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School Project Guitar Worklog


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Hi,

I am making a guitar (of my own design) for a school project and I decided to keep a worklog on here =]

I will be using -

Standard neck (if the guitar turns out well I will most likely upgrade it).

2x Les Paul style (humbucking) pick-ups. I forget the name (woops).

Floyd Rose style bridge.

design-1.jpg

This is the design I settled with. It's kind of a hybrid of this ( http://www.romeoknight.net/Bilder/Bilder%2...%20Side%201.jpg ) and a mockingbird - but what ever it is I love the shape =D

The body is made of maple and the neck also from maple.

Lets begin with the pictures!

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00045.jpg

Due to the thickness of the wood, I've opted to use 2 pieces and glue them together. This also has the advantage that I can route routes ( lol ) for the wiring nice and easily!

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00046.jpg

Close up of template drawn out ready to be cut with the jigsaw.

[urlhttp://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00053.jpg

Half way done.

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00054.jpg

Finished. Or so I though. Because i had never used a jigsaw before, i decided to cut about a cm away from the line. Little did I realise just how hard maple was to sand (because its so dense). You can see how much wood i have left over at some points -

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00052.jpg

I have since gone over it again with the jigsaw and cut pretty much on the line (turns out I'm pretty good at using a jigsaw :D ) so it's ok!

You'll notice I have opted to cut the "spikey bits" seperatly. 2 reasons.

1 - I get more marks because I have to use joints. (I'm aiming at an A*/A)

2 - Because of the grain direction, I don't want them to be knocked off easily.

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00063.jpg

No pictures of the 'spikey bits' being made I'm afraid. My teacher did them on the band saw for me :D

Before anyone comments about the apprent difference in size, this is because the back piece is curved. The wood I bought was straight off the mill. So I had to plane it. I choose to leave one side unplaned so I could have a curvey back. It'd be a lot of sanding, but my friend in the year above me has been nice enough to help sand it for me in his free periods. It only has a little bit more sanding to do, but its friggin smooooooth.

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00064.jpg

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a120/dynamyt/DSC00065.jpg

This is what it looks like atm, 'spikey' bits in place. I can't wait to play it!

Things to do still:

- make template for routing pockets

- route pockets

- route wiring line (thin pocket I suppose)

- sand sand sand sand

- check it all fits

- get it painted

I also fly RC planes, and one of my friends in the club I belong too can get it painted for me (proffesionally). Apparently I can pass it off in my coursework as an "industrial process", but in reality I don't wanna f*ck it up =P. Depending on how much time is left I may be able to have it painted with cool drawings, I hope so!

Will post more updates soon,

Comments/Advice very welcome.

Tegro (will)

Please read the image posting rules before posting any more pictures - you can find them in the pinned topic 'Forum rules' in the announcements and test section of the forum. I have editted your post.

Edited by Setch
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I think you need to rethink the pointy bits. As it it, you're trying to glue end grain to almost end grain. That makes for an extremly weak joint. I'm pretty surprised your teacher didn't point this out, it doesn't say much for his woodworking knowledge.

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First of all I see you using thin sheets of maple. Wouldn't have been my choice. But for school project.......well......

Second, when cutting out top and bottom you used the same shape, (top and bottom). This will create two week joining areas.

If going this route.....I would have opted for half brick type design....

bricks.jpg

Where one piece of maple would be off set by the other. So top and bottom shape would not be the same, but glueing them together would create a very strong body blank.

Your opted option is the least intelligent one.

Darn- Setch you beat me to it.

Edited by RGGR
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I think you need to rethink the pointy bits. As it it, you're trying to glue end grain to almost end grain. That makes for an extremly weak joint. I'm pretty surprised your teacher didn't point this out, it doesn't say much for his woodworking knowledge.

+1

If you bump that guitar a little too hard, those pieces will fall off... unless you scarf them on but that would be quite the job. You could also try a mortise and tenon joint.

The main body should have been joined right in the middle.

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Um, well, it's different...

