Guitar Two...

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24 Aug 2015
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...the quickie (though it's dodging a few other projects, so the elapsed time making shouldn't be that much, but the elapsed time total due to the project sitting may be much more).

I was going to make the whole thing cherry, but I forgot that after getting the last guitar body out of the far end of the slab (the objective was more or less two guitar bodies and half a dozen necks), the remainder of the center had split. I thought this was 3 1/2 to four inches thick, but it's 3, so it's not worth taking the time to cut out another body.

Years ago, I roughed out some les paul style bodies. two mahogany (macrophylla) and one khaya. I like khaya even though the guitar community sees it as second rate. for a while, it was available in great quality for the same price as poor quality honduran blanks. Those seem to be gone now.

Of these three, the african blank is too nice for this project, so it's back on the rack. The second of the two hondurans (both came from stew mac on a deal price years ago- they looked like a steal. Once I found out what quality they are, they were just "fair" price. In the tradition of stew mac, the picture of the blank in the listing was much better than these). Both were not well seasoned, and both cupped. The second of the two cupped so much that it lost a lot of thickness.

I'm not the only person that found this, but they were $85 each, so you get what you get when you're a low volume buyer. I'll make use of them - the comments at the time will filled with disappointment in the reviews, but if you've ever bought something from stew mac, you'll find that they solicit feedback from new customers. Now that I'm no longer a new customer, and for years now, they haven't asked for feedback on anything outside of automated prompts (a real person contacted me with my first ever purchase). Call me a cynic, but I think it's better for them to try to get feedback from starry eyed beginners.

Back to these - this is an LP special, no drop top, so the thin blank is out, and back goes the afro mahogany blank and I'll use the middle quality one here. It's the light colored one - not surprisingly, these all had their share of metal dust and dirt and a few scratches.

you can see the wonderful ribboning on the afro blank. One of the humorous things I've heard from guitar buyers in the past is that they "know that honduran mahogany is always better and more resonant". Some of this is because gibson uses it - and at this point, gibson uses it because they have a source in fiji for second growth wood - well, you guys planted it (the English).

One of the assertions is that "you can tell african mahogany is cheap by the bad color, it's always lighter".

I sent a few sample pictures to a guy who was giving me that line to trick him, and he guessed wrong. The grain can be pronounced on khaya, but sometimes the only real way to tell them apart is end grain (and khaya is a little more dry feeling if you can get a tool into it, but there's no definites. I'm sure gibson likes honduran - even though I've had poor experience with stability of any of their recent guitars - because it's easy to machine and it splinters less than khaya., the cherry table blank is relegated, I guess, to being cut into necks.

And rift from the end of the board. I could turn the sawing orientation a little bit, but it's not worth the trouble. It may be possible to get two necks out of this blank, but we'll see it's close from the template markout.

For people who think you can't work entirely by hand, look at the cut quality - this is not slow, it's as fast as I could saw - you get good at hand sawing like this is very little time. My portable TS wouldn't handle this slab, but I wouldn't use it for this, anyway - it's somewhat less accurate than working by hand and I save it for things that I don't really want to work on.

to "bandsaw" these neck bits out, I'll use a frame saw with a coarse bandsaw blade in it.


All of this is only about 15 minutes of work. I spent another 15 grinding chisels and then back here - abbreviated lunch and back to regular work.
(in case anyone is wondering - I might be - why don't I take this to a guitar site where there would be more discussion...

.....well, at one point, I was posting builds on TDPRI. When I did a lot of the stuff by hand, a few members got upset about it because they wanted to suggest I not do it because it would yield poor results.

I mentioned that I would do a better job avoiding router jigs and the other "accepted" methods, but that I am an outlier as far as hand tools go, but maybe people would like to see that.

It set off a lot of opinions all the way down to accusations that I was misleading people by suggesting I used hand tools. I guess i read the audience wrong - I thought that some of the folks may like to see an alternative way to do things, but with a warning that if you don't know how to use the hand tools, you shouldn't expect it will look the same. I kind of think this about power tools - I can do limited things with power tools. To do detail work with them and visualize a design and then do it neatly, that's above my pay grade with power tools.

In short, the woodworking ability on those sites is often narrow and even some people who build wonderful guitars are not very capable woodworkers. If they are making guitars for pay or have built up some kind of personality on the sites as a "go-to" guy, then anything different is a threat. On a big site like that, the customer base can be the site posters as I'd never heard of a couple of the builders before or since.
Have you seen that guy over in the u.s that mskes thr guitars with an aluminium frame? It gets tuned to the resonant frequency of the wood he uses ( apparently ) and they have a collosal price tag
I cant remember the name, it was a couple of years ago
I haven't seen that and am having trouble finding it as it looks like there's a production name "relish" making aluminum frame guitars for about $1499 (but no comments about their tunability/resonance).

I think there's some room for new innovations in guitar -but bet it's a gamble, even when something is a good idea.
I just looked and couldn't see anything. He was a bespoke luthier and made 8 / 9 per year and from memory they were 30k and upwards!
No bandsaw, so the neck blanks are separated by a frame saw with a segment of cheap bandsaw blade.



Being kind of cheap with wood here and probably don't have enough thickness ro have a volute. May have been better to take just one blank from this billet.

Pickups will be a Gibson burstbucker pro set, which has their Lego-like pcb and connectors. Nobody wanted this stuff when I bought these so they were cheaper than just two wired pickups alone. Now, the boards and switches can bring $80.

