Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

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Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Adam Savage » Thu May 16, 2013 7:04 pm

Greetings folks,
Having finished my first build and been pleased with the end result, I have moved straight onto my second. As previously, I could not have completed this without the help of many folk on this forum, but the primary inspiration has come from Chad McCormacks thread on building a similar style instrument (though Chads' is to a considerably higher standard).
With this guitar, I wanted to explore a few new techniques/designs, and as such went for a clamshell-style hollowbody with 3 single pickups (again by Bareknuckle, a UK producer of pickups) wired in a standard strat style but with a single tone and volume control.
I was lucky enough to come into a fair amount of reclaimed afromosia timber (previous life as workbenches at the university where my father-in-law works) for nothing but the price of fuel for collection. I havent measured it up, but I reckon there is enough for several more guitars, should I decide to use it. Amongst the planks are quite a few with near full QS, and I am going to attempt an acoustic build at some point from it.
Overall, I am happier with this guitar than my first (the padauk bodied-with-inlaid-stripes twin humbucker beastie) as I feel the technical level of completion is higher. However I am not *quite* so keen on the aesthetics, and given the indian rosewood for the neck, it is a little neck-heavy. Anyway, before I rabbit on too much, here is a specsheet for it, and a few photo's of the build :

Body - hollowed afromosia
Neck - indian rosewood (I had bought a one-piece neck blank from Gilmer Woods a while ago, and decided to mill it into planks to use as scarf-jointed necks. This way I will have three necks for the price of one blank)
fingerboard - Scottish laburnum
Scale - 25"
Pickups - Bareknuckle Irish Tour set, centre pickup RWRP
Selector - standard 5-way blade
Tuners - Gotoh
Bridge - Gotoh 510

Here is the afromosia as I received it :


This was to be the front of the guitar, a nicely figured and bookmatched piece, but I ended up routing away on the wrong face meaning that it had to be used for the rear. Not a huge problem, but another 'measure twice, cut once' error. You can see the lovely toffee-colouored afromosia well.

This was the template I used to rout out the inner chambers. The single template is used for one half of the body, then flipped over and used for the other half. With retrospect (and for any future builds), I shall use a way of indexing to improve fit when the two halves are glued together.

An awful lot of sawdust later (I am now wholly convinced of the need for an enclosed face-shield system when machining wood rather than a jury-rigged extractor hose) :

please see next post, Adam
Adam Savage
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:36 pm
Location: Sunny Alloa, Scotland

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Adam Savage » Thu May 16, 2013 7:18 pm

And the gallery continues...

There is no such thing as too many clamps. This is where an indexing mechanism would be extremely useful. The two halves slipped a little during glue-up. Perhaps only 2-3mm, but that is a fair bit when the sides are only 3/8" thick. I dont think it has adversely affected the remainder of the build, but I would prefer a neater match-up. A further issue was my choice of router cutters - I didnt have/couldnt find the bearing-guided dish-cutter, so improvised with a standard straight bearing guided and a bearing guided coving bit. Again, it worked, but wasnt terribly neat.

Moving on, here is a close up of the laburnum fingerboard with the slots cut. Whilst you dont see it here, the wood is near-as-damnit quatersawn. Unfortunately both the laburnum and the afromosia suffered a large amout of tearout when planed, so my drum sander was a godsend.

Neck tapered, fingerboard glued on. My method for tapering the neck is too use a taper template and top-bearing guided router cutter to shape prior to gluing te fingerboard. I then use the tapered neck as a template to rout the fingerboard to shape. Obviously, this means that the radius and frets can only be achieved once the fingerboard is glued to the neck. The lighter coloured afromosia you can see is indicative of another measuring error. I dont know how I managed this, but I cut the neck blank far too short. The easiest way to remedy was as seen here. The end-grain join wont have that much strength, but should be OK with the support from the heel-piece.

The body glued up and trimmed roughly, f-holes showing nicely and some faint pencil markings for pickup/control/bridge positions.

Absolutely nothing to do with the guitar, but a warning to those leaving a 9-month old boy and freshly-baked chocolate muffin in the same room.

Just one more post to go, I promise!
Adam Savage
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:36 pm
Location: Sunny Alloa, Scotland

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Adam Savage » Thu May 16, 2013 7:45 pm

Having left the body for now, here is the neck ready to be carved. This is an area I enjoyed, but became extremely frustrated at not managing to obtain the contours I had in my head. Nothing for it but practice really. The rosewood was nice to work, and once sanded to 600 felt fabulous in the hand.

I elected to finish the neck and body separately as I wanted less of a 'finished' feel to the neck. As my first guitar, I used tru-oil, applying 2 coats to the neck and 7-8 to the body. A look at the body, stuffed with kitchen paper. I sanded the body to 600 also, and de-nibbed the tru-oil every 3rd coat.

Gluing the neck to the body. Another use for a childs' buggy. I had a couple of problems with the heel join here. Initially the neck angle was fine, but I had left too much material on the base of the heel. When I had planed this off and squared up the gluing surface, the neck was sitting a little lower than I had planned - the fingerboard just dips below the top surface of the body. Again, not a major problem, but a niggle I would prefer not to be there.

