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D_W

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make fun if you want, but this is all it takes to do the archtop - wish I'd have thought of it earlier, but only the troubles otherwise forced me to think a little bit.

Just a piece of softwood profiled for a contact point and you keep the contact point against the top or something (careful around corners) and keep both hands on the tool.

a quickgrip clamp is plenty to hold the thing in place (there's a sliver or rubber drawer liner on the fixture to keep it in place against the router side).

Would've saved a lot of effort and yielded neater results. Took about 10 minutes to think it out and make it out of spare junk wood - may make another one with a foot with a larger area and at this point, I prefer using it to the router alone as I can see what it's doing and going out of square won't happen (I don't have a router table with a 1/4" collet, so just running the flat top guitars around a router table like you would a pin router isn't going to happen).

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D_W

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For the folks who can built something great on the first one - coming up with fixes like this - i often wonder what it's like to be that guy. So far on this guitar:
* pickup cavities are a little sloppy, even for me (that's just laziness)
* I had to slip the neck cavity to make sure I will have a tight neck joint on the sides and no rotation of the neck (this isn't a big deal)
* the binding is going to be squirrely (it took that to initiate thinking harder about the hand router - and then the theory of spontaneous junk springs a solution forward) *
* the top carve is over done in a few areas, especially in the belly area - it should be tucked in at the sides and more gradual and convex almost to the edge on the lower bout - I ended up chasing that belly in a bit too much, but that's just learning
* who knows what else will come up. I'll be manually cutting and making inlay from sheet for the fingerboard (which I haven't done to this point - it shouldn't be something that gets screwed up that bad, but we'll see. I guess it's a lot easier to just keep making fingerboards until one is good.

I've got little interest in building one of anything any longer as the first one is always a "throw away". Hopefully not literally in this case, but it's the thing that teaches you what problems you'll have and then number 2 is almost always improved 90%.
 

D_W

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So, let's call the body a lost cause other than a learning experience (still has a chance to be a nice playing guitar, but cutting the binding channel manually, etc, not a great idea, but at least that spawned the die grinder setup idea for the next time. You can really bury a lot of time trying to fix sloppy binding work and it'll probably never quite look right).

On to the neck while I fill all of the binding gaps and try to get at least to a point that a dark finish will hide most sins.

I like somewhere around 0.88 for nut thickness (for the uninitiated, lower 0.8s is a thin gibson neck and above 0.9 is getting pretty tubby). that includes the fingerboard which will probably end up a little above 0.2. the neck blank hasn't moved at all (it really has no excuse to as old as the wood is) - long story short, hand roughing starts by guesstimating what the shapes will be and where not to cut.
depth at nut and depth near 12th fret (not exact yet - everything is 5 hundredths fat as I always overcut something) cut straight through with a float and then some waste chiseled away to give room for a spokeshave and then waste away the stuff in the middle.

I *always* overcut the center of the neck a little if not paying attention so I went about 2 hundredths past where I'd need to be around the 8th fret (but courtesy of the 5 hundredths cushion, no big deal.

I a ruler is a must. It'd be interesting to have a custom sized belt sander to do this, but not that interesting.


20220121_125749.jpg


after this point, then I partially profile (still left fat - everything is fat a couple of hundredths)the endpoints with a rasp. will do the heel and volute later after establishing this a bit fat. I don't know of a good way to do that other than chisel/rasp. I've seen gibson employees do it with a low radius belt sander idler, but I'm not willing to do that - it doesn't take long to do by hand.
20220121_130308_copy_1896x980.jpg


Then wasting between the marks as evenly as possible - this is over in a flash. If I got closer to finished profile, it probably wouldn't be a big deal, but I'll do that later.

20220121_130708.jpg
 

D_W

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aside from some filling below the binding channel to clean up some nits where the binding and body meet - I'm at a sort -of-standstill - as described above (they are not of the type that can just be left at this point as I don't know the color of the tone on the side and back (it will probably be on the darker side - thin coats of dyed shellac and then clearer top coats) and can't just plan to fill them as part of the coloring.

Still need to cut the step routs on the cavities on the back (where panels will lay in), and then rout the outside roundover.

The neck is at a point where I need to decide what order I'm going in - having no clue what the "right way" is, and maybe some disinterest. I think at this point, I will make the fingerboard and profile it after it's on the neck. Fretting will occur then, also, and not sure yet about binding, but probably also after on the guitar for the fingerboard. Someone doing this with pretty good control/jigs/cnc, could likely do this all after the fact - i'll have to think further - what I don't want is the les paul style binding over the frets - it shortens the fret length and the nut width on my neck is undersized by about a hundredth or two before getting the fingerboard and side binding on.

At any rate, I sometimes cut fingerboard blanks - they never actually stay flat, but close is nice. I was going to use ebony, but I'll save it for a nicer guitar and also maybe in favor of not having too many different colors. I've got a few quartered rosewood fingerboard blanks that I sawed several years ago and marked one up off of the template for fret size and inlays.

I should've just done block inlays, I like the looks of them better, but wtf...might as well stick to the LP standard pattern more or less.

