They say the 3rd time is the charm. I dont know who “they” is, but in this case they would be spot on 🙂
Having discovered the ins and outs of this original design on the first two builds, I put that knowledge to good use building the 3rd “22 Special”, and its flawless 🙂
For now I’m calling this one “Blue” and I’m not selling it to anyone. I love this guitar 🙂
Why? Because its blue, dumbass.
Blue flamed maple top, and blue paua inlays on both the fretboard and truss rod cover.
This guy is a 24 3/4″ scale length and has a TOM bridge and stop tailpiece.
OK, for my prototype run, I’m actually going to build three of these simultaneously, although many of the shots only contain two of them.
One being a “standard” and the other being more of a “deluxe” model with some more high end refinements, and the third “Blue” is the main subject of this thread.
The standard model will still include the touches one would expect from a higher end build.
The differences between the standard and deluxe models wont so much be in what one has and the other doesnt, but more in the striking appearance and rarity of some components.
More highly figured tops, more expensive woods, more intricate fretboard inlays, more difficult finishing choices, etc.
Both models will have all the features of a top quality instrument.
Right! Enough chit-chat. Lets make some sawdust!
First I have to take my rough cut boards shown on the previous page and get them into a shape I can work with. First, just cutting them to the right length. These boards are a really nice, light Bolivian Mahogany. Specifically its Swietenia macrophylla, which is the same tree as Honduran Mahogany. Most Honduran Mahogany wasnt actually grown in Honduras, they just like to call it that because Gibson made such a big deal out of it back in the day.
Then one side is flattened on the jointer
Then one edge is flattened as well. This gives me one flat face, and one flat edge, with a square (90 degree) corner.
Now that I have a flat, square edge I can register it on the tablesaw fence and cut the board to a consistent width end to end. Now I have a flat face, and two flat square edges.
Finally, facing the flat face down, I run it through the planer and take the top down until its completely flat on top as well. You can see in the photos below that the thickness was anything but uniform. Once I take it down until all the oxidized wood is gone, I know this board is now flat, square, and consistent thickness and width end to end.
NOW I can start using it to make guitars.
Next I slice up the wood into the sizes I need to make my necks. My necks need to be at least 40″ long and will consist of 3 pieces each laminated together. Laminated woods are much stronger, stiffer, and more dimensionally stable. By dimensionally stable I mean that they resist bowing and warping and are much stronger than single piece necks.
Two becomes four.
Four become eight.
I only need six here so I’ll set two aside for some future project. Once I have them lined up, I’ll reverse flip a couple over, and reverse a couple end-to-end. This will assure that in each piece the grain runs in a different direction from the other two pieces. This contributes even more to the stability because if one piece wants to bend one way, the piece its glued to will want to bend the other way, and then neither of them will move at all. 2 piece necks are better than one. three piece necks are even better than two. We do reach a point of diminsihing returns around this point. You can go to 5 or more, but the increase in stability above three becomes less with each increase. You can make some vert visually appealing necks with more laminations though. some do that very thing for that very reason.
the center board gets planed down a touch farther. I want the narrowest (weakest) part of the neck (where the nut is) to be composed of three equal width pieces so I determine what that number is and divide by three and make my center board that width. The other two need to remain wider because the neck gets wider as you move toward the body.
Finally, I sand down all the pieces removing any planing marks and provide a 100% flat surface for gluing.
Then they get glued up and put into the vacuum clamping system
and out come two neck blanks. These then get flattened on the top, and planed on the sides down to the width of the neck at its thickest point which is right where the end of the fretboard is.
Then I flop them over on their sides and draw on the profile using my template.
These then get cut out on the band saw
leaving us with two necks. These will be the core of the guitars
Using the router table I route the channels where the truss rods will go.
and the channels for the carbon fiber reinforcement rods. These rods make the neck even stiffer. You’ve probably noted a lot of focus on stiffness. The neck is the key to sustain. If its too flexible it will absorb and dampen the vibration of the strings. the stiffer the neck is the better the sustain of the guitar will be.
Rods baby. Rods.
Its a neck photobomb. An all hard maple neck I’m making for another build jumped into the picture at the last second…really.
Now I take the off cuts from the rough cut boards and give them the same jointer and planer treatment as the neck pieces.
these four pieces will become the body “wings” that will be glued to the necks.
These wings and the sides of the neck where they will joined are planed perfectly flat with my lovely Lie-Nielsen No. 7 jointing plane to insure the tightest, cleanest joint possible. Sometimes old school is still the best 🙂
All planed and ready to glue up.
Those are the ugliest guitars I ever saw
From this point on the pix will just be showing the Blue model this thread was focused on and just shows each completed stage as opposed to breaking down the construction methods that get to that stage. The main “22 Special” thread follows the other two builds in greater detail
wings and ears on
body, headstock, and neck profiles routed
Top bookmatched and glued on
Top carve steps routed
neck and pickup planes routed
Top steps sanded and carved
Pickup cavities routed
Toggle hole and switch cavity drilled
Fretboard radiused and slotted, ebony headstock veneer glued on, tuner holes drilled
Fretboard binding glued on
Body binding channel routed and binding glued on
Stop tailpiece holes drilled and bushings pressed in, control cavity routed and vol and tone knob holes drilled
a better look…