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Gitarren last won the day on November 21 2018

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  1. Yes, let's see what I will do. As I do not have a stock of wood yet, kiln drying seems to be the goto option so that I can build a buffer quicker. I have spent some time on the build lately, but most has been on researching how to setup up the machines and then do it. I did setup the jointer and it works so much better, Here is the thread about setting up the jointer: https://groups.io/g/felderownersgroup/topic/70935120 It took quiet some times, but I have learned tons about wood working machines. I am very happy about that. Then I got a wider blade for the bandsaw (25 m.m., I think 4T) and slices thick hardwood like butter in comparison to the 10 m.m. something contour blades. Below are two pieces of elm that I am considering for the body. I haven't yet decided how to do with the dark centerpiece. Something zebra-like could be cool. I could have a light strip around the pickups. Or, laminate lighter colored pieces to the edges of one piece and get a darker centerpiece. I thought the cracks in the leftmost piece would be cool but think I will saw me another piece instead. Then you can see one piece after jointing. Compared to the previous picture, you can see that the quality of the surface is way better.
  2. Maybe people do overemphasize tonal qualities of wood in an electric guitar. But, did you watch this experiment? Tone Wood Tester: One guitar to test them all If you ignore the product placements, and the guitar sounding out of tune many times, it seems like a reasonably designed test for the purpose. The difference between the woods in the test was larger than at least I thought. This is also despite the fact that the bridge is attached to the same piece of wood.
  3. Last year I started my journey in hobbyist lutherie by modifying a kit guitar. You can read about it here: http://www.projectguitar.com/forums/topic/49483-a-sustainable-rock-machine-first-step/ Now I figured it is time for me two step up and try to do the real deal, starting from pieces of lumber. Preferably, the lumber should be sourced locally here in Sweden. So far that part seems to be working out, scroll down to read a story including a chainsaw and a tree. I think making an instrument is sort of an iterative artsy-crafty process where it sort doesn't make sense to have too detailed plan from start. I however have some ideas for my end goal for this build. Let us see what of the below that holds up at the end: It should hopefully look somewhat unique, or at least not like the most common commerical guitars. However I am a big fan of the SG body for several reasons and will take a lot of inpsiration from it. It should be around 35 m.m. thick and have a deep, smooth cutout for me reach all the way up the neck easily when playing A "natural" wood look. The wood should be beuatiful in itself, so no thich laquer. I will probably at most use some dye. A Tune-o-Matic bridge. Robust and fairly easy to install and adjust. A 25" inch 24 fret scale. A 24.75" scales makes the frets come a bit too close together for my fingers when using jumbo frets, and the 25.50" is just a bit too much. And a full last octave is easier to relate to when playing. Jumbo frets, hopefully stainless. Probably some scalloping. Probably many cheaper pickups to experiment with and some sort of system that makes them easy to replace. Probably just a single tone-knob and single volume-knob for the electronics. I went for series-parallell and four controls last time. It was a mess to wire it up, and I do not even use it that much. Good tuners. There seems to be no cheap workaround get a set of these seemingly so simple constructions, that still work well. I decided to order some Planed Waves locking tuners for 100 euros the other day. I spent some time over christmas in the town where I grew up. It is the kind of good place where there are a lot of trees, tractors, chain saws, barns, saw mills and similar things that I usually don't find around my flat. You probably wonder why I didn't list pick up trucks, but that happens to not be such a big thing at the country side in Sweden. A neighbour was away and was kind enough to let me use his workshop and some wood he had drying in the barn. He gave my old man this cutting board the other year made out of elm he had cut. I thought that it looked really nice and I figured that elm could be great for a guitar body. My plan was to use ash for the neck that I cut this summer (see below), but it was still far from dry. I had looked around for some time for ash, but no one seemed to have any. Then I saw some birch in the barn of my neighbour, and read that among others Hagström used it for necks. So I figured that should work. Below is a piece of birch (upper) and a piece of elm(lower) that I cut. The elm is mostly for fretboard material, but the plank is so thick that I will get a neck blank of it as well: It seemeed inevitable not to cut away quiet a bit of the birch to get a useful piece out of it. It didnt fit into the table saw feeder table as it was so I took off the edge a bit with a bandsaw first. Here I have cut them some more and planed them. I never used a planer before, and it was quiet an experience. It is just amazing how fast and easy it is to get plain and flat surface. Which shouldn't be a surprise as that is the whole idea with a planer, but still I am very fascinated. I think these woods have such an amazing potential. Look at the future fretboard coming out of the dark center piece of the elm (left). It looks like supernatural shockwaves that shot out from from the cold northern soil, aspiring for the warm sun. Then the birch (right) caught me off guard. I always though of birch in general to be quiet dull and way to bright. However, this one seem to have some burls in it, which is a great surprise. The piece of elm is heavy and hard as a rock. The ending words of the previous sentence will also describe the tunes that will propagate through its fibres if I can pull this build off. The birch is significantly softer and lighter. Pine and spruce are dirt cheap in Sweden and readily available everywhere. Most houses up to two floors are built of these woods still, and I have some experience from it from house renovations etc. Spruce and pine feels like cotton in comparison to this piece of elm! Now I get why pine and spruce are called softwood in English. Now lets rewind the tape a bit to august 2019. My old man needs to thin out some trees now and then at the farm. I got some help and fell an ash. First we strapped it up to be extra sure about where it would go: Down it went! I miscalculated my cut a bit, but heck, I am learning. It was a thin ash (too thin?) and neck blanks was the only thing it could be used for with regards to lutherie. Also, I had to drag it by hand from a valley so I cut it into smaller sections, trying to get sections of at least 700 m.m without any branches. The pieces were not larger than that I could cut them up on a larger sized tablesaw. There is no dust collector by that saw, which you probably can tell. By the way, the saw was mounted in a 1700's house but saw no ghosts this night at least. And there we go, quiet a collection of potential neck blanks as well as some firewood. Worst case all will be fire wood, due to among other things checking and warping that has occured since August. If anything, I can make use of all experience I got during the process. After some research, I think I will kiln dry the next batch to have better control over the process as well as as getting the moisture content lower. Making guitars is amazingly fun, because there are so many aspects to it. By the way, I am not the only one focusing on wood available in Scandinavia. I do not know more about these guys than I what I read on their website, but I think that is enough to give them some cred: https://www.norwegianwoodseries.com/
