Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Say hello to Jr.

I'm taking a chance, a risk, plunging in.

I'm undertaking a project beyond my current skillset. I'm full of excitement and aprehension.

I'm making a guitar. Actually, truth be told, I'm making two. Ambitious? You bet.

I knew I had something boiling in me. Since the beginning of the year, I've had a feeling it would be making a simple tube amplifier. Truth be told, that would probably be a much easier project. You can be sloppy with wires so long as the connections are in the right place. A guitar requires actual precision and planning. Oh, and patience. Oh, and the time to act as a container for the patience. Oh, and tools. Lots of the right tools. Oh, and expertise and advice in many aspects- wood selection, plans, woodworking techniques, luthiery, and patience.

Pieces fell into place.

The local high school offers adult education courses and tooling in woodworking. Basically, access to some experience and most of the big tools- jointers, thickness planers, band saws, table saws, rasps and files and clamps and glue. Bring your own ideas and materials and you've got access to the tools you need one night a week for ten weeks.

I was considering building a replacement neck for my Telecaster copy; I never liked the neck on it. Then, in a build thread on Harmony Central's Electric Guitar forum on a Les Paul Jr Double-Cut, the author had a CAD file of the guitar- body shape and measurements. And an LP Jr. is my kind of guitar. Simple flat top; mahogany body and set neck, Gibson scale (24 and 3/4), single P90 dogear pickup in the bridge. I asked him for a copy and he was happy to forward. It did occur to me that a neck is the hard part; the body is the easy part. So why not just add in a body to that neck project I was contemplating and call it a guitar? Hmmm? Not only that, but here was someone building the same guitar from the same kind of wood. I could learn a thing or two along the way.

My friend Birger has been working on a custom guitar for me, called Four, over the past couple of years. It isn't a couple of year project, but life keeps getting in the way of finishing it. Having six kids and a travelling job myself, I completely understand.
Ask my bikes and golf clubs.

Anyway, if you have a luthier or woodworking question, Birger is the man to ask. Just sit back and take notes to the answer- you'll get more than you asked for.I had plans, a shop, and advice.

I went wood shopping.

You can spend as much as you like. I don't like to spend much. By great fortune, there's a real woodworker's supply store (what we used to call a lumberyard) close to my parent's house in Loudon. I was in Boston for a presentation and swing by last week on the way home. $96, tax free, got me much more mahogany and maple than I'll need to complete my projects.

By way of comparisson, I was willing to pay $70 for just a body blank on ebay. The wood was a much better bargain than expected. I hope I treat it well.More on this pr0ject as it develops.

I'll post pictures of my completed stages; but I would feel pretty akward bringing a camera into the workshop to snap pictures of every step. The workshop is for work, is it not? Maybe a few.So I hope you can say hello to Junior by end of year.

I've already made a good start, but more of that in another post.

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