Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

 

Chambered Guitar (Serial 11G045)
Bolt on neck construction

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951-468-4004 or email us here!

   
Materials:

Top: Curly Koa Neck: Maple and Chakte-Kok. Body: Koa and Chakte-Kok

Fingerboard: Gaboon Ebony with Paua Shell inlay
Pickups: Watson Custom
Hardware: Black
Bridge/Tuners

Hipshot

Options: Chambered Body with F-Holes
Finish: Polyester Resin with green sunburst

This is another of our very popular chambered Tele style guitars. This one has a very impressive Curly Koa top and colored shell inlay. We took some of the color from the inlay and created a sunburst effect around the body to bring everything together.


Highslide JS
Guitar is now complete and plays great.
(3/22/13) Finally we have everything working in harmony together. Strings were added, frets were checked and leveled, nut slots adjusted, intonation set, and finallt we were able to test this guitar out. It plays really well, sounds very good and feels super comfortable. The instrument is remarkably lightweight and well balanced. This instrument turned out to be truly one of a kind. It is a great example of how nice an instrument this hollow body guitar really is!

Highslide JS
Colors on this instrument really work well together.
(3/18/13) Here is a noce shot of the combination of shell inlay, beautiful natural Koa wood grain and translucent green sunburst tint. They all come together to create a very nice looking guitar. The Koa wood has a lot of figure in it so that also adds a lot of interest to the overall effect. The green trans sunburst is continued around the sides and over the back - the effect over the Koa on the back is beautiful too! Very happy with the results.

Highslide JS
Pickups are in - we're almost there.
(3/10/13) Now that the copper shielding is done we can install the humbucker pickups and wire up the pots, selector switch and output jack. At the same time the bridge assembly has to be grounded to the circuitry to eliminate buzz. We are getting very close to a completed instrument. Next challenge is adding a set of strings and checking for playability, fret buzz, intonation etc so that the instrument plays as well as it possibly can.

Highslide JS
The guitar is now ready for wiring.
(1/28/13) The next challenge in getting this guitar completed is to deal with the electronics. First step in that process is to add copper tape to the cavity area so that the electronics are adequately shielded and can be grounded in such a way as to eliminate interference that would cause noise. I used copper shielding tape to cover every possible area in the cavity - including the back surface of the cavity cover and the pickup cavities.

Highslide JS
Tuners are on - ready to finish up.
(11/7/12) The guitar is now on the bench being assembled. So far tuners have been installed, cavities copper shielded and electronics have been mounted ready for wiring. Next I have to install the two humbucker pickups so that the rest of the wiring can be completed. Bridge will go on after that and finally I will add the nut and a few other details and get the instrument set up ready to play. It's turning out to be a beautiful instrument.

Highslide JS
Nice work by our finisher - guitar looks awesome!.
(11/3/12) The interesting thing with this guitar is that all the color considerations came from the inlay in the neck which is a particular gold/green color. The natural color of the Koa reflects some of the colors in the shell inlay on the neck, and the green tint that was used for the sunburst effect brought in some of the darker colors visible in the same shell. net result is that the guitar has a very nice complete look!

Highslide JS
Fitting the neck back into the neck pocket.
(10/29/12) I have started work on the instrument after the finishing. This involves re-fitting most of the mating parts after the buildup of polyester resin has been applied. I managed to get the residue out of the neck pocket and get that fitted nicely today. Also have been working on making the control cavity cover fit again. Looking good so far - the finished guitar will be beautiful. I now have to get some shielding done for the electronics.

Highslide JS
Tint is being applied.
(9/30/12) This photo was taken part-way though the finishing process. We agreed before the finishing started that we were going to try and bring in some of the color of the shell inlay into thebody itself. Not an easy task but our goal is to keep the character of the Koa top intact but suggest the inlay color by using a subtle sunburst. This will bring the colors of the instrumet together and certainlt result in a one of a kind finish!

Highslide JS
Everything ready for final finishing.
(8/29/12) Now that all the machining and shaping work has been done to the guitar it;s time to get the final sanding done. This always ends up being a time-consuming job as the wood surface has to be perfectly flat and smooth over 100% of the instrument. This can take a couple of days depending on the types of woods used and the complexity of the guitar geometry. The more curves, the more time it takes! Photo shows completed parts ready for finishing.