  4. Thanks! Having the fret caul made out of plastics is fine it seems. Perhaps that metal is a bit too stiff even, the plastic one might even out material deviances. However, it is hard to fit the plastic caul into a fix rig, as it is not sturdy enough. I tried attaching a screw to it and screw it into the clamp, but it didn't seem to be a very durable solution. And having the caul loose, means a lot of extra work when trying to align it. For that reason I might buy a metal fret caul for the next build, perhaps one of those kits that include a modified betsy clamp. Relocating the bridge I just went out in the workshop and did this on the fly so to say and it worked, but I am happy to receive tips on how to do this in other ways. It was hard to get the positioning of the new holes right. As stated previously, the guitar almost intonated well. I had to max out all the bridge intonation screws and the guitar still was a few cents off on some strings. When measuring from the 12th fret, it seemed indeed that the the bridge was 3-5 m.m. too far back. I had a few options. I could buy a wider tune-o-matic bridge, but that off course adds another cost. I was seriously considering moving the neck back a bit, but it seemed that I would either have to shave off some material on the neck end or modify the neck pickup cavity. Which would imply file the pick guard again and all that. In the end it seemed redrilling the bridge was the easiest way to go after all. Said and done, the threaded plugs for the bridge had an M8 thread and were easily pulled out using a threaded bar, some washers and a socket. In the left of the picture below you see the threaded plug that holds the bridge. Back in the days I used to work with motorcycles and engines in the workshop, and this trick came in handy then sometimes. I have seen that it is possible to buy pullers for luthiers work using this principle too, but this is solution is for free I decided that I resonably somehow should seal the old holes to start with. It seemed that using wooden plugs would be a reasonable solution. As I had no dowels of the correct size at home and all stores were closed that day I dragged down an old lathe from the attic and brought a larget dowel down to the correct size, being around 11.5 m,m. here. Later I learned that there are certain drills that can be used to manufacture plugs, good to know for next time. Will buy some of those drills later, perfect for round wooden fretboard inlays too I guess. Here the old holes are plugged. I drilled a new hole using standard metal drills bits, I knew from before that it is hard to get good control of the positioning of these in wood. What I learned later is that brad point drills seems to be the way to go for wood, at least when more precision is required. I guess I had seen those before but never bothered to try them as I have mostly worked in metal before. Excited to buy some brad point drills and try them out later. This is a guess a typical result from a standard metal drill bit: I choose to pre-drill in the transition between the plug and the guitar body, as that I assumed was the only way to gain control of the drill point position to some degree. With a brad point, it seems to have been possible starting somehere in the middle of the plug more easily. Then I used a drill to create a drill mark for the second hole using the bridge as a guide to constrain the C-C measure between the holes. The bridge came on real easily, and the distance to the 12th fret was way closer to what it should be. Now the guitar does intonate spot on. However, the bridge has moved upwards 1-2 m.m. and it is subtle, but noticable. I guess the only way to have the bridge perfectly positioned is to drill in fresh wood, but I did not have that option due to the pre-drilled kit. Later I guess I just paint the plugs over a bit. It seems that the thicker the string is, the shorter it appears when it comes to intonation. I mean, generally the 6th thick E string has to be longer then the thin 1st E-string to intonate. meaning it appears shorter than it is. I guess the thicker strings appear to be so stiff close to their fastening points, that they appear as string fastening points. Then the traveling waves are then reflected somewhat earlier. I sawed out a neck stand using a table saw. This is done by sawing and not having the blade parallel to the direction in which the work piece is fed. Here it is shown how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MzK5YbvzVM I lined it with a piece of an old rug, and I think it does its job. Then I started working on something I wanted to try of for a long time: a scalloped fretboard . For a trial, I scalloped fret 12 and above. I don't see any reasons having to much of a scallop towards the thicker strings, Scallops I think are for bends and vibrato, and I would bend the thicker strings downwards towards the scallop anyway. For the thinner strings, I went almost all the way through the binding. As you can see I started out with a coarse rasp. Then I went over it with a file and various sand paper grits. I think it is an amazing mod! Bends and vibrato and even finger rolls become soooo much easier and controllable. Double stops, chord shapes and singles notes played slowly feel a bit better without a scallop maybe, but I think I will get used to that. And the plus side weighs far heavier then minus here. And after all, aren't fret 12 and above meant for bends and vibratos more than any other part of the guitar? As far as I can see pulling a string out of tune is not a problem. The frets are so closely spaced above fret 12 anyway, that it is hard to even pull my 9's out of tune. Also, compared to all other things being done on the guitar so far, scalloping was fairly easy. Is it just me, but doesn't it just feel so awkward to bend the 1st string with a regular freboard? I have played for around 5 years now, and it still haven gotten used to it. With a scallop, it almost feels comfortable bending the 1s string.
