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Single-cut dual humbucker guitar; something a little different.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by AZkoaMan, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    I finished this guitar in February but I'm just now getting around to sharing the build. I built this for a friend and it's design is very loosely inspired by Turner guitars. I have a lot of photos and info to share from the build, too much to post all at once, so I'll put it out in batches when I have time.

    I start off all my builds by drawing a full-scale layout. I like to use a sheet of 1/2" Baltic birch ply for my blueprint since I always have some around for patterns and jigs and also because it's easy to take measurements from it rather than using a paper blueprint that blows around or tries to roll up. My friend really likes the shape of Turner guitars but he's a big guy and the Turners look like unusually small guitars. A Bigsby B7 was part of the design from the beginning so that also required some extra length in the body. All finished it's a little bit longer than Jazzmaster, so it's a big guitar. What's really unusual about this guitar is the cross section. It's 2 1/2" thick at the center with a curved front and back that tapers out to 1" thick at the edges of the body. The scale length is 25.5" and the fretboard radius is 7.25".

    Here's the front view:
    6.jpg

    This is a cross section view of the body. The radius of the curve is 28 9/16". The double lines represent the front and rear binding.
    5.jpg

    The woods used are African Mahogany (Khaya) with a redwood top veneer for the body and the neck is a five piece Indian rosewood/padauk laminate with an Indian rosewood fretboard.
    7.jpg

    I can't get African mahogany that will yield 2 1/2" thickness so the body was glued up in two halves, front and back, with both sections each made of two pieces.
    8.jpg

    Gluing up the neck blank:
    9.jpg

    The laminations are glued with epoxy. I wipe down all the surfaces with acetone before applying the epoxy to remove oils that might cause adhesion problems.
    10.jpg

    11.jpg

    I like laminated necks for few reasons. It allows me to buy flat sawn lumber, which is easier and cheaper to find, and glue it up to make a quarter sawn neck. It also allows me to join and plane each lamination individually so there is virtually no tension in the wood that could cause it to warp or twist when I start cutting the profile of the neck, and I can arrange the pieces so that in the unlikely case that humidity changes cause it to want to warp the pieces will work against each other and cancel out any movement. This means the neck is extremely strong and stable. Lastly, I just like the way laminated necks look!
    12.jpg
     
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  2. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted

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    Love the design - particularly the shoulder to heel transition, and how it matches up with the assymetry of the headstock... the neck woods are gorgeous too... looking forward to seeing the progress
     
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  3. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    After gluing up the neck and body blanks I used 1/2" Baltic birch ply to make my patterns and a couple of jigs that I'll need. I like the birch ply because it's cheap, strong, and stable and the bearings on router bits won't wear a groove into the edges like they do with MDF patterns.

    13.jpg

    In the past I've always used a pattern and flush cut router bit to cut the front profile of guitar necks. Because the heel of this guitar is so much taller than a typical electric and I want to be able to cut the sides in one pass I need to do something different. I made a jig that will allow me to use the large cutter head of a shaper. Rather than stick a pattern to the fretboard I cut the profile of the neck into the sides of the jig. I'll clamp the neck to one side then the other to cut it. The jig makes it so I don't have to get my hands anywhere near the cutter. I never used a jig like this for cutting the sides of a neck but I saw no reason why it wouldn't work as well or better than what I usually do. I'm really happy with it.
    15.jpg

    I also needed a jig for cutting the curve on the front and back of the body. I probably could have done this with a hand plane and it would have turned out fine but I wanted to make the process easily repeatable...and it's just fun designing jigs.
    14.jpg
     
  4. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    After cutting the rough shape of the body and neck I put all the major components onto a scale to see what it weighed and...
    16.jpg

    ...holy crap! I definitely had to get the weight down. I knew it would lose some weight as I shaped the body and neck and cut cavities for the electronics and neck joint but I needed to get it down further.
    16a.jpg

    I built a walnut bodied Tele in the past from a pretty beefy piece of walnut and to reduce the weight I cut a bunch of small sealed chamber in the body. I worked perfectly so I did it with this guitar as well. It was easy to do on the Tele because it was just a flat body. Since this guitar is round on the front and back it made the job more difficult. I used the body pattern as a guide figured out the location and necessary depth for each chamber.
    18.jpg

    Since the body is made of a front and balk half I cut the chambers into each side before gluing them together. This way they're completely sealed. You can tap on it with your knuckle directly over the chambers it it doesn't sound hollow. This removed 9oz of material! Nice! I also used this as a chance to rout channels for the pickup wires so I wouldn't have to try drilling holes at weird angles later. In the end the complete guitar weighs just over 9 pounds. Not bad!
    19.jpg

    After the chambers were cut and I was happy with the weight reduction plan I glued the two body halves together.
    20.jpg

    Then using my pattern I trimmed the outline of the body. That's a big chunk o' mahogany!
    21.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
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  5. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

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    Love contrasting-colored laminated necks! And, they're super stable (usually).
     
