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  1. Tutorial courtesy of Wade Finch This swirling technique is for oil paint although I think urethane paint will work also - I don’t have any urethane paint to test with so I'll just say oil paint for now. Don’t use “Testers Model” paint! It is too thick and has clear gloss mixed in it, which makes it clot and become messy. Fast dry “PlastiKote” enamel is what I used but I'm always looking for other types of paint to use. There are other oils out there, but I don’t have the time to test them all.... First off you are going to need a large “something” to dip in. I say "something" because you can dip in anything that can hold a large deep amount of water. I use a 50 gallon "Rubbermaid” hamper for dipping - it is big enough for submerging the body and has lots of room on all sides so not to hit the body against it whilst dipping. It also has a lid which is nice for when you want to save the water for dipping later on. Secondly, it is useful to have a second person helping you....we'll get to that bit later on.... Once you have your water filled tub, hamper or whatever it’s time to add in the Borax (sodium borate/sodium tetraborate/disodium tetraborate). I use “20 Muleteam Borax”. Take your Borax and pour in about one cup (depending on how big your dipping tub is) and mix the water until you don’t see any Borax floating around. Let it sit for about 30mins. Borax is used as an agent that breaks the water's surface tension and lets the paint spread out over the surface. Next, test the water with some oil paint to see if you have enough Borax in your water. Only a little drop is needed!! You should see the paint start to disappear or dissipate and spread right across the water surface into a very thin film if you have enough Borax mixed in the water. If not then you need to add more Borax to the water. Once ready you can now test which paint colors need to be thinned - some colors are thicker and need help spreading. Adding a little “paint time extender” helps this. You can pick up this extender at a fine art shop. Once you have your color you want and tested, it’s time to do a test dip! Test test test! It is far better to spend time test dipping things other than your guitar body. Test dipping helps you get the feel of the dipping process and also helps you see how much paint to pour in to achieve the balance of your colors/lights/darks. Pour your dark color first then your lightsLet the first color poured dissipate before pouring your next colorOnce you have your colors down, swirl the paint around. I use a wood dowel with 4 zip ties to make a brush to glide across the water/paint. Swirl your paints! Don’t take too long - your paints will dry and skin over and you don’t want to dip anything into that! This is all up to you in making a pattern. Once you see what you like, dip your test object in and hold it. This is where it's nice to have another person helping you as you need to make an "escape hole" for your object so you're not pulling it back through the paint film a second time. You can do this by blowing the paint with your mouth or if you have that second person, get some newspaper and wipe the paint off the water surface leaving a clear water hole so you can pull out your item. If you don’t do this, the item will be covered 2 times and contrary to what you might think, won't look that great. Remember! Test test! Get to know the paint and the process. When you're ready to do another test use newspaper to clean the water of all leftover paint from the previous attempt. Make sure your guitar is sealed before you dip. If you don’t, you could easily end up with a cracked body or other problems. I put wax in the screw holes and in the neck holes; this makes a good water seal and can be removed after the dipping. Any unsealed areas where the wood is exposed to water can become a problem. You will need a piece of wood to use as a fake neck to dip your guitar body in with. It helps give you control and helps you hold the body down in the water. Make something to hang the guitar body from, such as a hole, loop or hook on the fake neck. Make sure you can hang it to dry easily before you start the dipping process. If your guitar body has a rear strap button, screwing a long thin wood screw or similar provides a useful standoff to prevent the body hitting the bottom of the container. This is useful as your hands will get tired and unsteady whilst the paint is being removed from the water surface to make a clean exit point! Now that you're jumping with anticipation and you feel that you're ready, it's time to dip your guitar! It’s that exact same way you dipped your test item plus what you learned from testing. You did test didn't you? After you have pulled your guitar body out of the water, you want to get the water to bead away from it off it as fast as you can. Blowing and twirling the guitar helps, heat lamps, hair dryers, etc. Make a space somewhere for it to dry for at least 24hrs before handling it. Now I'm not going to go into any detail about sanding other than that I sand the bodies down to the sealer coat. Follow normal guitar paint/sanding techniques to get your guitar ready. If you just sanded the clear coat off and don’t want to go down to the sealant, you can but you want to put a coat of primer or paint on before you dip. Like with a 777MC, it has been painted first with white then dipped.
