Watson Guitars
California, USA


Chambered Glass-Top Guitar (Serial 12G052)
Bolt on neck construction

951-468-4004 or email us here!


Top: Dichroic Glass TBA Body: Iroko, Maple and Mahogany

Fingerboard: Ebony (gaboon) with matching shell inlay
Pickups: Watson Custom Humbuckers
Hardware: Chrome


Options: Chambered Body

Polyester Resin over custom paintwork

This instrument is a first for us - beautiful glass top which really looks amazing on the finished instrument. Your average painted guitar just can't compare!!! We also have finished the back and sides of the instrument with complimentary colors using a metallic finish and effect.

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Ready for building a bridge support
(10/25/13) The body is assembled, the neck is bolted on and the guitar now has its first set of strings! I worked on the fret leveling and cutting the nut slots so that the guitar could be set up, adjusted and played. The neck feels good and the action is low, it is very easy to play. Almost finished with this one - you can see from the picture that there are no string trees on the headstock yet. Working on the remaining details soon.

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Top and bridge support being set up.
(10/8/13) The assembly process demands that the top is installed before the bridge is secured to the instrument. The top is carefully seated on a precision machined surface and I also used a filler solution between that suface and the glass so that I can guarantee a continuous and stable support surface for the glass. The top is then secured with set of small crews as a low-pressure retainer. The bridge sits on a wooden spacer that is part of the body.

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Wiring up the electronic components.
(9/22/13) Here, I am working on the electronics of the guitar before I attach the glass top. It's easier to work from the top than to work through the cavity opening, although in a normal guitar that is what I would have had to do. I'm installing a master volume and tone with a 3-way selector switch. We custom wound the pickups in our own shop and I manufactured ebony covers for them since everything else is custom on this instrument!

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Back from finishing and in pre-assembly.
(9/6/13) The guitar has come back from our finishing process and I am very happy with the way the colors turned out. The pickups have been installed and I have applied a sealer on the inside surfaces of the chambered body. Copper shielding is also necessary around the area where the electronics are installed. I am trying to get as much work done as possible while access is good, before the glass top goes on. So far so good!

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After some changes - we're getting closer.
(2/15/13) I spent some time working on a few critical areas I needed to engineer before finishing happens. The glass top is very strong, but in order to guarantee that is becomes a well supported and stable part of the instrument I wanted to be very sure that I had everytghing fitting together as it should. One thing that has become apparent is that although the top is glass, the assembled instrument doesn't weigh much. Body has been chambere which helps.

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ready for final finishing!.
(12/10/12) The instrumnt is now sanded and almost ready to go to my finisher where the back, sides and neck will have color and a gloss finish applied. Before that happens I wanted to put the components of the guitar together so that I could show how unusual and colorful this instrument is going to be! The top reflects a LOT of light - much more than any painted surface I have seen on a guitar. Feels good so far!

Highslide JS
Cutting the neck retainer holes.
(12/6/12) Next operation is to flip the body over and mark out the location for the 4 screw holes that will hole the neck onto the body. Typically I don't use a neck plate, but rather use four neck retaining rings to do the job. I drill the four holes for the screws then counterbore four concentric recesses for the retaining rings so that they sit flush with the body surface. I feel that this ends up being a much cleaner look for the back of the instrument

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Cutting the neck pocket.
(12/5/12) Here we are cutting the neck pocket into the guitar body. This operation has to be done with the body of the guitar slightly angled to create the correct neck-to-body angle. We then carefully cut the pocket so that there is just the right amount of clearance to allow for the polyester resin finish. The depth pf the neck pocket is fairly critical too as this determines how the strings will line up with the bridge we are using.

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Testing the glass in the body.
(12/2/12) Now that we have machined most of the internal features into the body it's time to try the glass top plate in place and see what kind of fit we have. everything seems to lock together nicely although at this point in time we do not have a polyester resin finish on the instrument. From what I can tell - it seems like everything will fit together without too much trouble. This is an R&D project so I am exploring new territory!

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getting fingerboard prepped to go on the neck.
(11/30/12) The fingerboard has been completed, frets are in and it's now ready to be glued onto the neck. I wanted to double check the relative positions of the fingerboard and the bridge to make sure I had calulated the bridge position correctly. It checked out fine - which is good because there is no room for error in a glass top. All looks good so I am going to proceed with attaching finegrboard to neck.