The gist of the following pictures is that I used a budget steel router bit on a dremel tool with a plunge base to waste away the centers and then chiseled. I can tell the difference between my chisels and early 1900s buck chisels in rosewood. Mine are better. Is that arrogant? They are definitively better in rosewood - I grind them neatly and make them hard and fine grained on principle but didn't expect to see something where it made a difference other than that. In this case, the lands are fine (but still there, it's important that they be for corner strength) and both my later file chisels and 26c3 can chisel to the line in dry rosewood and then twist out the chips without any issues. The buck chisel doesn't fare that well, but you can of course resharpen it. The trick in this case is I used a 1/8th chisel in some of the finer inlays and I haven't made myself one yet (but I have for other people - I guess I'll do it sometime).

You can see that the inside are sloppy - I cut them overdepth so that I can bed the inlays on something - will decide what later - and so that the precision of the "dremel" plastic router base doesn't come into play. They're not that overdepth, but I didn't want to push the inlays in for these pictures. Inlays are celluloid, cut from a flat sheet. You can buy precut ones, but I didn't. I number them as I don't finish the neat part of the rout (corners, etc) until the inlays are being fitted.

I hope this celluloid isn't super fresh - it shrinks over time.

Collings makes all kinds of stuff for their guitars out of ivoroid, but it shrinks a lot and they do the roughing, let the stuff sit, and then make knobs and pickup rings out of it literally at least a year later. They're awesome. I'm just trying to get a playable guitar - I'd love to match their workmanship later, but it sure isn't going to be on the first 2 or 4 builds. I still want to do a good job on this, though, even though some other parts of the guitar are ugly (the fact that the top carve is overcut in the lower belly is something that just can't be hidden, though. It's going to look funny.

Unfortunately, the camera takes the sparkle out of the celluloid, but I love the gawdy look of the aged celluloid. Maybe when I grow up, I'll make some out of shell.

To size the celluloid, the wonderful drum on the ryobi OSS is useful (Freehand, of course) - and I trim the flat sides down from the overfat original mark with a nicholson supershear. Having all of this garbage around from toolmaking is just wonderful for guitars. The neck is to size with the template. Later, I'll trim the width to the actual guitar needs, and then plane somewhere around the thickness of the binding off (just under that) times two. I've always just cut frets freehand with a dovetail saw (you just have to pay attention - no jumping out of cuts) and then planed the profile onto the neck later - celluloid planes nicely).

You can mark all of the fret slots while the fingerboard blank is still square, too - I don't. That's just what smart people would do.

Themarking knife used to cut the fret slots is literally a $12 buck pocket knife. Double bevel is nice here. I just held the template against the side of the fingerboard, punched in a tiny knife line, calculated the difference in width end to end and used the edge of the table and a caliper to hold the neck half of that in from the edge (as in, if the difference is .546, then the caliper is set to 0.273 and you hold the square in place and mark with a few light strikes.

I will cut the frets lots before profiling the fingerboard, though I've done it both ways.

As far as cutting frets goes, I don't have a saw that is set just for fret cutting, but I have four dovetail saws and I'm sure one of them will cut almost exactly the width of the fret slots. If I don't have one that does, I will adjust one so that it does. It's nice to make things work rather than have to constantly buy garbage.

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D_W

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My good friend George gives me grief sometimes about not just buying a pre-slotted fingerboard blank (he's got a specialty setup to cut fret slots with a thin blade, though), but I just never trust the vendors to make grain straight like this. I think this kind of straightness shows care from a maker -even though the guitar won't show perfection.

It'll probably take me about two hours total to have cut all of the cavities and sawn and fit the inlays - someone making guitars for a living could come up with a setup to blast through this, but that's not the objective here. I'm trying to become a walking ball of feel and skill that is adaptable because that's what makes making fun.
 

the great waldo

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aside from some filling below the binding channel to clean up some nits where the binding and body meet - I'm at a sort -of-standstill - as described above (they are not of the type that can just be left at this point as I don't know the color of the tone on the side and back (it will probably be on the darker side - thin coats of dyed shellac and then clearer top coats) and can't just plan to fill them as part of the coloring.

Still need to cut the step routs on the cavities on the back (where panels will lay in), and then rout the outside roundover.

The neck is at a point where I need to decide what order I'm going in - having no clue what the "right way" is, and maybe some disinterest. I think at this point, I will make the fingerboard and profile it after it's on the neck. Fretting will occur then, also, and not sure yet about binding, but probably also after on the guitar for the fingerboard. Someone doing this with pretty good control/jigs/cnc, could likely do this all after the fact - i'll have to think further - what I don't want is the les paul style binding over the frets - it shortens the fret length and the nut width on my neck is undersized by about a hundredth or two before getting the fingerboard and side binding on.

At any rate, I sometimes cut fingerboard blanks - they never actually stay flat, but close is nice. I was going to use ebony, but I'll save it for a nicer guitar and also maybe in favor of not having too many different colors. I've got a few quartered rosewood fingerboard blanks that I sawed several years ago and marked one up off of the template for fret size and inlays.

I should've just done block inlays, I like the looks of them better, but wtf...might as well stick to the LP standard pattern more or less.