Highslide JS
Logo has been established in the headstock.
(8/1/12) The headstock of the guitar had already been veneered with Koa but the next step in the process was to drill the 6 tuner holes. Once these are established it is easier to deide on the placement of the logo. I them used the laser to engrave the logo and in this case it was simply filled with black. After everything was done I did some final shaping and sanding. I will also spend some time doing final sanding to both body and neck.

Highslide JS
neck and body fitted - almost ready for finishing.
(7/22/12) We're down to some final details now. Neck has been cleaned up and fitted to the body. There are a few small machining tasks to complete. The body requires holed drilled through to allow for threading the strings through the body. Also need to machine holes, recesses and slots for the controls. Neck requires holes for tuners and I will have to use the laser to establish the logo on the headstock. After that it's sanding time!

Highslide JS
Gluing the fingerboard onto the neck.
(7/4/12) With the fingerboard complete we can now glue it to the rest of the neck. This is done in the vacuum press which is able to apply even compression all over the assembly without the use of clamps. I always need to be careful about alignment when the process is being set up - but once the air had been evacuated everything is held securely together while the adhesive is setting. After a few hours the whole thing can be safely removed.

Highslide JS
Pickup recesses have been machined into the body.
(6/29/12) Finally got time on the CNC machine to cut the two pockets in the body for the pickups. This guitar will have humbuckers installed which will also make it slightly unique. Next we'll cut the recesses for the tone and volume controls and the pickup selector switch. Once that's done we can get the body sanded and it will be ready for the finishing process. We have a little finishing work to do to the neck but that will happen soon.

Highslide JS
Side dots and frets are now in.
(6/11/12) The fingerboard is complete except for a little dressing required on the fret ends. The amber side dots have been installed and cleaned up flush with the upper edge of the fingerboard, and the frets have been installed and cut close to the edges of the board. All I have to do now is clean up the fret ends flush to the board and dress the ends so that there are no sharp edges. At that point the fingerboard is ready to be attached to the neck.

Highslide JS
Drilling holes for side dots.
(6/8/12) I have been busy cuting colored shell and carefully fitting the pieces into the neck. I used a shell that has a lot of gold colors in it - it should match well with the finished Koa. Now that the inlay is complete I can drill holes for the side dots. In the photo I am right in the middle of that process. Once the holes are established I will glue amber colored side dots into the edge of the board. When that's complete I can install the frets.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard being prepped for shell inlay.
(4/30/12) After the fret slots were cut into the fingerboard we ran another program to cut recesses for the inlay we intend to place in this fingerboard. Once the recesses were cut we removed the fingerboard from the CNC. Nect step was to cut a set of thin spacers which we placed into each inlay recess. These are temporary pieces that will allow us to fabricate the inlay pieces at just the right thickness.

Highslide JS
Ebony fingerboard being machined on CNC.
(4/12/12) We resawed a nice piece of asiam ebony and sanded it to a flat condition so that we could get it monted on the CNC. On this machine we perform a few critical operations. Firstly we machine the outer perimeter of the fingerboard to its finished dimensions. Next we machine the compount radius on top of the fingerboard. Once that is done and cleaned up we machine slots into the fingerboard for the 24 frest and cut the slot for the nut.

Highslide JS
Neck pocket has been cut into body.
(3/30/12) We have trimmed the body profile to ver close to the finished perimeter. Next job was to set the body up on the CNC machine and cut the pocked for the heel of the neck. This has to be doen carefully as there is a very specific angle between the neck and the body which allows the strings and the bridge to align correctly. After some careful calculations we were able to machine the neck pocket.

Highslide JS
Body is being assembled with the top plate in the vacuum press.
(2/21/12) We have done the preparation to the joing faces between the existing chambered body and the top plate, plus we sealed the interior chambered surfaces. Now we can proceed to gluing the top plate onto the body. This is done in the vacuum press and left for several hours for the adhesive to cure completely. When this operation is complete I will clean up the edges on the spindle sander.

Highslide JS
F-holes have been machined into the top plate.
(10/21/11) We have now machined the two f-holes into the top plate of the guitar. I will spend some time rounding over the edges of the cuts before gluing the top onto the body. Some things are more easily done before the pieces are permanently assembled together. The grain in the Koa is beautiful and will look even more impressive when the final finish is applied. The f-holes will give the guitar a slightly classical look!

