Watson Guitars
California, USA

Custom Guitar (Serial 09G037)

Materials: Top: Curly Maple with dark red sunburst.
Neck: Sycamore, East Indian Rosewood and Iroko.
Fingerboard: Ebony or similar plus Mark's name along the length of the fingerboard.
Pickups: Humbuckers: switchable to single-coil.
Electronics: Passive
Hardware: Chrome - ABM bridge
Finish: Polyester resin - gloss

We are building this very custom and personalized guitar for award-winning country singer/songwriter Mark Connors. As an endorser of our instruments, Mark will be using this instrument in future tours.

Highslide JS
we put Mark's name on his fingerboard using a shell inlay.
(12/3/09) The guitar has now been finished with a crimson sunburst tint. The color is beautiful and everything we had hoped for. The photo on the left shows the custom inlay of Mark's name on the fingerboard. The photo on the right shows the neck-through constructionand the cavity cover which is magnetically attached.
Highslide JS
Back of the guitar showing the neck-through construction.

Highslide JS
We put our customer's signature on the back of the headstock using our laser.
(12/3/09) On of the requests our customer had was for us to try and put his signature on the back of the headstock. There are a few different ways we could have done this but we chose to engrave his signature onto the wood using our laser engraver. This gives us a very clean result which will be safely sealed by the polyester resin coating. Today we also drilled the holes through the body for the string ferrules.

Highslide JS
This is the fingerboard after the frets have been installed.
(11/24/09) The fingerboard with its inlay was taken back to the CNC machine where we carefully cut the fret slots. We also added pearl side dots to the fingerboard and a bloodwood veneer on the bottom. The frets were installed and cleaned up and we then attached the fingerboard to the neck of the guitar. We still need to give the whole thing a final cleanup but it looks like the process was successful.

Highslide JS
The pickup holes have been cut.
(11/18/09) Since the last posting we have been shaping the contours of the body. We have also machined in the recess for the Neutrik locking jack socket. After that we put the guitar up on the CNC to machine out the two pickup cavities. We have a lot more sanding and shaping to coming in the next day or two, plus we still have to machine the holes and recesses for the volume/tone controls and selector switches.

Highslide JS
Mark's name is being inlayed into the ebony fingerboard.
(11/15/09) The fingerboard on Mark's guitar will have his name on it. Here we are in the process of installing the letters which were cut from shell into the ebony fingerboard. It's a fairly delicate and precise process. Once the inlay is firmly glued into the neck we will add a special epoxy to seal the surface. When that is leveled and polished we'll have to go back onto the CNC machine again so that we can cut the fret slots.

Highslide JS
The Gabon Ebony fingerboard is now up on the CNC.
(11/8/09) Now we are ready to cut the fingerboard. For this guitar, since Mark wants his name on the fingerboard, we chose a nice dark piece of Gabon Ebony. We start by machiningthe perimeter of the fingerboard (to perfectly match the dimensions on the guitar neck). Then we generate a coumpound radius on the upper surface. At this point we will remove iot from the CNC as we plan to cut the recess for the inlay on our laser (this will be a personal first!)

Highslide JS
Back view of the guitar with the body halves attached.
(11/1/09) This is the back of the guitar after the two body halves have been attached. Finally we have one complete assembly that looks something like a guitar! Next up we will harvest the control cavity cover from the parent material of the back of the guitar. After that, we'll machine the front face of the guitar so that we have a clean and flat surface onto which to glue the maple top. Finally, we'll cut wiring slots before the top goes on.

Highslide JS
we have started gluing the two body halves onto the center core.
(10/29/09) In the photo to the left we are gluing one of the sycamore sides to the center core of the guitar. We have to do this carefully in order to make sure the pre-machined faces line up perfectly on the back of the instrument. The two pieces being glued together are also clamped to a flat non-stick surface to ensure this happens. As soon as our glue has cured we will repeat this process to glue the second body half in place.

Highslide JS
The headstock will have a veneer of the same maple as the body. Here we are gluing the headstock materials together.
(10/28/09) We want the headstock of this guitar to look like the body, using the same maple. This is a little trickier than usual because the resulting maple veneer (around 1/8" thick) has to follow the curve of the back of the headstock where it meets the neck. To do this we glued a piece of maple onto the headstock with the radius carefully eatablished on it - and we also fitted a veneer of bloodwood between the two. Hopefully this will work out fine!