The gist of the following pictures is that I used a budget steel router bit on a dremel tool with a plunge base to waste away the centers and then chiseled. I can tell the difference between my chisels and early 1900s buck chisels in rosewood. Mine are better. Is that arrogant? They are definitively better in rosewood - I grind them neatly and make them hard and fine grained on principle but didn't expect to see something where it made a difference other than that. In this case, the lands are fine (but still there, it's important that they be for corner strength) and both my later file chisels and 26c3 can chisel to the line in dry rosewood and then twist out the chips without any issues. The buck chisel doesn't fare that well, but you can of course resharpen it. The trick in this case is I used a 1/8th chisel in some of the finer inlays and I haven't made myself one yet (but I have for other people - I guess I'll do it sometime).

You can see that the inside are sloppy - I cut them overdepth so that I can bed the inlays on something - will decide what later - and so that the precision of the "dremel" plastic router base doesn't come into play. They're not that overdepth, but I didn't want to push the inlays in for these pictures. Inlays are celluloid, cut from a flat sheet. You can buy precut ones, but I didn't. I number them as I don't finish the neat part of the rout (corners, etc) until the inlays are being fitted.

I hope this celluloid isn't super fresh - it shrinks over time.

Collings makes all kinds of stuff for their guitars out of ivoroid, but it shrinks a lot and they do the roughing, let the stuff sit, and then make knobs and pickup rings out of it literally at least a year later. They're awesome. I'm just trying to get a playable guitar - I'd love to match their workmanship later, but it sure isn't going to be on the first 2 or 4 builds. I still want to do a good job on this, though, even though some other parts of the guitar are ugly (the fact that the top carve is overcut in the lower belly is something that just can't be hidden, though. It's going to look funny.

Unfortunately, the camera takes the sparkle out of the celluloid, but I love the gawdy look of the aged celluloid. Maybe when I grow up, I'll make some out of shell.

To size the celluloid, the wonderful drum on the ryobi OSS is useful (Freehand, of course) - and I trim the flat sides down from the overfat original mark with a nicholson supershear. Having all of this garbage around from toolmaking is just wonderful for guitars. The neck is to size with the template. Later, I'll trim the width to the actual guitar needs, and then plane somewhere around the thickness of the binding off (just under that) times two. I've always just cut frets freehand with a dovetail saw (you just have to pay attention - no jumping out of cuts) and then planed the profile onto the neck later - celluloid planes nicely).

You can mark all of the fret slots while the fingerboard blank is still square, too - I don't. That's just what smart people would do.

Themarking knife used to cut the fret slots is literally a $12 buck pocket knife. Double bevel is nice here. I just held the template against the side of the fingerboard, punched in a tiny knife line, calculated the difference in width end to end and used the edge of the table and a caliper to hold the neck half of that in from the edge (as in, if the difference is .546, then the caliper is set to 0.273 and you hold the square in place and mark with a few light strikes.

I will cut the frets lots before profiling the fingerboard, though I've done it both ways.

As far as cutting frets goes, I don't have a saw that is set just for fret cutting, but I have four dovetail saws and I'm sure one of them will cut almost exactly the width of the fret slots. If I don't have one that does, I will adjust one so that it does. It's nice to make things work rather than have to constantly buy garbage.

View attachment 127769 View attachment 127770 View attachment 127771 View attachment 127772
Hi D-W
Thats nice pearloid, may I ask where you got it from ?
Cheers
Andrew
 

D_W

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philadelphia luthier supply.

Lots of choices in the US, as well as directly from china (but chinese supply stuff isn't reliable if looks count. OK for plain celluloid bindings, but things like sheet, etc, often show up different # of plies than the listings say, different colors, different thickness, etc.

Trouble in the US is the larger retailers consider any amount of celluloid hazmat (some ebay sellers do not).

I think the sheet of this is good for 3 guitars' worth of inlay and is about $30 (good thickness so that when the neck is profiled to 12" radius , there won't be any uglies.
 

the great waldo

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Thanks for the info. I've had some pearloid from them a few years ago and it was good. In fact most of their stuff is good and prices are reasonable, the only problem being getting hammered by the shipping and duty taxes here in europe which adds up to about a third on top of the whole order including the shipping and noe that the UK has left the party i'm double stuffed. I remember before September 11 getting celluloid was no problem after that the airlines wouldn't fly it. One of my suppliers in the uk offered me all their celluloid binding at a giveaway price as they wern't allowed to store it because it was a fire hazzard.
Cheers
Andrew
 

D_W

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It definitely catches fire easily - cutting, high speed sanding, whatever - it starts to smolder and doesn't want to stop.

There was a fellow in the US (arthur hatfield) years ago who ran a business making high quality mastertone style banjos - he burned his shop as I recall cutting binding from sheet (I guess that's less expensive - he ran a tight operation).

(looks like he's still working, though he lost a lot and was burned - his person - enough to be out of commission at the time.)

as a hobby builder, I guess if celluloid gets hard to get in any quality at some point, I'll try to beg some off of older builders (it seems everyone has a pile of everything - professionals at least - when they wrap it up) or just buy figured maple and make inlays from wood.
 

the great waldo

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I had a similar occurence years ago when I was cutting a spacer for a p90 pickup on my bandsaw. It started to smoke, luckily I had cup off tea on the saw table and managed to dunk the part in it before it went up in flames !! Also had an ocasion where a roll of tracing/drawing paper started to glow red and burn leaning on a water radiator. That really surprised me. It must have had some kind of laquer coating on it to combust so easily as the radiator wasn't to hot and was sealed.
Cheers
Andrew
 

D_W

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When I was a boy, I lit a few guitar picks on fire, surprised by their vigor burning.