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  6. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    After the body was trimmed to shape I set it aside to work on the neck. I used a hand plane to get the front of the headstock flat and set at the angle I wanted.
    22.jpg

    Once that was done I routed the channel for the truss rod. I like the double action truss rods from LMI.
    23.jpg

    Next I traced my side profile pattern onto the neck and used a spindle sander to sand it to the correct shape.
    24.jpg

    To help me do this I made a box beam out of plywood (making sure it's perfectly square!). To take the headstock down to the correct thickness I use the beam almost like the bed of a planer to guide the headstock past the spindle, moving it in a little bit with each pass until it's the correct thickness. For the last pass I use a 180 grit sleeve so I don't have to do as much sanding by hand later. Then I attach the neck to the beam with some carpet tape to keep it parallel to the spindle while I shape the profile of the neck. These photos show this process while I was building one of my other guitars.
    24b.jpg

    The neck is attached to the beam in this photo so I can use it like a big handle to give me better control of the neck.
    24c.jpg

    Once I had the profile I wanted I glued the wings on to the headstock and planed them flush on the front using my small plane. I planed the back flush later after shaping the headstock. That way the router removes most of the extra material and I don't have as much to plane.
    26.jpg
     
  7. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    My friend wanted an inlay on the headstock of his guitar. He's really into the X-Files and weird stories about mysterious animals (cryptozoology), strange conspiracies and folklore so he chose a jackalope for the inlay. Here's a drawing of what he wanted.
    27.jpg

    The materials for the inlay are padauk, mammoth ivory, and brass.
    27b.jpg


    I made some photocopies of the design and glued them to the material.
    28.jpg

    I used a jeweler's saw and bench pin to cut the pieces.
    29.jpg

    There were some gaps but nothing a little fill work couldn't fix.
    30.jpg

    I traced my headstock pattern with a white pencil then glued the pieces together and attached the inlay to the headstock veneer with a couple spots of super glue so I could scribe around it.
    31.jpg

    I scribed all around the inlay then removed it and rubbed some chalk into the scribe line to make it easy to see.
    32.jpg

    I have a flex shaft tool that attaches to a Dremel and I made this little router base for it. I have some spiral router bits, from 1/8" to 1/16" to 1/32", and slowly I routed inside of the outline. I routed it just a little shallower than the inlay is thick. I wanted it to stick out just a little once it was glued in place so I could sand it flush.
    33.jpg

    Here's the inlay glued in place.
    35.jpg

    And here it is after sanding it flush and filling some of the gaps. I just filled the gaps between the pieces. The small gaps around the edges got filled later after the veneer was attached to the headstock.
    36.jpg
     
  8. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

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    INLAYS = excellent reason to buy/rent/use a computer-controlled lazer engraver like trophy shops use.
     
  9. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    I agree that would be more accurate and save time but I build guitars because I enjoy the process. I like the challenge.
     
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  10. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Looks NICE!

    I'll keep following this thread to see the finished instrument.
     
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  11. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    After finishing the headstock inlay I glued the veneer to the headstock and moved on to the fretboard. I use a Stewmac fret slotting jig to cut the slots. I generally try to avoid buying pricey, specialized tools like this but this jig is indispensable to me.
    37a.jpg

    Once the slots were cut I prepped the neck and fretboard for gluing. Due to the oily nature of rosewood I made sure to wipe down all glue surfaces with acetone to remove surface oils and I used epoxy for the adhesive.
    37b.jpg

    37c.jpg
     
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  12. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    The body shape is intriguing. I'd buy something like that.
     
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  13. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    Once the fretboard was attached I ran a flush cutting router bit down the sides of the neck to remove any squeeze-out and trim any spots where the fretboard wasn't perfectly flush with the neck. Then I prepared to use my new neck jig. I ran a test piece first to make sure it would work.
    38g.jpg

    This was my first time trying to shape a neck like this. In the past I always attached a pattern to the fretboard and used a router table with a flush cutter to trim the sides of the neck. The heel of this neck was so tall I wouldn't be able to do that, not in one pass and not safely and accurately enough for me. I have access to an industrial shaper so I set it up with a large, segmented cutter and a bearing that would ride along the edge of my jig. The size of the jig lets me keep my hands well clear of the cutter. Because I'm removing a lot of material near the nut I worked my way into it with shallow passes before putting the jig all the way into the bearing. That cutter goes through wood like a hot knife through butter. I love this machine!
    38b.jpg

    It worked beautifully! I'm gonna use this technique in the future, even if the heel has a standard profile.
    38c.jpg

    One of my concerns was that by trimming each side separately I wouldn't get the exact width I was aiming for or the shape wouldn't be centered on the laminations. I was aiming for 1 5/8" at the nut and 2" at the 12th fret. Nailed it! Perfectly centered too! I'm super stoked about how well this worked.
    38d.jpg

    38e.jpg

    38f.jpg
     
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  14. AZkoaMan

    AZkoaMan Tele-Meister

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    The last thing to do with the neck at this stage was to rout the pocket in the body. I think my method is a little unconventional but it works really well so I'm sticking with it. I start by getting a couple of scrap boards and joining the edges so they're perfectly straight then clamping them to the sides of the neck. Then I position the neck on the body and clamp the boards to the body. I take a third scrap, butt it up against the end of the neck and clamp that it place on the body. When I remove the neck the three boards make a negative of the neck that I can use a guides for my router. Since every guitar I build is unique this method saves me from having to make a neck pocket pattern for every guitar.
    39.jpg

    40.jpg

    41.jpg

    The result is a dovetail joint where the whole neck is the tenon. I just need to sand the sides of the neck a little bit until the neck is a firm but not tight fit in the pocket. There's a lot of glue surface and it's incredibly strong. It's a perfect fit every time without any fuss.

    42.jpg

    43.jpg

    44.jpg
     
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  15. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's

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    This is coming along nicely.
     
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