drill press followed up with accurate chiseling.

Drilling long horizontal holes to connect cavities while staying horizontal proved quite a challenge.  I was able to do it while only having to drill one hole from the outside of the body.  That hole was eventually plugged during final finishing and I defy you to find it now.  All the other holes were initiated from the neck pocket, so they are covered up when the neck is screwed on.  I used stiff wires and labels to test my holes and organize my brain around which wire goes where.

I found it a major challenge to choose exact final toggle-switch and control knob locations on the front of my telecaster-style body being wired like a LP or RS-4.  I wanted it to be intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.  I couldn't layout the edges of the rear cavities until the centers of the holes on the front had been determined, marked, and drilled through to the back.

For rear covers, I copied the ones from my Forum V RS-4.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: Mikeymac on September 17, 2017, 08:54:24 PM
Any pics of the final product?

 :gotpics:


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 18, 2017, 05:08:12 AM
Any pics of the final product?

 :gotpics:

You bet.  I took many photos with my phone and I had to spend all of last evening resizing them on my computer to make the files small enough to post here.  (I don't like using photo-hosting sites).  Stay tuned for pictures ad nauseum.

As stated, they will be more or less in chronological order as they appear on my camera from early in the new year until the guitar was completed last spring.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 18, 2017, 06:03:42 AM
My RS-4 was the main "template" for actual bridge and tailpiece stud locations, location and alignment of pickups, etc. in spite of the fact it has P-90s.  I took many precise measurements from it and replicated them on my build guitar.  I just adapted the pickup cavities to accommodate full sized humbuckers.  The intonation on my guitar turned out virtually perfect using these measurements.  I can center all the saddles in the middle of the bridge (Nashville-style bridge)  and get  nearly best intonation on every string.  Very little tweaking was required once the entire guitar was completed and set up.  Lot's of room left for adjustment on both directions.

Also with these measurements, the final location of the strings over the pickup pole pieces is almost perfect as well.  By the way, the pickups I installed are 2nd-generation Larrivees', hand-wound and signed by Matt.  I bought them from headsup a few years ago; right here on the forum.

My RS-4 was also used as the main inspiration for locating the controls on the top of my tele-style body.  I also used the picture of Seymour Duncan holding up the tele-gib as inspiration for these decisions.  Hard to explain that process in words.  I used a combination of measuring, analyzing, and visualizing you might say.

Parts were test-fitted often as the build progressed.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 18, 2017, 06:20:44 AM
.............test fitting parts.

I made the back cavity covers from the back-wood of a cheap plywood guitar that I bought for parts years ago.  The final finish on these covers is several coats of superglue.

By this time, I had contoured the body.  I basically converted the tele shape slab body to a contoured strat body.  I used my 1984 MIJ squire standard strat as the "template".  Again, lots of comparing, visualizing, drawing and erasing lines on my body.

Once I had lines and marks established, I used a Japanese contour plane and a spoke shave to complete the final contouring.  Then, of course, sanding along with the rest of the body.



Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 18, 2017, 06:29:19 AM
Next decision was to settle for sure on a color and finish.  My original concept was to replicate a vintage SG cherry, given this guitar's woods and design.  My thought process was;  it being a one-piece mahogany (albeit Khaya) body, it would more likely resemble a LP special, Classic SG, or RS-2 in terms of tone and feel, so why not make it look like an old SG so it's looks matches it's sound.  I had no idea how it would actually sound at this point, but strummed acoustically, it had a pretty balanced tone and excellent sustain.

Once I decided it would be vintage cherry, I chose to use a recipe from "Guitar Finishing Step by Step" (from Stewmac) as my basis.  I just made adjustments to the recipe along the way when it made sense to do so given my materials and experience.

So, I started mixing aniline dye colors and testing them on scrap from my guitar's construction, until I got the color I thought was correct.

The last 2 pics show the body after grain-filling and just before staining.  The recipe calls for filling the grain with a dark filler.  I think that is pretty standard for Gibson and many other maker's  finishes when doing mahogany?  I didn't care about that, I just filled the grain as directed, and I'm sure glad I did.  The final result was excellent (as you shall see).  