  2. My current work in progress. Ibanez JEM Tree of Life style neck, with a self built BC Rich shape body, green invader pickups, a Floyd Rose trem and the middle pickup space will be filled with my own self made infinite sustain pickup.

    © Richard Eccles

  3. You will need a few common tools to make this on your guitar. Other tools can achieve the same ends if needs be. Accurate ruler Awl/nail/centre punch 3/4" (19mm) and 1" (25-26mm) Forstner bits Jigsaw/scroll saw Files/rasps/sandpaper Router Straight bottom cut router bit 1/8" (3mm) roundover bit First of all grab a square and measure from the very tip of the upper horn down 5-1/2" (140mm), parallel to the center of the body. Make a horizontal mark 5/8" (16mm) from your line of measurement in, towards the center of the body as shown. This method works for both AANJ and standard neck joint bodies. Mark a line parallel to the center of the body from the beginning of the point you just marked. Make a second line parallel to it 1/4" (6,4mm) in towards the center of the body and then a third line another 3/32" (2,4mm) in. Make a line 90° from your first mark across the other two vertical lines. Using this as a starting point, draw a second horizontal line below it by 27/32" (21,4mm). Draw a third line 1" (25,4mm) below this second line, and follow up with a fourth line 13/16" (20,6mm) below this. You will end up with this marking layout: The first points where you will be drilling through the body are located at the various intersections of these lines. The first hole is located at the first mark made (top left in the grid). The second center is located 1/4" in and down 27/32" (second down, second in). For the third center point you will have to drop down 1" and go in 3/32" (third down, third in), and finally the fourth hole's center is be located dropping down the final 13/16" but moving back to the 1/4" marked line (fourth down, second in). Time to take out an awl, centre punch or a trusty nail to make starter marks at all four of these locations! You do not need to press hard or make deep indentations as these are meant only to prevent the drill bit wandering off centre in the following step. Looking at the next photo you can see that I have drilled out pilot holes for the hole saw drill bits used. If you have the appropriate sized Forstner bits, you can skip pilot holes altogether. You will need two sizes of drill bit - 3/4" (19mm) for the very last hole (located furthest away from the horn) and 1" (25mm) for the three points closest to the horn. Forstner bits are recommended for cleaner cuts. When cutting, place the body on top of a clean flat piece of scrap wood or plywood so that when the drill bit exits the other side it cannot push wood out and splinter the other side. If you're using a hole saw, start your drilling from the top, go about 3/4's of the way through the body, flip it over and continue your cuts through all of the holes from the reverse side. Your pilot holes will help the hole saw meet the first cut perfectly. With a Forstner bit, cut slowly by "pecking" a bit at a time to help remove chips in the cut. Do not apply excessive pressure when reaching the opposite side. Pressing too hard will cause wood to splinter out of the rear face! Now that all the holes are drilled out, we need to make a work support jig for the router and the jigsaw. I used some 2x4 and 1/4" scrap. Across the side of your 2x4, draw the outline of the edge of your guitar: ...now cut out that piece of wood. This is a side support caul which butts up against the side of the body. The top face of this needs to be parallel to the flat face of the body. This extends that surface outwards so the jigsaw and router bases stay level when working inside where the tummy cut drops away. Ideally it needs to be the same thickness as the body otherwise you'll have to shim it up with scrap. Using the jig you can properly support the base of a jigsaw to make the cut along the body at the base of the handle to remove the ridges of the original holes: If you have a tabletop scroll saw, you could also place the blade inside the holes and make this same cut. Now take out your router and a straight cutting bit and set the router's maximum depth of cut to 5/8" (15,9mm) using the depth stop: Using the jig you made as a support, cut a flat plane in several shallow passes from the outside rear of the body to just within the handle area. The final cut should be your 5/8": Now flip the body over and inspect your work so far, I left the jig in place so that you would get a better idea of what it looks like next to the body: Using a flat bladed file or rasp, smooth and round out the inside of the grips on your handle: You are now ready to do the finishing work. Using an 1/8" (3mm) radius roundover router bit (I prefer Dremel tools for this) go ahead and smooth out around the front of the body inside the handle. Soon you won't think twice about doing this to all of your bodys - it really is not as difficult as you might think as long as you have the proper tools and understand each of the steps. Good luck!
