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By D_W
This is an odd duck. These guitars were designed to be mass produced so there is one or two things in the process that is better done with power tools for aesthetics (that's not a requirement, but my eyes are trained for strat things and I will later make a guitar entirely with hand tools that has aesthetics almost impossible to do with power tools, but not on this one).

I start with a rosewood blank that's quartersawn for the neck. I would like to take the fingerboard from the same blanks, so hand resawing is necessary (i no longer have a bandsaw, but I wouldn't have trusted it for this). I have about a 16th of wiggle room, which is plenty). Quality of the grain orientation on guitars is critical - on a neck, doubly so, but there's not that much wood in a guitar, so the cost of quality wood vs. junk is perhaps about $150 different. It's worth it. Rosewood necks are not standard on fender guitars, but I have built a telecaster in standard scale of this type (the pickups are seymour duncan p-rails, an unusual type) and the result in terms of sound is fantastic.


It takes about 10 minutes to do this resaw relatively accurately with a typical carpenter's saw. One of the nice things about guitars is that the bulk work really isn't much, and it's often harder to do the nuance (neck profiling, etc) properly if you use power tools instead of hand tools. It's not a break even for production, but for individual guitars, it's probably close.


And the resulting offcut to be set aside to make a fingerboard later.


The body blank that I got for this guitar is khaya, quartered. It's fairly low density and the ribboning is strong. Planing results in no tearout with the cap iron, but grain direction does leave a tiny bit of difference in surface texture. I will leave this as is, but if I round the guitar over on the back, I may be forced to sand just to get uniform finish absorption (french polish). I will not sand out all of the plane nuance, though, just the very surface (mixing planing and sanding on a softer blank like this, even with un-tinted shellac will lead to different wood color in finish areas, looking like the wood was burnished in places and not others, etc).


Cutting the blank - relatives are important working with hand tools, but absolutes are not. I have a general center line to help with alignment, but since I'm not using a CNC machine or any such thing, I can use the center line to aid initial work and then set hardware relative to the neck later. I cut relatively far from the line not for accuracy (it's not that important), but because khaya can blow out on the back and I don't have that much thickness to spare on this blank. I'll remove the excess with a combination of spokeshave and the oscillating spindle/belt sander in the background.

By D_W
For those who play guitar, short scale isn't like super short, it's just gibson (e.g., les paul) scale on a fender shaped guitar.

Scale length for everyone else (the length of the strings area that's vibrating) has a great deal of impact on the sound of a guitar.

A short scale fender will sound like a gibson if it's gibson scale with gibson-like electronics, and a long scale gibson with fender-like electronics would sound like a fender guitar.

I want this strat-style guitar to sound more like gibson and less like fender, but use an arrangement (how the electronics are fitted to the guitar) the same as fender because I already have the electronics fitted in a pickguard.
By AJB Temple
Interesting project. What neck profile are you going to use? My personal favourite is the triangular profile found on some Custom Shop Strats, in my case with a birds eye maple neck and similar maple fingerboard. Excellent guitar.
By D_W
I like something a little more round (you're describing a soft V profile, those are nice, too). It'll be probably between that and older strat neck types. I just shave and scrape the neck while making it until it feels right. Another benefit of working by hand. "feels right" ends up being almost identical from one guitar to the next.

Not a fan of some of the fenders of old that have a deep neck thickness and a fat edge (short radius) - they're the opposite of what you like.

you can see the roundness (no bulky edge) in this picture - this is the same neck just after the first quick french polish session.

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By thetyreman
how heavy is the rosewood neck? not criticising but I'd be a bit concerned about that, it looks good, how does it sound?
By D_W
by the way - fender put the neck profile you like on a mexican telecaster that they called "baja" and sold them for about $850. They also put custom shop spec pickups in that one (i think). It sold so well that they renamed it "vintera" and increased the price $300 or $400.

They've put on a clinic about what you can do with your brand if people seem to only really want to buy two styles of guitars from you and nobody wants anything else you make. Minor changes, variations, and the enthusiasts will buy 10 instead of 1.

I liked the mex version almost enough to buy it, but instead waited until someone didn't like the hardware and put it on ebay.


This guitar is a limba telecaster style guitar that I built (the neck is purchased, the first and last time I'll do that), it has the "vintera" hardware and electrics in it thanks to a dissatisfied upgrader. The total cost to build something like this is about $450 - depending on how you look at it, that may be money well spent or a waste of time. The purchased neck is licensed, so I could sell this one at some point without getting a nasty letter and a threat from fender. I'm quickly getting more of these guitars than i need to have, so I'm on the fence about contacting fender and asking about licensing necks so that I can make my own and still sell the guitars as used without getting sued.
By D_W
thetyreman wrote:how heavy is the rosewood neck? not criticising but I'd be a bit concerned about that, it looks good, how does it sound?

Rosewood varies a lot. This neck is harder than maple, but only about 5% heavier. I understand bass players and fender fanatics worry about neck dive, but the rosewood from this vendor isn't heavy enough to cause it.

As far as sound, I've made a strat with a heavy ash body and a bubinga neck. It sounds great plugged in, but it's uninspiring when it's not.

Of the two of these (limba guitar on the right, african mahogany on the left), the rosewood neck guitar is a whole lot more snappy and less mellow, and has good solid bass (unlike the bubinga necked heavier guitar mentioned above) - loud and full unplugged.

I thought the same thing as you - that it may not turn out that great and need to be plugged in to be enjoyable, but in this case, the two guitars turned out opposite. The lighter limba guitar is mellow and the guitar on the left has a lot more punch and isn't at all thin or too bright.

By profchris
Interesting that your rosewood is so close in density to maple. I was thinking "neck dive" too!

I'm doing the opposite - a soprano-bodied ukulele with a concert scale neck (this is 15 inches instead of 13.65 inches), with the body in koa. If I build it right, the whole instrument will weigh less than 250 grams (less than a block of butter) without its tuners.

So I was fortunate to find some Spanish Cedar as part of a Victorian wardrobe I'm cannibalising. Really light, and I've carved it to a soft V profile as requested by its prospective owner. No neck dive for him!

I'll put up a short, highlights, thread on that once it's done - going slow at the moment.