  5. Long time no see! Actually, the guitar was brought to a playable shape at around a month ago and I took it for a spin live. Yes, a small gig, but anyway enough for me to really care about and note (I hope) the details of the different aspects of the guitar. I will give some opinions on the build section for section. Before the gig Tone and volume controls What I can say so far is that the electronics works great! It is close to immune against external EMI. The CTS pots have perfectly balanced tapers and I feel I can really fine adjust both tone and volume. For volume I used the Allparts CTS500K which I think also has a nice mechanical resistance when turning it. A drawback though was the very large housing that didn't fit into the control cavity without filing up the holes for the pot shafts. For the tone knobs I used the Allparts Audio Taper 500k Push/Pull. They had a great taper for tone knobs on a standard humbucker wiring, but mechanically they do spin a bit too easily for my taste. I think it was a good call to place the push/pull pots for tone knobs, as volume is more critical to changes than tone, and I would like to be able to activate the switches without accidentally blasting or lowering the volume. I have never tried to play a guitar with the Gibson four-knob layout for a prolonged time before, and I have to say that it gives some cool flexibility opposed to a one or two knob layout. However, it adds cost and complexity so I don't know if I will have it on my next guitar. In live situation I am a bit more comfortable using pedals anyway, as that is easier and faster I think. There are some problems for me having the rhythm/treble switch were it is as I sometimes accidentally hit it when going nuts with strumming. It should be further away where my hands usually are. Pickups As expected the Alnico ii pro pickups have a certain character to them. The series parallel connection is kind of cool. Having them in parallel configuration gives a really single-coily sound, but without any extra noise. I should upload a sound sample some time. Something that bothers me though is that the volume changes a lot at activation/deactivation so I cannot do series/parallel switching in the middle of a song. The only problem so far was the output jack that seemed loose. However, it was some copper tape the was hanging a bit loose and sometimes grounded the signal. Have to check this more thoroughly next time. Wood Regarding the neck, all wood feels great. Rock hard and durable. If I make my own neck, I think I will make it look sturdier and finish it in a different way though. The fretboard, which according to various online sources should be thermally treated maple, is also great. Nice to work with, and has a nice natural finish. I will never use such a super soft, light and sensible wood as the one from the kit, for any guitar body build in the future. It should feel a bit heavier, optimally, and it should also be a bit harder and durable for mechanical stability. Surprisingly, I have not had any real problems with the guitar tilting forward so far though. I think I will add some metal weights to the controls cavity anyway for the general feel of the guitar. The strap was intended to be fastened at the neck, which is restrains me from using frets 15 and upwards. Should be an easy fix though. String mechanics The bolt where the strings attach to the tuning pegs wiggle around like stirring pins in whiskey glasses, when there is no string tension, and that just cannot be a good thing. I had to re-tune every other song, and the low E-string would drift up to 25 cents which is very, very bad. However,even cheaper after market tuners around cost like almost half the whole guitar kit. How can these be so expensive? The stainless steel frets are rock hard and I think they play well with one exception. The lowest 5 m.m. of the frets towards the low E-string have to be leveled again I have discovered. I just didn't think this little last bit would matter so much, and it was hard to work on. On my next guitar I might go for a longer scale length, as the last frets are a bit too closely spaced for my fingers. With real jumbo frets this would have become a real problem. When it comes to the bridge, I think I will use Tune-o-Matic also on my upcoming builds. They are beautiful, and adjusting string action is so much easier compared to bridges having individual string adjustments. Also, the smaller break angles of the Tune-o-Matic seem to make strings less prone to snap off at the bridge. The intonation is almost good. I will treat this in a separate post. Summary so far It is the best guitar I have ever owned by far, and it feels good that I have had the opportunity to affect this outcome. The guitar both sounds good and plays well and I think it looks nice. I have learned loads of things, and I start to feel ready to build something from scratch. In total I have spent around 70 hours of work on actual work on the guitar, which excludes some store arrends and watching tons of material about guitar building. I took notes every time I did some work on the guitar and it seems that the total time comprises a lot of smaller works, adding up. I mean, if you have to take off the neck, do some adjustment, intonate and what not it easily takes 3-4 hours of work. Then mounting the bridge and that hardware, adjust some pick guard, file something else to get it the way you want it, and there you have another 4 hours. All those small things add up. Some of the time was spent building tools. Each of these posts take 1 -1.5 hours to create on average perhaps, which I think is well spent time for me because I know I learn more when I write summaries. A time consumer that stood out though was the fret work that took a whooping 15-20 hours so far, but off course most of those hours were learning time. I am quiet appalled now when checking my logs, but it actually appears that these small metal pins stole almost one hour each on average. I have to reflect and learn from this experience before doing a fret job again. Also the paint job took some extra job due to me trying the special approach using the torch first, but that was worth it.
