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First Guitar Build

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Hello everyone,

I have researched on this site before and found it to be a very informative .So I am considering a first guitar build.I would like some help on how I should begin.I have specs that I would like to use but am not sure of the build process.So please bear with me,this is something I have wanted to do for many,many years.Here are my rough specs and any input would really be appreciated.Any reading material would help,maybe blueprints???

flying v shape(gibson style)

8 string

left handed

neck through

mahogany body with black ebony top(some tribal inlays on the body/with bloodwood

2 humbuckers(probably emg 808's)

neck will be 5 piece (mah/bloodwood/mah/bloodwood/mah)

24 X jumbo fret

black ebony fretboard

28.625 scale

headstock will be black ebony with bloodwood inlays to match the body

hipshot bridge

finish,probably cleared top and headstock.Back of body and neck oil?????

Thank you


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/\ First and foremost.

If I had more time, I'd comment more, but just a few things:

-Good luck finding some ebony big enough to use for a top

-What's the allure of an ebony top in the first place?

-Ebony is a bitch to work with

-The plans read very pricey, just saying that this is no cheap hobby, especially with your specs

-Ever done inlays before? practice practice practice

I'd buy a TON of scrap wood to practice on, this being your first venture, before you risk cutting up some wood that is actually worth money.

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I like the tone of ebony,and the color.Actually had bloodwood as at top first and than thought I would throw the ebony out there. I know it's a bit pricey.I'm actually haing a 8 string built right now.The price range for a small luthier is between 2000 and 3000,so I'm aware of the cost.I work with steel for a living and am used to working with close tolerances,I also am an avid artist so can draw pretty well.Like I said it's my first and am willing to do what I have to,just need positive, constructive ,guidance

Thanks for the response

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Well then it seems you've got your head on straight :D Good to hear! I was a bit snappy in my response at first, and I apologize. But yes, I would get a copy of Hiscock's book, and if you want to, Koch's book as well. My girlfriend bought it for me for Christmas (bundled together with some sandpaper :D) and it's very well done.

Here is the website I got my plans for. I'm in the middle of a V build too, albeit a Rhoads body. The guy is very accommodating when it comes to custom plans, and to make a body with the dimensions you are looking for shouldn't be a problem, seeing as he already has a Gibson V template done. I would much prefer getting the paper plans from him, going to Kinko's and making 5 or so copies (believe me, I'm wishing I had more!) and making a few templates from there. Tight tolerances B)

Also, I would go to the luthier's shop if you could with an eye for equipment. I don't know what equipment you have, but a quick scan of my brain digs up:


-planer (hand or machine... or both!)

-good, accurate straightedge/ruler

-drill press

-assortment of bits

-router (router table is helpful too)

-table saw

-scrap wood for making jigs

-orbital sander, or any mechanical sander really

-clamps of all shapes and sizes

With that, and a ton of sandpaper, you'll be able to put a guit-box together.

With all this equipment and parts to buy, as well as the wood you're using, I might want to look into finishing the body with oil, or even leaving it natural. Ebony is very oily, especially if you're considering using it for a top (no comment :D) I don't have an idea about bloodwood though. My main reason being, I spent so much money trying to botch together a DIY paint job that didn't even turn out well, I'm just looking to cut a few financial corners and escape with a good, or better, looking project. It's your call, either way.

I'm assuming that since you said you've wanted to do an 8-er for a while, you've played, or even have one. That would answer my question about the scale length. It's becoming more and more common to use a fanned fret system when dealing with such a number of strings. Your scale length is almost a shortscale bass! I don't imagine playing the higher strings to be very comfortable, but I'm sure you know better than I. A fanned fret system would definitely be pushing the limits of a first build, in my opinion, seeing as now you've got into the realm of slotting your own fingerboard and making your own nut. Speaking of, where are you planning on getting your string nut from?

LMII.com has fingerboard slotting, but the closest they have is in the 27" range, and after that is 30" for a bass. I don't know what their policy is on custom orders.

First, I'd do some book reading and some forum reading. A lot of 8's have popped up recently, I know RGGR and Thirsty put together a batch of 8's.

Second, I'd make a list of ALL the parts you need (there should be a good list somewhere...) and where you're going to get them, because exotic parts like the ones you might need can be pretty hard to come by.

