Jump to content

Voting for this month's Guitar Of The Month contest is now open! Regular members can cast their vote over here:



GOTM Winner
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Skyjerk

  1. 24 Magnum

    Thanks everyone for the kind words So I had some lacquer issues over the weekend that required I sand the clear off the back. As it turns out, shooting nitro in high temps can cause some issues with bubbles forming in the clear if you shoot even a moderate coat. Temp on Sunday was a cozy 95 F. (35 C.). Humidity wasnt too bad, around 55%. I shoot in my garage with the door all the way up so its outside for all intents and purposes. I'd hoped to finish the clear and put the guitar downstairs to harden and be finished with this phase, but I'm just going to have to wait for better conditions. Normally I shoot in spring and fall, but didnt really want to wait on this guitar so I gave it a shot. The top on the other hand helps me feel like the day wasnt a total loss. I had already shot most of the clear a couple weeks ago without issue. In addition to the back, I level sanded the top with 320 grit dry paper which made short work of the job, but of course left pretty heavy scratces, and then I shot a flow-out coat of lacquer that was cut with 60% thinner and 5% retarder. I shot it with the guitar laying on its back and let gravity be my friend. It also prevented runs and sags which a very thin lacquer can do very easily. the result is almost no orange peel at all. I'll still have to level sand this when the time comes but its going to be a very quick job. I'll hit it with 800 wet and then go straight to the buffer and I'm confident its going to look spectacular. This is definitely the best pre-wet sanding finish I've managed to date. So I still need to get about 4 good coats of clear on the back. I'm hoping to do this piece meal like one coat each day early evening when the temps are lower but before the humidity gets too high... So the below pix are the finish as shot straight from the gun. Not wet sanded or buffed at all. Its gonna look like glass after I actually do the wet sanding and buffing...
  2. 24 Magnum