They're chrome... not my favorite.


I'll no longer buy Gibson's guitars, but they do make good pickups.
if anyone is thinking they'd like a bandsaw, but don't want to buy one, this cut is a little bit more difficult than it looks (but ultimately not that difficult once you get used to it. There are a couple of areas where the room for the cut is only a little more than the blade width, and that's on both sides of the billet (about 4-4 1/2" wide).

Thin bandsaw blades aren't that stable, anyway - you can see how much this one twists when I let go of the saw. The key here is to make this cut 10 strokes at a time or so and look at the back. You can steer a frame saw in the front and back of a cut independent of each other by changing the angle of the saw and twist on it (so you can keep the saw right on the line on the front if you need to and turn the cut in the back to make a correction if that's where it's needed, or the other way around).

It doesn't take that long to make this cut and the bandsaw blade is just a cheap carbon blade with skip teeth. It cuts faster than a regular handsaw tooth, but needs thicker wood. If and when it dulls (it cuts fast even as it's dulling because of the small number of teeth), you can sharpen the teeth a time or two.

it takes about 5 minutes to make a cut like this to separate the two neck blanks. things happen relatively slowly (it's not like working by hand will cost much time on this as a project), so you tend not to cut past a line or ruin stock - It's extremely uncommon for me to lose stock due to a wandering cut or some other issue because looking at the project is part of making the cut.

when I had a larger steel frame bandsaw, if my mind wandered for a few seconds, so did the cut. If something about the wood was not agreeable to the bandsaw, then the cut may wander or balloon in a large resaw anyway and ruin the stock. It happened a minority of the time, but often enough to be annoying.
random afternoon, thought - I have both black and antique white target WB finishes (they are nice and hard with crosslinker) and may pore fill this guitar and use them.

On the fence about it. Using them would probably be better in combination with an ebony fingerboard.

One of these two necks has some end checking (but not open much) that may be better for something like that. Gluing and then filling and covering up the wood. Keeping a white finish guitar undamaged while making may also be beyond my level of conscientiousness.
@Jacob It was a high end luthier we were looking for

The frame saw looks interesting. I saw one used in a dovetail video, the guy fired through a set of them at rapid pace!!
Seemed to be a few of them there, not
Relish Snow Jane Aluminium Frame Electric Guitar
£3,999.00 ?
Not expensive enough... this was a u.s guy who made a few a year. He picked timber that he wanted to use to cover the frame, he then found the resonant frequency of the wood and made the frame to match the frequency. I am not an expert but i would imagine as soon as the timber is cut ( and the mass changes ) the frequency would change?
I'm no expert either, but dryness (and probably stiffness), shape and size of the wood all change the note that you get.

Beyond just what's inherent in the wood (some wood is "dead"). I've had better luck selecting wood with necks and bodies when each is one piece, though and haven't built acoustic instruments (and found and continue to find that the carved top guitars are difficult to figure out with different woods glued together).
Slightly off topic but interesting, to me anyway, but how do you determine the resonant frequency of wood? I have an idea to build a marimba and think it may be something to consider especially for the keys.
Interesting to read this thread: the layman doesn't realise the bits and pieces you have to think through.
Slightly off topic but interesting, to me anyway, but how do you determine the resonant frequency of wood? I have an idea to build a marimba and think it may be something to consider especially for the keys.
Interesting to read this thread: the layman doesn't realise the bits and pieces you have to think through.
"Wood" in general doesn't have a resonant frequency but a particular piece of wood may have. You find out what it is by tapping it and seeing what note is produced, if there is one dominant enough to identify.
If you remove material it will change the note.
I think you would build a marimba by following a rule-of-thumb guide for size of key for each note and then fine tune each one by removing wood.
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@MorrisWoodman12 with a marimba you'll have to fine tune each piece until it's the exact pitch you want, use padauk if you can, it's very resonant.
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A couple of neck blanks and routed the pickup cavity in this mahogany blank. Boy do I hate routers. The result is neat, but I can do it much faster with a drill and gouge and eat a lot less dust.

Fingerboard will be castelo box. If both neck and fingerboard blanks behave, I will make another body and make two, but the other will be cherry, cheap and cheerful.

I remain unconvinced that a hobbyist couldn't make a lot of fine furniture entirely by hand. It takes about 6 minutes to neatly resaw a fingerboard blank right on the line on both sides.
Castelo boxwood is what we could only wish hard maple was.
very interesting D_W I don't think I have seen a boxwood fretboard before, it should be very stable too!
The castelo is - actually, I don't know what it is. It's about an 1800 hardness boxwood look-alike, and it's not always available in big clear pieces. Someone sold it here in the US and I bought an embarrassing amount of it due to a frustration with not finding real box. I've found out since, that's because there really isn't real true box that big - especially not like this.

Castelo and another box imitation from south america (the name escapes me) are considered second rate to real box (they are), but perhaps the lower hardness makes them more suitable for us as hand workers. I want to make some chess sets in the future, and perhaps make some chisel handles with this stuff because it looks like real box and is "dense enough".

it's well harder than hard maple but planes and saws much more easily. That's sort of one of the treats of hand woodworking - beech and maple are about the same hardness - but maple is far less receptive to hand work. Castelo is about as hard as hickory, much harder than maple, but works smoothly and easily like a soft ebony. It'll take on sort of a creamy color in short order vs. maple which is kind of dead looking unless it's colored (but some people like that bright unaged look - I don't like it on guitars).