Highslide JS
We are gluing bloodwood veneer onto the joint faces of the two body halves.
(10/28/09) We are using some very nicely figured local Sycamore for the two rear halves of the body. We have rough cut both pieces and machined the joint faces so that they are accurately flat and square. Before we assemble them onto the core of the guitar we are gluing a veneer of bloodwood onto the joint face as a decorative pinstripe. As soon as these are ready we will glue them onto the body core and we'll have something that looks like a guitar!!

Highslide JS
Here we are gluing two carbon fiber reinforcing rods into the neck.
(10/26/09) Next requirement for this instrument is to have the two carbon fiber reinforcing rods epoxied into the two slots we just cut on the CNC machine. We use aerospace-grade epoxy to do this because it sets very hard. The two CF rods will ad a lot of rigidity to the finished neck. In the photo to the left, you can see that we use a number of spring clamps to hold the CF rods down and displace the epoxy so that we get a perfect joint in each.

Highslide JS
The core of the guitar is now up on the CNC for some machining operations.
(10/23/09) Now that we have glued all the core laminates together the assembly is mounted on the CNC for several operations. We'll cut the joint face for the fingerboard, the headstock surface, the body angle, the two carbon fiber slots and the slot for the truss rod. We also establish the outer perimeter of the neck in the same setup. The laminates start to look nice when they are cleaned up on the machine. we're moving this one along quickly!

Highslide JS
Here we are gluing the various neck laminates together.
(10/15/09) The process of gluing the various laminates together to make up the core of the guitar continues. here we are gluing the 4th out of 5 laminates. This will give us a complete 'core' for our neck-through instrument. We glue one laminate at a time so that we can carefully monitor the gluing process and joint quality. We should have the last piece glued on tomorrow. We will then start the machining processes and start working on the body parts.

Highslide JS
The rough shape of the body top has now been cut.
(10/15/09) Things are moving along here at a breakneck pace. The curly maple pieces for the top have been rough cut to shape. This will allow us to prepare the joint surface and assemble the two halves to make a complete top. When we attach it to the rest of the body we will start to contour the surface. Quite a few things to get done before then but we're hoping to have something that looks like a real guitar by early next week.

Highslide JS
This is the beautiful piece of curly maple we will be using for the top of the guitar.
(10/14/09) The picture on the left shows the beautiful piece of curly maple we will be using to create the top of Mark's guitar. This is an unusually figured board of curly maple and will be further enhanced by the red tint and we will apply to the wood during the final finishing. We will be cutting up the pieces for the top over the next couple of days and we'll start to see something that actually looks a bit like a real guitar!

Highslide JS
All 5 ntapered neck laminates are now veneered and ready to be glued together.
(10/13/09) Over the last two days we have been gluing various decorative veneers onto the sides of the tapered neck laminates. We apply dark veneer (bloodwood) to the light woods and light veneer (maple) to the dark woods. We are now ready to start gluing all these laminates together to create the core of the guitar. The contrasting veneers will look great on the finished neck-through instrument.

Highslide JS
This is the local sycamore that we plan to use on the back of the instrument.
(10/8/09) Not only are we using local Sycamore for the outer sections of the neck, but we plan to use this very figured piece for the back of the instrument;s body. There's no reason why the back of this guitar shouldn't look as amazing as the front! The top will be made of curly maple with a deep red tint. I expect we will carry that tint over to the back of the guitar to bring all the colors together. Some of these decisions will be made as we get closer to completion.

Highslide JS
Three of the center core laminates waiting to be cut to the correct tapers on the ornamental mill.
(10/8/09) Here we are getting ready to machine three of the laminates on the Ornamental Mill. On this machine we mill the wood strips to a pre-caluclated taper so that when they are combined in the finished neck, the tapers follow the natural taper of the guitar neck. Between each of these tapered laminates we will have dark and light decorative veneers. These veneers will add beautiful contrasting pinstripes to the back of the finished instrument.

Highslide JS
we have cut out blanks for the body core and have started gluing on the veneer.
(10/8/09) We have already made a template for the pieces that will combine to make the core of this guitar. Using the template we have cut some of the wood. The two pieces in the photo are local Sycamore. These will become the outer pieces of the neck. They are currently in the vacuum press where we are gluing bloodwood veneer to one of the sides of each piece. The core of the guitar will consist of five neck-through laminates of Sycamore, Rosewood and Iroko.

Highslide JS
Here is the latest revision of the shape of Mark's Guitar.
(10/2/09) This project is starting off with a custom body design. Our goad is to create a body style that suggests a blend of country music with rock and pop. We want to retain the traditional style of the instrument but also add the elegance of the curved body top. It will also feature neck-through construction, making it even more unique. The curly maple top will have a crimson sunburst tint and a shiny gloss body with a satin feel on the neck.
Last update January 19, 2010