Thursday, August 20, 2009

The last bit, plus some work

The last bit of wood came.

Now I know, in earlier specs I gave, I listed the body wood also being Lacewood. I got the lacewood, glued it together, but realised that the company I got it from had terrible quality control, and the wood is basically unusable (Partially my fault, but also theirs).

So, I had to buy new wood. I could get lacewood, but getting lacewood that thick and that much (Without being super pricey), is just near to impossible. So, I changed my thoughts. What wood could I get that isn't lacewood, but still has the tone I want?

Well, I could go with mahogany. But everyone does mahogany, and this is, afterall, an exotic build. My next thought was bubinga, which has a middle-or-the-road tone, and incredible sustain. It's downsides are that its rare, and expensive, and the heaviest thing on the planet.

After searching more and more and more and more, I finally decide on something. Its called Limba, though often reffered to as Korina. Many guitar luthiers consider it the holy grail of tone wood. It has mahogany's lows (Very powerful, present bass), with alder's high (Nice distinct treble), and maple's clarity. It's perfect. It's also what was used in the first Gibson Flying V's and Explorers.

It's also poisonous. It's splinters will give you rashes, and its sawdust will give you headaches/migrains if you breath it in.

Oh well.

Basically, I ordered it a week before I left to the States on holiday, hoping I could work on it before I left.
It came the day after.

I've just started doing some (very small) work on it, and I love it already.

So, here are some pictures!

Back of the wood (This is what will be shown, on the back of the guitar):


Up close grain:


Top wood (With Firebird outline. It barely fit!):

Body with template

So as you can see, the wood is a blonde colour, with very open pores and a nice subtle grain. Will look awesome!

I'm hoping tomorrow I can take it to the bandsaw to get it cut out, then possibly get a drum sander to sand the sides smooth.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Exotic wood picture time!

Alright, so I've gotten two of the exotic wood pieces in the post this week. The first is ziricote, whic is what I'm using for the neck. By neck, I mean the headstock and the part of the neck that you hands/palms go on (Behind the fretboard). The fretboard is going to be macassar ebony, which is also called stripe ebony. I have pictures.
First, three pictures of the ziricote. Ziricote is super exotic, and feels very nice and fast with an oil finish. Super tough, which is why I'm using it as a neck. It's got chocolate-esqe swirls, with nice blond streaks as you go further out.
Ziricote v2
ziricote v5

Next is the ebony. I only have one picture, but you can google more if you wish. This one picture shows to dark wood, with chocolate stripes as well as a purple stripe (It looks red, and it's on the right side). Sorry about the flash.

Now, I'm getting a bookmatched lacewood top for the guitar, and I got it custom made for me from a guy in North Carolina, or something. It hasn't arrived yet, but he emailed me pictures. Here's three. First is dry, second is slight un-dry (Not quite wet though) and the third is sprayed with some moisturiser that shows off the grains.
Lacewood dry.
Lacewood Wet v.1
Lacewood wet

I have also started work on smoothing down all the wood I have, so I can start gluing it. Once everything else comes (all the hardware), I'll post pictures. Thanks for looking!
As usual, comments appreciated.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Minor Updates

Alright, so I have minor updates on the guitar I'm building.
First are some changes to the specs. Instead of the guitar having a 24.75" scale length, it will now be 25". Not much distance difference, but massive tone and feel difference. Also, the neck is now going to be made out of walnut with an ebony fretboard. I'm making the neck myself, as well. I ordered the parts so I can start fretting the fretboard (I got a blank piece of wood, and I have to saw and hammer the frets in). Also, I'm going to put these inlays into the neck. So this will be a bit cheaper than actually buying a premade neck. Not by much, because the tools cost a lot. But without the cost of tools, I'm probably saving a hundred pounds by building it myself.
Next, part of the wood came. Only have of it came though, so I'm not taking pictures, and I haven't started doing anything yet. Apparently they ran out of stock. I emailed asking when they'd get more, but they haven't responded.
Also, I'm thinking of installing a piezo pickup, which pickups vibrations from the wood, rather than magnetic charges from the strings. Gives the guitar a much more acoustic sound when I use them.
That's all. Pictures of the fretboard and supplies should come later this week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have a plan!

