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A DG-Virage flat-top hybrid plan and likely build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by betocool, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Good day today! Fraught with complications and undo's and redo's, but I am positively satisfied with the outcome so far.


    Fretting day today. I don't like fretting. I don't like routing pockets either. Makes me really wonder why I'm into this... meh... let's philosophy on other thread. Anyway, I got this really cool Japanese pull saw, 0.6mm thick the other day, it rolls like the breeze, it cuts like butter. Yet I'm a clumsy man, so I build a little jig to hold the blade straight while I'm starting to cut. One little fret at a time, no rush.

    IMG20170429121931.jpg
    IMG20170429122013.jpg


    I then sanded the radius with the block I'd made months ago. Took a bit, but with coarse sanding paper it went very well. Had to adjust a bit here and there to get the sides same height, but they're spot on. And the fretboard, after the radiusing is dead-set straight. Really happy with that. Did all the sanding up to 1200 grit paper. Very smooth, and mirror-like.
    IMG20170429134346.jpg
    IMG20170429134440.jpg

    And then fretting. I didn't manage to build a nice jig to bend the fretwire nicely to 12 inches (it was either too much or too little). The first three frets served as... well... guinea pigs... Not the right radius, not the right pressure, superglue everywhere, clamps not holding right... you name it. I cut of a slice of my sanding block, drilled a hole in it (6mm) and held it with a 6mm round piece of wood, the same I used for the dots. Clamped it on the drill press and whaddaya know, things start working out smoothly. Bending the fretwire by hand slowly, they fit perfectly into the slot. Actually, they just slide in so well, I have gotten a saw a tiny (really tiny) bit too thick. However, applying the glue carefully and holding the fret into the slot for about a minute, they stuck nicely. Helped that I put a bit of heatshrink on the glue's output tube, heated it up, and worked perfect. You have to make sure there are no bubbles though.
    IMG20170429145850.jpg
    IMG20170429145910.jpg

    I refretted the first three frets, and they turned out quite well after all. Some acetone for cleaning the glue away is always handy. Oh, and a sharp chisel... does wonders.
    IMG20170429165036.jpg



    I'll let it rest and cure till tomorrow (anyway, kids were clamoring for dinner), I can then cut off the edges and start smoothing it out.


    I also got my neck clamped and glued together. All things going well, and time permitting, I'll have a ready to paint neck by tomorrow, or at least, ready to timbermate...

    IMG20170429171941.jpg


    Cheers,


    Alberto
     
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  2. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Neckwork today. Last post of the week, for a few days. Got some sweet work done again.


    Started shaping the neck. It's amazing how the right tools help about, it took me way less than expected! True, I'm not following any particular shape, but if it's sort of symmetrical and it feels nice, I leave it be. So much for science. The headstock glued in nicely, and very strong. I doubt that will ever come off. Some cracks and minor dings filled up with timbermate, sanded with 180 grit paper, and the neck feels smooth as smooth. Here, neck and work companions.

    IMG20170430120740.jpg

    IMG20170430120803.jpg



    Let the neck rest, and worked a bit on the fretboard. First I filled the holes left by my too deep cutting of the fret slots. Lucky, all the radiusing and sanding left a ton of very fine sawdust screaming to be used for that. Little drop of superglue, some sawdust applied sparingly and presto, holes no more. Sanded off nicely and the frets look very much secure in their spots.
    IMG20170430142807.jpg



    Last activity today, fret leveling (or a start) and gluing all together.


