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Old October 14th, 2012, 07:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Experimental Hollowbody Build

After the success I enjoyed making my first guitar last year, I've decided to get a little more complicated this time around. Hollow bodies are my true passion, so I'm going to take a stab at one, though my construction will differ from the traditional acoustic style build with bent sides and such.

Much of my inspiration for technique is drawn from this old Gibson.



This particular example is walnut, with a carved top and back joined together clamshell style. The technique was pioneered by Orville Gibson himself and is the basis for his one and only patent.

I will also use walnut, though Orville used spruce for the top. Since I'm aiming to tame feedback and am not worried about acoustic volume, I will used walnut for the top as well.

Much of the construction will be done with hand tools and I'm finding time to work on it when I can, so it will likely be a slow build, so bear with me.
You wont see me making a whole pile of templates, either, so the machinists among us will probably cringe. Im more an artist and a wood carver than i am a builder, so i tend to jut do things with measuring tools and marks more than templates. I view templates as preparation for production work...for the sake of repeat ability. Since I have no plans to ever make a second one of these, I don't much care whether I have tools on hand to make copies.

I'll bring you all up to date to current status.


Last edited by Elias Graves; October 15th, 2012 at 09:49 AM.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Your first build is so beautiful that I just have to follow this one too!
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Beginning with the neck. This will be the blank for it.



The lumber is American Black Walnut from Missouri, harvested about 25 years ago. It's good wood, though much of it is "B" grade as far as appearance goes.

Here it is after the first face is cut. I wet it down to show the grain. As you can see, the grain is all over the place. It's not flat sawn or quarter sawn, but looks more like it can out of the center of a branch or trunk. This may increase a tendency to warp, so I'll take some extra precautions to ensure that it stays straight.


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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glen smith View Post
Your first build is so beautiful that I just have to follow this one too!
Thank you. The tele has become my #1. It really is a nice guitar.

Here, I've marked for thickness with some masking tape and begun cut #2.

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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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After cut 2. This side really shows the appearance defects. There's maybe a worm hole or something that resulted in some serious black streaking as well as a knot.

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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Also revealed is some checking that runs down in pretty deep. I have enough length to slice this off, though. It won't cause a problem.



After trimming.

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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The wormhole left some seriously nasty black streaking. Most of it will go when I carve the neck. I have plans to deal with what's left.



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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The walnut has some very deep grain!
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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And now the neck blank after going through the planer. That's one power tool I DO have! Thank goodness!



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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Setting the neck aside, I decided to go ahead and plane up my body wood since I had the tool set up. I'm doing a three piece back. Walnut does have a bit of a tendency to warp, so I don't want to risk a one piece back.
Here are the boards I've chosen for the main body, planed to 1 15/16" thick.

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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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And the boards for the top. These are about 1 1/2" thick.



When complete, my goal is to have a total body depth around 3" and a little under 2" at the rim.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:35 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Turning back to the neck for a moment, I want to try my hand cutting a fret slot and setting the wire. Here, I just used some scrap walnut to test.



Looks good, but if you observe carefully, the fret wire isn't snug on the left side.

And it pops right out by hand.


So much for my miter saw.

Looking around, I decided to try the smaller fret saw.




Nice and snug!
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:37 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Now beginning to work on the nut. Cutting my blank to length.

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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:44 PM   #14 (permalink)
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As I mentioned earlier, my wood has some cosmetic defects I wish to hide. Here's how I plan to do that.

Walnut, along with a few other woods, is very high in tannic acid content. Tannic acid, when exposed to ferric oxide, causes the wood to turn black through a chemical reaction. The grain remains visible but it's all a deep purplish black.

Not all walnut is equal when it comes to tannic acid content, however, so each piece needs to be tested to make sure it stains correctly. I figured I ought to go ahead and test my boards to make sure.





Looks pretty good.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Last post to get us caught up. Here is the neck blank now with the angle cut into the headstock.




And the neck blank all sanded smooth. I had to get the black off so I can see my layout lines!



That's where it sits right now. The neck is on hold now til I get some parts ordered.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 09:02 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I guess I should do a little rundown of what this thing is intended to be!
As I mentioned in the first post, a lot of my inspiration comes from that first Gibson archtop. If you notice, the carve is a different shape than you see on a modern Gibson. This one is more like a PRS carve.





Kinda flat across the face, then dropping off.

The sides, I plan to do a little rounder. Look at these and you'll see what I'm aiming for. Maybe not exactly the same as either, but in this vein.




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Old October 14th, 2012, 09:10 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Other specs include:
24.5" scale
10" fretboard radius
Wood base archtop style bridge with a roller top
Short trapeze tailpiece
Antler nut
Tru Oil finish
Open gear tuners
Pickups are still under consideration, as is wiring.
There will be an access panel in the back
Size, about 14" inches wide and 3" thick at the center
Tapered headstock, tilted back

These are the headstocks I'm stealing from.


Gibson Marauder



Snakehead telecaster prototype.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 09:31 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I love that walnut!
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Old October 15th, 2012, 03:18 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Looking good! Walnut always comes out pretty. Some beautiful guitars you've posted. I especially like the white one with golden hardware!
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Old October 15th, 2012, 09:51 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Looking good! Walnut always comes out pretty. Some beautiful guitars you've posted. I especially like the white one with golden hardware!
That one is quite striking, isn't it?
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