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: Mikeymac on September 18, 2017, 04:07:01 PM
Very cool so far! Keep 'em comin'!

 :nice guitar:


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 19, 2017, 01:33:37 AM
Grain-filler I used, and the picture of an SG I tried to match.  After filling, I applied a couple of coats of shellac.  Once I thought I had the right color mixed, I applied it directly on the body with a brush, and followed up by wiping with a rag.  I gave it a couple of coats this way.  I was relieved and impressed by how evenly the Khaya accepted the stain after the filler and shellac treatment.  It was very even despite the changes in grain orientation in the contours, and the end grain on the sides.  The contrast between dark and light grain really popped.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 19, 2017, 01:46:57 AM
After staining, the color looked a little too purply to my eyes.  I wanted it to be a bit more red.  I was going to use General Finishes' High Performance Water-Based Topcoat for the build and clear coats, so I decided to create a toner that would add some red and used it for my first several coats to the point where the surface was level.  This took about 10 coats of the toner if I remember.  I applied a couple or three coats of toner, sanded back with 320,  more toner coats, sand back again, etc. until I had a level surface.  In this way, I gradually brought the color to the red I wanted, while filling the pores of the wood at the same time.

I made the toner by adding some red into my originally mixed stain that I had already applied to the body.  Then I added some of this newly-reddened stain to a small amount of the clear gloss finish until I had the toner I thought would work.  I applied these coats with foam brushes.  I thinned the last few coats with a bit of distilled water so it would level better after brushing.  That particular finish brushes on well, I discovered, but it dries pretty quickly at full strength.  The good thing about that, however, was that I could do 3 to 4 coats in a 24-hour period.  Whenever I sanded between coats, I got the prettiest pink sanding dust.

Using water-soluable aniline dye powders for my stains, and water-based finish made it easy to mix the two together.

Further to that, I feel using water-based products from start to finish on a hobby project like this is the way to go (shellac being the exception but even it can now be obtained in a water-based version).  No fuss, easy cleanup, no solvents other than water.  And especially if you are like me, who doesn't have spray equipment and has no inclination to deal with the hassles involved with setting up a proper spray environment, etc.  I've had excellent results brushing on 2 instruments now.  The first was the kit violin I built for my grandson and is described on another thread.  The second is this one.

The 3rd pic shows how closely I matched my original picture objective after many coats of the toner.  The last pic shows the toner itself.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 19, 2017, 03:23:49 AM
Next, I applied several coats of the clear finish, full strength, then sanded back with 320, and applied a couple more coats, slightly thinned.  I think there were 7 or 8 coats altogether.  I let it cure for a week or so, then progressively sanded it starting at 400 and ending at 2500 3M wet/dry paper.  I sanded it dry since General Finishes website says not to wet-sand this finish product.  I would like to try doing it anyways sometime but I wasn't about to do it on this guitar.  I followed up the sanding with polishing compounds on clean cotton rags, hand-rubbed. I polished first with Stewmac's medium, followed by their fine, and finally with their swirl remover.

Deciding that the finishing of the body was complete, I started installing the electronics and hardware.  The anticipation was starting to build by now.

I used the premium LP-style wiring kit from Stewmac for the electronics.  (CTS pots, Swithcraft switch, vintage style braided wire, etc.).  The pickups, as stated are 2nd generation hand-wound humbuckers by Matt and signed by him.

Once again, my Forum V served as the template for my wiring scheme.  It is wired like any standard LP.  I basically copied how the wires were arranged in the RS-4's cavity to the cavity of my build.

Here's another tip.  When using braided wire like this, it's really good to have a few different colored markers on hand.  Color the leads coming from each pickup in a different color and mark the backs of the pots they will be connected to with the same color.

P.S.  In the last picture, if you zoom in, you can see the patches beside the pickup cavities.  Those were a result of the router incident that I described early in this thread.

While all this body work was going on, I had completed the neck, installed the tuners, "age-stained" it and finished it with several coats of Tru-Oil gunstock finish.  It was now ready to bolt on to the body.  (why do they call them bolt-on necks when they are really mostly screw-on necks?).


