New Build, but not an SG...sorry guys, but...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SG John, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    I really wanted to build a copy of a Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird. Since I travel for work, it takes a long, long, long time for me to get things done. I've been at this for a while, but think I've done enough to start a thread. Materials consist of Honduran Mahogany body and neck, quilted maple top, palisander fingerboard. It's gettin three piece body binding, Gretsch High Sensitivity Power-Tron pickups, Bigsby B-7, and other goodies. Hopefully, things will get done over the next couple of months.

    Here's the start of chambering the body and getting the top ready.

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    After the body had been glued together, I had to pause and wipe down the body with napthta in order to admire the beautiful quilted top.


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  2. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Ok, after a bunch of routing and sanding, I was ready for more routing. I set it up for the body binding. I thought it would look nice with a three piece w/b/w binding.

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    It looks pretty spiffy, eh?
     
  3. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Since I'm working on a bunch of things, I cleaned up one side of several Palisander finger boards.

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    Then, I put one up on the jig I made to radius them. It did exactly what I had hoped for.

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    Then came a bunch of sanding. Then more sanding. Binding and inlays, then more sanding.

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    Here's a view of the chunch of quarter sawn mahogany. Unfortunately, the camera wanted to focus on my KR, not the mahogany.

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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  4. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    After sawing up the neck, I had to slot it.

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    Then I made up a truss rod.

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    Before adding the fillet, I mocked it up and counter bored the area for the truss rod nut.

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    It fits, and I'll neaten it up a bit later.

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    Then I glued some ears on the headstock.

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    And, finally glueing the fillet.

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  5. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    During the past couple of months I'd mess around with scraps of maple and finishes. I think this will be how I finish it. I got some cherry stain at Woodcraft. Not like an SG, but like a dresser from the 1890's. It's a nice dark brown. I applied three heavy coats by hand, and the sanded between each coat, only removing stain from the harder grain (letting the stain soak into the softer wood). After the third coat, I applied three coats of amber stain in the same manner. After that I sprayed several coats of clear lacquer. I really like this version. I tried several other colors, but this one really works for me. I may try to do it as a burst.

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    That's it for now. I hope to have the mortise and tenon completed this weekend. Wish me luck, maybe there will be some new photos by the beginning of the week.
     
  6. Alex_SG

    Alex_SG Well-Known Member

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    Love watching these build threads. Something awesome about watching a few bits of wood being turned into a beautiful instrument!!!

    Keep the pics coming!!!

    Alex
     
  7. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Hello, I'm back. I actually got some work done today. This should be filed under "What was I thinking?" I wanted the look of the Gretsch where the neck joins the body, and the pickup ring goes under an angled bit under the finger board. I spent all day making the neck tenon. What was I thinking?!?! I should have just made a Les Paul style tenon.

    Anyway, I've got most of it done. I've got to clean up and square off the radii left by the router bit. I also have to angle the area under the end of the fretboard. Then I can can make the mortise. We'll see how much I get done over the next week.

    This is the general shape of the tenon. It is angled at one degree. I can't remeber if it's Celcius or Fahrenheit. All I know it was pretty oppresive in the Boston area today, and I live on the coast. You can see the radius that needs to be knocked out. The lip on the very end of the board need to be angled so that the pickup surround can slide under the fretboard.


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    It is also not going to remain this wide.

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    This is what it looks like after trimming the neck to the width of the fretboard.

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    I was going to trim up the headstock, but I could not stand the half-arsed job I did on the template. I think I'll make a new on before I start.


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    I have a pretty full schedule over the next week. Hopefully I can add to this sooner, than later.
     
    Biddlin likes this.
  8. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    Those fingerboard blanks lined up almost look like a folk marimba being made.
     
