The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Welp, it’s going on almost 2 years since my daughter was born and a year since I actually finished my first archtop.

    During that time, a ‘smaller’ spruce tree was getting taken down in my parents yard where I grew up, and I have always wanted to make a guitar top with it. When they cut it, they left me a 4’ piece of the trunk to make do:
    Here we go again..-3ca30921-f193-4673-9fd0-74318aa5c35d-jpg

    While I was visiting for Xmas, I took it to the mill and had it cut so it could fit traveling back to VA. I got 2 flat saw slabs of quarter sawn wood, and 2 pieces actually quarter sawn:
    Here we go again..-03d65aa8-2b30-4a01-90d7-7109d674c63a-jpeg

    Unfortunately, there was some ants that took refuge in the edges, where the tighter grain was located. It had some knots, etc and it isn’t the most amazing pieces of spruce, but I’m gonna experiment and see what happens…

    I always have been fond of the ES-140 3/4 scale guitars and after seeing the short-scale Monteleone, I settled on a small bodied archtop. I recently learned of Fibonacci guitars and they build a beautiful guitar in the same vein as the ES-140 with Venetian cutaway called the Chiquita. I think I’m gonna go a body depth midway between the ES-140T(1.75” deep) and ES-140 (3.25” deep). Thinking maybe 2.5” or 2.75” ….. any suggestions? I’m thinking I’ll try to expand my luthier skill set and have a Florentine cutaway and bind the neck and body. I’ll prolly go parallel bracing again, because my first guitar sounds really vocal and I have fear of the box joint for X-bracing.

    I’m planning to expand my electronics experience as well, and put an inset humbucker PUP that will have a knob to split to single coil since I’ll only have a neck pickup.

    I enlarged a few pics of guitars at Kinko’s that I’m using as a general shape template.. this is one example:
    Here we go again..-d7896d81-bdba-41c2-a55b-0e9cc64519c9-jpg

    Since I sold my Flat Five X last year,
    I’ll prolly use a Godin style F-hole:
    Here we go again..-0398c41a-3e79-41e0-8ef4-e0c9d09e6d51-jpg

    This won’t be documented nearly as detailed as my first, but I’ll keep a general log going FYE.

    Last edited by sbeishline; 12-30-2021 at 11:45 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Watching this space with great interest....

  4. #3

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    Went to the local hardwood supplier and to my delight, they had a few boards of 4/4 Birdseye maple. Took my time to sift through and found a few remarkable ones I couldn’t leave behind. Despite the hefty price, I dropped a bag of coppers on it for the sides and back. Here’s an example of a rough lumber board:
    Here we go again..-b0301190-e7b3-4fb2-b7cb-315f98a6e9b6-jpg

    Was undecided about body depth and started by laminating two 3/4” pieces of plywood:
    Here we go again..-fa0a0968-e0f8-44a4-8bf6-a38c4cbf0512-jpg
    Here we go again..-3c040e3e-5260-4840-9580-03ef32631c65-jpg

    The next day I realized I want to at least be at 2.5”, so I laminated a 3rd piece today:
    Here we go again..-5d0324b9-48a6-462a-856f-954f8760494d-jpg

    Here’s the slab of spruce I used:
    Here we go again..-f87de292-8fa7-4f04-be5b-a95cd7cb32de-jpg

    Bandsaw cut lines to remove the pith:
    Here we go again..-e2e048cb-8a38-4107-a87c-30a5d117d46c-jpg

    Here’s the glued top plate pieces. It has a lot of flaws, but it’s more of a sentimental top if it holds up.

    Of note, I decided to put the tighter grain towards the centerline as it will hopefully give more strength under the bridge:
    Here we go again..-14c21c3d-1ae1-4b46-a703-43c6f3cb98a9-jpg

    I used Tite Bond II this time instead of HHG because I didn’t have any made up and my glue pot was at home.

    I was only able to get just over 13” wide, so it’ll hopefully make it to end up at 12.75” at the lower bout.


  5. #4

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    I’m gonna keep watching your progress! Any reason for nog using PU glue?
    If it’s any use I’ve made a DWG for a Gibson ES 235 shape but it’s 14” at lower bout.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eck View Post
    I’m gonna keep watching your progress! Any reason for nog using PU glue?
    If it’s any use I’ve made a DWG for a Gibson ES 235 shape but it’s 14” at lower bout.
    I had to look up what you meant by PU glue. Haha

    No reason in particular.. however, PU requires moisture to cure and it expands as it cures. When glueing 2 smooth surfaces together I wouldn’t want any expansion potentially pushing the 2 pieces apart. That’s a benefit of hot hide glue- they say it pulls the surfaces together as it cures.

    I only used it once to glue a broken clay pot back together and that stuff expanded like foam insulation!

