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3 guitars are better than 1; my new guitar project

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by AZkoaMan, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    I've been working like crazy to get these guitars finished, but I did it. They're done. I took some pictures of the final finishing and assembly process to share with everyone. So picking up where I left off...

    Once the lacquer cured it was time to sand the finish. I did my best to spray smooth even coats, but there will always be some 'orange peel' and overspray in places. The control cavities got sprayed too but once they had a couple coats I masked them off since I didn't need a built up finish there.

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    The first thing I needed to do was sand the surface level. I used a sanding block with some waterproof 800 grit paper. I used water with a few drops of Murphy's Oil Soap as a sanding lubricant. As I sanded I stopped frequently, wiped off the surface and checked my progress. When all of the shiny spots were gone I moved on to finer grits, 1000, 1200 and finally 1500. I didn't sand the corners until I got to 1200 grit, which helped me avoid sanding through the finish.

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    Once a guitar was sanded to 1500 grit, I buffed them on this buffing assembly I borrowed from a friend who builds basses in a nearby shop.

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    Here's how the finish looks after buffing and polishing with paste wax applied with cheesecloth.

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  2. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    After buffing and polishing all three guitars, I started installing the electronics. I began by lining each cavity with copper foil.

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    Since I was wiring all of the pickups for series/parallel switching with push-pull pots, there was going to be a lot of intricate connections to make. I wired each individual pot first.

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    Then I wired the pots and switches to each other using a pattern I made of the cavities.

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    After doing as much work as possible before installation, I was able to install the pots and switches as a complete harness, minimizing the amount of soldering I had to do within the cavity. That being said, wiring for series/parallel meant having to wire all five leads for each pickup to the push pull switches. Add the jack and the bridge ground and that meant there was still 13 connections to make within the cavity. I just took my time and double checked that each connection was correct before soldering it.

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    The only problem I encountered in all of this soldering was one bone-headed mistake I made with the walnut guitar. When I drilled the hole to connect the control cavity to the bridge stud, it met the stud hole too low for the stud to pinch it when I hammered it in. There was no way I could solder the ground to the bottom of the stud once it was installed. After kicking myself for a little bit, I decided the only thing I could do was head over to the repair dept. at Rainbow Guitars where I knew they would have a stud puller, but I didn't like this solution because I knew it would likely pull up the finish around the edge of the stud. I hadn't driven two blocks before I came up with a better solution.

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    I fished the ground wire though the stud and soldered a spring to the wire. Now instead of making contact at the outside of the stud, it contacts the bottom of the bridge post and the spring makes sure it contacts regardless of the height of the post. I installed the bridge, checked for continuity and it all worked perfectly! (Very proud of my cleverness)

    I installed the hardware on each guitar (including my own pickup rings) then moved on to making the nuts, stringing them and setting them up. My cases were back ordered (they finally showed up two hours before taking the guitars to the museum) so I had to leave the screw eye in place of the bottom strap button and leave the guitars hanging. I also didn't install the knobs until I strung them up, that way if there was a wiring problem and I had to remove a pot, I wouldn't have to worry about pulling a knob.

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  3. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    I was setting up these guitars right up to the minute I had to leave for the museum so I wanted to snap a few pictures before packing them up, but I couldn't find my camera. I took some picks with my iphone but I was in the sun and couldn't see the screen, so I didn't realize the pictures were so bad until I got back to the shop. Of course, after getting back there I found my camera under the mess on my bench.

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    Once the exhibition opens in a week my wife and I will take her DSLR camera over there and get some really nice pictures of them on display.
     
  4. Fernder

    Fernder Tele-Meister

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    Absolutely gorgeous. What are your plans for them once the museum is done with them?
     
  5. Dep

    Dep Tele-Holic

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    Those are some gorgeous guitars! Really nice work.

    Dep
     
  6. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    The plan is to sell them. I'm hoping the exhibition will bring some attention and interest in my guitars and hopefully I'll find some buyers for these and/or new commissions. I already have some ideas for a few more guitars but I need to make some money from these first.
     
  7. Jason Jillard

    Jason Jillard Tele-Meister

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    absolutely gorgeous. great stuff.
     
  8. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    One word - WOW!!
     
  9. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    Man , what beautiful guitars .
     
  10. rlscherer

    rlscherer TDPRI Member

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    Man, those are amazing. I particularly like the mesquite.
    What type of pickups did you install?
    Thanks for an amazing story here.
    R
     
  11. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks. Everyone seems to like the mesquite best. I'm kinda partial to the koa guitar. If it never sells, I don't think I'll mind being stuck with it.

    Here's the pickup selection:

    Walnut guitar: Duncan STK-P1 p-90 stacks, neck and bridge

    Koa guitar: Duncan APH-1 Alnico II Pro (neck), SH-11 Custom Custom (bridge)

    Mesquite guitar: Duncan SH-2 Jazz (neck), SH-4 JB (bridge)
     
  12. ludobag1

    ludobag1 Tele-Meister

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    this guitar looks fantastic :D
     
  13. teledaddyo

    teledaddyo TDPRI Member

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    nice builds man. You shouldn't have a hard time selling them as they sell themselves with the apparent workmanship and beauty. I imagine they play well, too.
     
  14. JASS

    JASS TDPRI Member

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    really beautiful work... having the three done at the same time is a bit overwhelming to the eyes haha
     
  15. LightninMike

    LightninMike Tele-Holic

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    Well, i guess you aren't alone there.... the Koa just rings right with me.... then again, i wouldn't hesitate for any of the others if i was buying
     
  16. '59_Standard

    '59_Standard Tele-Holic

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    Lovely craftsmenship there, Mr. AZ :cool:
     
  17. ctte2112

    ctte2112 Tele-Holic

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    I love the one with P90s.
     
  18. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks. I was kinda going for a classy, retro look with that one. It doesn't really show in the photo but I used buffalo bone tuner buttons and a mammoth ivory nut to compliment the cream colored pickup covers. I can't wait to get some better pictures.
     
  19. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    I finally had a chance to photograph my guitars on display at the museum. The opening was really cool and I had a chance to meet some of the other guitar builders. All of them are incredibly talented. I'm so glad I am able to participate. Our local PBS affiliate did a piece about the exhibition, so everyone here can have a look at what it's all about. Anybody on the forum who lives in southern AZ or will be visiting Tucson for the holidays should take a little time to go check it out.

    http://http://www.azpm.org/news/story/2011/11/1/1830-exhibit-tunes-in-to-guitarmaking-history/

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  20. Shepherd

    Shepherd Friend of Leo's

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    Beautiful work. Those are some of the nicest guitars I've seen here.
     
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