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Madagascar Rosewood Electric


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Ok, this one is pretty simple. There was really only one requirement for this guitar and that was that everything possible was to be made with Madagascar rosewood. About 4 years ago I acquired a piece of flatsawn Madagascar rosewood that was pretty light for rosewood and it just rang like a bell. My client called and asked if I had any of this wood and so this project began. The body is made from this lighter weight wood while the neck, bridge, pickup covers, knobs, etc are made from a darker and slightly more dense (but perfectly quartersawn) piece of rosewood. The result is a chambered electric that is about 7-8 lbs that resonates and sustains endlessly. The tones form this guitar are amazing. Thanks to this incredible wood and the work of Jason Lollar who provided the pickups the voice is quite articulate, as you can imagine, and the deep lows and sparkling highs that Madagascar is known for shines through wonderfully.

The electronics are pretty simple but very cool. Each pickup has a stacked volume and tone with an on/off switch. This runs onto a master volume. That's it but it is so versatile. The 3 main volumes are wired so that they decouple when any volume is turned down just a touch so you can blend the neck wide open with a low end bridge tone. This is great fun through an equally articulate tube amp. The bridge pickup was wound pretty hot and you can get some serious high gain tones with clarity and definition. The bridge capacitor is an orange drop .022. For the neck and middle I used the RS Hovland caps .022 in the middle and .015 in the neck. The Hovland are very nive and transparent while the orange drop adds a nice edginess to the bridge. It works really nicely. P90s are great pickups and with this wood combination they blow me away. I haven't been this excited about a guitar in a while. While it is not for everyone I loved it and enjoyed the unique tones it has to offer. Maybe USPS will lose for a week or so. Yeah, that's it!

This one stands in contrast to the Blue Dragonfly which was an exercise in detail and color. This guitar is all about the wood. The design is simple and without embellishment. It really is little more than tonewood. The finish is Tru-Oil with one coat on the neck and 4 coats on the body. It feels and smells like rosewood. Very cool project and for a great guy in Nashville.

Here is a pic:

26.jpg

For more pictures click here.

For process pictures click here.

~David

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In contrast to most folks on here, the blue dragonfly didn't really catch my eye - nothing wrong with it, but it just didn't do it for me.

This however, presses all the buttons I have, at the same time. And some more I wasn't aware of. Simple, beautiful lines and gorgeous wood - what's not to love?

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Stunning. Granted, I liked the blue dragonfly too (cocobolo seemed a bit off to me at first,.... but it grows on ya). I've gotta say, I love the fact that you do your own bridges. At some point when I lose my fascination with the hipshot baby grands I'm going to give self-made bridges a try :D That or just learn from you when I eventually find a way out to the west coast... I'm SO gunna hit up your shop like nothin' else! hahahaha

Chris

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I also agree that instrument is of a simpler, more pure beauty. This is the fun and challenge of having a diverse client base. I am sent in all sorts of directions. It keeps things interesting for me. The last thing I would ever want to do is the same thing over and over again. I really enjoy the challenges of doing truly custom work. Sometimes I get to build wild eye candy guitars and sometimes I get to build something elegantly simple. The Blue Dragonfly was a challenge on another level and involved balancing out many seemingly incompatible elements. It is fun to work on projects like that. This one however was an an exploration of natural, organic wood tones. I am pretty happy to have the variety of work to do. Each one is new and fresh.

travismoore, the inlays on the fingerboard were done by taking standard abalone dots and fitting them into a slice of a sterling silver tube. I did a tutorial at one point that illustrates this. Click here and read the next few steps to see how I do these.

For the headstock inlay I cut out a piece of abalone with jeweler's saw. I then fit it into a piece of sheet silver, again with a jeweler's saw (and files to clean it up). I then carefully cut around the perimeter to leave a thin line of silver to frame the logo. It fits the inlays on the fingerboard perfectly. I may use it again too since I like the new look.

~David

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Simply spectacular. I, too, prefer it over the Blue Dragonfly. It's... well, it's awesome. I dunno what else to even say. I really like the electronics scheme-- A few too many knobs for me (even with cocentric), but I instantly appreciated the amazing versatility and attention to detail (choosing the caps).

