Friday, December 28, 2007

Carving Luke’s Bass Guitar Neck

Like most woodworkers I always prefer to use edge tools: planes, chisels etc. These tools cut the waste wood away, unlike using abrasive papers, files, rasps etc which turn your wood into expensive dust. However, there comes a time when the rasp has to come out of its drawer!

The maple that I used for the neck of this bass guitar is so hard and the grain so figured, that carving it with a spoke-shave proved virtually impossible. When the going gets too tough, these are the rasps that I use.

The two on the left have hand-cut teeth, this means that the teeth are in a random pattern so when you use them, they do not leave any grooves in the wood. I’ve had the small one for about 30 years (Swiss made) and it still works well, the rosewood handled (Indian made) one is only a year or so old and is already getting blunt! I’ve just bought myself a “Shinto” saw-rasp, made in Japan, and what an excellent tool it is! It ripped through the maple in no time and made the shaping of this neck a real joy. I can’t believe how good the saw-rasp is and it cost less than £9 from Axminster. At that price it’s almost disposable and thoroughly recommended! One word of warning; the teeth are sharp and when I had finished shaping the neck, I had lots of tiny holes in my finger tips! Particularly painful when playing a guitar!

All the wood work on the bass is completed and it has had its first coat of finish. I’m using Tru-oil on this. My son, Luke prefers an oil finish on the neck. Oil produces a very silky “fast” neck, the only problem is that it gets grubby and has be re-done form time to time; but when your Dad is a luthier it’s not a problem!
I’ve not used Tru-oil before; it’s used in the USA for gun-stocks so it should be hard wearing. More on the bass later...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Commissioning a guitar part 6

Richard’s guitar is now completed and you can see it in its full glory on my website (click here for details)
One of the last details was to print out the label with Richard’s name on it. This is a little touch that the client always appreciates. I delivered the guitar to him earlier this week and to say he was thrilled is an understatement! Although I felt that the guitar was as good as it gets, there’s always some apprehension: are you going to make someone’s dreams come true or not? I’ve not seen anyone so happy for a long time and his reaction was well worth all the effort. He played it like a man inspired! I think that Richard did get his dream guitar!
Below is a sample that I sent off to Ian for his Baritone guitar. He wants me to use red in the rosette and purflings.

There are three different shades of veneer here to choose from, one is Paduk which is a naturally reddish wood and the others are two different shades of sycamore that have been dyed red. Photos never show the true shades, so making up a sample like this is the safest way to ensure that the client gets what he wants. We both liked the bright red so this will be used.


The two point mandolin that I have been working on is now completed and below you can see my son test driving it.

I’m very pleased with it; it is such a beautiful little instrument. This is the first time that I have used this shape and the twin points allow real access to the high frets and visually it looks stunning! The French polish enhances the grain; the shellac must diffract or reflect the light in a certain way and although it is not as robust a finish as lacquer it is far more attractive. It also feels so silky!
This mandolin will be up for sale on my website in the next day or so, I’m just waiting for some decent weather so that I can take some photographs outside!