Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

My Brainy Build: R. Stratenstein Introduces The Sir Andrew

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by R. Stratenstein, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    OK, that checks off the pomposity block on the checklist, which is actually quite long.

    Of course, we know that men, and often their women, like to name their . . . . .guitars, right? So I thought I could encompass Britishness, The Pomposity of Royalty (and my apologies to our English brothers and sisters who are Royalists, but c'mon, . . .really?), and, if I may get a bit serious for a moment, true nobility, in the person of Andy Brain who did not need a title or high birth, but was a noble person in my book anyway. All rolled up in a guitar I'm going to call The Sir Andrew. Or, maybe by the end of this build, The Biggest F***ing Mistake I Ever Made."

    We shall see.

    The guitar is being built for Sara's fundraising auction this January to support the causes that Brainy asked to be remembered, so much as I'm inclined to build something of a circus axe, I am instead, going to build a nobleman. But with a sense of humour here and there. Humour, you will recall is like humor, only British. Obviously, if the guitar is a joke, nobody may want to bid on it. So my goal is to make it a player, somewhat conventional, but with a few quirks, I guess you could say, kinda like Brainy.

    It has been surprisingly hard thinking this through, and I'm not really done yet, but I need to get a move on so it will be ready in time. Late December or January is the due date, but you know how time slips away.


    Must be special wood. Andy was a wood lover, and especially liked to use domestic woods, even rescuing pallets and other wood in need of some love. I got some domestic US crotch walnut. Beautiful wood, with the bonus of having "crotch" in the name for the non-stop inspiration of innuendo. I am going to try to get the front and back outta the slab I bought, and book-match it. Remains to be seen if I can do this, as the wild grain has caused some movement that will need to be taken out. If there's enough to resaw, it'll have bookmatched front and back. I have some nice straight-grain walnut for the sides, and have been offered a prime piece of quarter-sawn walnut for the neck. Sir Andrew will be a walnut guitar.

    When I built the Labrocaster, Rich Rice coached me on doing a German carve on the top, which I went from being meh, to wow, I like this. I think it would look great on the figured crotch, IF I can do it without tearout. My tooling is relatively new and still sharp, so I think I can pull this off. But will test. One of the last conversations I had with Andy, he said he'd never seen me post a complete build. That seemed very strange to me--he was here for such a short time, so he never saw the Labrocaster build, but anyway, here's a shot that shows the German carve on it pretty well:


    Bound Ivory/Black/Ivory, for sure front, and maybe back, and also maybe F holes and neck.

    The challenge I'm setting for my self (well, one of them) is to make it Tele shaped, as a nod to our forum, which brought Andy and us all together for all too brief a time. The challenge comes from bent sides, not sawn solid body. Think semi-hollow body, kinda. (thanks, Jupiter, for the inspiration, I think). The kicker is that I have learned there is no way I'm ever gonna be able to bend a Telecaster lower horn and cutaway with a continuous strip of walnut. So my interim plan is to slightly re-design the horn and cutaway area in the Florentine style (pointy), like Gibson ES-175, but the rest of it essentiall Tele, hybrid of a Thinline, BTW.


    Notice the ES-175 is a bit on the thick side. I'm debating about making it thicker than a standard Tele, so I can call it Sir Andrew Fat Boy. Any thoughts on that? I think Andy would have enjoyed that.

    I'd like to minimalize the center block just enough to give the bridge and pickups something to attach to, and ensure it won't feed back, but hopefully create some acoustic qualities. I plan to make the center block spruce because, well, that's what acoustic stuff should be, right?

    I think I'd like to do diamond F-holes, like a Gibby ES-335 Trini Lopez. Or maybe something more inventive, we shall see. Probably bound I/B/I.


    Fret Board--I like the idea of having a walnut fretboard, but walnut is significantly softer than your typical fretboard woods. The dilemma is that the only widely used domestic wood that is hard enough for conventional fretboards is good old rock maple. But I don't think that will look good on the walnut Sir Andrew.

    So I was thinking about (1) chemically ebonizing the walnut to get a black fretboard and (all credit goes to Herb if this works) (2) use a vacuum stabilizing process to impregnate the ebonized walnut fretboard with the stuff Herb uses to do his tone blocks. I think I can cobble up a pipe and some caps with a vacuum fitting on it, dump the fretboard and the resin in there, screw on the caps, and put the vacuum to it. If I have to, I can always fall back to a rain-forest depleting tropical hardwood conventional fretboard, and hope Brainy will understand and forgive me. I will have tried.