Tegro, you've just had a couple of the best builders on this site give you some advice, so I'm not going to throw more gasoline on the pyre, other than the fact that you probably need to start over or try to redesign and salvage the wood you have.

Glueing on the "pointy-bits" is actually quite the old inside joke around here and I almost can't believe I'm watching someone try it, but the way you have it just isn't going to work for very long. You really need to re-work and re-think how you're going to do this build. Your teacher is a dumbass if he's encouraging you to include as many joints as possible in your project just to get a higher grade. My shop teacher taught us the KISS method, with an emphasis on the last S because he'd throw a hammer at you if you did something stupid and wasted the school's wood. I can guarantee you that any guitar you build is going to be a lot more complicated than the roll-top breadbox I made in shop class, and I got a B on that because I almost didn't have enough time in the semester to finish it.

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Sorry about the images, I didn't know. Won't happen again.

Fear not, I'm not glueing them straight together using a butt joint - I'm not that daft heh. Each piece (out of the four) will be join using a "biscuit joint" which should be pretty strong (although, I'm not an expert so if you have any other ideas - shoot ). Also, my teacher didn't directly say "do it this way, you'll get more marks". I can get just as good a marks by getting a fantastic finish. The reason I'm doing it this way is because the original piece of wood was exactly the width of the guitar minus the 'pointy bits', and I came to the conclusion that the 'pointy bits' would fall off easily. I bought two planks of the wood (which was quite expensive) and this way I am only using 1 - leaving the other plan in case I royally f*ck up something like routing. I knew it would be better to use the two planks and make one, but this way has left me a form of backup plan, be it a smart one or a dumb one.

As for the wood, it was the only maple I could get my hands on. There was nothing thicker / wider - it was pretty hard to get hold of in the first place.

Thank you for the reply and advice so far, it has been helpful ( even if it did feel a bit like fire, but idk - I'm open to criticism ).

Tegro

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If you dont have wood big enough for the shape you want there is nothing wrong with glueing on extra pointy bits - just a wrong way to do it.

You can do what you needed to with a couple of simple joins in the right places - but you need the grain going the correct way!

Here is one way to get the shape you wanted with the wood you had.

123.jpg

The black lines are where the joins will be, the brown arrows are grain direction - notice they all go the same way!!!! At no point would you have to glue end-grain to end-grain and the joints would be strong enough without biscuits

You could lay them all out on the plank like this, spend a bit longer organising them and you could probably find a less wastefull way to do it!

th_1234.jpg

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As for the wood, it was the only maple I could get my hands on. There was nothing thicker / wider - it was pretty hard to get hold of in the first place.

Out of curiosity.......why maple?

Alder, Mahogany, Ash (swamp or hard), Basswood......are mostly used to built guitars. Maple is said to have to bright of a tone.

If your maple was so hard (and expensive to get) and even in the wrong dimensions....why on earth settle for maple.

Rule #1 in relation to finding cheap and good tonewood is use the yellow pages. Spend afternoon ringing up woodwork companies. Explain what you want and see if they can point you in direction of good supplier. Cause suprisingly the best suppliers are mostly only a stone throw away from you.......if you just only take the time to scope them out.

On this site there is a great reference with good suppliers (anywhere in the world).

Not raining on your project. Think you take the critizism very well.........but questions stay:

1. Why Maple?

2. If going for maple, why settle for this strange dimensions?

3. When having to deal with wood you got....why lay out guitar design like you did?

I think it makes lots of sense to take up the phone book, do some more research on suppliers and get the right body blank.

Ask you mom/dad/sister/grandma for the $40 it takes to buy the new body blank, and in return wash their car for the next coming month.

The maple you got will warm you on a cold winter day. :D

Edited by RGGR
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Thanks for the replies and advice.

1 - Why Maple?

