by ‎08-19-2010 05:51 AM - edited ‎08-29-2010 08:54 PM

(Most recent updates in separate comment on 8/29/10)


My oldest son recently asked if I’d build him a solid body electric guitar…. my 2nd guitar project. We agreed on a unique slightly goth shape, green curly maple front, and a black back made from ash. A purchased unfinished Les Paul style neck is on order, which will likely be painted black. The head stock will be shaped to compliment the body…maybe some color compliments too. It’ll be trimmed with gold and black hardware. The pickups will be a GFS Fatbody single neck, Wilkinson single mid, and a double humbucker from an OLP John Petrucci Signature guitar. We’re still deciding on a wiring scheme, but it’ll likely be a simple 5-way switch, tone, and volume pots.

So far I’ve traced out a template shape that I’d acually build for him (first few way more radical), cut the front and back blanks from the template, and have shaped the front using a combination of router bits and hand chisels. Lots of sanding too! I’ve also cut a chamber for the electronics in the back, and have fashioned a cover. The back will likely be painted black, but since the first step in popping the grain on the maple was to stain it black, I stained the back at the same time…no harm done, and if the paint ever chips, it’ll reveal black stained ash. The next step was to sand off the black stain, leaving just the darkened grain on the maple. Kelly green was then added to stain the front. I was ready to give the Transtint dyes from Woodcraft a shot, but rather than make the 28 mile round trip and spend $18 per 2 oz bottle, I decided to experiment with the RIT fabric dyes from local stores…$3 each, and so far the results have been really good.


The template:

The roughed out body routed using a pattern bit on the template:

The front side of the back piece with the chamber for switches hogged out:

The back stained black, with chamber cover (back will get black lacquer):

The maple front after receiving black stain, then sanded:

The maple front stained green:

More to come!



Updates from 8/17/10:

Here’s where things stand as of noon today. All the parts and hardware are in.

Here’s the top with the natural maple revealed on the sides. There’s one coat of spar varnish to protect the stained surface, plus help prevent fading.

The back now has black paint. While rounding over the edges, we liked the look of the natural ash revealed as well, so we’ve decided to keep it….got some sanding ahead.

Here’s the top and back together next to the unfinished Eden neck. The maple and ash should take on a more golden color as we clear coat it. The neck will get black paint.

Since all the parts are here, we couldn’t resist a sneak preview of how it’ll look. The unfinished neck is just sitting there, as are the pickup covers and knobs. These pics give the illusion that we’re much further along than we are, but we’re encouraged by the look so far.

Still to come…some sanding of the back, many more clear coats (lacquer), cut outs for the pickups and input jack, more clear coats, fine sanding, shaping the neck, painting the neck, more clear coats, very fine sanding, drilling holes for the tuning pegs, final clear coat, wiring everything, setting the neck, polishing, stringing it, and sound check! (I probably forgot something too…)



Updates from 8/18/10:

Some cosmetic changes took place last night…the two-toned back revealing the natural ash is out, and the back is black again, as planned. It was just too sloppy and detracted.

Here’s the painted back, and the top with a couple of clear coats sitting on the back:

Today I added a curly maple veneer to the front side of the neck headstock to match the front of the guitar.

Here’s the neck with the veneer in place:

After receiving black dye:

After sanding the black away, the green dye goes on:



Update 8/20/10:

Adding the shop-made curly maple veneer to the front of the headstock was a little tricky because it’s attached to an existing neck. My plan to rout down the face to accommodate the thickness of the veneer didn’t pan out as planned because the radius on the fretboard made it rock. Instead, I ended up using the flat edge and back of the “paddle blank” as a reference and sliced the cutout on the band saw. Once the veneer was in place and glued, I cut the shape with the BS as much as I could, then sanded to final shape with my OSS. The headstock is now shaping up fairly nicely. The back of the neck will get black paint, then I’ll reveal the natural curly maple edge on the headstock like the front of the body. Next I’ll drill the holes for tuners, give it more clear coats, and some fine sanding and rubbing to smooth out the eggshell texture, etc.

I’m at what I consider the high risk stage…after hours of planning, cutting, shaping, staining, and sanding, I’m now cutting holes in the front of the guitar. It’s easy to inflict a few battle scars, and it generally just stresses me out a little.

The guitar is coming along pretty nicely and faster than I planned, but I’ve been going at it pretty hard the last couple of days. The shop’s a mess, I’m tired, stressed, and need to back away for a while before I really goof something up! (it definitely happens!) Time to mow the lawn, take a nap, tidy up and the shop, and hit the shower. Better to rejuvenate and come back to this later…after all…this is for fun, right?



Update for 8/21/10:

The pressure's on! (on both of us!) I glued and clamped the front to the back today....definitely a critical step. I used the guitar templates to help even the clampling load, and used a piece of scrap plywood to put pressure in the middle....19 clamps in all.