  4. Introduction The first step into building my own guitar was to obtain some fool proof reading material. The book I stumbled upon turned out to be a complete godsend. "Make Your Own Electric Guitar" is written by Melvyn Hiscock who is an established U.K. luthier who's been making guitars for over 25 years. The book will tell you everything you need, from wood and tool selection and how to use them, to design notes, scales lengths, wiring, tips and tricks and just about everything else involved, the book also goes through constructing 2 guitars and 1 bass from the ground up. It is ESSENTIAL for me to read up on things, as this will save me a massive amount of trial and error not to mention the expense of failed attempts. So what's first? I found the best way to approach the immediate stages following the digestion of the book was to come up with the design of the guitar. To make things easy on myself I already had a design in mind, my guitar body was to be a replica of an Ibanez Jem/RG with an all All-Access-Neck-Joint. As I already owned a Jem7DBK a lot of my design headaches were taken care of. All I had to do for the body was to trace round it onto a piece of card that would form the basis of my template (although not the be all and end all). I traced the body shape a few mm's larger than the size I wanted it to end up as, this is to allow for the odd cutting mistake and the wood lost through sanding, the exact dimensions can always be refined later. You will see above a set of dimensions I put together after removing the neck on my Jem7DBK, this will make routing out the AANJ neck pocket a hell of a lot easier. So next up is the wood! I paid a lot of attention to wood selection, mainly for 3 reasons, sound, ease of shaping and feel. The body is a two-piece bookmatch of Brazilian Mahogany 24x8x2 for each piece, which should hopefully lend itself to that warm creamy sound. Time To Glue! Before I started the gluing I had to ensure both body blanks had nice even and straight contact points. Again I was lucky, as the wife worked for Makita she could take the wood into Colin ( the friendly hardware guy ) who ran it through a machine specifically for this purpose. Once it came home I ran over it lightly with some 240 grit paper just for the extra piece of mind. I used Titebond II for gluing as this had been recommended to me by a few people, including Craft Supplies (edit: check our their link in our suppliers lists elsewhere on the site!) who know their stuff! I applied a pretty liberal coat to each of the blanks, just to give the extra assurance that the bonding would be tight and used a laminated piece of card (such as a video store membership card - thanks Blockbusters) to spread the glue. Once I'd lined them both up I clamped them with 3 sash clamps, 1 in the middle and 1 at either end. What you want to look for here is a nice even overflow of glue when you tighten the clamps up. I scraped off most of the overflow with the "Blockbuster" card, and then left in a room with moderate temperature for 24 hours. As the picture says, the excess glue can be sanded off once drying has completed. After the glue had dried I removed the clamps and got to work sanding, I also sanded the neck woods whilst I was at it. I used a power sander for this and 3 different grits of paper, 80 to start, then 120 and finally 240 to smooth it off. You can see below the end result. Cutting The Body The body is taking a trip to a local Carpentry firm who have kindly offered to cut out the body with their Bandsaw for £5. I'm a little disappointed that I don't have any photo's of the cutting taking place. The reason for this was that the joinery company I took it too couldn't tell me what time of day they would do it as they were pretty busy ( and I didn't want to hang around their workshop all day. They used a Bandsaw to cut out the body and I estimate it probably took them no more than 5 minutes, but I'm very pleased with the result. The gluing held strong as I'd expected and I ended up with a slightly oversized RG body ( with AANJ of course ). The pictures below immediately follow the cutting so the edges may look a little ragged because they've yet to be sanded down. Next is sanding everything nice and smooth, which should take off the couple of mm's I need to make the body shape more exact. P.S. The full frontal shot shows the lovely grain this piece of wood has, which the translucent finish will hopefully show off! Contouring I found the best way to contour the body was with a Spokeshave. The Spokeshave can be pretty much classed as a more versatile form of Plane. It gives you the freedom to shape the wood whilst a Plane will only let you work with straight edges. You will notice that my contours are not EXACTLY the same as an RG/JEM, this isn't because the process is very difficult, more that I wanted to keep as much wood as possible to contribute to the sound, and the guitar only has to be comfortable enough for me. It can be quite hairy when you start shaving off layers of wood, but I had a power sander with me so I could easily and quickly smooth it off to see how it was taking form. First up was the Arm Rest... And next was the rear body contouring... And finally a side shot of the work completed... There is still some minor shaping left to do, which will be done by hand with sandpaper, just to tidy the curves up a little more. Routing The Cavities **NOTE: The cavities are not yet fully shaped as I had no jigs or templates to work with, so I took accurate dimensions and did all the routing freehand (which was scary). Final accurate shaping will be done with chisels, files and sandpaper.