Greg

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I like it but I would have liked it much more if the whole guitar was made from the same wood as the neck/pickup covers. I don't like the fiddly controls either but I can understand that it would offer a lot of sounds, I'm just more of a pickup selector & single volume kinda guy :D It's still a great guitar & extremely well made just doesn't quite do it for me...nearly but not quite.

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Now there we go! Very nice.

And interesting to see there's at least one other person out there who thinks like I do...I've had a similar project on the drawing board for about a year now, RW top (but mahog back) and Lollar P90s. Just stacked behind about 5 other projects!

A question....why locking tuners with a fixed bridge?

Edited by erikbojerik
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GregP, thanks. Using the specific capacitors has been a great way to diversify the tones.

billiousfrog, I know what you mean. I really like the darker wood aesthetically. But tonally I prefer a lighter body wood and a heavier neck, just like it is built. This seems to produce the best results for me when using a rosewood neck. Now what really would have been cool would be to use ebony for the fingerboard, pickup covers, bridge, and knobs. The contrast would have been beautiful.

Thanks Godin. I have been talking with a new friend who does photography and he has given me some great advice on lighting and camera settings. In my new space I will be setting up a nice booth with proper backdrop and lighting. I will post pictures of it when I get it all complete (in a few weeks). For now all I can suggest is to get some good photo bulbs like these photo bulbs. The color is great with these but the drawback is that they only last 3 hours. I may try something else in the new space by using diffusion screens and less direct lighting. A full spectrum photo bulb is a must to really bring out the colors.

A question....why locking tuners with a fixed bridge?

Good question. It was a client request. There really isn't a need for a locking tuner on a fixed bridge at all. I think Sperzel's reputation is a good one but the benefits of using them is often taken out of context. Still, they are a lightweight tuner and that can work for you if you need that quality. The Waverly's would have been my choice.

~David

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i love the raw woody feel of this guitar. . . and the dots. I have done cheaper versions of the dots with aluminium tube and crushed stone they worked well but i am tempted to try it with pearl now. Brass tube with wood dust and CA also works nice.

I quite like to have locking tuners even if they are not needed - it means you need less/no windings on the posts and thats got to be a good thing

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I quite like to have locking tuners even if they are not needed - it means you need less/no windings on the posts and thats got to be a good thing

Yeah, but also a pain to tweek the tuning on the fly in a live situation.

I don't quite understand what you mean by that, unless you're referring to changing the actual key your guitar is tuned to.

David, I like this one much more than the other one. No matter how much I looked at it, I just couldn't really get over the blue and cocobolo right next to eachother. Of course, your work looked spotless.

Interesting that you're looking to get into making hardware. I'd really love to get a mill in my shop and make some of my own as well. Do your machinist friends have access to a chrome plater? I don't know of any locally that will take small jobs, but a friend of mine has gotten into powder coating lately, so I may have to send a case of beer his way in the near future :D .

Anyhow, looks great. I'll be interested to see where you go with that sympathetic string idea. More importantly, I'd love to see what you're thinking about for a bridge. I've got some drawings of some bridges that might transfer the energy between the two courses well, but I can't help but look at them and think of how much more effective doing it with electronics would be, not to mention controllable.

peace,

russ

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I quite like to have locking tuners even if they are not needed - it means you need less/no windings on the posts and thats got to be a good thing

Yeah, but also a pain to tweek the tuning on the fly in a live situation.

Just to clear this up for those who are not sure -

locking tuners job is to lock the string in the post of the tuner, not to lock the guitar in tune somehow.

this means you need less/no windings on the post.

Excess windings on the tuner post can be a source of tuning instability on traditional trems because the windings will be constantly loosened and tightened as the trem is used

Having fewer/no windings stops this and helps ensure the trem will return to pitch.

Another advantage of these tuners is that most make string changes much quicker in a live situation, especially if you use the planet waves one with string cutters!!

This is because all you need to do is thread the string through the post, tighten the thumbwheel, and tune

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