This was originally posted on http://forum.japanaxe.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2784 before TheSupposedStringMeister blog existed.
Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:41 am
Restoring a guitar is much harder and more time consuming – I restored an SA30 and a Yamaha FG230.
Building a guitar was the next challenge – so I decided to build one from scratch with the SA30 as a template. My tribute to this classic shape.However, my lack of guitar building skills required that I kept it simple. So no arched top, just flat, and a bolt on neck. This is my practice run for eventually building a real archtop guitar.
My thinking was that making the neck was the hardest so I should start with that. If I could build a playable neck then I would continue with the body.In the mid nineties I cut a medium sized Kanuka tree down into planks and stored them under the house for making some furniture one day. Kanuka is a hard wood and very strong and dense. So one day a few months ago I pulled a plank out and the neck building had started.Here some pics. Oh, and you will notice that I don’t have too many tools, so there is a lot of elbow grease involved! Doesn’t look much…
One side done…
Nice plank, nice grain…
Very professional… First mistake, cut the head stock angle too shallow.
Shaping of the neck happens at the end not at the start. Anyway, I managed the hard way.
Here a pic of the headstock. To correct the shallow angle, I glued the cutoff onto the back of the headstock and cut another piece off of the front. I am happy with the result as the pieces match quite well with only a very thin joined visible.
Next the fret board.
Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:29 am
Now you know why the neck is not shaped until after the fretting has been done!!!
Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:48 am
Time for a test drive!
With the fretboard in place and all fretted up it was time to test my neck building exercise. I wasn’t going to start on the body until I knew I had something that was playable.
So I cut bone nut and drilled the tuner holes. I had some spare Gotoh tuners that could be used for the test drive. Here a pic of the headstock with tuners and nut. Note the zero fret.
The neck needed a simple body for the bridge and tailpiece. A piece of 5 ply board was used, holes were cut for mounting the hardware and a single volume pot and humbucker.
I strung her up with 11’s flat wounds and put a DiMarzio Humbucker from Hell in (borrowed from a mate). This humbucker is designed for the neck position, and man, it is a great humbucker. So below a photo of the LOG as I called her. (You know where that came from don’t you?)
Summary of the test drive:
In short, I was VERY HAPPY with how the neck performed, the notes were in tune and the intonation was nearly perfect. Action was acceptable and could not be tested as I could not lower the (floating) bridge. I was so happy with playing THE LOG that I did not disassemble her for a few weeks. It was amazing what an enjoyable sound I could get out of that simple guitar! Must have been the humbucker!.
Oh, she was light as – you could have played her standing up for hours without getting a sore back… (remember this statement please…)
Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:44 am
Some more progress… I finally finished the neck! I used several coats of a stain/varnish which I rubbed in by hand. Then finished it with micro cloth for a smooth feel. Also made a truss rod cover from a bit of cow bone. Came up nicely IMO. Tried a bone inlay and cutting it wasn’t too bad. The rebating is the hard part. A bit scruffy but I am pleased with it anyway, especially when not eyeballing it too closely. Also changed the tuners to Grover Rotomatics.
There are a few other ‘stuff ups’ here and there, but overall this is one hell of a sturdy neck! Here some pics.
Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:44 am
Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:51 am
Shows you how good these guys were in their days!
The pickup selector switch was easy.
All done. See those two little black switches…. They took forever to get in and I admit, I needed help from my mate Jeff to get them in.
Expect some photos of the fully assembled guitar next weekend.
That little black spot on the binding is a little fly.
Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:48 am
It is essentially a flat fretboard with ever so light curving around the edges as a result of the sanding. I find it easy and my brother n law does not seem to have a problem with it either. See video clips attached. Poor quality but it gives you some sort of idea what it sounds like.
First clip shows the different sounds possible with pick up selector. Second clip switches the neck pickup from parallel to series. Probably too poor a recording to hear it.
Thanks to my BiL for playing.
Thanks for watching this build. Next build will be a stratocaster….