  6. Progressing still! Started to leveling the frets all over again. I couldn't find real thin masking tape at any hardware store around. Therefore I tried splitting the smallest one around I could find. It was harder than I thought, neither the band saw nor a hacksaw did bite properly. Seems that the glue jammed the teeth of the tools. I got halfways through in the end, and it was completely worth it. Splitting each piece is plain boring. For leveling I had bought a brand new Bacho file from which I were to remove the handle. But, in the end I couldn't do it. The handle was super comfortable and the file was great so I hadn't the heart to tear it off. I saw a luthier in town (Ödmans musik) using a spirit level for fret leveling. I found a spirit level with one with the broken leveler in the workshop that I put self adhesive 320 grit on. I really liked it! Control was way better than for the bulky leveling beam I used for the fretboard. And as opposed to when using a file I could do the whole length of the fretboard in one shot. I was really careful about going perpendicular to the frets. Then, I was more careful when crowning making sure not to go as deep that I would work on the actual crown. It seems that the Thomann fret file might be a bit too wide for these Wagner 9662 frets, being more narrow tall rather than jumbo. But not sure. I sure had no or less than 0.05 mm (my smallest gauge) fret rock before starting to polish. However, after very little polishing I could feel a subtle fretrock, which was on the magnitude of less than 0.05 m.m, but still irritating. I guess this could have to to with the polishing removing small spurs? Because I cannot see how the polish otherwise could remove so much material. Also, next time, I will tape 600 grit on the other side of the leveler because the 320 grit left some scratches that I actually couldn't remove with polishing and I realize when I had already decided to call it a day. Then it was time for electronics. In recent years, slugs have become a major problem in Sweden for people growing vegetables and such. On the flipside, copper tape is available basically everywhere for cheap as it is used for repelling slugs. There are really expensive copper tape available intended for EMI shielding, which have conductive glue on it. Using a multimeter over the glue on this slug repelling tape in the picture, it had a high resistance. However, when taping pieces together it seems that contact was achieved perfectly. The multimeter measured the internal multimeter resistance everywhere. After checking a suggestion on Youtube, Wiring humbuckers series/parallell, I thought that parallel wiring might be better than just splitting the coil. I really cannot stand EMI on a guitar. There was loads of it on my old guitar and it is a pain, especially with distortion and headphone practicing. I have to admit though, it was more of a mind bender than I thought to install this little nifty series/parallel feature. I had to do a few schematics and it took some concentration and measurements to translate this to the physical switch layout. I was a bit thrown off by my multimeter reads when checking the results first. But then I realized that off course, one coil has the resistance R, two coils in series have 2R and two in parallell 0.5R. Seymour Duncan recommended 47nF for the tone pots so I used that. I went for modern wiring, after watching Guitar Electronics 5 - Output Loading / 50's wiring concluding I will probably like that more than 50's style wiring. After a while the things started to come together. I should have used shielded cable for everything also, but did not have any. For smaller parts I could scavenge some out of the Harley Benton stock electronics. The CTC 500 k pots had a huuuge housing which posed a problem. I had already placed the copper shield and didn't want to go all in and do routing the cavity, so I just filed up the holes in the body where the shaft protrudes. Not too much of a clean solution, but the knobs will cover the non-round holes anyway. The lid had some aluminum foil on the inside at delivery, and just needed a brief sanding to take off some lacquer they seemed to have applied on it. I did not bother to run ground cables between the pots as I want to test the electronics first. Also, the shielding made good contact with them anyway. Probably it is a good idea to install ground wires between the components later though, as the copper might oxidize and ruin the contact between the component casings and the copper shield. Is it a good idea to aim for star grounding? Probably, however this is kind of impossible here as the shield is grounding everything anyway. I guess the whole cavity maybe should be considered a large node.
  7. Continued torching and staining the guitar. The guitar body is made out 3 pieces of wood and they all reacted differently to torching. First I tried a light burn, but thought it was to shallow. I started flaming it a bit harder, to give it more of a texture. At some stage it looked something like this, I think this was after the second scorching: Then I brushed, sanded and what not until it became something like this. This was probably from the first burn-sand-paint-swear iteration: I should probably have went outside to brush of the worst of the carbonized wood. . The soot and grime started to pile up every here and there. Later some hidden supply of recently harvested black dust swirled into my open, brand new can of clear coat. Uuuugh. Me myself started to resemble some sort of 1800's locomotive coal shuffler. After the fiery treatments, the guitar was stained. It was critical to wipe of the excess stain in just one swipe when possible. Else some very thin stripes of stain would be left that suddenly dried and left an ugly finish which had to be sanded off. Stain settling time varied a lot between the layers. The first layer dried very quick. Multiple layers where applied, with some sanding in between. It was all a lot of guess work. found that I prefer applying stain with a brush rather than a cloth. I was not happy with the first finish, so burned it again after staining. The water based stain didn't seem to be that problematic to burn as the oil based one. I started to burn it harder to get a surface with more texture where the red stain would sink in. The wood started to burst into flames at some spots, leaving a kind of dented surface which was not quiet the plan originally but hey... The end where the strap goes started to crack a bit from the heat, and I was a bit scared that it would split at the gluing joints. I thought, well, I could just apply filler and put some plain paint on, and make it look "perfect". But then it would look like any store bought 200 euro Epiphone, and whats the point then. After having sanded, stained and burned it for some hours for several repetitions, I just thought "Well, it is not exactly what I was going for. But at least it looks unique in some sense. And it was a nice experiment. It would not have looked great just sanded plain with oil on, due to the wood quality, and it would have looked like any other guitar with a covering paint. Cherry finish, sure cool, but that would be like any of all Gibson SG out there. So I am happy with this. With this finish I can at least say I have a guitar that has been bursting into flames literally. And I want to play it soon, so let's just clear coat it and call it a day". It looks kind of brown today: Yes, thanks for the feedback. This was indeed the case. I will have to shim the neck around 2 m.m by the back. I tried two strings on today and everything lines up kind of fine. Unfortunately, I will have to level the frets a bit again. Probably I was not careful enough when arching the tops of them last run. Also, for the first runs of the Dremel I used an abrasive compound that was too coarse so I suppose a bit too much material was taken off. Lessons learned! It seems that the frets are around 1.32 m,m, tall where I measured, and they where 1.4 m.m in the beginning. I guess I will end up with medium jumbo frets at the end of this. Everything seems to come together though, and I am quiet sure this guitar will howl without mercy at the world one day
