Lalli's Axe Strat

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Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:48 pm

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.

01-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat.jpg
Frontal pose


02-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat body.jpg
Body from the front


03-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat headstock.jpg
Headstock with my logo and "Lalli's Axe" decal
Attachments
04-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat back.jpg
Back pose
Last edited by Markku Nyytäjä on Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:51 pm

05-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat side.jpg
Sideways


06-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat neck joint.jpg
Neck joint


07-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat neck joint side.jpg
Neck joint from the side
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:59 pm

08-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat headstock back.jpg
Headstock and machine heads from the rear.


08-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat machine heads.jpg
Machine heads in a close-up. These ones are really accurate, smooth and solid.


11-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat trem close-up.jpg
The trem bridge in a close-up
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:05 pm

12-NYDE Lalli's Axe Strat body bottom.jpg
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
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Warren May » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:21 am

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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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Hans Bezemer » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:42 am

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

Hans
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Samuel Hartpence » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:42 am

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?
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:03 pm

Samuel, yes - the neck flattens slightly towards the higher frets. It feels comfortable.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:11 pm

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.

01-Sanding_the_body.jpg
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.


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


03-Routing_truss_rod_channel.jpg
I had a maple blank wide enough for two necks and saved time routing two truss rod channels as well.


04-Cutting_out_neck.jpg
Cutting out the neck, back contour first...
06-Cutting_out_neck.jpg
...then the shape.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:28 pm

08-Shaping_neck.jpg
I'm not good friends with spokehaves, so I shape my necks with different sanders. I start out with a belt sander...
09-Sanding_neck.jpg
...and continue with plane and detail sanders.


10-Drilling_neck_pocket.jpg
After finishing the neck I continued with the body, drilling away excess wood from the neck pocket with a forstner bit before routing it.
11-Drilling_electronics_cavity.jpg
Drilling the electronics cavity and the pickup cavities prior to routing.


12-Routing_neck_pocket.jpg
Then off to routing the neck pocket to the right depth and shape.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:42 pm

13-Routing_pickup_cavities.jpg
Routing the pickup cavities and the electronics pit using my template clamped to the body,


15-Rounding_off_body_edges.jpg
Rounding off the body edges with a table router.


16-Sanding-_forearm_rest.jpg
Using a belt sander for shaping the forearm rest...
17-Sanding_body_back_contour.jpg
...and the back contour.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:57 pm

18-Soldering_the_electronics.jpg
Soldering together the pickups and the controls.


19-Checking_the_electronics.jpg
Checking with a tuning fork that everything works. Everything works.


20-Temporarily_assembled.jpg
I assembled the guitar temporarily before starting to paint it to rule out any flaws.


22-Body_sprayed_with_primer.jpg
Then I disassembled the guitar to paint it. First I sprayed the primer...


23-Body_painted.jpg
...then the top colour.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:29 pm

24-Lacquering_the_body.jpg
Spraying the clearcoat. I use Troton 2-component acrylic lacquer that sprays really nicely and cures in 16 hours.


27-Sanding_body_lacquer.jpg
I wet sanded the lacquer even with a plane sander - and the trickier spots by hand.


28-_Polishing_the_neck.jpg
Polishing the neck with a random orbital sander, a sponge buffer and Farécla G3 paste.


29-_Polishing_the_neck.jpg
Polishing the tricky spots with a rag wheel.


31-Polishing_the_body.jpg
Sponge buff for the body...
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:41 pm

32-Polishing_the_body.jpg
...and the rag wheel for the cutaways.


33-Installing_machine_heads.jpg
The rest went in quick succession. First I installed the machine heads.


34-Installing_the_bridge.jpg
...the trem bridge...


35-Installing_trem_springs.jpg
...and the trem springs.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:53 pm

36-Shielding_pickup_cavities.jpg
After attaching the neck I shielded and grounded the pickup cavities. Now they're grounded for life.


37-Installing_pickguard.jpg
Installing the prewired pickguard assembly.


38-Straight_off_the-_assembly_line.jpg
Et voilà! Here she is - straight from the assembly line!
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Bob Francis » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:16 pm

Very nice!
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Jason Rodgers » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:46 pm

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.
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Mike Baker » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:48 am

Beautiful work and beautiful strat!
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Hans Bezemer » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:26 am

Markku,

Thank you very much for your pictures!
Very educational.

Hans
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Re: Lalli's Axe Strat

Postby Mark Swanson » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:38 pm

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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