Meet Birthmark, my first ever build:
This guitar is the happy result of me feeling good in life, reaching 40 with 2 kids, a bit of time and disposable income, a long standing desire to get into guitar building, finding a good open workshop, and a bit of a crisis too wanting to make something with actual material and not just be an office job-joe with nothing I can show to my kids when they grow up.
Since I had zero experience with wood working, and even less guitar building experience (I can do a setup and understand on which basis the instrument works though), I started by binge watching build videos on Youtube and wrote a 30 page "how to build a guitar" reference booklet for me. The next step was to find something relatively simple, appealing to me, to copy, with 7 strings as a bonus as I play those almost exclusively. It was relatively easy to locate pdf for a 7 string Blackmachine type guitar, so I took them, and expanded them heavily in LibreCAD, adding some stuff that would make more sense to me. The idea was really to keep it simple but somewhat true to the original. I documented the whole build process and could get some cool feedback and advice here:
Here are the final specs and some thoughts behind them:
- Swamp ash body, 2 piece. Density and looks were up my alley, and it has a good reputation for gainy music which is right up my alley.
- 26.5" scale, quarter sawn maple neck. Not really one piece as I did the "alternative" scarf joint in the middle of the headstock. It's reinforced by a truss rod obviously but also by two carbon fiber rods. Carved as a modernish C shape.
- Jescar 57110 onto a rosewood fretboard with 17" radius.
- Volume, 3 way, push pull tone.
- Guitar Monkey Locking Tuners
- Graphtec nut (precut "Schecter" model)
- Gotoh 7 string 510FX-7 . I wanted a Hannes, they went out of production. I have a Hipshot but IMO it is not the best as it can cut the palm of your hand.
- DiMarzio Fusion Edge 7
- Tru oil finish with a bit of steel wool rubbing everywhere.
- Currently in 10-46+60 tuned, low to high, G#,F,A#,D#,F,A#,D#.
This is, and will be for a bit, my main guitar. And as it is my first build, it will stay with me - and may one day retire on a wall hanger. Or at one of my son's. Who knows.
To criticize the instrument: it actually came out great and is fully functional (intonation is correct, it holds tune, and the fretwork allows low action and no buzzing at all. Currently 1.2 mm high e and 1.75 mm low E). It's loud as hell unplugged, and weights only 2.950 kg. I am not fully satisfied with the neck shape that may be a bit to C and not enough D but it's consistent throughout with no highs and low. So it's an actual neck! Overall, and especially for a first building experience, I am over the moon with the results. It took 7 or 8 months at an average of 4hours a week I would say. Lots learned!
Fun fact: when I received the swamp ash, it had some heavy mineral streaks at some spots. They ended up mostly routed out, but you can see some on the backside on the lower horn still. I consider them "birthmarks" of the wood. Funnily enough my first born also has a birthmark. So it all made sense in my head to call this project Birthmark!
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy the pictures! And as everyone told me... onto the next build