Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

Chambered Tele-style guitar (Serial 10G042)
Super-lightweight, custom neck size.

Call
951-468-4004 or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: Spalted Maple Neck: Curly Maple Back: Lavoa
Fingerboard: Gaboon Ebony
Pickups: Blade style stacked humbuckers.
Hardware: Black
Bridge/Tuners

Hipshot Piezo bridge

Options: Chambered
Finish: Polyester Resin

The goal with this guitar was to create a very flexible instrument that will allow it to be used in any live music situation. It turned out to be very lightweight. Neck and body size werel be configured to fit our customer's exact needs.

Bridge incorporates piezo crystals for a convincing 'acoustic' sound. We can mix that with the standard magnetic pickup sound combinations.


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Another view of the top of the guitar.
(9/5/11) Left: Another shot of the body - the color of the tint on the top is beautiful. We managed to create a very lightweight and flexible instrument. Right: We created a special inlay on the neck for our customer. This was done in a white shell so it reflects light. The fingerboard is gaboon ebony. Headstock looks good too.
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Neck with custom inlay.

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Back of the completed instrument.
(9/1/11) Left: Got the nut cut and installed which in turn allowed me to string the guitar up and make some final adjustments. Control cavity cover also fitted with magnets.
Right: Controls are now installed and wiring is complete. Added knobs and we're pretty much done. Initial sound checks very encouraging - sounds great with the piezos!
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Front of the completed instrument.

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Almost ready to wire it up!

(9/1/11) Left: The wiring of the control cavity is now under way. The process has to be done in a certain order so that the wiring can be nice and tidy when completed.
Right: The cleaned up neck has now been bolted on to the body and we can see what the complete instrument looks like. Pickups and bridge also installed.

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Front view with pickups installed.

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Pickup and control holes machined into the body.
(9/1/11) The body and neck of the guitar have been in the finishing process for a few days. The are now back in the shop and looking great. The body is finished with a Tobacco Sunburst and the neck has a clear coat. In both cases the woods look great and the instrument is destined to be very visually attractive.
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Pickup and control holes machined into the body.

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Pickup and control holes machined into the body.
(8/10/11) The pickup holes have been cut and one of the last things that had to be done was to cut the slot for the 4-way selector switch and the three countersunk holes for the control knobs. Now that these features have been machined into the body all we really have left to do is a lot of sanding to get the instrument ready for finishing. This usually takes a few days to complete but we're moving this one along as fast as we can!

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Neck has been fitted to the body.
(7/30/11) The neck and body are almost complete. I attached the neck to see how the complete instrument felt from a balance point of view. Felt pretty good considering our customer in this case wants a very thick neck. I am in the process of fitting the tuners and the bridge so that we can string up the instrument for a test drive. The bridge installation is a little more complex than usual due to the piezo sytem.

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Neutrik jack socket recess has been machined into the body.
(7/20/11) Next operation for this guitar is to cut the hole and recess that will accommodate the Neutrik locking jack socket. I have to use a special setup on the cnc to cut this feature but the extra work is woth it because these Neutrik sockets out-perform standard jack sockets and are very reliable. We can now start the final carving and shaping of the guitar body and begin the process of sanding all over to get it ready for finishing.

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Neck has been fitted to the body.
(7/14/11) Things are moving along quite well with this guitar. I have already glued the fingerboard onto the neck and rough-shaped the back of the neck close to customer specifications. Today I used dimensions from the heel of the neck to cut the neck pocket into the body. This is tricky because in doing so we have to se the correct body-to-neck angle. The neck is now set into the body and I will now machine the holes to mount it to the body.

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Fingerboard with frets installed.
(7/8/11) Frets are now in the fingerboard. Most builders put the frets in after the fingerboard is attached to the neck - I prefer to complete the fingerboard before it goes on the neck. Each of the fret ends has been trimmed to the edge of the board, carefully filed and then polished to create consistently clean ends with no sharp edges. We are now ready to glue the board onto the neck blank which i will do in the vacuum press.

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The Hipshot piezo bridge.
(7/5/11) One of the nice features of this guitar will be the addition of a Hipshot bridge featuring piezo circuitry. This will add a very 'acoustic' sound to the instrument which the player will be able to blend with the normal sound of the magnetic pickups. With the hollow-body design and this piezo acoustic option we believe this will be an extremely flexible instrument for any playing situation. Looking forward to hearing it!

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Ready to install frets.
(6/28/11) The ebony fingerboard has been prepared for fretting and all the frets have been pre-cut. We are using jumbo frets in this fingerboard by customer request. I'll insert the frets and when they are all in I will trim to length and carefully dress the ends. When I am happy with those results I will remove the fingerboard from its support material and at that point I'll be ready to attach the board to the neck of the guitar.

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Body and top being glued together.
(6/24/11) Now that the body and the top have been worked on we are ready to glue the two together. Although this is an easy task some care must be taken to ensure accurate alignment of the two pieces so that they are both on the same centerline. Since this is a hollow body, I put some support blocks into the cavity to distribute some of the force from the vacuum press so that we don't crack any of the thin wall wood of the guitar.

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Sealing the interior before the top goes on.
(6/18/11) Before I set up to glue the top of the body onto the lower half, I wanted to seal the interior. This is really just an aesthetic choice, but it is possible that the sealed surface will perhaps project a little more acoustic sound from the unplugged instrument. The other reason is that since we have f-holes in the top - I wanted to make the interior of the guitar look more "finished" since it will be visible through the f-holes.