** Here's a picture of the tool used for the job...a Makita router on loan again from the wife's workplace. I found out to my detriment that I should have initially worn a mask and protective goggles (needless to say I felt pretty rough later that evening after breathing all the sawdust in). This was rectified on routing day 2 and I felt much better, even though I had to work through the hassle of the goggles steaming up. It's easy to get impatient when routing as it's a very time consuming job if you don't have templates to work with, so I took regular breaks when I started to feel like I was getting a little annoyed. I used a 1/4" straightcut, double fluted bit ( has to be a double flute 'cause a single just doesn't cut cleanly enough ) to rout the cavities in the front of the body and was able to be reasonably accurate. You can see the pictures below of the neck pocket, pickups and bridge routs before final shaping. I routed the rear cavities, i.e. the control area and the rest of the bridge. Immediately into routing the control cavity the 1/4" router bit snapped in half and I was damn lucky that it chose to stay in the wood and not fire out into my face ( time for a full face mask I think. This forced me into using the 1/2" bit which you can see in the router picture above. I had to be twice as careful when using this as it obviously takes out more wood making accuracy very difficult. The control cavity is not the same as found on an JEM as obviously they are front routed. I drew 2 1+1/4" circles for the control knobs and 1 1" circle for the switch using a compass. I then joined these up with a curved line and routed the area out to within 5mm's of the top of the body. Final Body Work Now the final shaping with the hand tools so it's all neat and tidy To start off with I managed to erase all the pictures of drilling the volume, tone, switch, pickup connecting holes and input jack, not to mention the grain filling process, so I'm a bit pissed at myself, but I won't let that stop me! Firstly I chiseled out the area's that would take the trem cover and control cover. Basically I just drew in my guidelines and let loose with a variety of chisels (the one in the picture is the widest I used). You have to be quite careful to avoid lifting too much wood so it's a slightly tedious process. It SHOULD be done with a router, but I was beginning to think of myself as a woodworking' kinda guy so I used hand tools and prayed. I used the same process as above for chiselling the control cavity and then tidied up with files and sandpaper. Once this was completed I drilled the holes for the controls, pickup wire connectors and the input jack. A quick note on the input jack, I drilled through to a convenient position between the pickup selector and tone control as my input jack will be sharing the same cavity, unlike on a JEM which has a dedicated cavity. I used Brian's guidelines for the jack from "Universal Jems" which is a great site, if you wanna' know the tools used then you're gonna' have to visit the tutorial. As far as the volume and tone go, they were drilled out with a 5/16" bit and the selector switch with a 1/2" bit (I'm using a 3-way switch by the way). The pickup connector holes were drilled with an extra long 1/4" bit. Once I'd completed the drilling I grain filled the body with Rustin's Grain Filler. This stuff is like putty - damn thick! - and theoretically you should thin it with something such as white spirit, but I decided to slap it on UN-thinned and used two coats. The filler was applied with a soft cotton rag along the grain and then cleaned of with another rag against the grain. This makes sure that you don't "lift" it from the grain. You can see all pictures below after filling... In case anyone else spotted it, yes I did forget to drill the trem mounting holes...DOH!...But that will be sorted A.S.A.P. Material Finishing I won't go into too much detail here as Brian has posted a great "Tutorial" on how to finish a body with material. I wanted to achieve the JS Chromeboy look but not with the hassle's I've heard about the finish being very unstable. I went around a few shops for my material, but eventually found it on a market for £2.50 a yard...BARGAIN! I grabbed 2 yards which is plenty enough ( they even had the same material but in Gold ). It's a great material, as it's very reflective and bounces colors off itself, plus it has a wood looking grain up close. After following the first stages of the tutorial this is what I ended up with... There is still the back and sides to do, plus a "burst" to hide the edging. After this it will be lacquered and polished, (the black is my shadow by the way)
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