I choose maple for a few reasons. I've read on a few sites that it was a good wood due to its high density (so it doesn't absorb the energy of the strings) and strength. I made a posting on here asking if Oak was a good wood (I can get it for free) but I was told it wouldn't be a good choice (I was even provided with a nice picture of a burning Oak project guitar :D) - I was also told I should get maple/mahogany.

2 - Why settle for this strange dimensions?

In all honesty I can't answer this question. I guess at the time it made sense (putting them at different angles). Retrospectively it was a mistake - but don't we all make mistakes? I'm just going to have to live with this one.

3 - Why lay out guitar design like I have?

Again, this one I can't really answer properly. I'm 16 and making my first ( yes, first :D ) guitar as a school project - I don't have the experience that you guys have so I'm going to make mistakes. To me the layout it makes sense - but I'm not experienced enough to know.

Keep the advice coming, I'm really learning some useful stuff for next time =]

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Did i miss something or is there a reason you used a jigsaw instead of a bandsaw?

Cool shape, but yeah, deffinatly join those pointy parts on a bit better.

Ive made many prototypes in school since gr.9...still havent got it the way i want so i havent bothered finishing any. The one im on now is very promising and I took these guys' tips and made a new neck after they gave me many reasons to and im glad i listened to them.

These guys are usually right, so listen well :D

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I am listening well! The advice is top notch, even if it is all pointed at my mistakes :D Ah well, live and learn.

Reason I didn't use the band saw - Only teachers allowed to use it, and playing with a jigsaw is fun. It only took 10 minutes per piece and I had fun doing it so who the hell cares! :D

I spent a while on the shape - I'm really pleased with it. Glad you like it too. =]

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I'm 16 and making my first ( yes, first wink.gif ) guitar as a school project - I don't have the experience that you guys have so I'm going to make mistakes.

Tegro - For a first guitar your design is excellent. No critique there.

And don't be taken by our comments.....it's not to throw rocks at your greenhouse......it's just that we would like you to make an awesome first guitar.

My advice really would be to call around and see it you can score a different body blank.

Where are you located? Guys here might be able to point you in the right direction concerning another body blank. Maybe someone still has unused slab of alder or mahogany available.

Strange advice........Sometimes great Mahogany body blanks are hidden in old Church benches, tables......Try a goodwill store or otehr second hand store nearby and see what kinda cool tables they might have. Sometimes you have to be creative.

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And don't be taken by our comments.....it's not to throw rocks at your greenhouse......it's just that we would like you to make an awesome first guitar.

My advice really would be to call around and see it you can score a different body blank.

Where are you located? Guys here might be able to point you in the right direction concerning another body blank. Maybe someone still has unused slab of alder or mahogany available.

Strange advice........Sometimes great Mahogany body blanks are hidden in old Church benches, tables......Try a goodwill store or otehr second hand store nearby and see what kinda cool tables they might have. Sometimes you have to be creative.

+1

I really like that body design too. It looks more comfortable than an Explorer and less annoying and pretentious than a Kelly. It deserves to be done right, and without biscuits :D

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Hey, if nothing else you show some pretty good backbone--you've had to endure some hard criticism (though it's all been fair) and you're taking it calmly and politely.

Most of the people here are sincerely interested in seeing that your build goes well --we all love guitars here, we all know how cool it is to see a project through.

My advice, if you have the time, would be to back up a bit and start over. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes--it's important to make mistakes--but the one you made is kind of fatal for this project.

On the other hand, you can use the work in progress to prepare a proper template of the body shape --that way you won't have been wasting your time, and the fact that you have to joint on the pointy bits won't be an issue, since you're not looking for structural soundness.

Building a template is one of the two most important things I have learned about building guitars (and I started out as a complete neophyte). With a proper template, the build itself becomes relatively easy.

What you need is a new body blank to go under a new maple top. Alder isn't expensive, so it's a good choice. It's really easy to work with too, a lot easier than maple.

WezV already showed you how you're supposed to put together the pieces of wood in order to make your body blank large enough --I'd do that before you start jigsawing, just because it seems easier to me that way. Sanding things to shape is way more work than it's worth. Planing the sides to make sure they'll fit properly together when glued is bound to get you some extra credit!