    Hi Guys. I havent been around for a few months after first joining this forum back in in November. I did a build thread on this forum of an original design called the "22 Magnum" which I didnt actually complete. That guitar is still waiting for lacquer. I got side-tracked by a tragedy in my personal life and I didnt go into my shop for several months. When I finally went back I set the 22 magnum aside for a while to do a different build. This build is dedicated to my first born son, Chris. Chris passed away on Feb 18, 2017 from an accidental overdose of heroin/fentanyl. He was 24 years old. Christopher Francis Leahy April 6, 1992 - February 18, 2017 I wont spend a lot of time here detailing what Chris meant to me other than to say he is my firstborn, my namesake, my son, and a kindred spirit in many ways. He's a part of me and I couldn't love him more. He changed me in a very fundamental way the day he came into this world, and he did so again the day he left. A significant part of me died with him that day. Chris is gone from the physical world, the world in which the rest of us must continue to exist, and 4 months later I'm struggling to find a way to live with that. I have to conclude at this point that it will never be OK, nor will I ever be whole again. I'm moved by the deep and abiding love I feel for him to create some kind of physical memorial. Something that I can touch and see and that connects me with Chris through sight and sound and spirit. Chris had very recently found a true passion for playing guitar and making music, so a special guitar seems appropriate and right. I was already working on a custom build as a gift for him but he died before I completed it. That guitar remains unfinished in my studio and will remain there unless and until my other son Jake, Chris's younger brother, claims it for his own. He is the only other person on earth to whom I would ever consider giving it. Its his guitar now. The Phoenix I'm building for myself. As to why I'm calling it "The Phoenix", that should become apparent pretty quickly. In addition to being dedicated to Chris, this build will also be a tribute to him and will prominently feature several special, custom shell inlays that represent special tattoo's that he had. The largest of these is a phoenix taking flight on the front of the body and a large Aires logo on the back of the body. I was there with him on the occasions he got those two tattoos. In fact, I paid for them. The phoenix was on his chest, and the Aires symbol on his shoulder. I also have a tattoo of a Phoenix on my own chest that predates Chris's by many years and was one of Chris's motives for choosing it for himself. As low-brow as this all might sound, we have a mutual love of tattoos, and these two in particular represent special memories of some of the good times that we shared. I cherish them. Both tattoos are visible in the above photo of Chris. There will also be a couple smaller inlays, another Phoenix on the fretboard as a large 12th fret inlay, and an abstract Aires symbol on the headstock. The main two inlays will be quite accurate compared to the tattoos with regard to shape and size, but wont be accurate representations of the colors simply because shall is available in limited colors, and of course they will be set into dark colored wood as opposed to skin. As a side note, in addition to putting his phoenix on the guitar, I've also put it on myself as another remembrance. Back to the guitar. Approximate size and placement of the Aires symbol on the back of the body. The Phoenix will also be on the back, I'm still working out placement. This Phoenix symbol will be on the fretboard in white MOP The last inlay will be on the headstock and will be an Aires symbol in white MOP With regard to the guitar itself, the body and headstock shapes and top carve makes up for what was lacking in my <em>original</em> 24 Magnum design from a few years ago. Having lived with that for a couple years, and having played it, theres some more changes I\u2019ve made to the body shape, among other things. The plan with this design is to appeal to the tastes of people that like PRS guitars and fill that niche This body shape is called "Magnum" and this is a 24 fret version, hence "24 Magnum". I previously built a 22 fret, 25" scale version of this guitar which I called the "22 Magnum" In addition to a better shape, it also has a better top carve This model, as with most of my builds, has the following notable features: Neck-through-body construction 3-piece laminate neck carbon fiber neck reinforcement Specs: 25.5" scale length 24 stainless steel frets 12" fretboard radius Genuine South American mahogany ( Swietenia macrophylla ) body and neck Bookmatched, figured maple top and headstock overlay Natural "faux" binding Macassar Ebony Fretboard Original Floyd Rose Tremolo White mother-of-pearl Phoenix symbol covering frets 11, 12, 13 Planet Waves 3×3 locking tuning machines Seymour Duncan pickups - Custom Custom (TB-11) bridge, and Sentient neck) 5-way blade (n, n-split, n/br, br-split, br) CTS pots, orange drop caps Nitrocellulose Lacquer I want to take a minute here to give special recognition to my friend Paul Eckert at Sweetwater. I've worked with Paul for about 5 or 6 years and have made many purchases of recording equipment, instruments, and guitar parts over that time and he always gives first rates service. Over the course of our association we've also become friends. I always share pics and updates on my builds, we've talked about all manner of things, musical interests, our various recording projects, and most recently the birth of his own son who is now 7 months old. Upon hearing of my sons passing, today when I placed the order for the pickups and tuning machines for this tribute build, rather than sending me the usual awesome pricing he always gives me, this time he just said "This ones on me" I cant adequately express my gratitude for his generosity of spirit. All I can say is thank you, Paul. Materials for this build. The reddish-brown boards on the right are a very nice quality 8/4 Bolivian mahogany I picked up at Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford PA. They will be used to make the body, the neck, and the headstock and so will comprise the bulk of the guitar. I appropriately picked them up on what would have been Chris's 25th birthday 2 weeks ago on April 6th. &nbsp; So here is my basic design drawing. We'll compare when its finished and see how close we came &nbsp; Macassar Ebony for the fretboard Hardware for this build: Original Floyd Rose tremolo Solid Tungsten sustain block for the bridge. These are the parts I mentioned above that were donated by Paul Eckert at Sweetwater. Seymour Duncan pickups. Custom Custom trembucker for the bridge slot, and a Sentient 6-string for the neck. Also a set of black D'Addario auto-trim locking tuning machines, and finally, a 4-pole, 5-way super switch
  3. 24 Magnum

    OK, shooting the clear. Still have a couple coats to shoot on the back this evening. Learned something new yesterday. It was 95 F. in my shop, but humidity was low, around 50% so I thought I didnt need to use retarder. I shot one coat a bit heavy and it formed all kinds of bubbles under the surface. A bit of reading showed me that in temps like that it skinned over too fast for the solvents to escape so they formed bubbles. Waited till it hardened and then sanded it off. Re-shot it with a little retarder and lighter coats and didnt get the bubbles. I thought retarder was just to prevent blushing in high humidity, but I was wrong Still learning... Used timbermate for mahogany to grain fill, but darkened it with trans-tint tobacco brown I like the darker fill in the pores.
  4. 24 Magnum

    Thanks. Yup, it does. Especially now that it has a beak and an eye and the head looks like a head instead instead of a pseudopod... I used one of the floating flame pieces to make the beak and for the eye I just carved a divot with my dremel and filled it with epoxy when I set the rest of the floating flame pieces for his eye. It looks like a stained glass window. To be honest I was somewhat afraid this would come out looking stupid and wreck the guitar, but I'm REALLY happy with how this turned out.
  5. 24 Magnum