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 19, 2017, 04:04:22 AM
So here is the guitar just after it was all put together and set up.  I hadn't even heard it through an amp at this point.

These pics were taken before I installed the volume and tone knobs.  I originally installed black ones which was all I had.  I didn't think the black ones looked so good with the cream-colored pickup rings, and the toggle switch ring and it's knob.  So I ordered some amber-colored knobs which look better.  I don't have any pics of the guitar with the amber knobs.  I will post some later.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 19, 2017, 04:41:31 AM
Finally, the last pictures of the completed guitar.  At this point it had black knobs.  I have since changed the knobs to amber, but I don't have any pics of it yet.  I have also added string tees since then.

I still have to come up with a logo for the headstock, which I think is important.  Otherwise, the guitar becomes completely obscure in the future.  For this same reason, I will probably etch some basic information about when the guitar was made and by whom in the neck pocket or on the neck itself.

Knobs aside, by this time I had completely set it up, leveled and crowned the frets, adjusted the pickup heights, and tweaked the pickup pole pieces to create balance across the strings.  Well, I must say this hybrid guitar turned out great beyond my expectations.  It plays smooth, fast, and easy.  It intonates correctly all along the neck.  It has fantastic tones from the Larrivee pickups.  The tone and volume controls provide all the nuances one would expect from a SG or RS-2.  I've been playing it a few months now and I love it.

A few other guitarists have tried it and they were equally impressed.  One of them is a forum member (Marauder).

Since then, last May, I have started an acoustic build.  I will start a new topic for that one.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: GA-ME on September 19, 2017, 05:07:11 AM
That's a really cool project and a wonderful accomplishment!


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 19, 2017, 05:30:08 AM
That's a really cool project and a wonderful accomplishment!

Thanks so much.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: rockstar_not on September 19, 2017, 12:06:48 PM
My favorite part of the build are the back cavity covers. I would have never thought to use CA as a sort of varnish.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: Scrambler17 on September 19, 2017, 12:36:59 PM
Very nice build.  You clearly put some serious time and effort into it.  Great job.   :thumbsup


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: George on September 19, 2017, 01:07:00 PM
Awesome build Kurt.  I really like that you did the rear cavity volume/tone control approach with no pickguard nor tele style front plate.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: mike in lytle on September 19, 2017, 02:49:18 PM
 :cheers
The guitar looks outstanding! You did a great job.
You made your first post last November, right around when I was planting my live oak acorns.
The tallest of those trees is now at four feet.
You had to work a lot harder on your project than I did on mine.
Mike


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: Mikeymac on September 19, 2017, 06:39:27 PM
I'm *VERY* impressed. Looks awesome, and I love the SG finish on that mahogany - unexpected and very "un-Tele" - but it works great!  :bowdown:


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: broKen on September 19, 2017, 11:29:47 PM
You made a nice looking guitar. I like that, and thanks for showing us


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 21, 2017, 05:19:51 AM
My favorite part of the build are the back cavity covers. I would have never thought to use CA as a sort of varnish.

Yes, it works great on any kind of thin solid wood or plywood.  Not only does it give it a great glossy look, it seems to strengthen a thin piece considerably, making it more like plastic in terms of durability while maintaining the wood-looking aspect.  It takes a few coats depending on how it is being absorbed.  I've made a couple of truss-rod covers this way as well.  CA glue polishes quite well once it has cured for a day or two.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 21, 2017, 06:45:53 AM
Awesome build Kurt.  I really like that you did the rear cavity volume/tone control approach with no pickguard nor tele style front plate.

Yes, me too.  More like a LP or RS-4 style.  Having all the parts attached to the actual solid hunk of wood body appealed to me in terms of potential sound (albeit untested).  Plus this way I can show off the wonderful wood grain of the whole top and a pickguard is simply an aesthetic option.


Title: Re: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on September 21, 2017, 06:59:52 AM
:cheers
The guitar looks outstanding! You did a great job.
You made your first post last November, right around when I was planting my live oak acorns.
The tallest of those trees is now at four feet.
You had to work a lot harder on your project than I did on mine.
Mike
Wow!  Looks like your acorn project was a great success, Mike.