Earlier today , just to test how easily it would combust, I cut four inlays on a spindle sander (no issue). Then, I tried cutting them on the idler of a medium speed belt sander and to my surprise, one started to smoke and quickly started to propagate on its own (as in, instead of just smoldering out, it intensified on its own without a flame and I pinched it (which probably wasn't smart - I have a bucket of water next to my grindres).

I just read an older article about celluloid nitrate that when it smolders, it can propagate on its own and increase temperature and light on its own. The smoke that comes off of it is explosive and toxic - but that was a 1969 article. Whatever the case is, I'll stick with the low speed sanders, and fortunately, they're in my grind area where I always have a dip bucket for grinding hardened chisels.
 

GuitardoctorW7

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aside from some filling below the binding channel to clean up some nits where the binding and body meet - I'm at a sort -of-standstill - as described above (they are not of the type that can just be left at this point as I don't know the color of the tone on the side and back (it will probably be on the darker side - thin coats of dyed shellac and then clearer top coats) and can't just plan to fill them as part of the coloring.

Still need to cut the step routs on the cavities on the back (where panels will lay in), and then rout the outside roundover.

The neck is at a point where I need to decide what order I'm going in - having no clue what the "right way" is, and maybe some disinterest. I think at this point, I will make the fingerboard and profile it after it's on the neck. Fretting will occur then, also, and not sure yet about binding, but probably also after on the guitar for the fingerboard. Someone doing this with pretty good control/jigs/cnc, could likely do this all after the fact - i'll have to think further - what I don't want is the les paul style binding over the frets - it shortens the fret length and the nut width on my neck is undersized by about a hundredth or two before getting the fingerboard and side binding on.

At any rate, I sometimes cut fingerboard blanks - they never actually stay flat, but close is nice. I was going to use ebony, but I'll save it for a nicer guitar and also maybe in favor of not having too many different colors. I've got a few quartered rosewood fingerboard blanks that I sawed several years ago and marked one up off of the template for fret size and inlays.

I should've just done block inlays, I like the looks of them better, but wtf...might as well stick to the LP standard pattern more or less.

The gist of the following pictures is that I used a budget steel router bit on a dremel tool with a plunge base to waste away the centers and then chiseled. I can tell the difference between my chisels and early 1900s buck chisels in rosewood. Mine are better. Is that arrogant? They are definitively better in rosewood - I grind them neatly and make them hard and fine grained on principle but didn't expect to see something where it made a difference other than that. In this case, the lands are fine (but still there, it's important that they be for corner strength) and both my later file chisels and 26c3 can chisel to the line in dry rosewood and then twist out the chips without any issues. The buck chisel doesn't fare that well, but you can of course resharpen it. The trick in this case is I used a 1/8th chisel in some of the finer inlays and I haven't made myself one yet (but I have for other people - I guess I'll do it sometime).

You can see that the inside are sloppy - I cut them overdepth so that I can bed the inlays on something - will decide what later - and so that the precision of the "dremel" plastic router base doesn't come into play. They're not that overdepth, but I didn't want to push the inlays in for these pictures. Inlays are celluloid, cut from a flat sheet. You can buy precut ones, but I didn't. I number them as I don't finish the neat part of the rout (corners, etc) until the inlays are being fitted.

I hope this celluloid isn't super fresh - it shrinks over time.

Collings makes all kinds of stuff for their guitars out of ivoroid, but it shrinks a lot and they do the roughing, let the stuff sit, and then make knobs and pickup rings out of it literally at least a year later. They're awesome. I'm just trying to get a playable guitar - I'd love to match their workmanship later, but it sure isn't going to be on the first 2 or 4 builds. I still want to do a good job on this, though, even though some other parts of the guitar are ugly (the fact that the top carve is overcut in the lower belly is something that just can't be hidden, though. It's going to look funny.

Unfortunately, the camera takes the sparkle out of the celluloid, but I love the gawdy look of the aged celluloid. Maybe when I grow up, I'll make some out of shell.

To size the celluloid, the wonderful drum on the ryobi OSS is useful (Freehand, of course) - and I trim the flat sides down from the overfat original mark with a nicholson supershear. Having all of this garbage around from toolmaking is just wonderful for guitars. The neck is to size with the template. Later, I'll trim the width to the actual guitar needs, and then plane somewhere around the thickness of the binding off (just under that) times two. I've always just cut frets freehand with a dovetail saw (you just have to pay attention - no jumping out of cuts) and then planed the profile onto the neck later - celluloid planes nicely).

You can mark all of the fret slots while the fingerboard blank is still square, too - I don't. That's just what smart people would do.

Themarking knife used to cut the fret slots is literally a $12 buck pocket knife. Double bevel is nice here. I just held the template against the side of the fingerboard, punched in a tiny knife line, calculated the difference in width end to end and used the edge of the table and a caliper to hold the neck half of that in from the edge (as in, if the difference is .546, then the caliper is set to 0.273 and you hold the square in place and mark with a few light strikes.

