Lalli's Axe Strat

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Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Here comes my latest build, completed last Thursday and handed over to the client on his 50th birthday on Friday.

The client is an old schoolmate of mine whom I've known for some 40 years. His friends call him Lalli - hence the name. The original Lalli was a Finnish farmer who lived in the 12th century during a crusade led by Swedes and is widely considered a national hero and a symbol of resistance against intruders - or a villain to the Catholic church. According to the legend (or one of them) an English bishop called Henry, travelling with the Swedish troops, had entered Lalli's house while he was absent and demanded to be served food and drink, but refused to pay for them. On Lalli's return to his house his wife had also accused Henry of molesting her. Infuriated, Lalli had picked his axe and, assisted by his brother, chased the bishop out of the house and onto the ice of the nearby Lake Köyliö. When Lalli caught the bishop, he struck him to death with his axe. The church declared the slain bishop a saint, but most people consider Lalli the hero, a man who protected what was dear to him. The community of Köyliö takes pride in its festive hall Lallintalo (Lalli's House), a popular venue for rock concerts.

Last summer my friend Lalli asked me to build him an electric guitar and deliver it on his birthday. He gave me hints of the colours he liked and the music he likes to play but said he didn't want to know what kind of guitar I would build. It should be a birthday surprise. He's seriously into Pink Floyd, so I decided to build him a Strat. The colour he talked about is very close to one of the banner second from top on the MIMF site. I let my intuition lead me, hoping that he would like the guitar, and to my delight he did. A surprise is a surprise and you'll never know if it's a pleasant one. I put a lot of effort to figuring out what would please him and evidently succeeded. He could have hated it. Phew!

This was the third Strat I've built and the best one so far, so obviously I've learnt something over the years. There's actually nothing spectacular about it. If I hadn't replaced the bridge single coil pickup with a single coil size dual blade humbucker (that can be split to a single coil with a push-pull pot), it would have been pretty much a standard Strat. I just wanted to spice it up a bit.



Here come the specs:

Body alder, light blue, 2-component acrylic finish, blue pearl coloured pickguard and tremolo spring cover
Bolt-on neck maple 25,5"/650 mm scale, rosewood fingerboard, bone nut, pearloid dot inlays, 2-component acrylic finish
Pickups - neck overwound single coil GFS 8.25 kΩ, middle overwound single coil GFS 9.55 kΩ, bridge Belcat BHS-94 single coil size dual blade humbucker 12.6 kΩ with coil split on volume push-pull pot, middle pickup RPRW
1 volume 250 kΩ with push-pull switch for coil splt, 2 tones 250 kΩ with 47nF cap, 5-way switch, treble bleed filter in volume pot, Live Saver filter at the grounds
Wil Series Strat style floating tremolo bridge, Wilkinson tuners - 19:1 ratio' Chrome hardware

After I finished the guitar I took it the the photo studio at work and took some studio shots. If anyone is interested, I also have a pile of work-in-progress pics. Here's the studio stuff.
Frontal pose
Frontal pose
Body from the front
Body from the front
Headstock with my logo and "Lalli's Axe" decal
Headstock with my logo and "Lalli's Axe" decal
Attachments
Back pose
Back pose
Last edited by Markku Nyytäjä on Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Sideways
Sideways
Neck joint
Neck joint
Neck joint from the side
Neck joint from the side

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Headstock and machine heads from the rear.
Headstock and machine heads from the rear.
Machine heads in a close-up. These ones are really accurate, smooth and solid.
Machine heads in a close-up. These ones are really accurate, smooth and solid.
The trem bridge in a close-up
The trem bridge in a close-up

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Bottom view
Bottom view
On Friday, an hour before the birthday party, I quickly recorded some sound clips and uploaded them. Here are the links:

http://maihinnousu.net/s/18235
http://maihinnousu.net/s/18233
http://maihinnousu.net/s/18234
http://maihinnousu.net/s/18236
http://maihinnousu.net/s/18238
http://maihinnousu.net/s/18237

Warren May
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Warren May »

Great story about Lalli. That's a great looking guitar and sounds good, too. I like the blue combination you chose. Very nice and he should be really happy on his birthday!

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Hans Bezemer
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Hans Bezemer »

Compliments!
And yes I'm very interested in WIP-photo's

Hans

Samuel Hartpence
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Samuel Hartpence »

That appears to be a unique neck contour. Does it flatten out near the higher frets? If so, what are the factors driving that design?