And, if you're not allowed to use the bandsaw, see if you can use a router with a bearing bit. You can still rough shape the body with a jigsaw (it's how I do it) then you use the router and the template you've prepared to route the body to shape. Once you've got the body routed, you can glue the top on , then use the body to shape the top (don't shape the top separately...it's easy to screw that up...)

Seems weird that your teacher doesn't understand any of this, but there you go. Maybe he's never built a guitar before. Seems weird that he'd let you go ahead and work with unplaned, warped wood too.

I can understand why you'd be reluctant to back up, and why you'd be tempted to push the build through as it is. Depends on what your goals are--if it's just to get the project done for the grade, so be it. But if it's to have a real working guitar, well, patience is the other most important thing I have learned about building guitars.

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I bought two planks of the wood (which was quite expensive) and this way I am only using 1 - leaving the other plan in case I royally f*ck up something like routing. I knew it would be better to use the two planks and make one, but this way has left me a form of backup plan, be it a smart one or a dumb one.

This means you still have options to do this right. I dont have a problem with using maple for bodies, i dont like it myself but i know some people do. Just be aware when you finish your guitar, it will probably sound a bit bright for most ears.

Here is what i would do now.

1. get yourself a full size template or two on paper. I presume you already have this but we nee dsome to cut up.

2. Place the template onto the wood to fit most of the shape onto it.

3. Cut off any bits of template that overhang

4. Arrange these cut off bits on the rest of the board. You may notice i arranged them on the edges of the board to ensure the grain was running the same way. You can take them from the middle as well but make sure the grain is running the same way. You may even be able to get the smaller bits off the body you have already cut - making sure the grain runs the right way of course :D

5, It might be worth doing this twice and putting the joins in slightly different places so that they are not in the same place on both layers (like RGGR suggested) - just make sure you number/label each peice if you do that

6. Cut out the peices with maybe a centimeter gap around them, glue together no biscuits required but you may need to fashion some odd shaped clamping cauls from your offcuts

7. When they are glued you can cut them to final shape

I should say that i work in a school - i sometimes help out in technology lessons but it isnt a subject i teach. There are a few things we do when making a guitar that seem strange to most of the tech teachers i have ever met. They may know a lot about woodwork but very few of them know a lot about building guitars and it is different.

I also like the shape you have designed so please dont feel disheartened by this criticism/advice, we would all like to see you pull this off. You have handled the fire well so far!

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i am going to add my vote for a different body wood than maple....i built a maple bodied guitar and sanding the contours is a neverending saga of pain and frustration...it's like punching a cow...no wait.wrong analogy.

i HIGHLY reccomend alder for a first build...failing that,mahogany.do make the neck out of maple...but straight lines are easier to sand.

that body shape you need to have an easy wood to work...basswood is by far the easiest...but i don't like the tone...if you like the sound of basswood,use it.

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I'm guessing a GCSE DT Project, am I right? I built a remote control holder for that and got a B :D - props to you for going the extra mile and doing a guitar!

I'd echo the same things most of the people here have said - oh, and does your school have a spindle sander or similar? Would be much easier on your arm muscles than sanding maple!

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I may have to backup our new friend Tegro here aand suggest (gasp!) that he actually not start over. Hear me out now...

I was probably in school more recently that the legitimate experts here who are posting excellent crituqes and suggestsion, so the one thing I can add to this conversation is a strong understanding of how time-pressde student projects are. I myself am wokring on my axe on something of a deadline, which I will meet (body going out for finishing tomorrow!), and am continually amazed by how much time the last second details take. It took me a full day to route (freehand) my control cavit, create the cover, bind the cover, create the tabs it will rest on, scrape it all flush, fit all the pots, figure out where the jack would be placed, and then fit the jack. 12 hours for one control cavity. Granted I did it the hard way (highly detailed, no plastic), but 12 hours is probably about a full school quarter of shop time. No way in the world Tegro has time to start over and still get anywhere near finished by the end of the quarter/semester, he'll have a big push ahead of him as it is.