I will cut the frets lots before profiling the fingerboard, though I've done it both ways.

As far as cutting frets goes, I don't have a saw that is set just for fret cutting, but I have four dovetail saws and I'm sure one of them will cut almost exactly the width of the fret slots. If I don't have one that does, I will adjust one so that it does. It's nice to make things work rather than have to constantly buy garbage.

View attachment 127769 View attachment 127770 View attachment 127771 View attachment 127772
Nice job thus far looking forward to seeing (and hearing) the end result.
I recently replaced the fingerboard on my 1972 LP Deluxe that I've had since I was a kid. The reason being an silly person re-fretted it years ago and for whatever reason planed the fingerboard, which destroyed two of the inlays "Don't worry I made new ones with Aryldite and silver paint!"... grrr!
A few years later I made friends with a great luthier called Graham Wheeler down in West Sussex (he's worked on guitars for EC and Midge Ure and is a top guy). He had some 60's pearloid sheeting and made new ones to replace the botched inlays and did a much nicer re-fret, but it always bugged me that the position dots were half moon shaped as the board had been reduced from about 7mm to just over 3.
So Graham is my mentor in my future retirement career and current hobby of Luthiery as well as my friend. During lockdown I told him I was going to remove the fingerboard put a mahogany packer behind it and rebind it to hide the repair and replace the inlays with reproduction ones from Historic Makeovers in the USA. He laughed and told me not to or I'd be in a whole world of pain and he was right. The old board just crumbled in to a hundred pieces even with every fancy silicon heater and specialist removal tool available.
So now I was left with a beautiful guitar that was intrinsically scrap. HM wanted $1500 + shipping to repair it, and considering the amount of work involved that's a fair price, but Graham told me to have a go myself. "You can't f**k it up and if you do we'll sort it."
So here is a couple of pics. One of the completed board and one of it on the guitar. There was a slight back bow with no strings on and a loose truss rod, which comes out under tension. So She's strung over pitched, just to let her settle down before I dress the frets properly and make a new nut.
A lot of work but so satisfying.
I agree with you about the binding nibs, as does Graham. Gonna re-fret my 83 335 later this year and remove the nibs.
Good luck
G
 

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GuitardoctorW7

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Nice job thus far looking forward to seeing (and hearing) the end result.
I recently replaced the fingerboard on my 1972 LP Deluxe that I've had since I was a kid. The reason being an silly person re-fretted it years ago and for whatever reason planed the fingerboard, which destroyed two of the inlays "Don't worry I made new ones with Aryldite and silver paint!"... grrr!
A few years later I made friends with a great luthier called Graham Wheeler down in West Sussex (he's worked on guitars for EC and Midge Ure and is a top guy). He had some 60's pearloid sheeting and made new ones to replace the botched inlays and did a much nicer re-fret, but it always bugged me that the position dots were half moon shaped as the board had been reduced from about 7mm to just over 3.
So Graham is my mentor in my future retirement career and current hobby of Luthiery as well as my friend. During lockdown I told him I was going to remove the fingerboard put a mahogany packer behind it and rebind it to hide the repair and replace the inlays with reproduction ones from Historic Makeovers in the USA. He laughed and told me not to or I'd be in a whole world of pain and he was right. The old board just crumbled in to a hundred pieces even with every fancy silicon heater and specialist removal tool available.
So now I was left with a beautiful guitar that was intrinsically scrap. HM wanted $1500 + shipping to repair it, and considering the amount of work involved that's a fair price, but Graham told me to have a go myself. "You can't f**k it up and if you do we'll sort it."
So here is a couple of pics. One of the completed board and one of it on the guitar. There was a slight back bow with no strings on and a loose truss rod, which comes out under tension. So She's strung over pitched, just to let her settle down before I dress the frets properly and make a new nut.
A lot of work but so satisfying.
I agree with you about the binding nibs, as does Graham. Gonna re-fret my 83 335 later this year and remove the nibs.
Good luck
G
Silly person FFS!! really???? he was an ar***hole but I d I o t was a nicer term
 

D_W

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Nice job thus far looking forward to seeing (and hearing) the end result.
I recently replaced the fingerboard on my 1972 LP Deluxe that I've had since I was a kid. The reason being an silly person re-fretted it years ago and for whatever reason planed the fingerboard, which destroyed two of the inlays "Don't worry I made new ones with Aryldite and silver paint!"... grrr!
A few years later I made friends with a great luthier called Graham Wheeler down in West Sussex (he's worked on guitars for EC and Midge Ure and is a top guy). He had some 60's pearloid sheeting and made new ones to replace the botched inlays and did a much nicer re-fret, but it always bugged me that the position dots were half moon shaped as the board had been reduced from about 7mm to just over 3.
So Graham is my mentor in my future retirement career and current hobby of Luthiery as well as my friend. During lockdown I told him I was going to remove the fingerboard put a mahogany packer behind it and rebind it to hide the repair and replace the inlays with reproduction ones from Historic Makeovers in the USA. He laughed and told me not to or I'd be in a whole world of pain and he was right. The old board just crumbled in to a hundred pieces even with every fancy silicon heater and specialist removal tool available.
So now I was left with a beautiful guitar that was intrinsically scrap. HM wanted $1500 + shipping to repair it, and considering the amount of work involved that's a fair price, but Graham told me to have a go myself. "You can't f**k it up and if you do we'll sort it."
So here is a couple of pics. One of the completed board and one of it on the guitar. There was a slight back bow with no strings on and a loose truss rod, which comes out under tension. So She's strung over pitched, just to let her settle down before I dress the frets properly and make a new nut.
A lot of work but so satisfying.
I agree with you about the binding nibs, as does Graham. Gonna re-fret my 83 335 later this year and remove the nibs.
Good luck
G