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Putting the parts together to seee what the instrument will look like.
(6/18/11) We have now rough cut the two boay halves, glued a decorative veneer onto each, glued them together intop one piece and machined the f-holed into the top.We are now anle to mock up the instrument to see what the end result might look like. The spalted maple top is very attractive and it will make for a very impressive looking instrument. We're now ready to glue the top onto the body. Making good progress.

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Inlay is in, and side dots are being machined.
(6/16/11) The shell inlay has been cut and permanently installed into the recesses we burned on the laser. Having done that, I decided to move the fingerboard on to the operation where we drill the holed for the side dots. This I do on our CNC machine where I have the adjustment and control to very accurately place the holes that will house the side dots. Noe that the side dots are established I can move on to installing the frets.

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I used the laser to cut the recesses for the inlay.
(6/9/11) My initial plan was to cut the recesses for the inlay on the CNC machine but the typeface we chose had some very sharp corner radii which would have been difficult to achieve with an end mill, so I decided to create the recesses using the laser instead. This allowed me to establish the recesses very accurately and guarantee a good fit when I also cut the shell product to place in the recesses.

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Fret slots are now machined into fingerboard.
(6/6/11) The fingerboard has been radiused and subsequently sanded to a smooth finish. Our next job is to machine the slots for the frets. These are machined using a very small carbide end mill. While the fingerboard is still set up on the machine we also cut the slot for the nut. The ebony we are using is almost pure black so it will show off the inlay we plan to use very well. The inlay will be a contrasting white shell.

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Ebony fingerboard just after machining compound radius.
(5/30/11) Time to start work on the fingerboard. In this case the fingerboard is Gaboon Ebony which we have glued to a piece of hardboard for handling and stability. This is mounted on the CNC machine and cut to size. We then machine the compound radius onto the top surface using a ball nose cutter. When this operation is complete we carefully sand down the surface to remove the machining marks and prep for fret slot machining.

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The finished control cavity work.
(5/24/11) Once the insert was glued into place inside the body we flipped the body over and reset it on the CNC machine. This time, we machined out the access hole for the control cavity leaving a ledge around the perimeter for the cover to sit. The opening also creates bosses for the magnets which we will use to secure the cover onto the body of the instrument. The three counterbored holes are for housing the magnets.

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fitting an insert for the cavity cover recess.
(5/20/11) Having cut out the control cover from the parent material, the next thing that needed to be done was to cut and insert a piece of material into the inside of the body to create a step for the cover to rest upon. To do this I cut an additional recess into the inside of the body and cut a matching solid plate to fit into the space. This will then be machined again to create the opening for the control cavity and the lugs to hold the magnets.

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Cutting out the control cavity cover.
(5/17/11) We want to have a beautiful continuous grain cavity cover on the back of this guitar so we have to go through a few small operations to get there. The first step is to use a very small end mill and cut out the actual cavity cover from the parent material on the back. Because we have already chambered the body we do not have a big wall thickness to deal with so the cover simply falls free when we cut through into the chamber.

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This is the chambered body with the wire slots machined.
(5/16/11) The body has been machined to create the chambered areas (including some relief at the tail end between the two deeper cavities. With that done, we then mark and machine the three slots that will allow us to run wiring through the instrument at a later date. These slots will connect to the bridge and the two pickup cavities. We can now trip the outside perimeter of the body to its final shape and size.

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Body is on the CNC having the chambered areas machined out.
(5/8/11) We have been working on the body parts and now have a glued up body with most of the sanding already done to it. Before we do the final sizing it is necessary to cut out the chambered areas of the instrument. This we do on our CNC machine. We cut out the parent material until we leave approximately 1/4 inch material for the back plate. This makes the body extremely light but at the same time leaves a strong solid core in the center.

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This is some of the curly Maple we will be using for the neck.
(2/6/11) More gluing in the shop today. We finished gluing the body core and also completed the gluing of the neck laninates. We are now ready to cut the body blanks and apply decorative veneers to the joint surfaces. We will soon have a complete body to work with and this instrument will start looking like a real guitar! The Spalted Maple for the top has finally been located and is on its way to us. We had to go out of the country to get the right piece!

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This is some of the curly Maple we will be using for the neck.
(1/30/11) In the photo we are gluing the body core laminates together. We'll soon be combining this center section with the body wings, which for this guitar will be made of Lavoa. I am using this wood because of its low density and sound properties. Our customer wants an instrument that is very lightweight and the Lavoa will help us achieve that. It is also a very pretty wood and works well with the colors in the Spalted Maple top.

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This is some of the curly Maple we will be using for the neck.
(1/28/11) here you see the laminated center section of the body. We are using a maple core to get the maximum bright tone on the instrument. The neck and body consist of three curly maple laminates for strength and stability. In the case of this guitar, we have tapered the center section in both the neck and the body. This will have a very nice visual effect on the finished product. We have some interesting ideas about the final finish on this instrument too.

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This is some of the curly Maple we will be using for the neck.
(9/25/10) We'll be using some curly maple as a major part of the neck construction on this guitar. Maple gives us a reliable clean and bright tone and the curly figure of the wood looks great when the finish is applied. One of the first jobs we are doing is cutting blanks for the neck construction. The neck is going to be slightly wider than the standard upon our customer's request. Looking forward to seeing this guitar take shape!
Last update August 3, 2011