  8. Thank you Neck flatness Today I leveled and polished the frets and adjusted the neck slot. To verify that the neck was straight I cut slots in a ruler by first drilling and then using a grinder. For parts of the job I had the ruler fastened to a piece of wood using double stick tape. It looks crude and savage in the picture, but the grinder was kind of easy on the ruler. However I was a bit concerned that the drilling had warped the ruler. But, when all was polished and finished it was at least as straight as the other ruler I calibrated it against. No after adjustment of straightness had to be done, other than removing all sharp edges. In some video I saw that it is recommended to control the neck flatness after inserting the frets, so glad I checked this. And correctly, the neck had quiet a backbow after the fret insertion. All hours of watching luthiers on Youtube and taking notes is really paying off. I hope there will still be some headroom of the truss rod to get a nice neck release, else I hope it will be possible to shim the truss rod nut at least. Leveling and polishing It appears I did not take any photos of the leveling process. First I tried the leveling beam but didn't quiet fancy it. The stainless steel was hard on the sand paper. Then the beam was a bit to long I felt. It is difficult to have it laying dead straight over all the rock-hard frets anyway, especially if some frets are a bit proud. On wood it is acting way differently I think, which in some sense is obvious, but on the other hand the process is apparently identical for both materials. Then after all, the way I interpret it, it is more important that frets closer to one another are really even. Over a longer stretch, string action and neck bow gives us some larger tolerances. So a file was the way to go I felt as this perfects a section of some 3-7 frets-ish a the time. I found that for a fewer very proud spots filing parallell to the frets could work. Usually though, going perpendicular was better, as more frets are worked by doing so, leveling a whole section at once. I checked everything on a regular basis during leveling using a fret rocker and a ruler. Some frets hade to be filed down a lot, due to the frets sitting in quiet poorly. Crowning was done with a crowning file I ordered from Thomann. I don't have any other files to compare with regarding crowning, but it seemed to be doing its job a far as I can tell. In general, I felt it was easy to take away too much material at the ends of the frets, and to angle the file properly there, but this would hold true for any brand of crowning file I guess. Polishing was done using a Dremel and a polishing disc. This was real efficient I think, at least to when comparing to using various sandpaper grits. Though, I was a bit worried for a while as I realized almost too late that some frets got real warm. As the frets were glued under tension (as they had an incorrect radius during insertion) I was bit scared that they would come popping out all over the bench. However, so far so good. Unfortunately I chose a file for the fret leveling that had been too coarse so there where subtle marks left on some frets. Hopefully this is mainly an aesthetic issue though, the frets feel real smooth when going over them with a fingernail. I didn't want to work more on the frets as there might not be so much left of them in the end then Possibly I will have to refret anyway also, although it looks better now than I thought it would do. First assembly I mounted the neck using some thinner wooden screws then the one supplied too see if how everything is holding up so far, without wearing out the pre-drilled holes before final assembly. If there are any issues regarding the pre-drilled holes and so on, I would rather want to know it know instead of after the paint job. The poor human being handling the drill at Harley Benton probably is not payed a bonus for drilling symmetrical holes for the neck. Probably is not payed much at all I guess. I could ramble on about injustice in the world from here, but will skip ahead to show the neck fastening holes instead: What is up with the large bonus hole in the "middle"? I thought it were to encompass some neck adjustment mechanism, like some Fenders, but couldn't find any such. Fortunately, it seems that the neck and body were drilled all in one shot so the holes in them seem to match one another. Due to some miracle in the realm of tolerances, it seems that the metal plate that is to go on the back of the body fits also. The slots for the bridge seems to be CNC'ed or so, as probably most of the body. I hope it is done with decent precision, as it will be hard to adjust this afterwards. The bridged seemed to fit perfectly in to the pre-drilled holes for it so I probably wouldn't be able to get it out if I tried it on. Therefore I leave it as a surprise to after the paint job if the strings end up nice and straight and all that. In the attached manual it was stated that the neck slot might need some adjustments. Well, yes indeed. . The ruler was laying straight onto the guitar body when taking the picture. Here is a closeup of the neck pocket with one ruler flush against the guitar body and the other on the bottom of the neck slot. A chisel, calipers, rulers and some patience seemed to cure this issue though. I tried a profile gauge too but the caliper-ruler approach seemed to make more sense as I could reference the flat plane of the guitar body more easily. In the end the neck was pointing upwards a few degrees when trying it on, which should be fine. My takeaways for today Using a chisel is loads of fun Years since I touched one last time. I should probably get a diamond stone for getting chisels real flat and sharp. A diamond stone could be used for fret works too. Be careful when using a Dremel to polish frets to not cause excessive heating Choose a properly fine file for leveling (yes, kind of obvious in a way, but it all looked nice until polishing) When placing the file, remember that a regular neck is shaped as a section of a cylinder, not a cone. Therefore the file should have a level towards the edges of the neck. Yes? I should get a thicker aluminium ruler, as these are less wobbly. The thinner steel one was kind of fine though I guess.
