guitar build picstory: Bugsy

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Thread: guitar build picstory: Bugsy

  1. #1

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Seekaaahhhk, MA
    ME: Bugsy
    MA: Cane
    Rig: Bias

    iTrader: 2 (100%)

    guitar build picstory: Bugsy

    Part of my kitchen-to-bathroom renovation project involved re-framing the floor to accomodate the new plumbing. The tricky part about that was there was no access to the floor framing from below, so, I had to remove the flooring. Good thing I did because one of the joists was split right in the middle! That helps explain why the floor always felt a little bouncy. One of the first things I noticed about the joists while removing them was how light they were, followed by the interesting amount of bug holes, and because I now tend to knock on any new board, the sound it made. Curiosity piqued, I ran a small piece through the planer and discovered it was chestnut! Why they used chestnut for floor framing is a mystery to me. I guess it was rather plentify back in the '30's when the house was made. So, now I've got a couple of rough-sawn chestnut boards that have been air drying for 80 years...hmmm...let's find out how it sounds as a guitar! I'm going to try a few new things on this build...

    The tough part now was to find enough decent pieces to make the body. This is what I'm starting with:

    Planed the boards flat, edges planed, apply glue, apply pressure...and wait.

    Glue cured, thickness planed..

    ...paper template applied with double sided tape...

    ...shape is cut out and edges are sanded.

    About three years ago, I made "DiveBomb" Betty and she was to be painted by my sister in the style of WW II bomber plane nose art. It was a cool concept, and the sketches were great, but, after three years, I was tired of waiting. I needed a neck and didn't feel like making a new one...sooo...I cut the neck off Betty.

    I cleaned off the glue and paint using scrapers, planes and chisels.

    Aligned boards to route the neck pocket.

    Schweet fit!

    Maybe the bug holes should be referred to as micro-tone chambers.

    Pictures missing of routing the pickup cavities. Note this is the first time I've made a guitar with a humbucker in the neck position. After playing Drew's Universe and hearing the neck pickup tone I knew it was something I wanted to try next.

    Gotta drill the pickup wire hole before installing the neck.

    Obligatory neck glue pic...

    - Pictures missing of routing the contol cavity, drilling holes for the volume knob, jack and switch -

    While the glue was drying, I dug around the shop for a good looking piece for the control cavity cover and found a nice piece of maple, but it was too thick. It was also kinda weird shaped so I couldn't rip it on the band saw. So, time to put the hand saw to use...

    I located the bridge and drilled the string holes from the top, and decided to try using an alignment pin to drill the ferrule holes on the bottom. First, get a piece of scrap that had a consistant thickness (MDF works well) and drill a through hole. Now put double sided tape on one side with the drill bit coming through and with about 1/2" of the shank sticking up on the other side. Use a little super glue to hold it in place. This is the "alignment pin".

    Make sure you have enough clearance for the ferrule hole drill bit and the guitar body, then chuck the bit and board into the drill press and press it down onto the base. Un-chuck the bit and board, then chuck the ferrule pit. The two bits should be perfectly aligned.

    Set the guitar top string holes onto the alignment pin and drill!

    Another new thing I'm trying is a spray finish. Since I made a buffing machine, I may as well use it on something. Rather than use ultra-stinky lacquer, I decided to try spar urethane (Helmsman brand from Home Depot) and set up a little area in the basement. I figured with the dehumidifier down there, it would be a decent place to spray. So, I made a Dexter-ish area...

    ...masked off the neck and wiped it down with naptha..

    ...and sprayed.

    Yeah, that didn't work out so well. The smell was just as bad as lacquer and the dehumidifier didn't help at all. Luckly the weather was decent (low humidity, low wind) so I sprayed the rest outside and brought it inside between coats. I did seven coats, one per hour, and used three cans of spray. Three days later it was time to level sand, and it was then that I realized I should have grain filled! Damnit!

    Lesson learned.

    It buffed out ok, but, it's a guitar made from a floor joist so don't expect too much.

    Next was the neck. I know maple doesn't have to be grain filled, so at least that's not an issue. I was looking forward to having a clear coat on the fingerboard because oiled maple fingerboards look old and dirty very quickly. The tricky part was the frets. Do I mask them individually or spray the whole thing then go back and mask the fingerboard and take off the clear coat with steel wool all at once? The thought of masking each fret did not sound fun, so I decided to spray the whole thing at once. Again, spraying outside...

    While that was curing I started making the pickups...

    The clear coat looked as good as I hoped! Schweet!

    Time to mask of the frets and remove the clear coat.

    That was a total pain in the ass! Steel wool didn't do anything so I ended up having to cut and scrap away the clear coat off each fret, then go back over it with steel wool. Next time, I'll mask each fret. Ok time to take off the masking...


    I don't know what I did wrong. The prep was right. The humidity was right. It cured for three pissed off...I had to scrape all the clear off and managed to mess up the fingerboard in the process....more lessons learned. Guess it's gonna be oil after all.

    Time to drill the hole for the bridge ground wire. Gotta get the angle just right...

    Ferrules are installed using a hammer and wooden dowel.

    Copper foil shielding is installed.

    Wiring in process...

    My apologies to Chris for the un-tidy wiring. It's not pretty, but, not much about this guitar is.

    Done! It was late last night and I only got one crappy picture before my phone battery died. Better pictures tomorrow.

    How does it sound? How does it play? I don't know yet! It was way late and I didn't feel like messing with it anymore. Full report tomorrow.

  2. #2

    Join Date: Aug 2010
    Location: No Boat Back
    ME: Strypoverse
    MA: Ovation Electric
    Rig: Axe-FX II

    iTrader: 4 (100%)

  3. #3

    Join Date: Jun 2006
    Location: Earth
    ME: 02 NAMM Jackson RR
    MA: Takamine 12
    MB: Spector Euro 5
    Rig: SLO|Road King|berschall

    iTrader: 10 (100%)


    I dig the un-grain filled body!

  4. #4

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
    ME: Ibanez 540PIIM
    Rig: Peavey 6505

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    That was boss. Enjoyed that, thanks for taking the time to put it together as a picstory man!
    "W yn shn y zhī, shn y xng.
    Tiān xi m nng zhī, m nng xng." - Lao Tse - my band.

  5. #5

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: The house formerly known as the Haus
    ME: Ibanez S540LTD
    MA: Taylor Big Baby
    Rig: Laney GH50L

    iTrader: 13 (100%)

    Wirelessly posted (Hivemind)

    I believe most people spray then fret with maple sir. I think Sherm does it your way though.
    R.I.P. Guitars Etc
    RHLC Chief Promotions Officer

  6. #6

    Join Date: Dec 2009
    Location: Albuquerque, NM
    ME: Sherman Poips
    MA: Martin DXK2
    MB: StringlessRusted Leonbass
    Rig: Mark-V 25 1x12

    iTrader: 10 (100%)

    Awesome! Building guitars out of a house, like a boss

  7. #7

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Kitchen/Laundry Room
    ME: Ironing Board
    MA: Laundry Mangle
    MB: Cascade Dish Detergent
    Rig: Washing Machine

    iTrader: 2 (100%)

    Dat fret access
    Argbadh - RHLC

  8. #8

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Fredericksburg, VA
    ME: Frankencaster
    MA: Alvarez
    MB: Ibanez Cheapo 9000
    Rig: Chameleon 2000 & 2/90/2

    iTrader: 5 (100%)

    That rules

    Grain filling would have been a travesty.
    [Leon] 10:03 pm: She can poop on my chest anyday

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