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Entry for August 2019's Guitar Of The Month is now open!


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beltjones last won the day on December 15 2018

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About beltjones

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  1. My how time flies. Some updates: I put a 7.5" fretboard on a strat as a test, and I can't get it to fret out when bending. I put a lot of time into leveling the frets, but I didn't do a micro-compound radius or any fall-off toward the end of the fretboard. I like playing it so much I pulled the frets on a tele and re-radiused the fretboard down to 7.5". I started carving the tops on these two builds. Again I've been bad at documenting with pictures, but the summary is that carving wood with gouges is knuckle-cracking, headache-inducing work. I started by routing a border around the top with a rabbet bit. Then I drew lines, and carved from line to line. The other guitar looks better. I'll get pictures of it tomorrow.
  2. I'm still waiting for that truss rod, so I've been keeping myself busy doing little things here and there. I glued wings on the headstocks to accommodate my headstock shape, and then resawed some lightly figured maple to make veneers. I drilled holes through the veneer and then used a reamer to open them up the rest of the way to eliminate any tear-out. After cutting out the rough headstock shape it was time to visit the oscillating sander to shape up the back. The back is shaped up and the sides are sanded to ~90% done. I'll do the rest by hand. And I opened up the truss rod access with the dremel. I might open up the truss rod access a little more - I need to stick an allen wrench in there to see if there's enough room. I'm looking through my list of things to do without that truss rod. I guess I'll carve volutes or something. I'm also thinking about doing a 7.25" radius on one of these. I know conventional wisdom is that 7.25" is no good because the string will fret out when bending. However, the new PRS silver sky has a 7.25" radius, and John Mayer doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Anyway, I went to the local guitar store to see if they had anything with a 7.25" radius because I've never played a guitar like that before. The guy who helped me told me that those don't exist outside of vintage instruments and Fender custom shop stuff. I said, "The new John Mayer PRS has one." He disagreed, and he even said he owns a Silver Sky and he "bends the shit out of it" and it doesn't fret out even with really low action, and that it can't possibly have a 7.25" radius. He looked it up on his phone, and of course I was right. He was super cool and shook my hand and said thanks for the info. Has anyone played a 7.25" radius guitar? Is the whole fretting out thing a myth?
  3. Ok, I had some good band saw time a couple of days ago, and some good plane time today. One complicating factor is that I only had one truss rod on hand, which meant I could only glue one fretboard and work on one neck blank. The other truss rod is traveling with his twin on a slow boat from China, so I'll have it in a few weeks. (Side note: I always finish each build with close to enough parts to start another build...) As soon as the other truss rod and his brother arrives I'll glue up that fret board. In the meantime I shaped up one of the neck blanks with the hand plane. Step one, I used fret2find to print out a pattern to guide my band saw cuts. I feel like I do this in a different manner every time. I should probably just make a template from MDF for a perfect neck blank and then use that with a router. But that would deprive me of hand planing, so.... Oh yeah, I marked out and drilled locations for fretboard locating pins (re-purposed picture hanging nails) using.... (use Oprah's voice for this part) My New... DRILLLLLLLLLLL PRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To my friends in the EU and Aus, et al - don't act like you don't know how Oprah would say that. Anyway, so I glued the fretboard and then cut off the little nubs for the pins and hand-planed each side. This is after some planing. Oh yeah, I also drilled holes through each blank that I like to use as permanent locating pins for the body wings with mahogany dowels. I tried a half dozen different woods for the dowels, but mahogany is the best tonewood for dowels. Here's the neck blank after planing... and here it is "mocked up" with the mahogany wings. Part of the fun is totally re-doing my process, so for next steps with this one I'll work on the headstock - glueing wings, adding the veneer, and cutting out the basic shape. Then I'll use a dremel to open up the truss rod access and I'll probably use a drill bit and reamer to open the tuner holes in the veneer.
  4. I want that back carve for my next top.
  5. Very cool. Any concerns about the strandberg patent? I'm not a patent lawyer so my reading of the patent isn't that helpful, but to me it seems very vague.
  6. Making progress on the neck blanks. I drilled the tuner holes and then cut off the back of the headstock and the back of the neck material. The holes turned out beautiful, with not a bit of tear out. I also wrote on the neck blank itself the depth of the truss rod route which I'll preserve somewhere on the neck blank until the neck carving is complete.