    I secured the fretboard to a very flat surface, and started sanding away with 180 grit. I had marked all frets with dark marker to see the progress. This is one of those activities where I don't know. It seems to have gone well, all frets are level (as level as I can get them with hand tools and patience), and finally I recrowned the frets carefully with a small file, side after side. It was a bit tedious work (I don't have a crowning file) but I hope it turns out fine. Last of all, quick pass with 2000 grit paper.
    IMG20170430153808.jpg



    And this is how the neck is going to look like. It's gluing as I type, and I'll take it away tomorrow from its clamps. Should be very secure.
    IMG20170430164918.jpg



    A bit of digression here, so, you may or may not continue reading (no more pics). This is the point where I'm unsure if what I've done is good or bad. I mean, it looks and feels ok, and I'm very happy with the result so far, but truth be told, I won't know for sure until the guitar is assembled and painted and ready to go. There may be some minor adjustment to do, or you could just then realise, cr@p, the neck is awful! So what do you do? Just keep on, I think, hoping that the result is not just something nice to hang on the wall, but actually a very much playable guitar, especially after the effort that's gone into it.


    That's all for some time, thanks so far for all comments!


    Cheers,


    Alberto
     
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  3. jgriffin

    jgriffin TDPRI Member

    55
    Jul 31, 2010
    Cumming, GA, USA
    You will probably be ok either way you go, but I'd glue the neck to the body. If it were my project and I decided to glue the neck on, I would rout the filler or glue you put in that valley out and glue a piece of wood there. Then route the pocket again.

    Painting a set neck guitar isn't really that different from other guitars. It can be a little tedious around the cutaways and, assuming that you are hanging it, the end closest to the ground. Gets some practice with the sealer or some clear before the color coats, (assuming it's a solid or a burst).
     

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  5. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Good day all, going on with the build, I think I've stumbled upon a few things, yet, there has been progress, but it's been slow, and it's about to get slower due to the fact that at this point I'm a cautious fella.


    Binding in! Started at the back because since it's the first time I did it, I might as well ruin it where nobody sees it I thought. Was a good decision, seeing how in some bends the binding broke and it was a pain to work with the lighter (note to self, get a freaking heat gut already!). However, trying to learn as much as I can, the front went significantly better. But before starting, I changed the bearing on one of my router bits. Got it off fleabay and the size was supposed to be right (routing bit 12.7mm, I needed a 9.7mm bearing to cut 1.5mm deep. I went with 10mm bearing, and it fit just fine!). I tested the cut on a piece of wood first, and lo and behold, it fit like a glove.


    After that, filling and filing and sanding, till it all feels smooth. Finished my timbermate on the way, I'll have to get some more next week. That was yesterday.

    IMG20170506131057.jpg IMG20170506131629.jpg IMG20170506134903.jpg IMG20170506152334.jpg IMG20170506160137.jpg



    About today, well, more cleaning and sanding and filing and the such really, getting the guitar to a nice smooth feel. I also drilled the holes for the neck, and attached it. And here's the thing. It looks good, I want to glue the neck just as well as screwing it in, however, before I do that, I have to ensure that the strings and the settings will be possible. I want to make sure that the neck on strings will be straight, that I can adjust it, that I can set the string height properly, before I commit to buying the pickups and closing the whole thing. At this point, I can still cope with the fact that it still might be a nice useless build, learn from it, move on. I don't want to have it all painted and shiny and then cr@p, it's all wrong! I'll get a bridge from fleabay or ALS, perhaps the one I'm planning to use anyway, and try and set up the guitar. That should give me a pretty good idea.


    IMG20170507145045.jpg IMG20170507145110.jpg


    Last thing today, I gave the neck and the back and sides a coat of 50% oil-based varnish diluted in turpentine, and it's drying. At least I can get it slowly flat and smooth before the colour goes in.

    And that's that... we'll see what the future brings. At least writing about it takes a bit of my chest!


    Cheers all!


    Alberto
     
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  6. paulmarr

    paulmarr Tele-Meister

    444
    Nov 9, 2011
    Adelaide, Australia
    Hairdryer so make great heat guns for bindings ... $10 at cheap as chips
     
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  7. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Been a while, life and all. Been doing some very little progress an getting some stuff and basically thinking* how to proceed with the whole stringing, bridging, etc. And this was a make-or-break moment as well, because the true nature of the neck would show itself once the guitar was strung, as well as the fretting and all the previous work done before + the obligatory mistakes.