    HEADSTOCK. Do I want to take on the challenge of my first scarfed headstock or no?

    This might be a wait and see where we are proposition. Also I have no real ideas about configuration of the headstock--3X3, plain old Tele, what? Suggestions appreciated, thank you.

    Pickups--Metecem kindly offered to supply the pickups for this project, which I appreciate. He's getting his guy to wind up a matched pair of some he's had good success with--a humbucker for the bridge position, "hidden" in a P-90 case, and a single coil for the neck, housed in a humbucker size and shape case, only with center poles. Black cases/covers. I can't wait to get my hands on 'em and see how they sound. Metecem highly recommended them, so that's some good pedigree there.

    I am working on a concept and design for the bridge, saddles, and tailpiece. It does have high failure potential, but high coolness factor if I can pull it off, so I don't want to divulge the "secret" until I've got it settled, one way or another. I've thought about a Bigsby, because I think that would be cool, and that is a strong plan B at this time, but there may also be a plan C.

    I've done some preliminaries that are in other threads I've posted--New Wud Day and Hot Pipe Benda, which chronicle some things I've done in direct prep. for this.

    There are some awesome walnut guitars already in the works--Nosmo may have finished his by now for all I know! But I think it's a great way to go--Andy loved good wood, and loved new and unique guitar projects.


  2. I_build_my_own

    I_build_my_own Friend of Leo's

    Mar 9, 2012
    New York
    Looking forward to seeing this.

    ....What are your plans about shielding and the tone cap... :D

  3. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    Shielding the PIO tone caps.......
    I_build_my_own likes this.

  4. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    DPP? I didn't say DPP. Did you say DPP?
    Rock-Ola and HairyChapter like this.

  5. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia

    Scarfed headstocks are easy Rick. Anyone who can melt metal and build a Brenda Benda can make a scarfed headstock.

    Mbechmann likes this.

  6. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Following. Looking forward to it...whatever it ends up being.

  7. Mbechmann

    Mbechmann Friend of Leo's Ad Free + Supporter

    Jan 18, 2013
    Grindsted, Denmark
    Looking forward to this and yes. Ofcause you have to do a scarf joint with some special Rick Flair (no pon intended) build into it as well. Andy would like that.

  8. nosmo

    nosmo Friend of Leo's

    Jan 31, 2012
    Lake Jackson, TX
    Sounds good.

    And no, I'm not done yet.
    GracefulBrick and RogerC like this.

  9. nickhofen

    nickhofen Friend of Leo's

    What ??? not aluminum guitar made from the forge you build and alu cans?
    Think better , this way you wont have to shield anything...or not?
    Grate concept, i am following .

  10. deadicated

    deadicated Tele-Holic

    Aug 1, 2011
    This sounds like it will be a great guitar and inspiering build to watch as yours always are.

  11. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 27, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    Better hurry. That deadline is creeping up fast..

    Sounds great Rick.

  12. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 30, 2011
    DrASATele and Barncaster like this.

  13. Mbechmann

    Mbechmann Friend of Leo's Ad Free + Supporter

    Jan 18, 2013
    Grindsted, Denmark

    Hehe He was always a favorite of mine :)
    DrASATele likes this.

  14. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    Time marches on.
    DrASATele likes this.

  15. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 6, 2012
    North of Boston
    Dudes's fugly upclose!

  16. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 4, 2010
    Athens, GA
    Rick, I have some mesquite that would be bang up for fretboards I'd donate if you're interested. It's janka hardness and crushing strength properties are right in between rock maple and gaboon ebony.

  17. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 4, 2010
    Athens, GA
    I am hoping to start my Brainy build soon. Doubt I'll make the deadline, but that'd be in keeping with the spirit of the challenge.

  18. metecem

    metecem Friend of Leo's

    Sir "Tough Knob" Andrew
    GracefulBrick likes this.

  19. sjohnbruton

    sjohnbruton Tele-Holic

    Aug 13, 2009
    Mobile, AL

    You had me at "Florentine Telecaster!" Great plan. It sounds like a beautiful guitar!

    Btw, I'm sure you already know it, but walnut ebonizes very easily (and very dark!) with vinegar and steel wool...


  20. metecem

    metecem Friend of Leo's

    Then again I did try a walnut fretboard neck while I was in Ghana... It wasn't that good. Just saying, maybe american walnut is better...

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