  7. I made a leather strop for my chisels, gouges, and plane blades. Good lord, what a difference it made in the sharpness of the tools. After sharpening and then polishing the plane blade with the strop, planing the maple and bubinga was just pure joy, even with a cheap, poorly maintained hand plane. I got so crazy with it that I stropped all of the knives in the kitchen, and of course warned my wife that it would take a lot less pressure to, say, cut up a pineapple. Now if one of the knives gets dull (from, oh I don't know, my mother in law using it to open a can of sweetened condensed milk) we feel like stone age cave people hacking at their food with shards of rock.
  8. There are two types of people. Well, maybe more, but two types I'll describe here. One type (like me) says, "I only have two hours to work on the guitar this week, I better rush everything." The other type (like Norris) says, "I only have two hours to work on the guitar this week, I'm going to drill two holes as perfectly as I can." I need to be more like Norris.
  9. Ok, it's been a while since an update. I've been busy - not too busy to work on this here and there - but too busy to post and write much about what I've been up to. After gluing tops and neck blanks, I started drawing concepts for shapes on the tops. One is going to be sort of tele-inspired but not tele-ish, and the other is more straty, but more like if a strat and an SG had a baby. Here's an in-progress pic of the straty concept between bouts of drawing and erasing. I'm drawing it directly on the top because I want to make sure I have enough material for whatever I come up with. Plus, once it's all drawn out and I like it, I can use the original drawing as the cut lines for the band saw. Once I had the shapes drawn out on the tops I made tracings on paper. This is for two reasons: One, I can use these tracings to make templates for routing body pieces later on, and two, I can fold one side over to make sure that the parts are symmetrical are supposed to be symmetrical. Here are some MDF templates I made. I routed truss rod channels in the neck blanks, including access routes in the headstock. Then cut the angle on the headstock and planed it flat. Next I'll drill the hole to connect the access route with the truss rod channel and drill the tuner holes. With the tuner holes drilled prior to cutting off the back material it should mean that none of the holes will tear out.
  10. Oh man. Great find! I've seen those on craigslist once or twice, and I love how they look. I personally wouldn't put the FR on it because I can't stand them, but it's your guitar. If anything I would put a tone knob on it and rewire it to 50's style wiring. You can get an astonishing number of tones out of a one pickup guitar with that wiring scheme. Enjoy, and great find!
  11. This is amazing work. You have probably posted it before, but can you put up a link to this micromesh? Is this it? https://www.amazon.com/Micro-Mesh-Assortment-Pack-18-Pieces/dp/B00HJC156U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541904148&sr=8-1&keywords=micromesh+sanding
  12. Thanks guys. Here's a $10 piece of curly maple joined and clamped to use as a top on one of the builds. No, it's not bookmatched, but if Gibson doesn't have to bookmatch I think I can get away with it for a while as well. To that end, I need to go deep in the tools section of this site and others on band saws. I have a small one, but I want to upgrade to something that can resaw 8-ish inches. Anyone have any advice?
  13. Well, there are times when a man has to admit he has a problem and submit to a higher power. Boys and girls, I'm addicted to building these things. I started builds #4 and #5 without any clear idea of where I'm heading with these designs. I had the wood, and thus I started cutting and gluing. Once again I'm doing neck-through guitars. I don't know why other than I made it work a few times already. The first is a three piece bubinga neck, with a 1" center and .75" on the sides. Next is the other part of 1" bubinga and some subtle curly maple I found for $10 at the lumber yard. There is an ugly spot on the maple but it will be cut away when I carve the neck. This is how I'm gluing these things up. Please tell me if I'm doing something stupid. I glued one board at a time, and I clamped everything to a 48" box level to keep it straight while it glues. The boards were already straight, but I didn't want to introduce any weird tensions when the glue set under clamping pressure. And the other side. And now it's all glued up. I've never had (in three builds, not 30 years or anything) a neck blank so easy to square and flatten than this one. I'm talking three minutes with a hand plane and it's perfect. I also paid about $40 on ebay for about 6 vintage gouges that I'm working on refurbishing for these two builds. I think first I'm going to build a life-size, full detail human skull out of osage orange, and then do a carved top using gouges instead of rasps or an angle grinder. Otherwise, I'm thinking of doing a 24" or 24.5" metal guitar tuned to like drop C or possibly drop A, and a 24.5" jazz guitar with a carved top and back, front and back binding, and a chambered body. The general idea is to build guitars that no one would ever buy, thus my wife won't get mad when they're never sold (even if I try).
  14. What a cool build! My hunch is that the way to do that fretboard veneer is to resaw a thin piece of rosewood, radius the maple neck, and use steam to soften the rosewood to allow you to bend it over the neck.
  15. You might be frightened to learn that for my next build I have purchased gouges.
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