    I ordered a bridge, tune-o-matic stile all in one a while back, and I had to make it a cavity of sorts, otherwise the string action would be too high. I should have routed an angled neck pocket perhaps, but that's a can of worms I'm not ready to open yet. Not at my level. But a cavity... well, we'll see how that goes.

    Routing the cavity was relatively quick. Since the neck is ever-so-slightly tilted with respect to the body, the bridge cavity went a bit outside the support frame limits. Nothing serious, a piece of the same wood from the inside will fix the problem. Once that's all sanded and painted no one's going to notice anyway.

    Now, the bridge goes screwed into these studs that are put into the body. Now why the fog would someone make them 11.2mm in diameter? Really? Metric is 11 (too small) or 12 (way too big) drill bits. Imperial, 7/16 (11.1mm) or 15/32 (too big). At least I got a one day delivery from my supplier here in Perth for the 7/16". Close enough, and it worked with the percusive persuader (small rubber mallet).

    Finally, put on the nut and file the cavities for the strings. Stoopid me... I filed the nut the other way around... it looks a bit wonky in the other direction, but it's all good though. Does the job. The zero-fret though, never giving that up now. Makes the filing of the nut so much easier and worry-free! I like that already.

    String time! Talk about nervousness! Plus the string bag I got had 7 strings (2 G-strings repeated, go figure), I had to take out the 4th string after I noticed something did not add up. And finally start all the adjustments, tuning, waiting, tuning again, and lo-and-behold ladies and gents! She can sing! My goodness! The happiness and relief! At a first try she's not that bad at all! Still I need to adjust each individual string length for proper tuning, but the action and first impression is great! The neck is a bit thicker than what I'm used to... less than a proper acoustic but more than your usual Gibsons or Fenders. And I need to do something about frets 13-14 or so, there's a very slight buzzing, but nothing to lose sleep over thank goodness.

    Overall, even in this very raw state, I'm very pleased! Strumming it felt really nice. She could be louder than my Esquire or my Gibson (unplugged, that is), I think, but I can be deluded. I'm just happy that I don't have to do it from scratch I guess!

    No pics from the bridges or details, I might have more time tomorrow.

    Cheers!

    Alberto

    IMG20170527161212.jpg

    *yeah right
     
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  8. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Got around to undercoat the back, the sides and the neck. Still waiting for my pickups to arrive (should be any day now, as Rey says). Once the pickup cavities are done, then I'll undercoat (that's not really a verb, is it?) the front. I gave it about 4 or 5 coats of white, waited for each coat to dry, and started again. After the last coat I sanded all down to a nice smooth surface, and it paid off. I haven't quite finished sanding the back, just under halfway there, but the neck and sides are done. Goodness they feel gooood! Smooth as silk! Can't wait to start applying the colour on top in a few weeks!

    I'll also get some white filler, there are a few spots, dents and dings that could use some filling, but nothing serious.

    And the obligatory pics.

    IMG20170605153343.jpg

    IMG20170605153358.jpg

    IMG20170605153424.jpg


    More to come.



    Cheers,



    Alberto
     
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  9. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    225
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Looking good. What's the final finish colour going to be?
     

  10. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Hi Macrogats, thanks!

    I've been thinking of three colour choices... pearl metallic white, Manchester blue or metallic aquamarine.

    Pearl white is gone. I see how it looks white and I'm not convinced. It's not bad, just not convincing.

    In light of recent events I'm also considering Manchester blue, a la Noel Gallagher, but my first and still predominant choice is aquamarine. I'll go around the auto shop in a few week's time to check the colour palette. It has to be something that is not too light, but metallic, that contrasts well with the black binding and hardware.

    Cheers,

    Alberto
     

  11. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    225
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Sounds good. Can't wait to see it.
     

  12. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Some colour today yaaaaayyyy! Plus I got my pickups finally!!! We're on the final lap methinks! Ok, still need to do something about the electronics (keep forgetting them).