I've also put a coat of paint on the neck and the cavity cover:

Gotta work the next couple of nights, so won't be making much progress for a few days.

by Community Manager
on ‎08-20-2010 02:18 PM


by Community Manager
on ‎08-21-2010 10:49 AM

Hey - btw:  whose pickups, pots and hardware did you go with?    I've got to rebuild a semihollow body that I originally made in '96 and I think I'm going to change some things a little bit.  

on ‎08-22-2010 04:56 PM

Thanks Matt!


The neck pickup is a GFS Alnico Fatbody single coil with oversized poles.  The mid is a Wilkinson single coil Tele bridge pickup.  The bridge is a stock dual coil humbucker from an OLP Petrucci Signature that'll be center tapped.


Good luck with your rebuild...please post about it, or at least PM me!

by Community Manager
on ‎08-22-2010 09:48 PM

I won't get into mine until early next year.   The way things sit I've got a (I think... ) a Super DiMarzio in the bridge position and a Duncan double coil that's sized like a Strat's single coiil in the neck position.   I like the Duncan, but am not sold on the DiMarzio.    I think I'm going to swap that out for something that's not quite so hot-sounding.    I'm going to make a truly chambered jazz box out of it, using this Carvin guitar's cutaway view as the template:




I play Carvins and so feel pretty good about paying homage to their design.   But that's next year... nothing even remotely close on the horizon at the moment.  


YOURS is looking good, my friend.  I greatly look forward to seeing where you go from here.  


And... how in the world did you cut for the neck/body joint without the neck in hand?  OR did you mill the general shape and size and fine-tune things once the neck showed up?

‎08-23-2010 01:33 AM - edited ‎08-23-2010 01:53 AM

"And... how in the world did you cut for the neck/body joint without the neck in hand? ..."


That's actually a very good question.  We happened to have a bolt on neck from my other son's first "Strat clone" that was pretty much the same size. 


His guitar (my first guitar build) has a Dimarzio D-111 in the neck, and a Duncan L'il '59 in the mid, which is a mini dual coil humbucker that fits in a single coil slot....sounds pretty similar to what you described.  Duncan only makes a couple like that.  The Dimarzio is definitely the hottest of his 3 pickups, but he tends to like the Duncan.  I especially like it when he plays it with the 5-way in the 4 position that mixes his Duncan with his OLP bridge's got a thin beaming twang character that sounds like something from the late 50's, early 60's.


A hollow body is one I'd like to build someday.  What's the wood on yours?


by Community Manager
‎08-23-2010 08:35 AM - edited ‎08-23-2010 08:36 AM

When I made the body that I'll be getting rid of next year I used basswood beneath a single piece of walnut, then sculpted the sides to create a large radius about like you did.   


Problem is, the basswood didn't hold the bridge pins for the one-piece Schaller bridge (with fine tuning violin tuning knobs) very well and things have been pulled and bent forward under the 130 pounds' worth of force of the strings.   I did plug and redrill the holes once, but no love there.    The thing is pulling iteslf apart.


So next time around I think I'm going to use ash for the part that gets dished like the photo, above, and I'll use the second half of the walnut board (which I still have, uncut, since '96) to make another top.    I usually like a Venetian cutaway (sharp lower horn) as opposed to the Florentine cutaway (a round lower horn), but we'll see which direction that takes.


Here's a shot of my current guitar that needs a new body.  The neck is from an early '80's Kramer that got a replacement neck and other goofy embellishments.  I had this neck kicking around for several years and decided to make a body for it.


on ‎08-29-2010 08:52 PM

Here’s the latest for 8/29/10 :


The “final” clear coat has been applied (a couple of times! ...hopefully this is the last). The neck is drilled and the tuners are mounted. The pickups are mounted to their trim rings, and the final electronics scheme is worked out. From here it’s a matter of waiting for the lacquer to cure and deciding how much rubbing out I want to do…the results from the spray can are glossy and smooth in most places, but there’s some orange peel and overspray spots in a few areas. Once that’s done we bolt the neck up, wire the pups and pots together, mount the chamber cover, string it, and find the ear plugs!


I did run into a slight problem on the back where the neck and body meet. When I rounded over the back of the body, I should have stopped at the base of the neck….the roundover makes the edge of the neck narrower than the neck plate. A smaller two-piece neck plate is on order and will hopefully fit. It’s one of the many small things amateurs like me are likely to run into, and fortunately, there are several decent fixes for this problem.


Here’s the front of the body with the most recent final coat:


...And the back with its most recent final coat:


Here’s a look at the original style neck plate that will no longer fit, and the two-piece replacement:



Here’s the finished neck and the pups in their trim rings:


And the back of the neck:


For those who are interested, here’s the wiring scheme we’ll be using…it’s an Humbucker/Single/Single (HSS) setup with a 5-way selecter. A push/pull switch in the volume knob will allow single coil sound from the humbucker, giving us 7 different pickup combinations:


A couple of 12 hour night shifts and some family obligations will likely keep me away from it until mid week, but I’m hoping to be done by the end of next weekend.  More to come!

on ‎09-03-2010 05:43 PM

Finished 9-3-10....See the completed project here.