Looks great! I've never had to deal with repair people, but did sit through a guy in DC (as in the capitol in the states) giving me a lecture about refretting a guitar in a little over an hour, and about how it would've been a terrible job because he charges at least $500 for a refret. I think the repair industry is filled with a lot of shysters who are trying to make a solid career by stretching out repairs, and then on the other end of it, I guess everyone can hang out a shingle and when I was younger, I never had a tech explain what they were going to do when I took a guitar in (which may be because they're just guessing, and you're left with a bill and an improperly repaired guitar).

Looks like you did a fine job. There's little to the fingerboard part of a guitar, and really a lot of it, that's more than just careful woodworking and taking the time to get a good result.

Had a similar fingerboard on a yamaha les paul style - about the same age as your deluxe. Pulled the frets on it and it broke out like it was powdered in some places, but I stuck it out and repaired the spots and replaced the acrylic inlays with celluloid (not a fan of the stickiness of the plastic under fingertips).

My favorite les paul so far was a 1976 LP - but things have gone up. I got a kalamazoo 1976 paul that had been resprayed from japan for about $1950 several years ago. I ended up selling it in favor of keeping a collings instead, but for all of the nonsense talked about 1970s les pauls, that one was straighter than most I've had and the later 70s t tops had some snap - it sounded great. I kind of wish I'd have kept it, but there are space limitations.

I get the fact that gibson can just size the fingerboards with frets sanded off flush and then slap binding on them and scrape/file/sand the binding back and avoid doing the fretwork, but I've noticed that a lot of famous players have their guitars refretted with that removed. It'd be easy to set up and do the frets that way for us, too - it's just a trim router with a flush trim bit and then some filing - laziness tempts me, but I'll do the frets frets the right way in the end. Love a freshly refretted older guitar - even though the used market seems to hate when any older guitar gets fresh frets.
 

baldkev

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Is the body really that bad that you cant salvage it?
Great work david 👍
 

D_W

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Is the body really that bad that you cant salvage it?
Great work david 👍

oh, no. I'm complaining because it won't look good. The top rosewood was $200, though, so I'm not pitching - realistically, I have to make a couple of meh guitars to learn where I'll have problems and then go on from there. What I'll have to do with the later hand done tops is draw the topographical lines with the templates and still do them by hand, but make a contour template for three parts of the belly and that will avoid the trouble - as I chased the low belly back early in this process, just a little rounding was all that was needed, but I took the lower part of the belly out most of the way and that was that.

I've got other little aesthetic nits and a nut that's going to be pushing it to be close to the gibson standard size (1.695") - whatever it is, I'll deal with it. As long as it notes clear and sounds decent, all will be well.

Hopefully, the second will be 75-90% better and the third will be good all the way around.
 

D_W

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I was curious what this thing will weigh - I'm not that excited about limba, but I could get it in quality that I can't find mahogany. I can find mahogany in one piece bodies, but the flip side is that it's unstable and I don't think the drying is as great as the vendors say (as in, maybe it was kiln dried, but a lot of it is flatsawn and it has a lot of moving to do with a couple of seasonal cycles).

At any rate, before I make a point - limba is soft for its weight. which is strange. it's often light, but this blank isn't overly so (it's not heavy either, but for what should be a little harder wood, it takes deep dents no matter what touches. I guess the protection against that when it wasn't unstylish was a heavy lacquer finish so that you had to hit it pretty hard before you could crack the lacquer).

gibson complained about it splitting (I'm sure it could, but everything probably does compared to mahogany).

to my point if you can make a resonant LP around 8 1/2 pounds, that seems to make very nice strong mids, and the guitar has some personality without plugging it in. Get up to 10 pounds or over and it starts to be more like a piano (all of this can be mitigated pickup output faffing).

This guitar is looking like it will be almost exactly 9 pounds. I doubt the rosewood is much heavier than hard maple (I measured a neck similar to this stuff and it was 5% more dense than hard maple - it's not like cocobolo or gombeira or something that can easily get past the density of water).

9 seems good enough (that's just taking the guitar and a pile of hardware and other parts and slapping them on a scale).

What's left to come off of the neck can't be more than a couple of ounces. 9 pounds is a pleasant surprise - it has some chance to be musical whereas plain lighter limba that I've used for a telecaster is dead like a sponge (I think I said it earlier here, despite that, it's fine when plugged in - the electronics are telecaster, the scale is telecaster, it sounds like a telecaster).
 

GuitardoctorW7

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Looks great! I've never had to deal with repair people, but did sit through a guy in DC (as in the capitol in the states) giving me a lecture about refretting a guitar in a little over an hour, and about how it would've been a terrible job because he charges at least $500 for a refret. I think the repair industry is filled with a lot of shysters who are trying to make a solid career by stretching out repairs, and then on the other end of it, I guess everyone can hang out a shingle and when I was younger, I never had a tech explain what they were going to do when I took a guitar in (which may be because they're just guessing, and you're left with a bill and an improperly repaired guitar).