A close up of the rear of the neck join. I think I could have taken the heel carving a little furtther. It is comfortable, but not nearly so much as my first build. Part of the problem, in my head at least, is that I didnt have as much neck tenon as previously, as it pretty much only goes as far as the end of the fingerboard, and I didnt feel confident reducing the mass of the heel.

Lastly, a full frontal photo of the strung up guitar.

Apart from the errors during construction as listed above, the main difficulty I had was in wiring up the hollowbody. Wire length from the neck pickup was an issue, and then having to feed everything in through the f-holes (which are only big enough if the blade switch is in certain positions and the jack socket isnt wired up so that I can sneak a finger inside the body to help position the control pots).
Due, I think, to the easier time I had of installing the frets, the fret-levelling process took less time this time around. I think there is a little more I could to the fret ends though - they are still a little sharp to the hands. Intonation was a little easier this time around mostly because the bridge was in a better position. I still have a little work to do on the bridge and nut heights, but apart from that, the guitar played fairly well straight away (and the 'lectrics worked first time too!)
Sound wise, it has a lovely nasal stratty tone not dissimilar to Mark Knopfler. Well, it would if I was anywhere near as talented. The tone control works, but not to a large degree (i had placed a .22 ceramic in there), and to be honest if it wasnt for the hassle of re-wiring through the f-holes, I would change it.

As I said in my first post on this, I am very happy with the end result indeed, and feel that this is measurably 'better' than my first guitar. I have learned a couple of new techniques, and improved my skills elsewhere. I think my next projects will take me away from electrics for a while (a pair of rippled maple ukes and a full-size acoustic or two), but I am hooked on these hollowbodies, so more will follow I am sure.

Many thanks for reading this far, and as always, I welcome and appreciate any comment you may have, good, bad or otherwise.
Adam Savage
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:36 pm
Location: Sunny Alloa, Scotland

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Jim Bonnell » Thu May 16, 2013 9:19 pm

Great job Adam! I like it a lot. I've been wanting to build a hollow body like that only out of ash for a while now. Your build will be a real inspiration. Thanks.
Jim Bonnell
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Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:32 pm
Location: Tampa Bay area Fl.

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby John Kingma » Fri May 17, 2013 7:09 am

Very nice.
John Kingma,
Builder of Fine Sawdust & Expensive Kindling
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John Kingma
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Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Chad McCormack » Fri May 17, 2013 11:36 am

Wow Adam! That turned out great! I'm happy to see the project finished up. There are a few things that you mentioned in your posts that gave me an, "Oh yeah! I didn't even think to mention that!" sort of reaction:

1. The slipping during glue-up: I drive a small (#18) brad into one of the halves in 4 spots where they will be out of sight and reach of any subsequent operation, then end-nip them so that only a little point of each remains sticking up. Then I align the two halves and clamp down to put the impression of the brad nub into the opposing half. That way, when I glue them up, the littlest bit of nub holds the whole operation in place.

2. The wiring through the f-holes: The first one of these "Equator" models that I built back in '07 (first daughter about the same age as your little one at that time!), I used a chamber shape like yours (U-shape) that did not allow access to the chamber through the bridge pickup. EVERYTHING had to be steered into place through the f-holes, and it wasn't fun. Now I use a different chamber shape (H-shape) which allows me access to the chamber through the f-holes AND the bridge position pickup rout. Much easier this way, and it actually helps the balance of the instrument, too, putting more mass at the lower bout.

Good looking stuff Adam!

Chad 8^)
Chad McCormack
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Location: Berwick, Maine

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby David King » Sat May 18, 2013 11:40 am

Now that's a pretty guitar. Be sure to share the cupcakes with everyone next time.
David King
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Adam Savage » Sat May 18, 2013 6:18 pm

Thank you indeed for the kind words - it is just a shame that you are unable to see it in the flesh, so to speak, and then perhaps the 'niggles' would come through as well as the edited photos :)
For some reason I have noticed that the G string keeps detuning. Initially I thought it was just the case I have it in (the headstock angle means that the tuners touch the bottom of the case), so I swapped cases and it still seems to be happening...
Jim - If you are looking for inspiration (thank you, by the way), then please look through Chad's thread. That's where I took mine from, and that's who supplied many answers to queries and questions I had.
Chad - the other idea I had for reducing mis-alignment was to incorporate a couple of locating holes in the routing template, so the alignment would be built in to the two halves themselves. But I suspect your idea might have the edge for ease of use! As to the f-holes, there would certainly be an advantage to access through the bridge pickup cavity, but much less so with a single coil perhaps. The other way I was going to attempt the pickup mounting was to do so from a rear cavity, and have them directly mounted to the top. However, I decided against as I thought it a little complicated, and there would have been issues around the neck joint the way I envisaged it.
I think for the next one, a carved top/rear is in order....

Cheers all,
Adam Savage
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:36 pm
Location: Sunny Alloa, Scotland

Re: Adams second build - a reclaimed timber hollowbody...

Postby Steve Senseney » Sun May 19, 2013 5:42 pm

Nice work!

I like it.
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Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

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