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I’m still here …..

My blogging schedule has been pretty pathetic as late but I’m still here and still kicking around my shop. Work has been very hectic but this has not stopped me from pursuing my goal of building my first instrument.

I’ve been learning basic woodworking skills now for a year or so and I decided that it was finally time to start building. I’m sure mistakes will be made but fear should also not keep one from doing, learning and growing. So I have begun to outline a plan of action.

  1. Get some “hands on” by rehabing my pawn shop Ibanez Strat copy from the 70’s. Nothing to loose and lots that can be learned by working on it.
  2. My first build from scratch will be a solid body electric.
  3. I’ll get some help. I purchased a wonderful video course on from O’brien Guitars, “Electric Guitar Building

The course is $197 so I was a little hesitant at first but pulling the trigger on it was the best decision I could have made. I’ve pretty much watched the training twice although there are probably a couple chapters that I missed because I’ve not watched straight through in order. Mike Snider of Snider Guitars builds two styles of solid body electrics, a Tele and a Les Paul from scratch. Mike builds both from start to finish leaving nothing out including winding his own pickups and inlaying his mother of pear logo in the Les Paul headstock. Watching doesn’t mean you can do it but it surely is a confidence builder. I will obviously take my time and review each video prior to attempting any work.

Course Content

Chapter 1 – Design – 51:18
Chapter 2 – Templates – 36:35
Chapter 3 – Body Blank Prep – 26:25
Chapter 4 – Routing Cavities – 14:44
Chapter 5 – Shaping and Drilling – 33:51
Chapter 6 – The Neck – 2:11:51
Chapter 7 – Attaching the Necks – 44:45
Chapter 8 – The Carved Top Body – 21:39
Chapter 9 – Neck Shaping – 35:40
Chapter 10 – Inlay – 1:13:00
Chapter 11 – Fretboard Radius – 13:27
Chapter 12 – Control Holes – 11:22
Chapter 13 – The Carved Top Neck – 4:59
Chapter 14 – Fretwork – 58:29
Chapter 15 – The Bridge – 24:11
Chapter 16 – Finishing – 1:16:34
Chapter 17 – Pickups – 1:36:16
Chapter 18 – Guards and Covers – 14:20
Chapter 19 – Assembly – 54:24
Chapter 20 – Setup – 19:19
Chapter 21 – Wiring – 24:17
Chapter 22 – Finishing Touches – 10:39

 So I’ve already had my very first day as a luthier. I tore down my Ibanez project guitar and encountered my first challenge, a broken off neck bolt 😦  The good news, I used a plug cutter to bore out the area around the broken screw and was able to extract the bolt. A proper repair would have meant making a plug of hard maple but having none, I fit a plug from 1/2″ board of red oak. Not bad, the repair looked good and the neck will be stable when I go to reassemble. I ordered a pre-loaded Stratocaster pickguard from StewMac to replace the original white one. The original pickups work but the tone pot doesn’t and by the time I purchased pickguard material, a potentiometer, a capacity, some wire, etc it was almost a inexpensive to buy the thing loaded and wired. As it turns out, the new Strat guard doesn’t fit the Ibanez very well at all and although I could make it fit, I’ve decided on plan B. I’m going to paint the original pickguard black and fit the new pickups and switches to it. Of course this requires a humbucker to single coil adapter for the bridge pickup which I have decided to fabricate myself. These can be purchased for $5 plus shipping but I’m going to try cutting up an old plastic license plate as the base material. As I test, I painted the back tremolo cover with some flat black paint I had on hand and it actually came out way better than I would have anticipated. Of course the tremolo arm I purchased for it (all black of course) also doesn’t fit (too small) so I’ll try to adapt it which might be as easy as taping the threads, we’ll see. I haven’t decided if I’m going to purchase new tuning machines or not. I’d like to purchase some locking tuners in black but realistically that would not be a good investment for this guitar. This project is about learning and making the guitar serviceable without spending any real money.   After all, it would make more sense to buy a new Fender Squire for $120-150 so what would be the point of spending that much on this relic. Oh, I’ll be buying those locking tuners but they will be for installation on the guitar I am to build, not for this pile of bones. I even purchased several sizes of copper shielding tape for shielding control/pickup cavities but have decided to use that on my new build also. This Ibanez will be shielded using heavy duty aluminum foil which I have on hand and which actually worked quite while. Next I’ll clean and polish the frets and install a new Tusq nut. I’m excited because all of this is a first for me.
Meanwhile I’ve begun shopping for my first build. I’ve been watching guitar wood now for over a year and I decided that I really like black limba aka korina. Well, usually when you see korina guitars they are white limba but being a woodworker, I actually like wood figure so black limba with its black sapwood fingers is my favorite. I found some with great pricing so I bought two body blanks. I also picked up a macassar ebony, ziricote and two hard maple finger board blanks.  Here are a few pics of my stash thus far. They appear to be two-piece slipmatched blanks. The blank on the left has a dark center with light outer areas and this pattern is reversed on right-hand blank. I’m happy with both.
Solid Body Guitar Blanks Solid Body Guitar Blanks
Here is a snap of the ziricote and macassar ebony finger boards with the body blanks.
Solid Body Guitar Blanks - Black Limba
I’m just getting started folks, this effort will span years. I’m going to take my time, learn and have fun. If I’m lucky, even make something pretty.
You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.
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