    Tattooing the guitar... Still some work to do. I have some small detached pieces of abalone "flame" for the phoenix, and a few gaps to fill. I plan to carve a bit of detail on the head like beak silhouette with another piece of abalone and an eye, but this thing really lights up. I decided to use a dark epoxy on the phoenix because I like the dark border. It sets it off nicely and looks more "tattoo-like" IMO
  6. 24 Magnum

    Yup The large size bling (the Aries in the 2nd photo above and the Phoenix) go on the back though, so the main view of the guitar wont be overwhelmed with inlays. The front only has what you can see in the photo above. Headstock and 12th fret inlay which you can partly make out in the photo above as well. I think it'll remain in the realm of tasteful with regard to the bling
  7. 24 Magnum

    Sanded the gunk down and then spent some time at the disk sander roughing things out. TR cover needs to be thicknessed to about 2/3 its current thickness (from the back) and trimmed off where you see it overhanging the headstock overlay, the rest of it is sitting in the approximate location. The big Aries inlay for the back needs to be trimmed in some more. Still a bit oversized and the shape itself needs a bit more work. I'll do that tonite. You can kinda make out the big Phoenix inlay on the counter there. I'll be inlaying that as well as the Aires tomorrow and will hopefully shoot the rest of the finish over the weekend. Then it'll just be wait a few weeks, sand, buff, and wire it all up. If I'm happy with the finished product maybe I'll enter it in August GOTM
  8. 24 Magnum

    My standard truss rod cover. Pix speak for themselves I'll sand it off and cut it out tonite...
  9. 24 Magnum

    Did a bit of inlay work over the weekend. Unlike the headstock inlay I did not cut this myself, but sent my design to DePaule and they cut if for me This comes glued to the the cardboard, so I had to soak it in water to remove the backing from it. Had this been a more complex inlay with a lot more pieces I would cover the top with clear packing tape and just sit the bottom in the water until it comes off. The tape keeps all the pieces in their places. then I would put it where it will go, tape and all, and proceed as usual. Taking it apart and trying to work with all the little pieces can be a gigantic mistake and lead to a lot of regret Many thanks to Komodo for the chalk idea. Next time I think I'll sand the piece a bit smoother beforehand as the chalk filled a lot of stuff I didnt want it in, however even with that it was still a lot easier to see the lines when I did the routing Also, all I could find on short notice was kids sidewalk chalk which might not do as well as real "blackboard" chalk. I'll know soon, I still have my TR cover inlay to do I'll be cutting this out with an oval border and inlaying the entire oval into the back of the guitar. I inlayed the MOP into the ebony first because the white MOP just doesnt stand out that well in mahogany and I want the symbol to pop.
  10. 24 Magnum

    Did Hm. Not sure what happened here
  11. 24 Magnum

    Thank you Dalton
  12. 24 Magnum

    It It's straight up red darkened a bit with a VERY small amount of black, and I expect that some of the black still in the top darkened it a touch more. I left the black out of the lower cutaway because I knew it was going to mostly get covered over by the burst anyway and I wanted to make sure enough red was still there to show. It actually worked out exactly as I'd hoped :-)
  13. 24 Magnum

    forgot this pic. its my fav. dont mind all the orange peel.. I'm excited to see the finished product...
  14. 24 Magnum

    Mojo it is
  15. 24 Magnum

    Actually you caught a screw-up I cut that channel in several passes, and it was actually only the first pass where I went all the way. I caught myself and after a moment or two of feeling stupid I finished the rest of the channel properly so it doesnt go farther than the end of the truss rod. From the end of the truss rod back to the body is quite shallow. I thought about sticking a piece of wood in there to fill it but since it didnt really harm anything I just left it.
  16. 24 Magnum

    yeah a lot of people are unhappy with photobucket right about now. I actually host my own so thankfully I'm not suffering along with the rest of their users...
  17. 24 Magnum

    Yup. Very similar to the 22 special so the steps are pretty close to the same. I wish I could build one in 10 minutes Reality was the build part started a month ago and I had it strung up and playing in 11 days. Fastest one to date. Spent about a week or so playing it and then stripped it down again to do the inlays and finishing. Then spent another week or so organizing the photos on my own blog before putting the build thread up here on projectguitar. Yeah I love that plane. The 5 1/2 jack plane is my go to plane. I took it on the chin and bought several Lie-Nielsen planes past year. I have some tools that are much larger and heavier, but none that cost more. They are awesome tools
  18. 24 Magnum