  9. Thank you Yes it was real bad! I kind of trusted the brand as for instance the Harley Benton chromatic harmonica was real great for its price. I exaggerated the description in my post a bit by comparing it to a propeller, but it was sure worse than on all 60 euro guitars and below I've ever had as far as I can remember. Poor fret job with sharp ends sticking out too. And yes, probably I overworked the fret board a bit. I couldn't come across any numbers for tolerances, so spent 5 hours or something until it was +/-0.05 m.m (~0.002 ") over the length for the non-fallaway part . That's a comfort to hear for me It took a loong time to get them in place. Great, thanks Was a bit afraid that I would get banned or something for showing up with a kit guitar so this is good to hear
  10. Alright, this makes sense All these nuances make guitar building so interesting. While at it, do you prefer a hammer over a press in general? I can imagine that a proper hammering could set the fret in a bit firmer and deeper than a press, but that it should be a bit harder to use properly?
  11. So I did my first fretwork ever, and for parts of it I used a hammer with a plastic end. A recommendation seems to be hammering the frets in with one firm blow, like described here: https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Learn_About_Guitar_and_Instrument_Fretting_and_Fretw/How_to_hammer_frets.html It seems very reasonable that bounce should be eliminated, which is also described in the article. But for the rest, is it really such a good idea to use one firm blow when using a hammer for fret insertions? As the hammer is not covering the whole fret, isn't there a risk of deforming the fret where the hammer hits, skewing the insert? If small iterative blows are used, distributed over the fret, isn't there lesser risk of deforming the frets? This basically then mimics using a press, to some extent. Then, when there is very little left to go for the frets into the fret board, like the last fractions of a m.m/inch I imagine that one or a few firmer blows would be the way to go to get it seated real well. Fewer blows at the end I imagine would not "disturb" the tang as much. However, in the picture I see that the fret has been overbent a lot. Maybe that does compensate for any plausible deformation from a single hammer blow. What do you think? Btw, a cool thing with a hammer is that it could allow for a non-uniform fret radius as opposed to when using a standard press caul. I have been playing around with the thought that it might be easier to wrap around the thumb at the bass end if the radius is a bit smaller there locally. Barre-chords could be harder though. Guess I have to try.
  12. Today I glued in the last frets and started dressing them, First I made a short brief attempt to use the bench grinder, but it just felt wobbly and wonky. The bulk of the fret dressing job is quiet fast with a regular file IMO, what takes time is the nitty gritty of getting sharp edges out. Last week I had done this beveling jig and it really came in handy. I beveled the ends of the file a little bit, as you can see in the picture, so it wouldn't bump in to protruding frets as hard. Intentionally I made the beveling angel for the frets steep, like 25-27 degrees. I do not want to sacrifice any playable areas if I don't have too. Now I see a reason why cheaper guitars might be dressed at around 45 degrees: it seems easier to fret at larger angles without hurting the sides of the neck. First I wanted to dress them vertically, like I see some people do, but that is harder. Using the jig feels like a decent compromise. I experimented using the leveling beam for the dressing, but didn't like it. For taking off the edge left after beveling, I tried using a fret crowning file. It seems to be pretty well suited for the job. Each individual fret required quiet some attention to remove all sharp edges. It makes even more sense now why cheaper guitars have poor fret jobs: it takes time to do this properly. Probably it is very difficult to do this using completely automated machinery too. This current fret job will be quiet ugly, but hopefully well playable. We will se after leveling it. Btw, I was a bit surprised at the music store by a 400 euro-ish Squier that had sharp frets sticking out. I do not understand why Fender even wants to put their name on that thing, and how it can be so expensive many times. Also there was some time today for trying out a body finish. I decided long ago that it would be cool with darkened grains, and red on top of it. For an experiment, I tried darkening the lower corner using an oil based stain and for the upper corner, well I guess the picture tells the story. Then I sanded the burned parts some, and it all turned grey and sad even after cleaning. However, after applying some red stain, black color really started popping out all over the burned parts. However, the red stain did not want to sit in at all over the previous layer of black stain. I might have to do with the black stain being oil based and the red being based on water. For the scorched part though, I see a lot of potential! It seems that the burning deepens the grain a little bit or something. Here are some pictures of the part being burned and then stained. The whole process is a bit hard to control, but I guess letting the flame and the wood do its own job is part of it all. Next time I will torch the whole thing, and apply red stain. I will have to sand the whole back clean again and start over there. For an experiment I also tried flaming the black stain that is to be removed, but it just started fizzle and act weird. Great day, this feels good
