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Esp Explorer-style Build


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http://public.fotki.com/xanthus/build_1/

/\ For all interested, the harrowing tale of my first foray into guitar building, dutifully recorded by my sister's $100 digital camera.

More pics to come. I used REAL film for some shots. God knows why. Now I have to scan them. Sigh.

Most everything can be explained by reading the descriptions below the pictures. Questions, comments, suggestions, criticism, dessert recipies, leave one here, and I'll get back to ya.

Oh yeah, the all-knowing CHART O' STATS!

Carvin 24-fret maple 6-er neckthrough, ebony, un-dotted fretboard ($240)

Mahogany wings from Boulter Plywood (.com), just a few minutes drive from boston ($54, 15"x22")

TOM Bridge from Carvin, black

string-through, black ferrules

Sperzel 6-in-line's, black

Volume, Tone, 3-way blade switch, all black

EMG HZ-H4/H4A (If they're good enough for Alexi [and they save me $80])

Straplocks, black

Paint scheme: Black with HOK candy apple red bevels and neck back (Going to try to get the red as dark as possible, would it be better to use a black primer, as opposed to a white?)

Enjoy :D

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That looks really good. Keep it up. Nice paint scheme, not sure which primer to use though.

Thanks a lot :D The painting SHOULD turn out well. I'm looking at the HOK candy red, because it'll give the red a bit more oomph, ya know? But I also want to try and get the red a pretty dark shade, like Kevin Bond's Flying V http://www.jacksonguitars.com/products/sea...rtno=2900500599

My options are use a white primer and layer on the red until it gets to an acceptable shade, or use a black primer and only spray a few coats of red.

Either should work. In theory.

Then again, my painting experience and knowledge are next to nil :D

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I'm looking at the HOK candy red, because it'll give the red a bit more oomph, ya know?

Yes, a bit more oomph. I know exactly what you mean. :D

I'd think a red slightly darker than on the V might look even better, but the red on that V looks killer aswell.

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Ohh it looks awesome!! I'm becoming a fan of explorers and i have never liked them, and i specially like this ESP model, keep up the good work, it is gorgeous:)

Thanks, I'm glad someone likes it :D I'm really thinking of naming the finished product "Imperfect," because I don't think anything went according to plan. But then again, it's my first build, and methinks that I can straighten some of them out and have it look more acceptable (to me, that is).

Well, where to begin... I never drew a 100% finished full-scale template of the body, I just kinda drew the pieces on the wood, combining my various printouts and sketches. I measured out and traced the body wings on the mahogany, but never took into account that the neck-through piece had a square butt... therefore my back curve was drastically off. The tuner holes were measured correctly, but holes 3 and 4 are a wee bit off-center. I don't think it'll show up that bad once I'm done, seeing as the headstock top is going to be black, as well as the tuners. The tuners are a tad too short for the headstock, so I need to bring the headstock thickness down 1/16". The sides of the headstock aren't 100% square, but that's an easy fix. The control cavity is a total mess. I wanted to keep it as small as possible, for maximum wood volume, so we drilled the holes for the jack and knobs, completely forgetting about the 3-way switch. Then, with the way the cavity turned out, I didn't want to have a sloppy cover plate, so I kept the plate square and routed a shelf. We did the TOM channel freehand, with only one guide edge, so it could be a little smaller, not to mention a little straighter. We'll see what some sandpaper can do. Both of the pickup cavities are a mess, the neck because the router got caught on an unseen nail, and the bridge because i did a sloppy chisel job. Tearout on both knob holes is fixed, as is the ferrule tearouts. Thank god the top ferrules are straight, because the back ones are a little less-than. The switch route is a bit off-center, not lined up with the screws all that great, but it works.

I know nobody read that little rant :D

As the guitar stands now (waiting on pictures so I can scan them), all of the bevels have been cut: two on the sharkfin, front and back, one on the top of the lower horn, and one on the bottom of the lower horn. I faded the bevel into the neck heel, which I brought down with a drum sander on a hand drill. I really need an orbital... All the patches are filled in with putty, and the whole guitar is sanded to 220. Inter-pickup and pickup-control cavity channels are done. Ferrule grounding channel is done. Strap holes are drilled. I'd like to sink the straploks in like Rob did on his "My Vee" thread, but whatever.