So now it becomes a matter of priorities: finish the project or make a more ideal guitar?

1. Finish the project with biscuit joints and a less-than-ideal layout:

+ Get a good grade

+ Have a decent guitar

+ Learn a ton and make a better one later

+ Save some money & wood

+ Actually finish (maybe) while you still have access to a woodshop full of tools

- Guitar will not be perfect, and you'll always know it (this will always be true, it's a matter of degrees of expectations)

- Joints may be weak (but buscuits, while not fine-woodworking approved, are a good idea with your setup)

vs.

2. Start over and do it closer to "right"

+ Have a guitar that's superior to those in the know, including yourself (now)

+ Maybe still get a good grade because your incomplete work is really good and you're a goood learner/student (this depends on your teacher's philosophy about teaching and learning, actually would be good to find this out)

+ You have extra wood for that exact reason, so use it

+ Doing it properly improves future projects by learning the right way to do it

- If you don't have tons of tools at home, you may be hosed for actually completing your guitar

- If you aren't a total stickler for detail and craftsmanship (as many aren't, though I am) it won't bother you anyhow, so you're wasting time

- You're just succumbing to peer-pressure from invisible people who type advice on the internet (including me, ha! now you're in a bit of a philosophical bind. I don't mean that to teh rest of you guys... don't hate me invisible people with guitarbuilding knowledge)

So really, figure out where your priorities lie and then either finish what you've started and "salvage" your mistakes, or start over and do it better, but make sure you understand what each choice entails. Then make your peace with the cons and embrace the pros you've chosen.

Waaaaaaay better project than the little figured-cherry wood birds (sillohuettes only, no wings) on sticks I made in 8th-grade woodshop. Won me a prize at the country fair, but that's because I live in a place where most of the kids are in supplementary math courses, not shop courses. Crazy SF Bay Area, don't you know hands on experience is critical for your kids to become real engineers?

I rant too long, but good luck and work hard and wel,

-Dave

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I agree Dave.

I would think time is of the essence in this project.

I build furniture as a hobby. Mostly for friends and family. I found that in most projects I learned something new everytime and I could probably have done something better in that particular piece. You probably have to constantly build the same piece over and over again before you could possibly reach perfection. Now if I were building guitars for a living I would certainly invest in appropriate tools and have an array of jigs and templates. This would definitely increase the measure of perfection. But I'm a dabbler and move on to other things.

This guy building his first guitar is going to learn a huge amount. Is he going to build a perfect guitar, no.

I also say forward and onward. If there is a next time, the knowledge will have increased to get closer to perfection.

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Hi Tegro, first off cool shape, nice to see you didnt go for a stratoclone !

I'd like to suggest a way of fastening your wings on a bit more securely than with biscuits. If you rout a pocket in the top surface of your back half and the underside of your front half you will then have a socket into which you can glue a 'super biscuit' made from one of your offcuts ( make this as long and as wide as you can ). If you do this on both the wing and the body you will in effect create a mortice and tennon joint which should be strong enough as long as the grain on the super biscuit is perpendicular to the joint. - keep up the good work

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Thanks for all the replies guys! They've really been a lot of help =]

As for what to do - I'm going to stick with my current plan. My reasoning. Sure, I know it's not the best way and it could be done better, but I just don't have enough time left to change it all. It would involve changing my coursework AND starting all over again. BUT - For my next guitar, I will steer clear of this method hehe =]

I have cut the biscuit joints and they are currently glueing! =] I'm on my half term break now, but I'm going in on Monday (in my holiday haha) to draw up the CAD/CAM for my neck, pickups and bridge pockets. Shouldn't take too long to draw and even less time to get done on the machine - and the sizes will be 100% accurate so it will all be in line =D

I will post picture tomorrow, I'm too tired to get the pictures of my phone right now :D

Thanks,

Tegro

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