So the plans for the guitar came in the post on Teusday. This is basically this huge sheet of paper that has 1:1 scaling prints of the guitar. neck, body side view, wiring, everything. Even lists all the parts the guitar is made of. Pics.

This is the body template, and how it should look after electronics are in.
Body Template Finished

This is a few neck diagrams. Tuning pegs, headstock, nut placement, radius, its all there.
Neck Diagrams

This is the body with routing and drill spots
Body Template Routs

Only unfortunate thing about the plans is that I'm doing three single coil pickups instead of two humbuckers. Also, I may do a bolt-on neck as opposed to set neck, or I may do a through neck, which basically means that the wood for the neck goes all the way down from the neck and into the body, so in a way the neck takes up a third of the body, if that makes sense.

once I figure out what neck I want to go with, I'll order the wood.
Sorry it's taking so long!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Building a guitar.

So, I'm building a guitar. At first I wasn't sure if I was doing this just as a weird little week-long obsession, but after a month of seriously thinking about it, I'm going to do it.
What I want it to be:
Solid Lacewood body. Lacewood looks like this. As you can tell, it looks awesome. It has a balanced sound, more bright than completely balanced though. If you read my last post, you can compare it to Alder. Similar tonal qualities. It obviously has a different look, and its heavier, which is why I'm getting it.
Single coils with a VooDoo Strat configuration. I know you aren't going to understand it, so I'll say this. A normal Strat looks like this. Notice the pickups, and how the one pickup at the left is angled. The lower part of the pickup is angled more left instead of being parallel to the other strings. Now look at this guitar, its the VooDoo Strat. Its modelled after Jimi Hendrix. Look at the same pickup. Notice the angle change? This will give the guitar the unique Hendrix sound. So the notes on the higher strings will be more bass, and the notes on the lower strings will have a more powerful treble. That's what I'm doing.
The body I'm going to design the guitar is the Gibson Firebird. This guitar is such an awesome, vintage looking guitar. I'm also going to put a reverse headstock on it. You won't understand this (Probably), so I'll just explain it. If you look at the top of the guitar where the tuning pegs are, you are looking at the headstock. Now imagine the same headstock shape, but flipped, so the curve and pegs are on the other side.
Now for the colour I'm planning on it being. I'm going to do one of two things, and this is where I really really need your guys' comments. Like seriously. Ok, so I can either do a clear gloss finish, so the guitar will end up looking like this. Or I can do a stained red finish, so it will look like this (But with lacewood of course). If I do this, it will be dark red. In fact, it will basically look like my Washburn guitar (Blue guitar, second post), but red and on lacewood. So please, tell me what you guys think.
The colours I'm choosing also changes other things. If I want a clear gloss body I will use gold hardware. So the tuning pegs, the tremolo bridge, and the pickup rings will all be gold. If I go red, they will all be chrome/silver.
So that's basically my new project. Now to get enough money to do it. :P
Thanks for reading, and again, please comment with feedback and ideas.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What makes a guitar, a guitar?

So basically in this whole post, I will talk about the basics of what makes an electric guitar. This is just going to about woods and pickups. In later posts I'll go more indepth into things like wiring, tuning, bridges, stuff like that. This is probably going to be humongously long, so be prepared. As usual, ask questions if needed.

To start off, I'll go through one of the most simplest things in a guitar. The wood.

Tone Wood:
There are several kinds of woods that can be used for a guitar. Woods can be used as body wood, neck wood, fretboard wood, and topwood. Body wood is where you get most of the tone. Neck wood helps for balance and sustain. Fretboard wood looks good, and has little to no effect on tone. Topwoods are used for awesome looks, and to balance out or emphasize sounds. For the electric guitar, the most common of woods are mahogany, agathis, alder, ash, basswood, maple, and rosewood.

Mahogany is probably the heaviest body wood used. A standard sized Les Paul with a non-chambered mahogany body weighs around 9 or 10 pounds. Its not that heavy, but when you're onstage with that hanging down your neck, for around three hours, it can get tiring. Mahogany has a very deep bassy sound. Its used most commonly in guitars that are used for rock and metal, sometimes even blues.

This is basically the worst kind of wood you can get in a factory. Its essentially ply-wood. It is pretty light, and has a medium to bright range. Usually used in low end Stratocasters, a guitar used mainly for blues.