What needs to be done: Thickness the headstock, and drill the stabilization holes for the Sperzels. Square off the sides of the headstock better. Make a truss rod cover. Think of how to do a design on the headstock. I'm thinking of just doing a design on the truss rod cover, as opposed to a logo on the headstock. I hear it's pretty difficult to do. Drill holes for pickup covers. Drill holes for control cavity cover. Purchase wires and electronic accessories. Paint (grain-filler, primer, black, HOK red, clear).

*phew* So yeah, it's nowhere near done, but just gotta keep on keepin' on.

One last thing. Take a look at this picture here: http://public.fotki.com/xanthus/build_1/100_5299.html

Does the lower horn as a whole look a lot bigger than that of a regular ESP? Maybe it's a camera trick, or a measuring mistake, but the body looks too much on the "low" side. Nothing I can fix now, haha, just curious about what someone else's eye sees.

::EDIT::

Yeah, RGGR, funny story about that control cavity. Read /\ up there. And just for clarification, I didn't route that cavity. And yes, an ad-hoc template was used. I smoothed it out a few weeks ago, and it doesn't look horrendous. Not to mention it'll be covered first with paint, and then with shiny gold conductive tape B)

Edited by Xanthus
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Yeah, RGGR, funny story about that control cavity. Read /\ up there. And just for clarification, I didn't route that cavity. And yes, an ad-hoc template was used. I smoothed it out a few weeks ago, and it doesn't look horrendous. Not to mention it'll be covered first with paint, and then with shiny gold conductive tape.

Maybe others are less picky then me. I simply get goose bumps when I see stuff like this. Yeah, I know all get's covered up in the end. But that doesn't matter. It's me as builder that knows. It's me that could have invested 5 minutes more in cutting out proper a MDF template. It's me as a wanna-be luthier that could have spend the addition 5 minutes to sand everything flush. It's that eye for detail and enables you to create an awesome guitar, and not a hotchy-potch backyard job.

And with the proper templates everything will look sharp and clean. And building guitars equals making templates. Sinple as that. MFD simply is my best friend.

Also not meaning to rain on your project. Just pointing this out to you and other first timers.

The more I exposed to this guitar building stuff, the more I understand why Drak WOD's some of his guitar bodies.

An old timer once told me. You can restore and old VW Beetle, or a old 911 Porsche. Both will be the same amount of work, but the Porsche will be much more valuable in end. So if you wanna restore an old car, always pick the Porsche over the Beetle.

Same goes with building a guitar. If you go through the hasstle of building a custom guitar. Built one properly, to the best of your ability, and invest the time to make it perfect. It may take 20% more time to do it really properly, but in the end it will creat a guitar that is 5000% nicer.

And we all makes mistakes, and we all c*ck up at times.......

So, ..... enough preaching for one day. :D

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How deep did you recess that tune-o-matic?

and

How do you order the carvin neck-thru with options like no inlays? do you have to call them up or something?

I wish I could re-order mine now with block inlays!

very nice work, by the way. I'm just starting out on a similar project only with a different body shape.

oh yeah and it might look a little off to you because the neck is 24 fret and the scale is different from the esp

it looks good though

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Another shot of the pickup route. Router bottom got caught on a nail in the 2-piece ply template, chewed up that side pretty good. Other sides are fine. Tabs and corners chiseled out freehand.

Unforseen nails can be a bitch, although wonder what wood source you used. Still leave the fact that properly made routing templates can and will be your friend. It prevents hob-botch jobs like these.....

Couse the routes on the TOM recess look nice and sharp??? Would be cool if rest of guitar had quality of work like that. Aim for this on whole guitar....... :D

Edited by RGGR
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How deep did you recess that tune-o-matic?

and

How do you order the carvin neck-thru with options like no inlays? do you have to call them up or something?

I wish I could re-order mine now with block inlays!

very nice work, by the way. I'm just starting out on a similar project only with a different body shape.

oh yeah and it might look a little off to you because the neck is 24 fret and the scale is different from the esp

it looks good though

I'd say that the TOM is recessed no more than 3/16. Even 1/4" would be pushing it a bit. I wish I had the guitar with me to check, but it's back at the house (I moved back into the dorms yesterday).

And yes, I called up the guys at carvin and talked to them over the phone. Basically, their deal is whatever option you want on your neck order, you just have to call them up. The prices are the same as the ones listed on the guitar options section, so my low-wide frets cost me $40. I still need to get calipers out and test them, because they don't feel all that much different, or look different for that matter, from my other guitars.