  13. Today I started the fretwork and started working on the body, When cleaning and inspecting the slots I noticed that one of side inlays protruded quiet a bit. A scalpel solved this though. The slots were quiet wide for the chosen fret and could be put in easily. Therefore I decided to use CA glue for the first insertion. It sat like a rock but left a complete mess behind. Then, the Wagner 9662 stainless frets came pre-cut which was quiet a horror story. They were super hard to bend to a decent radius. I tried using a coffee cup for a longer length of another fret wire I had bought and that was quiet easy. However, I wanted the stainless ones. As it is a Gibson style fretboard, the fret has to have its tang nipped a bit in order to fit within the side inlays. I had no cutter available that could do such a precision cut. I wanted to get this done today, so did the tang cut with a bench grinder instead. This is off course not optimal. I tried contact glue to fasten the frets, not sure if it a good idea. Due to the radius of the frets being all skewed, many frets sat in proud. It started to turn out like quiet a hack job. The fretboard was actually quiet nice I would say, so I think reasons went south are mainly the fretwire radius issue. Why would they sell pre-cut straight fret-wire? And how do people use this? With frets popping up here and there, I was considering ripping it all off and starting over. But, in the end I thought I might as well finish the horror just to get to try fret leveling- and dressing. After having practiced that, I could order new frets if need be (and I guess so). For the frets to sit well enough and stop being so darn proud I laser cut a piece of plastic with a 12" inch radius an to press down the frets and glue them with CA. A thin CA should be used I learned, then capillary force wicks the glue in. This will not be neat or pretty, but hopefully hold well enough to practice doing the rest of the fret job. I tried sanding the body and is quiet a particular wood to work with. It is extremely soft so it is easy to shape. However, it throws almost as many splinters as dust particles even when sanding it with a fine grit. My idea was to dye or stain it, with a nice flat surface underneath. However, I do not know anymore. It is so hard to get this surface smooth. It is not at all like carpentry wood used for for instance crown molding and such. The easiest (and perhaps only way) to get it smooth would probably be using some filler and painting the whole thing over. Before leaving, I tried staining the back of it black. It looks really gritty, and maybe this is the way to go here. A guitar that is made to gritty and stands out for that, looks better than a guitar that was intended to look fancy but doesn't quiet reach all the way. Tomorrow I will experiment with torching the upper and, and applying som read stain. If it turns out poorly, I really think I'll just stain the whole thing black and put some oil or clear coat on it. Todays summary A proper, even, pre-bend of the fret wire is important. Pre-cut straight frets are problematic. The Thomann reviews I am reading afterwards seem to confirm this. I should get a pipette for the superglue, and probably a better end-cutter. Not sure if even the best end cutter would tackle the tang of a stainless steel fret well though. A fretboard without lateral inlays would make the fretjob way easier. Tomorrow I will do fret dressing. Quiet worried here. As the tang doesn't go all the way out to the sides on this type of neck I see a bigger risk of the frets loosening up by their ends. We'll see how it goes :)
  14. Went to town today, fist literally and then figuratively. Starting out, I bought loads of paint, sand paper and various tools, Construction then started at CRF (Chalmers Robotics Society), which is basically a maker space here in Gothenburg. Using scrap wood and a clamp, I built myself prototype for a neck vice. The clamp was fastened by drilling holes in it and screwing it in place. Then I clamped the thing to the bench. It turns out it worked great ! I do not think I will look for another solution actually. I grinded town the top of a pair a cheap end cutter for a fret removal tool. It worked like a charm! Briefly heating using a soldering iron and the frets just jumped off the wood. Having proper tools is ever so important. I also removed the nut by gently heating it with a heat gun and bending underneath. I was really careful as to not make the fretboard jump off. The nut got quiet damaged, but I bought a few set of extras when ordering the guitar. Then I checked my aluminium beams, intended for fretboard leveling. At the time of collecting them, I didn't have ruler long enough around. When controlling them towards a ruler today, I realized one of the beams was not fit for the task. The other had a tolerance absolute maximum 0.15 m.m. which perhaps is okey within the context? After all, 0.15 m.m. is worst case, and the beam is moved around so errors should tend to average out. The fretboard seemed to get straighter than the beam anyway so. Before starting, I noticed that not even maxing the truss rod would set the neck straight. So I set it around halfway and decided sanding the fretboard straight from there. That way I should still have some headroom for truss rod adjustments later on. The truss rod had a 4mm allen screw head, that for some reason was quiet hard to insert the wrench in. Also, I can hear the truss rod rattling inside, which I do not think will affect the sound at all but I reckon this is why people put epoxy around the truss rod. After getting it fairly straight, I went over it with the Hosco gridning block to get the radius right, Seen in the picture is a regular sand paper, but I soon switched to a self-adhesive one. Biltema in Sweden sells these, and they were great! I used them both on the radius blocks and the beam and saw dust just flew off. Generally I went 80-320 on the grits. For a final, I sanded the fretboard using 400 paper in circular motions to remove and parallell lines by the aluminium beam. This is the max I would go in grit, I do not want a glossy fretboard. I made sure to sand the edges real smooth. This is a big deal I think, I really do not like guitars with sharp edges. Overall I think the fretboard feels absolutely great. Fortunately, I think it has improved a lot since when starting out. I was concerned that I would have to go over the neck shape, but it is decent I would say. Also, it is already lacquered with some satin cellulose that I actually like. Over the length of the fretboard I now have a tolerance of around 0.05 m.m. I do not know if this is good enough, but from just ocular inspection using a ruler I think it looks really fine. Radius tolerance is a bit harder to measure. Considering the current tool tolerances, I do not know if I can get any better than this precision. On purpose, I let fret 18-ish and further slope a bit downwards slightly slightly towards the bridge, as these frets become more or less immune to truss rod adjustments. I did this by applying uneven pressure with the neck shaping block. Lessons learned today: Using parallel, controlled and calm movements with the radius block and the leveling beam caused the best results. There is no hurry, dust will be flying anyway if the sand papers are good. A radius shaped beam a bit longer than the fretboard would probably be ideal but they are expensive, especially if you want one for each radius you like. Brush off dust from the sand papers using a paint brush once in a while. After a while, quiet a lot of dust will stick to it. I bought a cheap "under-string" fretboard radius gauge from eBay, and it is not good for this job. For this I would rather go for a thicker, high precision gauge plate. I might laser cut this myself. A profile gauge is great for controlling radius consistency. The vice solution I made works great. It feels like a better and simpler approach than clamping at the ends, risking a neck bow. Grinding a cheap end cutter straight worked great for fret removal, definitely a keeper. This is loads of fun Even if the end result turns out medium crappy, I have at least learned a lot and had a great time. Tomorrow I will see if the frets slots are still deep enough for a fret job. I sure hope so, because I haven't got a fret slot cutter yet. Getting real excited now