One of the most balanced woods, leaning more towards the bright side. This wood is relatively lightweight, and looks to be a pale orange/yellow or white. Used in just about all Stratocasters of medium to high quality. Used for blues, indie, almost anything really.

Ash is brighter than alder. Used for guitars with single coils (I'll get to those later). Almost white appearance, fairly lightweight, though a bit heavier than alder. Used for similar genres as alder.

Sometimes considered to be low-end mahogany, but that's not quite true. It has a balanced sound, but a bit more bassy than alder. Its usually found in guitars like Les Pauls, but usually the low-end ones. It is quite a nice sounding wood, but hard to find good guitars with it. Used for blues and rock.

Maple is a wood that is quite heavy, and very very bright. It is rarely used as a body wood, and is normally used for necks and laminate tops. Looks almost white. Used commonly with mahogany to get a nice body. Maple also has very good looking figuring that people like to see.

Rosewood is also quite heavy, but very deep and very very good looking. It is used commonly in good acoustic guitars, and is used in fretboards. Expensive, but worth it.

For more information about tone woods, look here
Includes pictures, much better descriptions, and more wood.

Pickups are what you see on electric guitars underneath the strings on the body. They look like rectangles. You'll usually see two or three of them. What these are, are magnets that pickup signals from the steel strings. The signal then goes around a circuit and out the cable, into the amp. There are three kinds of pickups that are used commonly. These are single-coils, humbuckers, and P-90 or 'Soapbars'. Other pickups that I won't be talking about are piezo, hex, P-rails, and razorblades.

Single-coils look like small rectangles. You'll see these most commonly on Stratocasters. They only have one coil (Thus the name). They give a very narrow sound and tend to accent treble ranges. This is because of its size, and how it can only cover a certain space of the strings. The biggest problem with these is its tendancy to give feedback. On a single coil guitar, the sound will go around the coil on a 60 cycle rotation. Basically what this means, is that any leftover sound or vibrations coming from the strings will keep going round and round in the coil, and get louder and louder. You'll often hear this in some punk songs with that really loud obnouxious high pitched sound.


Humbuckers are basically two single-coils stuck together. Sometimes mistaken for two seperate pickups, but these are just one. Humbuckers were invented to stop the 60 cycle hum that single coils gave. These look much fatter than single-coils, and because of that they cover more string length, and therefore give a fatter sound. These pickups are used in blues-rock, rock, hard rock, and metal.

P-90's (Or Soapbars)

P-90s are basically really fat looking single-coils. One P-90 is just one single-coil that is made a lot bigger. People wanted to use these to get a sound inbetween a humbucker, and inbetween a single-coil. These are named soapbars because they look a lot like soapbars. Popularized in the 70's, and used in bands like Boston and Guns n Roses. Can be used for all forms of rock.

So that's my post for this week. Again, ask questions if your confused or lost, which I'm sure you are.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

All My Gear

These are pictures and explanations of all my guitar gear. My electric, acoustic, amp, pedals, etc. This will be a long post (Because of the pictures), and I probably will be describing some stuff in great detail. If you have any questions, comment and I will answer as best I can. Here goes.

PLEASE: Blogspot cropped the pictures wrong. For the picture of the amp, both guitar's full body shots, and the control zoom in, click the picture, and you should see the full picture. Sorry for this. :P

My new guitar:
Its a Washburn WI66V Pro, out of production model. I bought it on Ebay for £191, a good price. I've seen people buy it for at least $800. Some pictures:

The headstock. This is where you can see the tuning pegs, the Washburn logo, the cream binding around the sides, and the nice abalone inlay.

The body. This shows the pickups (Those rectangular things). I'm going to be replacing those, they aren't the best. Though they look might fine. You can also seen the control knobs, the cream binding on the sides, and the awesome finish, which is transparent blue over a quilted maple top. Awesome.

Control Knob zoom in. Here we have the control knobs, which are two volume (On the left side, one volume for each pickups), one three-way pickups selector (The white-tipped switch. It chooses which pickups you're using, either both, or just one at a time), the VCC control (Again, one for each pickup. These are on the right. Its hard to explain what this does, but it changes the tone from sounding like humbuckers to single-coils. Yeah, it's not going to make sense to you guys), and finally, the killswitch (The black thing in the middle. This is essentially an on-off switch. Pushed in it turns all sound off, let it go out and the sound comes back. Nice effects on some parts).