Highslide JS
Koa top readuy for F-Holes.
(10/12/11) The two top pieces of the guitar have been bookmatched together and rough shaped to the body contour of the instrument. We will be able to assemble this piece to the rest of the body soon, but first we have to locate positions for the f-holes and machine them through the material. This we will do on the CNC router. It will really bring this blank top to life. Once that is done and the erges are cleaned up we will glue the top onto the chambered body.

Highslide JS
Cutting out the control cavity hole.
(9/20/11) This is the chambered body after the initial machining is completed. Following this chambering, I carefully harvested the wood for the control cavity cover from the parent material on the back of the body. This will be used later when finishing the cover. The body has also had a recess cut and a secondary insert glued in around the control cavity, which was then subsequently finish machined. This completes the body prep, now we work on the top!

Highslide JS
Machining out the chambered areas.
(9/2/11) Now that the body parts have all been assembled into one solid piece we can start work on the chambering. The material is removed from all the non-critical internal areas to relieve body weight and it often has a secondary effect of giving the guitar a nice light and subtle "acoustic" effect which can make it more attractive for the player to be able to practice without having to plug the instrument in. Getting this work done is a big step forward!

Highslide JS
Gluing the body parts together.
(8/6/11) I decided to glue all three body sub assemblied together in one setup. This requires a little care at the beginning to make sure parts dont move while clamping and cause mis-alignment, but it is much quicker to get them all glued together in one operation. The back faces of all three parts have to remain flush with each other so I also have to clamp securely to a flat, non-stick surface to guarantee that alignment also.

Highslide JS
Gluing veneer to the body joint faces.
(8/2/11) Before the body is assembled I am gluing black pinstriping veneer onto the two joint faces for decorative purposes. I am doing this on all joints on the guitar and it will have a nice consistent theme throughout. The Chakte-Kok is pretty dense wood but in this case with the guitar being chambered, it will end up very lightweight when the inside is mostly air! As soon as I have the body glued together I can get this up on the CNC.

Highslide JS
Getting ready to assemble the body.
(7/20/11) We have completed the gluing on the three main parts of the body, and I put these together so we could get a better impression of what the completed body might look like. The 3 piece red and white section will look great when the neck is on the body. The Koa has a beautiful grain and will look spectacular when the finish is applied. Next step will be to glue all these parts together and get some more work done on the construction of the neck.

Highslide JS
Body pieces glued together.
(7/22/11) The three sections that will become the center of the body have been glued together. Again, I have used the black veneer between each glue joint as a pinstriping decorative effect. That should look good on the finished instrument. Note that the red strip in the center of the three pieces is tapered. This taper will perfectly match that of the neck and the guitar will look like a neck-through instrument from the back (although really a bolt-on)

Highslide JS
Harvesting the control cavity cover from the beck plate.
(7/15/11) Before I glue body parts together I have to take steps to remove the material that will ultimately become the cavity cover lid on the back of the guitar. If I remove the wood now - I am able to keep that piece and it will become a matching, continuous grain cover. This always looks good on the back of a natural wood instrument. It's a little extra work but worth the benefits of the end result! More on this later.

Highslide JS
Gluing black veneer onto the back plates.
(7/12/11) I have sawn the Koa top and back pieces and drum sanded them all to a consistent thickness. Now that they are flat I can put the various pieces into the vacuum press and glue on the black decorative veneer to the bottom side of each. I want to get the body assembled as quickly as possible because there will be some time-consuming operations on the CNC to follow where we cut all the internal chambers.

Highslide JS
Material for the core of the body and the neck.
(7/5/11) I have rough sawn and sanded the woods that will combine to make the neck and the center section of the body. We will cut the red Chakte-Kok wood to a taper so that the laminates in the neck will follow the natural taper of the sides of the neck. I'm going to use a black veneer from Europe to highlight the joint areas on this guitar. next step is to glue these pieces together so that we have the core of the instrument established.

Highslide JS
General idea of thw body using our rough-cut components.
(7/1/11) We're starting this project by selecting some woods we have in stock that I think might result in an impressive looking and sounding guitar. In this case I am using a wood called Chakte-Kok from Yucatan for the center sections of the body and the neck. It is fairly dense but since this will be a chambered body, that will not end up being much of an issue. The other neck wood will be Cyrly Maple and the top amnd back will be Koa.
Last update February 23, 2012