  15. I have personally traveled on boat along the amazon river, experiencing the astonishing beauty of it. Also, I experienced firsthand how the rain forest is treated ever so brutally. And it is not just one persons observation. Around 80% of all mahogany from for instance Honduras and Peru are expected to being logged illegally, according to various sources. Rosewood is protected for really good reasons. Just google for yourself. I do not want to contribute to that. This fact made my planned purchase of a new guitar a bit harder. A guitar without any endangered wood basically limits me too a Fender and some copycats of it. And that Fender-ish guitar should rather have humbuckers, large jumbofrets and a dark fretboard, not being rosewood or any other non-sustainable wood. That basically limited me to building my own guitar. I grew up on a farm in Sweden and we have lots of high quality wood there growing as a weed basically. My idea is to eventually use ash, that should be well suited for a neck. We made a shaft for a sledgehammer for it once, and it did not budge for anything. Using thermal treatment, as the vikings did in this land 1000 years ago, it can be made darker and even harder if desirable. But, there was a long time ago I did any hands-on wood work. So i thought, maybe I should warm up with some low-quality kit first on my journey towards a true self built guitar made out of sustainable wood. Starting point and goal Said and done, today the Thomann Harley Benton DC guitar kit arrived together with some tools and hardware upgrades. Some specs Thomann Harley Benton DC guitar kit Seymor Duncan Alnico ii Pro pickups. Mostly because all people on the internet seem to get a Slashy-ish tone with them that is just amaaaaazing. From what I can hear, the attack is really great on them. Another idea is that they might balance the probably slightly brighter softwood used for the guitar. Audio taper pots that are supposed to be from CTC (says Allparts on the package though).. I saw some Youtube video where the CTC pots performed great regarding characteristics.. Split-coils. I have played some guitars that do split coil really well, so I thought, why not try tone knobs with a switch. Stainless steel jumbo frets. It sickens me when frets wear and vibrato and bending starts to feel awkward. Maybe these stainless frets are worth the hassle the internet is talking about. Cherry dye/stain over charring. Going to give it a shot. I did some prototyping on a piece of pine you can see in the picture. My goal is to make this into real, badass, screaming, highly playable premium guitar. The reason for the cheap kit is because I want to experiment and learn. Funny thing, the pickups cost more than all other things so far together. I think I will land on around 500 euro for everything including paint, to pickups to pick wearing for this guitar. We have a gig in three weeks and I hope to be rehearsing with this guitar well before then. Harley Benton DC guitar kit The DC kit as a neck made of all maple and a dark fretboard. Thomann states that it is roseacer, which is supposed to be thermally treated maple. The only thing I can say so far is that it seems real hard, which is good. It might be laquered, and I would like the surface to be a bit more roughened. It is not clear what the body is made of, but it is light and soft. When calling Thomann, they did not know. I would be very surprised if it is some expensive, threatened wood. The fretboard and the fretwork is the worst I have ever seen otherwise on a guitar or any other instrument, literally. The neck is twisted so badly that I am considering using it as an airplane propeller. Frets are popping up everywhere, and feel like stroking a rasp when grasping the sides of the neck. When trying out the fret rocker, it popped up and down like a horseback when storming over the prairies. Silverlining though, the fretboard is compound radius. My radius gauges arrived today and they concur with my ocular observation: the neck is around 14" by the last frets and 12". If it weren't for the custom-screw shaped neck and the razor-edged-popping-up frets I would have thought I gotten my hand on something real fancy. Then, is see that the neck joint slot is tilted a lot so the neck is inclined forwards. Ughhh. This is not a beginners guitar, it is a wannabe-luthier (like me) kit. Because I don't think a real luthier would or should waste time on it, and a beginner would waste their time on a guitar that is hardly not playable, eventually giving up I think. However, for the price I got a bridge, knobs tuning screws and what not for a lower price then if I had bought it all separately. Probably I will use the pickups for some random fun build later. And, I was hoping for a challenge so I, the wannabe-luthier, feel good about the starting point anyway.I am really happy about the dark but non-rosewood freboard too so far. But is has lower quality then my expectations even, and I feel bad for anybody picking up this guitar thinking it should be decent as is. Next step Fortunately, I am not embarking empty handed on this grand voyage. Just because I wanted to learn how to do neck shaping I started collecting tools this week (yes, I am a newb). In the picture you can see some aluminium beams that I picked up behind my fathers barn, that underwent some grinding and polishing. These are going to get some sand papers on them tomorrow and helping me clean up some of the described mess. Furthermore, I got a Hosco 10"/12" fret radius gridning beam. Also, I built my own 28 degree angle fret file holder and bought a kit of jumbo fret wire, both stainless and nickel. Cherry stain and varnish is already purchased, now off to the hardware store tomorrow to get the rest and then start the grinding. Over and out.
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