  7. #6

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    With the piece of spruce I have to work with, I am limited to a 12.5” lower bout max to keep seam midline (right hand half is 6.25”):
    Here we go again..-fa95042b-aa47-4dbb-96ec-dbda86f56773-jpg

    I used the ES-140 photo I enlarged to 12.5” and decided to meld it with the cutaway shape from the Pedersen Little Drea:Here we go again..-705fbc0a-8a3c-497e-b047-670ede8a166e-jpg
    Here we go again..-81302a1f-5e18-44d2-9b74-0ba17517f0bb-jpg

    Here’s a prelim tracing on the top plate:
    Here we go again..-69bfbb39-f29d-49b1-aece-b48bcb07c900-jpg

    Tonight, I made a general scale layout to see where the bridge location would end up. Amazingly, my plan to go 24.85” scale/22fret with 16th fret at body, landed the bridge in nearly exactly the same spot on my drawing as the photo of the ES-140 that used a short scale of 22.75”/19fret:
    Here we go again..-32d9f2e7-8194-4bbc-be6e-767fb872c2a5-jpg

  8. #7

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    Also traced the final shape to the mold and tried to refine the cutaway curve a tad:
    Here we go again..-23b222d8-0690-4b28-a4a1-908b86efd3cc-jpg

    I learned from the first build the mold isn’t something to rush over because it ultimately will affect how the body shell comes together and the how the shape will look. This time I used a square to make the neck block area so hopefully it’ll fit easier:
    Here we go again..-3fcdc3b7-2607-4160-a4b1-057047a90099-jpg

    Final mold cut lines for this weekend:
    Here we go again..-cc6b64ca-882f-4ecd-97eb-11de370519b1-jpg

    Will be forced to put the bandsaw skills to the test!

  9. #8

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    Brilliant! I looked inside my PRS Zach Meyers and saw the glue bulging out from between top and body, confirming what you said.
    I’m guessing your mould is ply, I’m guessing back and sides mahogany?

    I have pushed my project out, too much to do! But I’m thinking to have top bottom and mould cut out by laser cutting, hence the computer drawings. I also thought to put a Telecaster bridge and a Kent Armstrong p90 Stealth for the neck.

    I’ll keep watching.


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  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eck View Post
    Brilliant! I looked inside my PRS Zach Meyers and saw the glue bulging out from between top and body, confirming what you said.
    I’m guessing your mould is ply, I’m guessing back and sides mahogany?

    I have pushed my project out, too much to do! But I’m thinking to have top bottom and mould cut out by laser cutting, hence the computer drawings. I also thought to put a Telecaster bridge and a Kent Armstrong p90 Stealth for the neck.

    I’ll keep watching.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Yup - mold is plywood.

    Backs/sides will be Birdseye maple. Neck will be Spanish cedar.

    I’m planning to use vintage patina hardware and likely a single set-in Fralin Unbucker, which I’ve read is the best of both worlds with good PAF and when split, has legit single coil tones as the volume doesn’t drop because they’re unevenly wound. Would give this little beast some versatility.

    Any readers have experience with this pickup?

  11. #10

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    You could consider using "wings" to get to 15"

    It's still your tree at work . . .

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    You could consider using "wings" to get to 15"

    It's still your tree at work . . .
    Or a contrasting center block. The possibilities are open.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by sbeishline View Post
    ...single set-in Fralin Unbucker
    It's your guitar and your choice, but, IMO, a pickup with a smaller footprint (like a mini-humbucker size) would look nicer in such a small guitar.

  14. #13

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    To be able to create a guitar out of a tree.... that's really something!!

  15. #14

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    "Only God can make a tree".

    Only a skilled luthier can make a guitar out of a tree.


    Following this thread...

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    You could consider using "wings" to get to 15"

    It's still your tree at work . . .
    Good point! Although, I do like the idea of having to work within some limitations.

    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    Or a contrasting center block. The possibilities are open.
    :-D

    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    It's your guitar and your choice, but, IMO, a pickup with a smaller footprint (like a mini-humbucker size) would look nicer in such a small guitar.
    Also a reasonable consideration... What are people's suggestion on one of these (one that's splittable and sounds good!)?

  17. #16

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    Did some final adjustments to make the cutaway look more satisfactory by eye and added in the centerline. I used the broad side of a marker to trace my pencil line so I could cut on the inside of the marker line to make sure I kept it short of 12.5" (some comes off when refining on the belt sander):
    Here we go again..-efc790db-a1ad-45af-8279-60f6dd0a2324_1_201_a-jpg

    I always forget that when cutting the mold on the bandsaw, once you get to the neck block area, you can't turn the mold enough to fit to cut it because it runs into the body of the bandsaw. So you end up having to flip the entire mold; however, you don't have any cut lines except for the cut line you've made. So I used a square to mark the 90deg angle and then just drew a line by eye to connect it to the upper bout line:
    Here we go again..-f0e640db-958f-486c-8195-04a6c8fee693-jpg

    Here's the final mold shape:
    Here we go again..-fb31326a-f043-4cf8-8d2e-b6c9beda70b0-jpg

    I epoxied in a acrylic plexiglass spacer as it spread the mold apart a little bit getting me closer to 12.5":
    Here we go again..-1c7b136d-efb7-4c76-aaa7-34c04a468053-jpg

    I also cut the inside waste pieces of the mold into clamping cauls, but didn't take any pics.