    Yesterday I got around to route the pickup cavities. Last guitar I did that I had issues putting the pickup in, so I went about 1mm plus on the measured size. Turned out quite good. Fixing it with the provided screw will be alright. And if I ever needed more height (I left about 5mm outside the top of the body, must be other 5 or 6 to the string) I still can add some washers as shims. I had no routing template, but I find the aluminium "waveguide" to do an excellent job keeping things straight.

    IMG20170617140647.jpg
    IMG20170617143740.jpg


    After that was done, off to the auto shop and choose the colour. First I settled for emerald green... but after going to Bunnings to get some wood putty, I had a change of heart and started looking at the colours available again. They let me replace the spray cans (they were off the shelf) no problem. I settled for "Ice Blue" (what that colour has to do with blue ice, I don't know, but it looks kind of stunning).

    Sadly, the body is about one week behind in comparison to the neck. Plus the fact that I have to wait for the paint to cure for an extra week, now things go slower (as if it wasn't slow enough already). However, the neck (I think) is ready for the clear coat. Yaaay again! Looking at the pictures now though... I wonder... should I coat the fretboard on the side with the colour as well? Hmmmm... I'll not do it now... always a chance to do it later if I have a change of mind. Still, the neck, just as it is, feels nice already.

    IMG20170618172547.jpg
    IMG20170618172603.jpg
    IMG20170618172715.jpg


    And finally got around to undercoat the front. I'll still have to deal with some dings and dents (more filler, please!). Note to self... deal with that BEFORE coating next time. It's a learning process.

    IMG20170618172916.jpg

    I'm sure y'all know, that is not the neck. Just a holder to hang it for spraying later on.

    Cheers,

    Albert
     
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  13. epizootics

    epizootics TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    53
    Feb 11, 2017
    Lyon, France
    Your build has been thoroughly enjoyable to read, and she looks pretty damn great! The paint you chose works really well with the jarrah fretboard. I'm quite jealous of those Australian timbers! Looking forward to seeing it completed.
     

  14. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    225
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I'm liking the look of that colour. Can't wait to see it on the body!
     

  15. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Quick one today.

    More painting. Lots of spray, used about 2 cans (150gr) on the body only. Now it's drying till next Sunday or so. Some glitches here and there, but hey, c'est la vie. Will have to do some... some cosmetic corrections on the binding (the odd blob of spray here and there) but all in good time.

    IMG20170625133821.jpg

    Lettin' er rest now.

    Cheers,

    Alberto
     
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  16. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Not much more to show today, except one lousy picture that looks almost exactly at last. But got some work done, and blunders... gotta love'em and learn from'em.

    The neck is ready to be bolted onto the guitar body. I just need a guitar body to bolt it to. Yesterday I started sanding the clear coat down before polishing it with some car wax and some swirl remover. The headstock looks great, black as night! Glossy as a mirror. Well... it looked great. Now it looks great, but as if it'd been attacked by none other than Lord Voldemort himself. I was happily polishing it, giving it the last passes with the cloth,

    when it slips from my hands...

    ...slowly falling... falling...

    ...against the brick wall...

    ...to land on top of the jar with very thin sawdust...

    ...which then rolls slowly to the edge of the table...

    ...and falls down on the concrete floor and smashes into a million pieces and a puff of red jarrah dust.

    And there you go, the glossy headstock now sports the guitar equivalent of Harry Potter's scar. Scheisse! But hey, you have to take it easy and go on. I will keep it like that as a memento of my very own clumsiness.

    But working with binding and painting man, that is a whole other kettle of fish. Scraping the non masked bits of paint off the binding, then you realise that some of the undercoat (white) shines through between the black edge and the blue body. Talk about contrast. Not the kind I wanted to achieve. Just spray a bit of color into a jar and with one of my kid's brushes (which I have to replace) gently retouch the bits. And on some of the binding where the masking tape did not do its job, re-touch with black paint. Now it's resting with several coats of clear, until next week, and the build is on!