    So this brings me up to where I am right now. To color the top I did the stain it black and sand back to enhance the figure, and then dyed it directly with water based aniline dye. Sorry, I didn't get a shot of the top after sanding off the black.... Next I shot a couple seal coats of thinned nitro, then the burst, then a couple coats of clear. Ive shot a seal coat of clear on the back and neck as well. I dont want to do anything else until I've done the large inlays on the back, and the truss rod cover as well. The back and neck will be natural/clear. No tint other than the slight darkening caused by the lacquer and grain fill. After all that is done it'll be about 4 more coats of clear, and then let it sit a few weeks. So heres where we stand as of today (July 7) Keep in mind theres orange peel here, and also they are low light shots taken with my phone. This will look a LOT nicer when the clear coats are on, its sanded and buffed, and the hardware is on
  19. 24 Magnum

    In the interest of full disclosure, while I do all of my own actual work inlaying the shell pieces, I don't always hand cut all my own inlay pieces. The more complex stuff I have cut for me by other companies that have CNC machinese. Its a thousand times faster, and the results are far nicer than I could hope to achieve trying to cut them out with a jewelers saw by hand. Simpler ones like this I do myself... This is a simple tribal ram symbol meant to represent Chris zodiac sign, Aries. The larger one will be on the back. I start out with some pearl blanks. This is a jewelers saw that I use to cut the pearl. I draw up the design in CAD and print it out. This is small so I put several on the same page in case I screw one up (and I did, too) and need to cut another. Cut out with a scalpel I glue it right to the piece of pearl, and then cut it out with the saw. Pretty much like sewing patterns are pinned to fabric and cut with scissors. Same exact idea, just different materials. The edges are then ground down to the lines and smoothed up mostly with small needle files. Some spaces are just too small to get even tiny needle files into, so thin little strips of sand paper do the job. Then the paper "pattern" is sanded off and Voila! I put masking tape on the area I'll be doing the inlay and set the pieces where I want them Trace around them with a pencil Then score the lines with a scalpel. The only reason I use the masking tape is because pencil lines are nearly impossible to see on ebony The I route out the pockets using a dremel with a router base, and a really small router bit with a 3/32" tip, and in some spots a good, old-fashioned hand chisel. Test fit... I mix up a small batch of clear epoxy, and then mix into it a bunch of fine sawdust I made by sanding a hunk of the ebony, This colors the epoxy close to same color as the actual wood. Fill the pocket with the epoxy and push the pearl pieces down into the epoxy. The resin underneath the pieces squishes out and up around the sides and fills any gaps. the next day once the epoxy is fully cured I sand the whole thing down until its flush with the rest of the surface The beauty of real shell inlay is that it catches, refracts, and reflects the light in almost any setting so that it appears to glow even in low light. The vastly inferior "pearloid" plastic inlays that many guitar manufacturers use to save money and time just dont even come close to being as beautiful. In the luthery field we call that stuff "mother-of-toilet-seat". I'll take the real stuff any day as long as its responsibly harvested. This design is kind of unusual in my experience. I'm normally <i>very</i> anal about symmetry. Compulsive even. This design is obviously asymmetrical. Its an adaptation of a couple different clipart designs I found on-line so while its technically original, its really not <em>truly</em> original. I put them together, fiddled with it, and wound up with this. The left horn is obviously split into two and the outer bit of it comes a good deal closer to the edge of the headstock than the right horn, so not only is it asymmetrical, but its partly off-center in the headstock even though the center of the symbol is on the centerline. Yet somehow this doesn't feel off balance or off center to me. I looked at it for nearly 40 minutes before deciding to go ahead and cut the pocket and put it in because intellectually I felt that it <i>should</i> feel wrong to me, but in fact it didn't, so I went ahead and put it in and I'm really happy with the outcome
  20. 24 Magnum

    At this point I put all the hardware on it to make sure everything fit, and to see how it plays and sounds, and I gotta say I'm really happy with it. With most guitars I've never played before, it takes me a little while to "connect" with it. I'm sure you know what I mean. I connected with this one right away.
  21. 24 Magnum

    and back to it.. A lot of this is self-explanatory. Hogging out wood for the control cavities using the drill press Routing the cavity... Routing the cover recess... Cover recess for the spring cavity, and the control holes... This bit here is a PITA the 5-way super switch needs a much thinner area of wood so I had to hand route with a dremel and chisels and nice flat spot for the switch. the wood is about 3/16"" thick there, so its strong enough Drilling the hole for the output jack... These shots are kind of comparisons with the plan, and how they turned out...
  22. 24 Magnum

    Hi Scott. Can you still not see all the pix? I couldn't at first, but refreshing showed them all. Maybe too many pix per post?
  23. 24 Magnum

