Fankenstein's Monster

#1
Most of you probably know that I recently finished a guitar for one of our fellow forumites, Mr. @johnniegoat. He has a friend who is apparently quite a handy guitar player, and who came round to try that guitar. This friend - let's call him Dave, as that's a nice, short name - and I have already been communicating for some months about the possibility of me making him a guitar once I finished the hybrid tele.

Astonishingly, playing that guitar hasn't put him off the idea, and in the last couple of weeks we've been gradually nailing down the details of the design. 'Dave' has some hardware lying around, including a pair of violently coloured pickups and a Hannes bridge, and we're going to be using those. The guitar is going to be a double-cut, although we haven't fixed on a precise body shape (strat, more or less pointy) with a carved top, as I have a nice, deep maple cap available. The body will be made of bubinga, and it will have a through neck. We've probably fixed upon bubinga and wenge for the through neck.

The new aspect of this build for me is that I'm going to make it multiscale. We have a limitation that he already has the bridge, so we will keep the bridge line as normal (most fanned fret guitars have a perpendicular fret, either the 12th or 16th). To avoid the fanning being too extreme at the nut, we're restricting it to a relatively small difference, so it's going to be 25.5 to 26.5 inches. Hence the title for this thread - I'm taking pieces of dead wood and making something that will hopefully come alive with the application of an electric current, and it's going to be fanned - hence Fankenstein! :)

I'm still working on the wenge 339, as well as the 12-string, and I really want to finish the former before I get really stuck into this build. However, today I had a brief period while I was waiting for glue to dry on the other guitars, and so I decided to start cutting out the major pieces for the body and neck. I emailed Dave with pictures of a couple of options - basically wenge or walnut for the stripes, and he agreed with my choice of the wenge, so I set to with my circular saw.

Anyway, here's a first couple of photos of the woods that have been prepared. The second one zooms in to show a bit more detail of the grain, which the first picture doesn't show. I put a fretboard on the cap which I think would look good, but we haven't actually made a final decision about that yet. Further updates will follow in due course, although I won't really get stuck in until I've got the 339 off my plate.
Woods 1.jpg Woods 2.jpg
 
#4
The forum discounts are happening now because I'm making guitars for the cost of the materials until I reach a professional level ☺ if anybody is interested, the next build should start in the autumn. If I don't get another willing client, that might be a 5-string bass for me.

I expect the current pricing policy to last through 2019, unless I get bored of building guitars. I think there are plenty of interesting challenges to tackle for the time being. If anybody wants me to make them a guitar, I will be looking to do something different each time so that I can learn as much as possible.
 
#8
Now that I've finished the Wenge 339, I'm down to two guitars in production which is where I like to be. You probably know that I'm working hard on my crazy 12-string, but now I'll be working more in parallel with this guitar.

I actually started working on it a few weeks ago. First I drew a full-scale side plan of the guitar, mainly in order to work out the exact dimensions for the through neck. Then I prepared and glued the laminates for the neck, and spent quite some time hacking it down to shape. I've also prepared the wings and glued the two pieces of the cap together, and recently 'Dave' and I picked a fretboard and I've rough cut that down to size.

Here are a couple of pictures, first the neck after some of the shaping work and then the headstock. I came up with an idea for making a 3d effect in the headstock, and the two faces will both be veneered with offcuts of the cap and then stained in different colours (not indifferent colours, I hope).





More pictures will follow soon!
 
#9
I've glued the veneers onto the headstock. There's a bit of work to be done in tidying them up, and they will be stained to match the body in due course. It's an experiment, so be kind! :)


I've taken tomorrow off work so I'm going to do lots of guitar building over the next three days - and then four more days next week too!

Incidentally, the fretboard isn't glued on in that picture - it will cover the truss rod cavity. That's happening very soon.
 
#10
Neck carved today (and the fretboard has been glued on and radiused). The next major job will be cutting the fanned fret slots, which is going to be interesting! I've drawn out where they should go, but it's going to be slightly tricky to cut them accurately.

I need to fine sand the neck, and then finish the carving around the volute and the heel (which will be done after the body has been glued on).

Here's the other side, showing the fretboard.

There's some tidying up to be done on the headstock, but it's coming along nicely.
 
#12
I forgot to mention that the neck carve is slightly asymmetrical. 'Dave' liked the idea, and so we went for it, but it's quite subtle - I just moved the centre line for the carve up about 1.5 mm towards the top (as you're playing the guitar). I doubt it will be noticeable, but hopefully it should be a very comfortable neck to play. The depth goes from just under 22 mm at the nut to 24 mm near the heel, so it's fairly shallow.