This just dawned on me: 8 string neck on a guitar with no upper horn... I hope it balances well for you B) Good luck Tony!


I don't know if it would be easier to obtain a thick ebony board and resaw it to be bookmatched. Does ebony even come that thick??? Talk about classy, though!

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+1 on the cost of ebony. IIRC, it's one of, if not THE, most expensive woods out there. It's also very rare & super pricey to get it in large pieces like you're looking for. I agree that you'd be better off getting a smaller piece & bookmatching it. Another thought would be to reverse the scheme, with a bloodwood top & ebony inlays. That being said, it sounds like it'll be a very handsome guitar. Good luck.

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well its not what i would recommend building for a first guitars because it is quite complex but if its what you want to do and you are willing to put the time and research in then why not.

Firstly i would second the advice to buy more wood than you need so you have scrap to practice on. for instance, Its worth getting a couple of fretboards so you can have a practice attempt with the inlay beofre doing the real thing.. the experience gained will be excellent whether the fretboard gets used or not!!

As people have pointed out the ebony top is an issue. There are not many big ebony trees left in the world so it can get difficult to source stuff much bigger than fingerboards and isnt very stable when you do find it

i would see if i could source an acoustic back set (not sure many places will have them now) or consider woods like macasser ebony or african blackwood. Macasser ebony isnt as black but is more available and african blackwood does have the look you are after and is more stable but technically its a rosewood. Both these are sold by lmii in acoustic sizes so they should have enough to do a vee

Personally i dont think the neck combo of mahogany and bloodwood will be very striking, should work just fine but i would want to spread the red and black theme to the back of the neck - maybe with a neck that goes mahog, 1/4" ebony, 1/2" bloodwood, 1/4" ebony, mahog - or what ever other sizes you can get. The bloodwood will look so much nicer sandwiched between black

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If mahogany for the neck is an absolute must, I suppose it could always be satined black. That's keep the color theme without losing the wood grain like painting it would do. BUT... if that's done, a good old maple neck wouldn't be a bad choice either.

I know I could get railed on for saying this, but we all have our opinions, don't we. :D Personally, I don't think the neck wood effects the tone nearly as much as the body wood does. The stiffness of the neck wood drastically influences the sustain, but I just don't hear it for tone. Maybe my ear just isn't as good as it could be.

Just my 2-cents worth.

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The stiffness of the neck wood drastically influences the sustain, but I just don't hear it for tone. Maybe my ear just isn't as good as it could be.

Just my 2-cents worth.

i would say that it isnt that easy to seperate tone and sustain, It all comes down to how the wood is vibrating and if its sustaining longer its definately vibrating differently... and i reckon thats means it has to affect what we would call tone as well

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I know I am probably crazy for trying to build an 8 string as my first.You have to realize that being left handed has been a lifetime struggle when it come to guitar choice,especially with ERG. It really has not been until recently that more companies are making them. I have been contacting small luthiers through out U.S. for the past 4 years and they are quite expensive, some are really worth it, but If I can build my own,not only would it be a great sense of accomplishment, but I know I would put extra care into it and make it to better suit my needs. I realize the problem with the ebony,I really was looking to bookmatch the top.I know it would be hell finding a piece big enough to cover the whole top.That is why I am now thinking bloodwood top with some nice sized ebony inlays on the top,maybe some tribal designs???? I really have to draw some things up and see.I do like the idea of the neck with the ebony bloodwood sandwhich,great idea Wez V.As for the neck and tone,I have heard mixed comments.I have heard that the glue between layers forms a buffer so how much does it affect tone??? Matter of preference,and how good your ear is(if there is any difference at all).I know I need to have the neck as solid as it can be,bloodwood is supposed to be very strong and so is the ebony,so that might be a great combo.

Anyway thank you for the comments

Edited by newguitar8
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i like laminating necks. I dont think the extra glue will always hurt tone, but i know laminations definately give a stiffer neck - which has tonal advantages in itself

i try to keep it to 5 laminations for my own sanity.. but isnt one of the major acoustic builder now making necks that look like ply they have so many laminations (martin or taylor IIRC)

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I think I have seen them.Personally I do like laminate necks not only for strength but you can combine some dfferent woods and make some really stunning necks.WezV you have some really great guitars on you site.I really love that Vaccine guitar(do you make those in 8), I too love SG's,actually just sold another one last month(I hate having to do that)

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