    Hi Scott and Komodo, thanks for the kind words. It's been a real rough 4+ months. Like I said, I didn't set foot in my shop for 3 months. I just didn't care about much anything at all. the idea of a tribute got me moving again. I actually started it a month ago And currently I'm actually at the finishing stage. Pretty much buried myself in it so I'm just about done already. I shot the color coats on the top on July 4. My posts will catch up with the current status tomorrow whats left is the big inlays on the back of the body, and then clear coats. ill catch the thread up to date tomorrow. It's just time consuming and there's a lot of pix. I documented this one pretty well. if it looks familiar, this is very similar to the other build thread I did this past winter called "22 Magnum" in that case the guitar was 22 frets, 25" scale length, 10" radius. this one is 24 frets, 25.5" scale length, and a 12" radius. Also the body shape slightly different in that the upper horn is a bit longer and the lower cutaway a bit deeper. Ebony fretboard as opposed to rosewood. Different pickups. Totally aside from the greater emotional content of this build, I like the changes and prefer this version to the 22 Magnum. oh, and nice tip about the chalk. I'm going to put that into use immediately with the MOP Aries inlay for the back. I'm setting that into a circle of Ebony and lighting up those lines is a great plan. Thanks!
  24. 24 Magnum

    Heres these guys again, Needed for the neck carve!
  25. 24 Magnum

    You cant have too many clamps on here. I think I have 21 clamps on the body Like the neck laminate, since I used the UF glue for this is needed to sit for a good 24 hours before unclamping it. Once out of the clamps I can use the mahogany part of the body as the routing template to trim the maple top to match the body. I take a little at a time, rather than trying to route the whole thing in one pass. Takes longer, but makes a much cleaner job. Starting to resemble a guitar So now we can get back to the fretboard a bit. First thing we need to do at this point is to put the radius on the board. The radius is the curvature or the fretboard. They are rarely flat, but rather, have a slight curve. Some like more curve, and some like less. I like a 12' radius. What the radius refers to is, if you took that curve on the fretboard and followed it all the way around until it formed a perfect circle, it wpul;d be 24" (2 feet) in diameter. Of course the radius of a 24" circle is 12", the radius being the distance from the center of the circle to the outside edge. So there are a few different methods for making the radius. Some sand it, some plane it. I use a router jig I built myself. I wont both explaining here how the jig works, but you can see here the radius on the board. Next I use my table saw and another jig I made to slot the board Perfect. 25.5" scale length. Then I take my neck template again, and this time use it on the fretboard so that it matches up perfectly with the neck. Quick layout... Fun time. This is one of the several mother-of-pearl inlays I'm using for this guitar. This one is a small phoenix that will go on the fretboard. This is how I do the inlay. I put the piece on the fretboard and cut around the outside with a scalpel. I then use my dremel to route out the pocket for the inlay to sit in then I mix epoxy with the sanding dust from the fretboard to make it a matching color and glue it in... Sand it smooth the next day... I install the frets and I use my side dot template to drill holes for side dot markers Next is arguable the most important part of the build aesthetically. the top carve. I created a set of templates for routing concentric steps on the top that get me very roughly in the ballpark. All they really do is help keep everything symmetrical balanced and smooth,. The templates leave is with this This is bunny that lives in my yard. I see him almost daily. He keeps an eye on me and doesnt appear to be intimidated Now I use my box jig to route the top to the exact final thickness, and also carve the pickup and neck planes down. You can see this took the top down in the area between the neck and the bridge. Now I draw on where the pickups will go and some guidelines showing where the carve contours will be. Then I hog out the pickup cavities on the drill press. Finish them with a hand router, and templates. From here I carve the rest by hand. Of course "by hand" means I use a angle grinder with a grinding disk called a "Holey Galahad" I'm still using power tooks, but its done by eye and hand. No templates, guides, or other helpers that can keep you from ruining the guitar. These are the required pieces of equipment for this stage. Grinder and holey galahad on the right. Ear protection (grinder is super loud), filter mask, eye protection Here we go Jumping from Galahad to a random orbital sander with an 80 grit disk to smooth it up, followed by a 150, then 220 grit. Taking a break now to clamp a veneer of ebony on the headstock. I always like to sit the fretboard in place when taking pix, but its not actually attached yet. Minor routing repair to the bridge pickup routing. theres no such thing as a flawless guitar build (for me, anyway) Headstock out of clamps and routed to final shape. NOW the fretboard gets glued on Nice clean, tight joint. This bodes well