This week we have a bank holiday on Wednesday and I've taken Thursday and Friday off (although I'll be out all day on Friday), so I should be able to make some good progress on this guitar. I will probably post an update over the weekend.
 
#13
Wow, I see that I haven't updated this thread in a while! I should stick a few more pictures on here because the guitar is nearing completion. Over the last few days I've been sanding it, and then I stained the top. I need to check if 'Dave' is happy with this...I think it looks pretty good.


Hopefully it should look even better with the finish on it.

For anyone who's interested, I used the Crimson Guitars water-based stains. I started with a layer of Crimson Red, which was sanded back to highlight the quilting. Then I applied a 50% solution of their Royal Blue, starting from the horns and working back, and gradually diluting it more until I reached the level of the switch (the middle hole). I used some water to blend it, and also added a bit more on the horns to deepen the colour there.

Next I applied a diluted solution of the purple stain across the middle - I wanted to maintain the colour depth, and if I just used two colours I feared that the central part would be a bit washed out, so I figured that the purple would help to prevent that. Again, same thing, going from the edge of the neck cavity to about the level of the tone control and blending in.

The last stage was a bit of Cherry Red (diluted again), going from the bottom and up to the level of the switch and blending in again.

The sanding took ages, but the staining was fairly quick. I'm pleasantly surprised with the end result because I had done a few little experiments with some combinations on an offcut, and none of them had really got anywhere near the effect that I wanted. It was a bit rash, then, to go ahead on the guitar itself, but somehow it's all worked out alright. My description of the process above may seem very simple and obvious, but that's because you can see the finished product - when you just have an unstained top and a vague idea of what you want, it's significantly more challenging (with my lack of experience) to visualise the steps necessary to get there.

I hope to finish this guitar before the end of the month, and at some point I'll post some more pictures. The continuing inability of the forum to accept uploads is a real PITA for that, which is probably the main reason for the lack of updates recently.
 
#14
Since I see that I already uploaded some pictures on my website which I can link here, I can give you a rapid update on what happened between my last post in August and now. You never even got to see the body, so this is what it looked like when it had been glued to the through neck and I had drilled / routed out some holes for weight relief.


The weight relief is necessary because the bubinga is really heavy. It was also pretty expensive for a body blank, but I think it's going to look fabulous!

The next picture shows the cap before it was glued on. I wetted the surface to show the figuring.


This was the back of the guitar, when I'd been working on the heel. It's all been cleaned up a lot more since then, with the edges rounded and everything sanded etc. I don't have a more up-to-date picture of the back on my website at the moment, but you'll see it when I post photos of the finished guitar.


Lastly, here's a picture of the top. By contrast with the picture above, it wasn't wet this time so you don't see the figuring so well (it's nice to see how much difference that makes). It was mostly carved at this stage although I still had some bits to clean up.


There, you're mostly up to date now! If anybody is interested, I do also have some photos of the different stages of the staining process which I can post - let me know if you'd like to see them.
 
#16
As with the white lace tele, I have completely failed to make updates to this thread for too long, and now it's too late! This guitar was completed and handed over to its new owner over lunch today (which he was kind enough to pay for!). We met at an undisclosed location in a pub just outside Swindon (damn, now it's disclosed!), which was about half way between our undisclosed locations earlier that morning. After the exchange of the prearranged codewords ("Hello, you're sitting there with two guitar cases, you must be GloopyJon." "Hi, Dave, I presume?"), we got down to the serious business of exchanging the contents of two anonymous-looking but rather bulky cases.

Dave is actually a friend of @johnniegoat and had played the previous guitar that I build for our forum friend, the Hybrid Tele. He was quite complimentary about that guitar over lunch ("it made a lovely fire!), and now he has a Gloopy Guitar of his very own.

I haven't yet had feedback from him after plugging it in although he seemed to like it when he saw it in the wood for the first time. Anyway, here are a few photos of the finished monstrosity!

Dave Finished 1.jpg Dave Finished 2.jpg Dave Finished 3.jpg

I put the oak leaf inlay on the back to hide a nasty flaw in the wood, and the other abalone inlay on the front replaces the 23rd and 24th frets that were supposed to be there, but which broke off because I'd cocked up the calculation of the length of the fretboard. My strange headstock design with the two different planes turned out very nicely, although I warned Dave not to let the guitar topple over because it's probably even weaker than a Les Paul in that area! For the rest, I'm fairly pleased with this one. I really like the overall shape and design, and the fade worked out well.

In other news, I bought some wood for another, non-guitar-related project that I will probably show here when it's finished, because the technique will probably make its way into a future guitar build. More on that in a while...
 
Top