Looks like you did a fine job. There's little to the fingerboard part of a guitar, and really a lot of it, that's more than just careful woodworking and taking the time to get a good result.

Had a similar fingerboard on a yamaha les paul style - about the same age as your deluxe. Pulled the frets on it and it broke out like it was powdered in some places, but I stuck it out and repaired the spots and replaced the acrylic inlays with celluloid (not a fan of the stickiness of the plastic under fingertips).

My favorite les paul so far was a 1976 LP - but things have gone up. I got a kalamazoo 1976 paul that had been resprayed from japan for about $1950 several years ago. I ended up selling it in favor of keeping a collings instead, but for all of the nonsense talked about 1970s les pauls, that one was straighter than most I've had and the later 70s t tops had some snap - it sounded great. I kind of wish I'd have kept it, but there are space limitations.

I get the fact that gibson can just size the fingerboards with frets sanded off flush and then slap binding on them and scrape/file/sand the binding back and avoid doing the fretwork, but I've noticed that a lot of famous players have their guitars refretted with that removed. It'd be easy to set up and do the frets that way for us, too - it's just a trim router with a flush trim bit and then some filing - laziness tempts me, but I'll do the frets frets the right way in the end. Love a freshly refretted older guitar - even though the used market seems to hate when any older guitar gets fresh frets.
I personally think a standard re-fret (unbound rosewood board) should take 2 -3 hours at least, and more depending on whether it's bound and what problems get thrown up, and in a modern age if you're paying for a skilled luthier to do it £60 an hour is not unreasonable + materials. VW charge me that to work on my old Golf!! When I was younger the guitar repair guy was like a God with a mystical power, and there were good and bad ones a plenty. Graham my luthier friend, is very old school and is great at what he does and needs minimal kit to achieve great results. He chuckles at all the Gizmos I buy (mostly StewMac) but for me it's a case of better tools in unexperienced hands so I achieve a comparable standard.

I agree prices have gone crazy, but a lot of that is down to chancers on eBay there's so much nonsense talked these days, perhaps there always was? All Gibsons in my experience, and I've played a fair few, are unquantifiable, if you get a good one you just know and I still can't work out where that mojo comes from, there are as many bad ones out there as there are good ones. You have a Collings and they're everything Gibson should be, but you'd have to go down the Custom shop route to get anything near Collings' quality and consistency. I recently bought an Ibanez George Benson and have never played a bad one of them and the Ibanez factory always seems to excel in quality control too. So it's not unreasonable to expect consistency from the "major" players

Oh and don't get me started on relic-ing guitars FFS! build a perfectly good instrument then run a sander over it!....grrrrr

You'll hate me for this, but I bought my Les Paul in the early 80's for £250 ($337) at a time when you couldn't give them away as it was the era of the Super Strat. I've always tinkered with my guitars and my LP pickups are coil tapped (via the tone pots) it was something you did to improve the guitar, nowadays the Vintage Police would string you up. I still can't get my head around the re-fretting thing too. Frets are like tyres, they wear out and need replacing. Having a 59 Sunburst that's unplayable is a nonsense to me, but the majority of rich collectors aren't really what I'd call players, Joe Bonamassa being the exception. I suppose if I could afford a £500,000 guitar I'd pay the very best to fret it Gibson style, but the nibs aren't a deal breaker if it's fretted well, and plays like a dream.

I think a healthy trait that has emerged these days is that the 2 camp ownership (Gibson and Fender) snobbery has gone. There's many fine commercial makers out there now like PRS, Duesenberg, Suhr and Collings to name a few. There's also some great younger players that blow me away (Joey Landreth, Ariel Posen) and I have YouTube to thank for them. I also have YT to thank for Tom Woodford (twoodford) he's a great Luthier and a mine of information.

I'll let you get back to making sawdust 😀
 
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D_W

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Sorry, I misspoke - that was for a fret level, crown and polish with some claim of doing treatment to the fret ends that nobody else could do. I noticed this claim from some high priced repair people - who may have gotten a market. That they do something better than everyone else, and I suppose they snag customers out of fear mongering by claiming that they always get guitars from customers whose guitars were ruined by someone else.

I agree with you on the fret job. It only becomes eventful if something is damaged or a prior repair was rubbish, but as woodworkers, we have a leg up on understanding things that won't happen (as well as old wives tales about fingerboards cracking because someone left linseed oil on them 10 minutes too long).

I hear you on the level of playing - my interest in daily playing went away in about 1995, and since then, I've only noodle. The building and setting up is a draw for me - I still play just a little, but wouldn't be able to cut out the building and work for something like a gig in a small cover band (the bar for the 10 gigs a year cover bands here is low, and I'm sure the pay is, but it was low when I was a kid, too - not a problem).