  18. #17

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    Just on the pickup, I don’t think I can recommend anything but have you seen the Kinman demoed by the Brit with a Gibson DC junior, “piano-like sound”. If you like that sound on a guitar Here we go again... Frankly I really like it but the price…..


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  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eck View Post
    Just on the pickup, I don’t think I can recommend anything but have you seen the Kinman demoed by the Brit with a Gibson DC junior, “piano-like sound”. If you like that sound on a guitar Here we go again... Frankly I really like it but the price…..

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Never heard of Kinman pickups - can you link the video?

  20. #19

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  21. #20

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    Got into the shop today to finish the mold and prep the cauls. Here's the final mold with lower bout at 12.5":
    Here we go again..-939d69e9-903b-4eda-9cd1-aa902749fc29_1_201_a-jpg

    Appears I did the neck block corner better this time than the first go around and hopefully will be easier to glue in the neck block:
    Here we go again..-8007c00a-90de-468b-bdf9-041c64fd22e7-jpg

    Here'r the clamping cauls:
    Here we go again..-bb147978-9666-4375-b914-35fff9defe11-jpg

    Marked and with cutaway caul:
    Here we go again..-33520ca9-cd06-4434-baf1-05a791763e93-jpg

    Just need to use the Festool mortiser to pop the mortise for the turnbuckle clamps in the cauls and stuck some cork lining on them and they're ready for some bent sides..

  22. #21

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    While in the shop, I also started the mill some Birdseye for the sides. Here'r the boards in rough lumbar shape after I band sawed the 9" board in half:
    Here we go again..-af9faf0e-c557-417d-acf0-f700779ae70a-jpg

    I then jointed a surface and edge, and planed them to about 1/2" and will let them acclimate on stickers tonight. I did the measurements for the sides, which came to approximately 26" for the non-cut side, 5.5" for the short cutaway piece and 21" for the long cutaway side:

    Here we go again..-ea850fd3-1166-49d7-be0f-b0a8c84d1c2c-jpg

    Here's a pic to better see the Birdseye figure:
    Here we go again..-20e8edae-9904-4d81-9b61-1548649ebc71-jpg

    Thankfully I ordered more neck blocks than necessary for the 1st build, so I don't have to reorder right away. Shipping from the suppler in CA is like $30 right now! Should be able to get both blocks out of one of these:
    Here we go again..-c39c1360-bdeb-4329-b0e9-b38fbcfc90f6-jpg

    I think this was the block I previously milled to make the side braces. Hopefully I can get 10 braces that are 3/32" out of this remnant!
    Here we go again..-f0fc50c9-aced-4547-aac8-65f7b59229b4-jpg

    Supplier where I got those neck/tail blocks were out of spruce kerf linings, so I ordered from a different place that had it in the states and is on it's way. I am open for directions from anyone who has a recommendation on how to mill the cutaway corner block to fit properly! That's all for now.

  23. #22

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    In my builder’s supply shop they used to have these ‘shape copiers’, like a stack of metal pins that could move individually and held together by a clever frame. But somehow I have a feeling you know about those given your substantial knowledge and skills, not to mention Festool (drool).


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  24. #23

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    Maybe taping the inside of the mold at the block location and then spray-paint to create a positive template? I’m watching your progress and learning, although I’m thinking of a laser cutter and birch ply for the sides of my future project


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  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eck View Post
    In my builder’s supply shop they used to have these ‘shape copiers’, like a stack of metal pins that could move individually and held together by a clever frame. But somehow I have a feeling you know about those given your substantial knowledge and skills, not to mention Festool (drool).

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Sort of like a contour gauge, but I don’t think it would work in this particular corner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eck View Post
    Maybe taping the inside of the mold at the block location and then spray-paint to create a positive template? I’m watching your progress and learning, although I’m thinking of a laser cutter and birch ply for the sides of my future project


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I was thinking of something along those lines.. like bending the sides and then tracing the shape over the block. Can prolly get somewhat close on bandsaw, but I bet getting it to fit exactly would be tedious.

  26. #25

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    Got to the shop for a day last weekend and milled up some of the leftover spruce for more side braces:
    Here we go again..-side-braces-1-jpgHere we go again..-side-braces-2-jpg

    Amazingly, I had a piece left over measuring 1" thick and and at least 2.5" wide. Being that I used 4" for a 15" guitar, this one I'm making 3.75" as it's a 12.5" body:
    Here we go again..-neck-block-1-jpg
    Here we go again..-neck-block-2-jpg
    Here we go again..-neck-block-3-jpg

    Since then, I decided I'm going to make the final guitar thickness 2 1/2", I will cut this to 2 1/4" thickness next time I'm at the shop (2 1/8" side + 1/8" excess).

    Neck block cut to size (I think I did 2.5" wide, similar to last guitar):
    Here we go again..-neck-block-jpg