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Grendel - This Is Weird Even For Me


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I haven't made a progress thread in quite a while, so I decided to get on it. I think I have some earlier photos somewhere. If I can find them I'll upload them, so you can see how it started.

The wood knots function as sound-holes. I had to experiment and work pretty hard to get them stabalized and ensure they wouldn't check or move at all.

The hardware will mostly be be made by me. The pickup covers will be blackened copper mesh. The bridge is still up in the air, but I have some ideas.

The body is chambered. The top, obviously, is spalted maple. The back is wormy black walnut and womry maple. Binding is black walnut with bone details.

The neck is goncalo alves and mahogany (around 60 years old).

The wood will be aged to black and grey with a iron/vinegar solution I made. I did some aging for these photos, so you could sort of see how the colors will turn out. The goncalo alves on the neck and fretboard will turn a dark greenish color with bits of black.

All of the wood sounds incredible. I have high hopes for this one.





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I'll refine the edges, so they look a little more natural. The finish I'll be using will yellow the maple and make it look aged enough.

The body is bound right now, but it's hard to tell in the photos. The binding actually looks pretty cool. It has some burrow holes in it that go all the way through and thick strips of bone.

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If anybody has an opinion or idea for the bridge, I'd love to hear it. I haven't drilled holes for it yet because I'm still mulling it over.

I've made fully adjustable buffalo horn bridges for guitars like this before (made so they can swapped out with a TOM bridge, since you can't just buy a replacement) and they sounded amazing. I'm not set on doing that for this one, but it's certainly an option. Buffalo horn is black with cream streaks and adds a distinct kind of warmth to the tone. The neck will add a lot of warmth with the goncalo alves, so I don't want to overdo it, though.

I want the hardware to be mostly black and natural looking. The pup covers will be copper mesh that's been blackened. Everything else is up in the air for the moment.

I'm also thinking of MAYBE adding a pickguard. If I do, I'd like to make it out of metal, leave it matte, and blacken it (maybe even etch the black, now that I'm thinking about it). Given the shape of the body is reminiscent of an old-timy acoustic or archtop, I think it could add a lot of character... or it could just be too much. That's a very recent idea, so any thoughts on that would be appreciated too.

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I think a pick guard would be too much, plus it would cover up too many interesting features in that top.

On the other hand if your aging process covers much of that up.......the pick guard you describe could go with the pup covers nicely.

Or make one out of copper mesh too. Find you a rusty iron TOM and blacken it too.


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  • 4 months later...

Well, I didn't exactly post any more progress here. Even the original photo links are broken now, it seems (I'll see if I can fix that in a minute). But, it's done.

I submitted it for GOTM. Here's my post:


I bought this top wood a couple years ago and set it aside for a time when I felt the right inspiration for it.

The wood knots act as f-holes would. I stabilized them in a few different ways, most notably by saturating the cracks with thin CA. I was afraid of them spreading, but they're not going anywhere. After two years of being on a shelf and moving to three new studios, they haven't budged.

There are tons of little details throughout the neck and body that aren't in the photos. On the side is a large gap (insect damage, I assume) that I coated with copper dust and gave a deep patina to (sort of a geode look). Some of that copper mesh sits in place of the binding near the neck, as well as pieces of bone in various areas of the binding. There are also a lot of insect holes and subtle rustic details I couldn't get in photos. Even the fretboard has a faint green tinge around the frets to give the impression of old age.

Instead of one big control cavity, I made a separate, small cavity for each pot and the jack. It took a lot more work, but I think it looks much nicer and interesting than a big cavity would have.

The hardware took quite a bit of effort to pull off, especially the bridge. It's well known among metal finishers that aluminum is practically impervious to oxidation and any type of aging or patina. I really wanted to use that bridge, so I put on my wizard hat and my chemist's pants and eventually - after many experiments with various chemicals, processes, and blow torches - managed that aged look and the patina.

The mesh parts are blackened copper.

It sounds beautiful and very appropriate for the aesthetic style. The semi-hollow qualities really shine through, but it still has plenty of punch and even a bit of twang when unplugged. Overall, it has a pretty broad high/low range and a mean woody character. I think it's ideal for the type of dirty blues I meant it for.

The neck is very large, which is my preference. It's more comfortable when playing for long periods and just feels "right" to me. Honestly, I was concerned when the person who bought it was a woman, because I made it for large hands. But, I had my petite 5'2" roommate try it out and she loved how it felt.

Anyhow, here she is. My guitars often cause love-or-hate reactions (which is totally okay with me) and I'm always curious to see which way it goes.

Some specs:

Top: spalted maple

Body: wormy maple, wormy black walnut - semi-hollow

Neck: goncalo alves, ironwood - thick C shape

Fretboard: goncalo alves

Scale length: 24.75"

Fret: 22 - nickel - reliced

Pickups: handwound PAF style humbuckers - copper mesh covers

Controls: blend pickups, master volume, master tone

(all hardware is heavily distressed and aged/blackened)

Bridge: wraparound - aluminum

Tuners: Grover Sta-tites - nickel

Knobs: brass

Nut: bone

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Thank you!

Black walnut is my favorite wood for guitars, especially for necks. Highly underrated, in my opinion. It has all the good tonal qualities of maple, but without the intense high end. It also has a unique timbre. Most woods are described as "woody" or "bell-like", but black walnut somehow seems to be both. It has plenty of that bell-like power, but still sounds very organic and woody. It's also one of the easiest woods to work with.

The only real downside is the toxicity. The dust causes my eyelids to swell and it's hell on you mucus membranes and lungs. It's a little on the heavy side too, but that doesn't bother me, personally.

Edited by NotYou
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Thank you!

Scott, I had a little ironwood left. It's all gone now, though. There a strip of it going through the middle of the neck, about 1" thick. You can't see it unless you're up close, but it makes a huge difference in the tone. Hopefully I'll be able to track some more of that down somehow.

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I wish I could have gotten all the insects holes and all that in the photos, but I had to rush. It was like a ten minute shoot, then I immediately had to toss it in a box and ship it. The black area in the back has a few small spots where the wood is opened up somehow. Even the binding has burrow holes through it.

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