Full Body shot. I'll just go through all the specs here.
24.75" scale length. Thats the length of the neck from just below the headstock, to where it ends at the body.
22 jumbo frets. Thats the fret size. Jumbo means bigger, which means harder to play but you have better bending and vibrato options.
Blue finish over maple top. Already explained.
Full mahogany body, with a set-neck, also made of mahogany. Mahogany is one of the most used guitar-woods, and it gives a really really nice thick low-mid tone. Good for blues and rock. Also weighs a ton, but its worth it.
Mother-of-Pearl wing inlays. On the guitar neck you can see the reaccuring pattern with the white things. Those are the inlays. Their only purpose is to look awesome. And they do.
Two humbuckers. Humbuckers are the pickups. Again, those covered rectangular things.
Two volume and two tone pots with a three-way pickup selector. Volume pots effect the volume/output of the pickups. The tone pots are the VCC, which I already explained.
Killswitch. Already explained, but I had this built in by my guitar tech. Its awesome.
Fulcrum-Stay-In-Tune Vibrato Tailpiece. That white-tipped metal bar coming from the guitar. Those of you who play RockBand or GuitarHero recognize this as a whammy bar. Its awesome.

Now, for my acoustic.
This is a Breedlove Atlas AD20/SM. Also a discontinued model. It is possibly one of the best guitars I have ever played, and I got it for $400 brand new, when it had sold for $600 or more. This was chosen by Guitar Players Magazine as Acoustic of the Year. Pretty awesome.

The headstock. Here we can see the gold hardware (The tuning pegs). The assymetrical Breedlove headstock really is eyecatching. It has a Breedlove Peral logo inlay, which looks cool.

The back of the guitar.

The full front body shot. And the specs:
25.5" scale length.
21 jumbo frets, with 14 accesible.
Dreadnought body style (Thats the size and depth of it)
Solid mahogany back, laminate sides, and a solid sitka spruce top. This gives the guitar a very nicely balanced, and very powerful, range and sound.
The neck is hand-rubbed, making it very smooth and easy to play.

Now, for my amp/pedals.

The amp is the big box thing. This one is a Vox AD15VT. That means its the AD model, with 15 watt power. This amplifies (Wow) the sound coming from any guitar with pickups (except basses). Its a great amp, a transvalve amp, which is halfway between a solid state amp and a tube amp. Tube amps are better, because they give a much more natural tone, and a much more powerful sound when turned on full volume. The amp is a modulating amp (Unfortunately) meaning that it has some preset settings on it, though you can still customise it quite a bit. It has some nice built in effects as well, such as a good reverb, auto-wah, and delay.
The yellow thing on the left is my overdrive/distortion pedal. Its a Boss OS-2. More specifically a stomp-box, which means that when I press it down, it instantly kicks in, instead of a foot-pedal, which gradually moves to the effect when pressed down (That might be hard to explain. Feel free to ask). This pedal allows me to easily shift from a clean sound, to a distortion sound (Listen to Buckethead's Soothsayer for an example). Since its an overdrive and distortion pedal, this means I can get either an overdrive, or a distortion sound. Overdrive is like a cleaner distortion, and is basically the sound when you turn a full tube amp on full volume, with full gain. Its a really really nice sound. Listen to Buckethead's Whitewash live on youtube, for an example. Distrotion is what you'll hear in standark hard rock/metal. It emphasizes certain frequencies (Either bass, mid, or treble depending on your settings), causing it to sound buzzy or mixed together. Back behind the amp to the left you might see a small black pedal. This is my Digitech RP70, which is terrible, and I'll be selling it soon. Its just a digital processor for effects. It sounds bad, works bad, and was made bad. Also, if you can see it on the right, is my Pre-Calculus book. This doesn't actually improve my guitar playing, but I pretend it makes me smarter.

Now the final thing. Katherine's guitar! This was my first guitar I played. Its an Epiphone Les Paul Special II. Its got a basswood body (Like mahogany, but a bit more balanced), two humbuckers, 22 frets, one master volume and tone pot, three-way pickup selector, and that's about it. If Katherine lets me, I'll be stripping the paint off this, recutting the body-shape (Cause I don't like this one), repainting it, adding in new pickups, and probably a coil split. Ask about that if you don't know what it is, which you probably won't. It really needs to be cleaned too.