I started playing in 1988 - I remember getting my first "good" guitar in 1989. The shop owner was an ibanez and gibson dealer. I didn't understand the guitar market back then, but basically in my rural area, if you had ibanez and gibson guitars, you were dominant - you got both ends of the players. Same guy (interesting guy, hardly charged any markup - gibson guitars were always 42% off of retail) had marshall, laney and crate and some others at the time (ampeg for bass, and for a short period for guitars). I recall a les paul standard being something like $1100 at the time and not sure what a custom was, but they were expensive. That guy had a brown 70s les paul custom (Brown as I remember it at least, not sure what it was) and he would let kids like me take it back to the amp room to try out amps. I could hardly believe it (the other shop in town wouldn't let kids *touch* guitars without a parent standing over them, and they scowled at me while I walked around looking at guitars waiting for lessons to start). My point with this is stuff was expensive back then and my dad gave a hard "no" to anything new from gibson and I ended up with an ibanez MC150PW. At the same time, I'd call it an OWT at this point, I constantly heard that all 70s gibson guitars should be avoided - but never remember the slightest bit of unpleasantness about the brown custom other than that les pauls aren't as player friendly as an ibanez musician. 70s standards back then were about $300-$400 and customs were $600-700.

About four years later, someone brought a brand new LP custom back to the store where I took lessons. I wasn't allowed to touch it (even though I was about 16 and probably could've begged my dad into buying it by that point as I was out playing and getting paid somewhere around the equivalent of $100 a gig now) - the brand new LP custom was put up on a rack without being fastened in, but I wasn't going to press my luck, and someone had already replaced the bridge pickup with a duncan and no cover. $1800. I thought that was a bit high and said something to the guy behind the counter that I would like to buy it if they could come down in price. He gave me a scowl (older guy with a tie more into renting band instruments to elementary school student parents) and said no. A week later, it was gone - my guitar instructor knew I wanted it and said that a collector came in and dressed them down and got it out of them for a little under $1100. I'm guessing it was something like a 1992 black beauty or whatever they called the black customs back then. I still resent that guy.

The perfect shape MC150PW was $295, which sealed my fate as not getting gibson. It's taken some time for me to find a good one the last several years - I finally got one near perfect this year: $1100. Two others in the past two years bought at a lower price turned out to have fatal issues and I parted them out. Here's the kicker. The pickups on the last one that I parted out brought the same thing in dollars as the whole guitar with case did when I bought mine around 1989 (or my parents bought it). Those pickups are relatively low output paf-ish pickups - probably 7.5-8k ibanez super 58s. We didn't like them in the 1980s because the output made them middling in a live mix. Suddenly now, they're super desirable with bunches of folks, but especially jazz players.

I kind of wonder what the next trend is.

(I don't remember anyone with a fender strat back then - only low cost strat copies - everyone wanted to be slash or steve vai, one or the other. the second store where I took lessons sold fender and fender amps, and partially their fault probably (favoring band instruments and sheet music), not many of them. )

A big decline in commodity electric guitar stuff is something I could see in the next couple of decades - I think only constant internet advertising and escapism drives the buying now..

...separately, if I'd have seen how many good players there are all over the place on YT now, I may not have played long as a kid!! In the 1980s, it was hard to get good instruction on anything above and beyond the pentatonic scale - maybe a couple of 45 minute tapes (but they were expensive) and expensive tab books - certainly wasn't any easy way for the average (poor) person to slow video down without shifting pitch.
 

D_W

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cocobolo - no implication in these (they need a bit of hand finishing on the metal bits yet), but I got this wood from a clockmaker. Big pieces for cocobolo - quartered, 1.75" thick, 4.2 inches wide, pin straight and nearly 40 inches long.
20220125_204054_copy_1694x438.jpg


as the design talk is intertwined with the guitars, two things on my chisels with this guitar-wood handles bug me - the handle design is boring, but I choose it because it is the most practical in use. I've made a bunch of prettier styles but these are for someone who will use them. The second is that the bolsters are big, but I am forge welding them, and that is less for parers (I guess I could file these back) and more that the bench chisels are the same style.

I'm on the fence as to how to assign these boards to guitar necks as they're not thick enough to make a les paul neck without building up the heel (which looks cheap, and if I turn them 90 degrees to laminate, they will be flatsawn orientation.

The other option is to use them for fender necks (which are not so common at this point in cocobolo - especially quartersawn.

One thing is clear and in how this goes into guitars, the properties of the wood are different than fresh cocobolo. It is dusty and dry instead of oily (I would guess the oils oxidize) and the wood works nicely and saws like a dream. It still has the peppery itch that cocobolo has (LN stopped offering cocobolo handles eons ago because the workers sanding handles got sensitized to it quickly and that was that. It doesn't help that it's become much more expensive, but there's visually interesting bits to it.

The chisels themselves are the same as the rest - they are only a little over a tenth of an inch thick, but you can mallet them as hard as you'd like with no ill effect. I set the handles on them into a rosewood block, and very firm strikes - which also gives an opportunity to see if the edge holds up (the top one being an exception - I haven't yet cut a bevel on it. The cocobolo is dry and musical, though, and it would be a shame for it not to make its way into instruments. It wasn't prohibitively expensive, but more than indian rosewood costs at this point. It's far harder and more dense, though.

This is the underside of the wider chisel's handle - it looks like fire. It would've been nice to have it on top, but when setting the handle, it was straightest turned a bit more.

20220125_130524.jpg


back to the guitars....
 

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