  9. axmaker

    axmaker Member

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    Lookin' Good!:dude:
     
    SG Lou likes this.
  10. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the compliments. I did manage to scrape up a few hours in the basement yesterday, and got some work done. I had already taken a chisel to the neck tenon and cleaned up the inside radii, and made nice square corners. Next, I started on the body's neck mortise with a few different sized Forstener bits to get most of the wood out. Then I went at it with a router.

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    I think that the fit was pretty nice. I'm holding the guitar by the neck with no glue in the mortise. I sighted it with a laser, and it's lined up real well with the center seam of the bookmatch.


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    It almost looks like a guitar now.

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    I also roughed out the shape of the headstock and glued the fingerboard to the neck.


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    Hopefully, I can get a bit more done tonight.
     
    axmaker likes this.
  11. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Managed to clean up the neck a little bit tonight, and get it ready for frets. Since it was ready for frets, I needed to bend and cut them. Maybe, I can get some time in front of the belt sander over the next few nights.

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  12. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    I like the chambering - looks like it will be a cool axe, although not exactly my cup of tea.
     
  13. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    great looking build! I look forward to seeing the finished product.
     
  14. axmaker

    axmaker Member

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    John, Why the heel at the butt? Is it for a B7 Bigsby or something?:dunno:


     
  15. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    The original Bo Diddley/Billy Gibbons guitar has that, and yes it's for a B-7. Even though the Filtertrons and bridge are chrome, it's getting an aluminum B-7. I could have gone with the G-stamped trapeze Grtesch bridge, but I love the look of the B-7 on this body. The next time I'm putzing around downstairs, I'll mock it up and take a photo. It looks pretty sexy.
    :dude:
     
  16. axmaker

    axmaker Member

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    Yup!
     
  17. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    Hey John,

    I build guitars also, but my specialty is classical acoustics, although I would like to build an electric someday. It's always very entertaining for me watching how another builder goes about the craft. Got a question for you: what sort of jig did you use to cut the fret slots? I have a jig that I mount to my table saw that uses a template and a special ~0.020" thin sawblade. It works very well, but I'm always interested in seeing how others go about similar tasks.

    Can't wait to see this beauty of your strung up and ready for action.
     
  18. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Hello, and thanks for the positive reinforcement. As for the jig, I use the Stew-Mac jig with a Japanese pull saw with a .020" blade. I figured since I was planning on building several more guitars, and doing this well into the future, I'd buy a proper jig. This will be my first guitar using it, and of course they upgraded the dumb thing to have bearings for the blade to ride between since I bought mine.
    I'd love to see some of your acoustics. That seems like such a more advanced realm to me than building solid body guitars. Where in Houston are you? My wife has some cousins in and near Kingwood, and sometimes work sends me down there for a few weeks at atime.
    Cheers
     
  19. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    I have the Stew Mac jig too, which I sidelined once I built my tablesaw rig. It works well enough. Mine doesn't have the bearings, either.

    I live in Spring Branch, sorta west-central Houston. Probably a good 35-40 miles Southwest of Kingwood.

    I've got some photos of some of my guitars around here somewhere. Let me look . . . oh, they're on my other computer. I'll have to fire it up and upload some to my website. Then I can share them here.
     
  20. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    I've got more work done on this. It's been tough lately, but I'm getting there. I'm hoping to spray sanding sealer Sunday. Wish me luck. Here's th update...

    I've got the neck pretty much the way I like it. I have sanded more since this photo was taken Tuesday night.


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    The frets were installed a while back, and look gorgeous!

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    I've routed out the control cavity and where the toggle switch will go. After I'm finished routing for the picups, I'll use the correct Gretsch pickguard to spot the master volume knob and drill and route for that also. I've prepped the area for the pickups. I should be able to route for them tomorrow.

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    After all of that, I mocked it up for fun.


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    That's when I decided that the headstock looked naked without binding. I had to be a bit creative with the Dremel tool. I'm glad that I made the effort. It came out great.

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    Hopefully, I'll have some more updates over the weekend. Cheers!
     

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