No inlay option was free, though!!! :D

And thanks for the comments, RGGR, I've made a promise to myself to step up the quality with my next build, and do it more myself. Basically, this project was a lot of plan-it-out-and-then-tell-a-more-skilled-machine-operator-what-to-do. I want to be more hands-on with the next one. I'd rather make mistakes on my own, than have someone else do it for me :D

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  • 4 weeks later...

Update: Just added new pics to the Fotki! One pic of the tuner holes recessed, one of the grain-fill in progress, and the reaffirmation of the fact that I cannot, for the life of me, use a camera :D

www.fotki.com/xanthus

Now I'm hunting down someone on campus with a scanner so I can scan my dozen-odd REAL photos that I just got developed. I'm tellin' ya, the digital camera is the best invention ever.

Where do we stand now? I filled the body and it came out really nice, but I'm debating on whether I want to throw a second coat on or not. I'm trying to get the paint situation sorted out, because I'm so completely lost on what types/brands to pick out.

If anyone has any advice, the thread is here, any comments are appreciated. Another update when the scanned pics get done.

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  • 1 month later...

http://public.fotki.com/Xanthus/

New pictures are up, for all interested. I prepped and sprayed the primer, sanded it, sprayed, sanded again, and a third time, and then shot the color coats.

I immediately regretted not putting on a second coat of grain fill as soon as I saw how the black went on. What didn't show up when the primer was on (i.e. grain and a few tiny scratches) were magnified quite a bit when the black went on. So from 20 feet away, and on the pictures, the guitar looks awesome, but there are some details that I'm not happy with.

I made a few mistakes regarding taping as well. I didn't realize that the pinstriping tape I used to cover the bevels was a bit too thick, and had started to unstick itself around the difficult tighter curve next to the fretboard. So I got a bit of spray under there, which I'll have to paint over or sand out, and I'm not sure which one to go with. The primer leaked a bit under the tape as well, and ended up on the fretboard. When I went to sand it out, first with 1500, then went rougher when 1500 wasn't doing anything, I realized that A) the paint wasn't coming off, but :D the fretboard dye was. Go me. So I left it there and am going to formulate a plan of attack for it before the color coats.

I've some black still left over that I'm going to use to touch up the spots that need black, and primer to re-prime the black and smudged areas most likely, and then spray the color.

So other than all those stupid mistakes/mishaps, it's coming along swimmingly! With any luck, it'll be ready to play in a little over a week!

I know I'm going to post this on the inlay section, but has anyone ever worked with HOK candy colors? They say that they need to be cleared before they are completely dry. What if I need to sand a spot or two out? I was planning on giving them a rub with some wetsand before the clear regardless, but I can't do that unless it's dry! Quite a conundrum.

Anyways, enjoy. Constructive criticism rocks, but I have a much more confident and solid game plan now that I've ****ed up some on my first project. Just gotta acquire funds for the second.

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  • 4 months later...

Wow, I'm surprised to see this thread surface again. Thanks for the kind words, Maxim! I really appreciate it, after what a total B**** this project was. I'm giving my ears a rest; I've been playing the thing for a good 4 hours straight now.

Anyways, yeah, the project is done! It's been done since late February, and I haven't gotten around to taking any pictures of it, intonating the bridge, or adjusting the action. I've just been jamming on it as-is.

Turns out my dimensions for the bridge route were too small, i.e. they didn't account for paint thickness. So the thumbscrews that hold the bridge up don't fit. What I'll need to do is take those thumbscrews and affix them in some way to a jig that will fit on the lathe, and trim the thickness down enough to fit in the channel. Granted without the knurling they won't be able to twist that easily, but the metal itself seems soft enough to turn on the lathe without much of a problem.

Man, EMG pickups + PodXT + Sennheiser headphones = win B)

I'll scrounge up a friend's camera and take some more pics to throw up on my poor neglected Fotki, soon.

Funny you mention your Alexi, heh. My next build, starting this summer, is going to be a RR-style flying V, hardtail TOM, with the same Ibanez-ripoff headstock that I put on the explorer aaand.... "Improved Upper Fret Access." You know what that means :D But sadly, I've thought about carving out a fret access thingie like that for a while, before I even stumbled upon Bodom. Coulda been rich at 15, hahahaha, trademarking something like that :D

For the V I'm going to try and do a neck through with a neck angle. Yep, making my own neck, so why make it easy on myself?

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