    Ok, when you look very closely at the guitar, as in examine it, you'll see all of the above (and some other things mentioned before). But looking it from a safe distance, it looks still pretty sweet. And the neck, wow, it feels, as my wife said today, "like a real guitar". You can't get better compliments than those!

    IMG20170702165730.jpg

    Cheers,

    Albert
     
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  17. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    What do you say when you get to this stage...

    IMG20170716170839.jpg

    and realise that the scale is 10 - 15 mm off?


    BUGGER... Big blunder that... No wonder I could not tune the 12th fret correctly, no matter how much I pulled the bridge back. Scheisse!

    Still, I got so far, the solution (in my head) is to strip all parts, fill the hole where the bridge sits with a fitting piece of wood, and add an angle to the neck pocket to re-fit the neck. I was never too convinced about the bridge sitting in the recess inside the body, and it didn't look to flash. Let's call it experience and learn for the future. A bit disappointed, but hey, that's life

    As usual, suggestions from you guys are always welcome.

    Cheers,

    Albert
     
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  18. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    225
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    First off - it looks awesome dude. I was wondering what was going on with the black headstock, but now I see it all together with pups and that blue truss rod cover - it all ties in so well. Great job.

    Re your bridge problem - is it too short re the scale length? Cos I think the recessed bridge looks pretty cool, so couldn't you just fill the hole, then re rout it in the correct position?
     

  19. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Thanks! Your post made me reconsider a bit. I'm wary of re-routing the neck pocket. That is, at this point, a recipe for disaster. I managed to pull off the studs that hold the bridge onto the wood, so I guess I'll be able to fill up the recess with a dowel and two sheets of ply and sand it flat.

    I'm thinking of then re-doing the recess in the correct position, perhaps a bit smaller... that is, closer to the shape of the bridge.

    Cheers,

    Albert
     
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  20. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Four weeks ago I thought I'd finish the guitar in two weeks from then. I'm at that point again. I hope.

    I filled the bridge cavity, routed down the excess, filled up the wood, cut a new cavity, sanded down the wood, and sprayed again. Ah... in between I measured and it should be OK this time. All things considered, I think I did a slightly better job with the bridge recess being smaller.

    In a week, re-spray the clear coat and in two weeks sand and polish and build. Again. Need to get proper working pots this time.

    IMG20170723144627.jpg
    IMG20170730111954.jpg
    IMG20170730121849.jpg
    IMG20170730165632.jpg


    Cheers,

    Albert
     
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  21. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    53
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    And this shall be the last post on this particular guitar, I hope!

    Cosmetically, finished as I hoped. A few dings and dents here and there, but at 2 metres+ it looks pretty damn good! And it sounds well too. I had to solder a little wire to the strings though, otherwise the pickups would buzz too much. With the hands on the wires, all good.

    The switches select the neck, bridge or both in series, and the other option is in or out of phase. The effect is not dramatic, but it's there. The sound is pretty good to, a bit spacey I would say, although if I crank both pups in series too much, it gets a bit muddy and undefined. I think the fact that the pre is pure FET built might be part of the reason. I'm also struggling to get the wiring on the volume know correct, but at the moment I'm bypassing the volume and tone control and it plays a treat.

    The action and play feeling are awesome, properly excellent right now after the post-first-build operation. The tuning is spot on, there's no inconsistencies between up and down the fretboard. Even though at the time I almost felt like chucking all in the bin, it was worth the effort.

    The finish is honestly a bit meh, I could have done better. I guess I need to let it be for about a year, and then maybe just sand the whole body down to wood again and repaint everything. I'm very happy with the neck, so that one stays as it is. Next week I'm getting a new crowning fret file, so for the next string exchange I'll work on that. The bloody thing didn't arrive this week as expected.

    All in all, the frustration of the last couple of weeks was gone the moment it plugged and played and kept the tune. That, in the end, is a great feeling!

    Now I can start playing again!!!!!

    Cheers. and thanks for bearing with me!

    Albert

    IMG_6445.jpg
     

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