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Hey all!

 

After my extremely low-budget build last year, I had a second wind and decided to do another one. Cash amount? Bugger all.

I started building last year in August (I think?) and finished it within a few weeks, I'm only just getting around to posting about it now. The influences for the design will be very clear on this one, choices of material were directly caused by my lack of funding, and remember - I still didn't own a router at this point!

 

Body's gonna be Meranti, which is readily available at local hardware stores - I think I paid about $25 for timber on this.

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As in my Blue build, I had to make two "layers" of timber to make up the thickness, as hardware store timber generally doesn't come any thicker than 19mm. Neck is a rescue - didn't have resources to build my own at that time.

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Cut a neck pocket and pickup "route" from the top slice of the sandwich, as well as the plywood top. Oh god, really? Another plywood top? The true mark of an unemployed roadie...

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Dry test-fit, then the whole stack gets glued up.

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Like I said, y'all, this one was a build with no money and enough time to figure out ways of making things happen without the correct tools or materials. Stay tuned for more fun and games!

 - Jam.

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3 hours ago, Gogzs said:

Here we go again. Your last budget LP with duct tape finish was 11/10, I'll closely monitor this one :D 

Haha, Cheers mate! That one's going strong, always a talking point at shows.

 

Since I was lacking in the router department, final body shaping was done with files. As laborious as that sounds, if you're dead-accurate with the jigsaw you're only correcting for the blade bending.

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Next up, used a trick to create the electronics cavity and wiring channels without routing - do it before gluing the top.

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And the jack socket with two spade bits.

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Gut carve, with rasps and 60-grit. I love doing this at night in the garden with a floodlight, can use the shadows to get a real crisp line.

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Glued up the expensive plywood top!

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Little bit of neck work. Like I mentioned, the neck is very much a rescue. Taken from a no-name hundred dollar strat copy, I sawed off the headstock into a slightly more aggressive shape and dyed the fingerboard black. 

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More carving on the back. If I said I was inspired by the AANJ, I'd be giving too much away.

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Glued the now-famous plywood top, and got stuck into cutting a fairly deep bevel. You can see my pencil lines on the top, and I had straight edges and curved MDF templates to measure against. 

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I did this all by hand with rasps, files, and eventually sandpaper wrapped around suitably sized offcuts. Had I tried angle grinding, I think I would've taken too much material too easily, but going old-fashioned let me really take my time and get it right. Oh, and remember how poor I was? Didn't even have an angle grinder.

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I do wish I had more photos of my many many cut MDF pieces to gauge the carve by. It was easy - draw up on paper your depth of carve and length of carve, transfer that triangle or curve onto MDF and cut. Now you've got a contour gauge, set to one position of course, which you can use to see which parts of timber need removing. I appreciate, god knows I appreciate, the craftsmen who can simply "feel" this kind of work with no empirical templates to guide them, but I'm clearly reserved enough at my young age to place my reliance in a failsafe method. The day I freehand carve a top with gouges, I shall be enlightened.

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Knocked the neck join screws into place - had to replace these screws with higher quality stock later on down the line, as you can see the heads were already stripping. 

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Without a drill press, I had to improvise. I used two chocks of timber screwed together at 90' true and square to guide a drill bit into the guitar top. Went through all the way, popped out the other side, and used a jig of six larger holes pre-drilled into 19mm MDF to drill the ferrule holes. Worked out okay! Not as accurate as would be possible with the correct tools, but for a hand-drill I'm okay with the result.

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Sanded up to the highest grade the plywood deserved.

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Dyed the top black with India ink. Because India has a little bit of shellac mixed in, it allowed me to apply quite liberally with a cloth for the first coat, then apply using sandpaper for the second and third coats. This kind of acted like a grain filler, sanding down fibres and mixing them with ink to fill the fairly soft grain. 

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Danish Oil application in the same way - grain filling by rubbing oil into the timber with sandpaper. This was necessary for the Meranti, being budget hardwood timber with a wide-open grain. 

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I did a coat of oil each evening for a week, hung up in an empty closet.

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Smashed an SH-4 in the bay, straight volume to output, and a set of 12-62's through the hardtail bridge and into a set of eBay's cheapest locking tuners.

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And that, my friends, is how to entertain yourself for two weeks with $90!

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