Spalted Maple Top with Cocobolo Neck

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by jwilson, Oct 26, 2019.

  1. jwilson

    jwilson TDPRI Member

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    a.k.a. going to wear my respirator for the entire build thread...

    A few years ago I completed a carved top, quilt maple guitar and decided it's time to start a new build. The old build can be found here...https://www.tdpri.com/threads/prs-inspired-build.610432/.

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    The plan for this one is a 25.5" scale length, 22 fret, two humbucker, rear-loaded, strat-style guitar with a wilkinson vibrato. The body will be honduran mahogany with a 1/4" spalted maple top. The set neck will be a beautiful piece of cocobolo that I've had sitting around for a good 15 years or so. I know it will be heavy, but the upper horn of the body will extend up to nearly the 11th fret to compensate for the weight of the neck. The only issue with the cocobolo is that it's not thick enough for a normal 12 degree angled headstock. Instead, I'm planning to do a flat headstock, but it will be a set neck design. I've seen plenty of bolt-on necks with angled headstocks, but I don't remember seeing any set necks with flat headstocks. Please let me know if there's a reason for this or if you think it will look goofy.

    The fretboard will be gaboon ebony and I haven't decided yet if it will be a 10" radius, or if it will have a compound radius (haven't done one of those yet). I was originally going to use a ziricote board, but thought the ebony was a better choice since the ziricote would have too much pattern when sitting next to the spalted top and the darker shade of the ebony goes better with the cocobolo.

    I originally planned to use the same templates used with the previous build, but decided the shape was more suitable for a carved top guitar, so the design was modified a bit. I went back to a drawing I made about 25 years ago, scanned it into photoshop to correct some lines and printed it out full scale. Just made the first body template tonight. The headstock design is also being modified slightly in an attempt to better align the tuners with the string travel.

    Looking forward to this build since I've not worked with spalted maple before. Stabilizing it and working with it will be a learning experience.

    The top, neck and fretboard.
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    A little closer look. I think these will look pretty good together especially withe the mahogany back. I'll make cocobolo control cavity covers similar to the last build.
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    The planning stage.
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    The first template for the outline is nearly complete. Will spend a few more hours fine tuning the perimeter. Similar to the previous build, the neck will have a long tenon that extends the length of the pickup cavity.
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    With the last build, I skipped a few of the details of the build in the write-up since I started the thread after a lot of the build was completed. I've learned so much from this excellent forum and in the interest of giving back/contributing, I'm planning to post real time as the build progresses and to throw as much information into this thread as I can. Although, please be patient, if it's anything like my previous build, it should be done by 2025 or so...;-)
     
  2. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Friend of Leo's

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    How soft is the Maple ? I have been playing with spalted Birch a lot this year and have to be careful with some of it.

    TeleSpalt.jpg
     
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  3. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm looking forward to this. Just be careful with the spalt and rear mount combination.
     
  4. Gipper

    Gipper Tele-Meister

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    Should be a beauty when it is done.
     
  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My favorite looking wood. Subscribed. Take the respirator off once in awhile.;)
     
  6. jwilson

    jwilson TDPRI Member

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  7. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not sure how something that isn't seen from the front (neck joint) would make anything look goofy o_O.

    I think you're thinking too much ;).
     
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  8. nosmo

    nosmo Friend of Leo's

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    Nice wood. Should be a pretty guitar. The blue one looks great.
     
  9. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's

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    Gorgeous - Why not use Cocobola for the fretboard?
     
  10. jwilson

    jwilson TDPRI Member

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    Made a neck template a little while ago, but wasn't happy with the overall shape of the headstock or the string spread beyond the nut so I made another today. The string spread of the B and high E strings on the blue guitar had a slight angle to them. Since this one will have a vibrato, I wanted the tuners to line up as straight as I could get them.

    Not pictured, but I used the factory edge from a 1/4" piece of plexiglass to use as a bearing guide for the pattern tracing router bit to make sure the edges of the fretboard are good and straight. Used double sided carpet tape to adhere the plexiglass to the template.

    Drilling the tuner holes.
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    Trimming the headstock on the bandsaw to just over 1/2".
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    First time using the StewMac "safety" planer to thickness the headstock. Don't know who named it the safety planer, but this is probably the least safe tool in the shop.
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    Tuners are a bit cramped, but they all fit with a little space between the D and B string tuners.
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    I cut a neck pocket into an older body template to accept the new neck template. Placed a nut on the neck with double sided tape, put the bridge in place, strung it up and tightened the strings to check the spread.
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    Pretty close, but will make a few minor adjustments to make them perfect. Happy with the template otherwise, so will most likely plug the tuner holes that are off and re-drill to the finalize the template.
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. jwilson

    jwilson TDPRI Member

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    Yep, I do that sometimes. :)

    Thank you!

    Just personal preference. I like a contrasting fretboard to the neck wood and think the ebony board will feel and look good.
     
  12. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That's really a great way to prove out a design and templates!
     
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  13. jwilson

    jwilson TDPRI Member

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    Been busy lately with the whole end of the world thing, but have been making small progress over the last few months. Made a bunch of neck templates but each one had a slight imperfection so it was scrapped. Tonight though, the tenth or so try was the charm. The biggest issues were getting perfectly straight string pull across the nut while maintaining the correct headstock shape and keeping the tuners evenly spaced.

    Made slight adjustments on each template.
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    Put the tremolo, tuners and strings on the templates to test the alignment.
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    Perfect string alignment across the nut, good tuner spacing and the headstock shape is what I wanted.
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    I used double stick tape on the nut with the first few templates which turned out to be a mistake. One time I pulled the nut off the tape with the strings still under tension and it pulled the whole thing to one side. Allowing the nut to float on the template shows just where the strings want to sit and gives a better idea of how straight the string pull will be.

    Now it’s time to start on the fretboard...
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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