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Samuel, yes - the neck flattens slightly towards the higher frets. It feels comfortable.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Okay, here come the workshop photos. I've had a digital compact camera on a little tripod, set up on self timer and to shoot 4 frames in a row. I have then selected the frames that in my opinion best describe the phase of work I'm currently in. If I've been in a hurry, I have skipped photography and just worked on the instrument, so there aren't pics of every phase.
Sanding the body. The two-piece body is alder. A Strat style body takes a lot of sanding with different sanders at different stages. This is just sanding it to the correct thickness and shape.
Sanding the body. The two-piece body is alder. A Strat style body takes a lot of sanding with different sanders at different stages. This is just sanding it to the correct thickness and shape.

The cutaways are easiest sanded with a drum attached to a power drill with an extension chuck.
The cutaways are easiest sanded with a drum attached to a power drill with an extension chuck.

I had a maple blank wide enough for two necks and saved time routing two truss rod channels as well.
I had a maple blank wide enough for two necks and saved time routing two truss rod channels as well.
Cutting out the neck, back contour first...
Cutting out the neck, back contour first...
...then the shape.
...then the shape.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

I'm not good friends with spokehaves, so I shape my necks with different sanders. I start out with a belt sander...
I'm not good friends with spokehaves, so I shape my necks with different sanders. I start out with a belt sander...
...and continue with plane and detail sanders.
...and continue with plane and detail sanders.
After finishing the neck I continued with the body, drilling away excess wood from the neck pocket with a forstner bit before routing it.
After finishing the neck I continued with the body, drilling away excess wood from the neck pocket with a forstner bit before routing it.
Drilling the electronics cavity and the pickup cavities prior to routing.
Drilling the electronics cavity and the pickup cavities prior to routing.
Then off to routing the neck pocket to the right depth and shape.
Then off to routing the neck pocket to the right depth and shape.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Routing the pickup cavities and the electronics pit using my template clamped to the body,
Routing the pickup cavities and the electronics pit using my template clamped to the body,
Rounding off the body edges with a table router.
Rounding off the body edges with a table router.
Using a belt sander for shaping the forearm rest...
Using a belt sander for shaping the forearm rest...
...and the back contour.
...and the back contour.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Soldering together the pickups and the controls.
Soldering together the pickups and the controls.
Checking with a tuning fork that everything works. Everything works.
Checking with a tuning fork that everything works. Everything works.
I assembled the guitar temporarily before starting to paint it to rule out any flaws.
I assembled the guitar temporarily before starting to paint it to rule out any flaws.
Then I disassembled the guitar to paint it. First I sprayed the primer...
Then I disassembled the guitar to paint it. First I sprayed the primer...
...then the top colour.
...then the top colour.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

Spraying the clearcoat. I use Troton  2-component acrylic lacquer that sprays really nicely and cures in 16 hours.
Spraying the clearcoat. I use Troton 2-component acrylic lacquer that sprays really nicely and cures in 16 hours.
I wet sanded the lacquer even with a plane sander - and the trickier spots by hand.
I wet sanded the lacquer even with a plane sander - and the trickier spots by hand.
Polishing the neck with a random orbital sander, a sponge buffer and Farécla G3 paste.
Polishing the neck with a random orbital sander, a sponge buffer and Farécla G3 paste.
Polishing the tricky spots with a rag wheel.
Polishing the tricky spots with a rag wheel.
Sponge buff for the body...
Sponge buff for the body...

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

...and the rag wheel for the cutaways.
...and the rag wheel for the cutaways.
The rest went in quick succession. First I installed the machine heads.
The rest went in quick succession. First I installed the machine heads.
...the trem bridge...
...the trem bridge...
...and the trem springs.
...and the trem springs.

Markku Nyytäjä
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:42 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Markku Nyytäjä »

After attaching the neck I shielded and grounded the pickup cavities. Now they're grounded for life.
After attaching the neck I shielded and grounded the pickup cavities. Now they're grounded for life.
Installing the prewired pickguard assembly.
Installing the prewired pickguard assembly.
Et voilà! Here she is - straight from the assembly line!
Et voilà! Here she is - straight from the assembly line!

Bob Francis
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Bob Francis »

Very nice!

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Markku, you're one crazy son of a gun with the sanders! I love your build documentation. Sweet, classic guitar, too.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Mike Baker
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Mike Baker »

Beautiful work and beautiful strat!

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Hans Bezemer
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Hans Bezemer »

Markku,

Thank you very much for your pictures!
Very educational.

Hans

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Post by Mark Swanson »

Good work, Markku and thanks for posting all the pics too.
Haven't you tried a nice rasp to shape your necks? A good rasp would get you a neck 80-90% shaped, faster and with a lot less dust. Then you can finish things off with the sander.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

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