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Drilling holes for side dots.
(11/6/12) I had time on the CNC today to set up and run the operation to drill the holes for the side dots on the fingerboard. There is never much room on the edge of a fingerboard so the dots have to be very accurately placed of the will look wrong. This setup has always proved very accurate and reliable and everything comes out looking perfect. Now I will insert someoff-white material as the side dots. Then I can get the frets in!

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Shell inlay complete on fingerboard.
(10/30/12) I was really lucky with this build that I has colored paua shell in stock that perfectly matched the colors in the glass top. The shell has been carefully inlaid, and I have applied a coat of finishing epoxy to give the fingerboard a nice even and clean surface. The next task will be to set this fingerboard up on on of my machines and drill the holes for the side dots. I'm waiting for space on the CNC to do this asap.

Highslide JS
Adding a coat of shellac to the interior.
(10/14/12) The insert has been glued into the body and cleaned up. At this stage I typically add a coat of amber shellac to the internal surfaces. It does a nice job of sealing the wood and sinve the glass top has f-holes, it creates a darker and more consistent surface which will obviously be visible throug the two f-holes. It's a purely cosmetic consideration but worth the effort when the guitar is completed. May even add another coat!

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installing recess/magnet ring.
(10/13/12) I machine a small counterbore around the hole from the inside of the guitar body. I then moved to the laser cutter and cut an insert piece from 1/4" material which fits perfectly into the counterbore. This insert has several functions. It creates a surface upon which the lid/cover will sit - it provides bosses for the neo magnets which will hold the lid in place, and it provides me with a small area which will permit a small cutout as a "handle"

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Cutting out the control cover.
(10/12/12) I decided that even though the glass top of this guitar will be removable, I should add a control cover so that we provide easy access to the electronics of this guitar. First step to do this is to cut out a panel from the parent material which will be used as the cover or lid. Because this body is already chambered, I will have to create a second level behind the hole I just cut so that the lid has a surface to sit upon.

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The collection of parts so far.
(10/6/12) We are making some progress on all the various components of thos guitar.The glass top fits comfortably in the body recess, the neck is roughed out and partly shaped, fingerboard is machined and is ready to have the inlay installed. The inlay process is a little work intensive but well worth the effort because the shell we are using is a very good match for the glass top! I'm expecting that this will bring the entire instrument together!

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Shaping the body after chambering.
(9/12/12) We have cut the excess material from the body blank leaving just enough wall thickness around the glass insert to make the guitar look complete. The net weight of the body is now noticeably light - we are hoping that once everything i sassembled it will remain an attractively light instrument. We'll continue to do some work to the body but the focus now will swing back to the construction of the neck and its inlay.

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Initial machining on body complete.
(9/2/12) This is the completed body blank with the chambers and the pickup cavities machined. The cavities are cut to leave about a quarter inch of wall thickness at the back of the guitar. The recess is just enough to allow the glass top to fit flush with the upper surface of the body. If all goes well everything will work perfectly together! The resulting chambered body will be light enough to offset the weight of the glass top.

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Cutting chambers in the guitar body.
(9/1/12) Here I am cutting the chambered areas out of the solid body blank. Firstly I cut a recess that will contain the glass top. Once that is setablished I cut the upper and lower chambered areas leaving a thin wall thicknedd at the back of the guitar body. I will them move along to cutting out the two pickup cavities while the body is still set up on the CNC. Net result of this work will be that the body will more than offset the weight of the glass top.

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Getting ready to machine chambers in the body.
(8/30/12) I have glued a top piece onto the main body material and I am currently facing it to level the top surface. Next I will run a couple of programs on the CNC to create the cambers in the instrument body and also an accurate recess which will house the glass top. Once that is done it will look much more like the guitar we have in mind. Some elements of this instrument are experimental buy I'm certain it will end up amazing!

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Neck and body blank are well under way.
(8/2/12) I have been working on the neck and body of this guitar. The center laminate is Iroko - with two other maple laminates. The body sides are made of seasoned mahogany. This will provide plenty of tone and brightness for the guitar. As soon as my CNC is free I will machine out the chambered areas of the body and the recess that will accommodate the glass top. I also need to choose a fingerboard material and suitable inlay!

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This is the glass top I'll be using to build the guitar around.
(8/1/12) This is a piece of dichroic glass which has been cut to one of my drawing specification. The concept of this instrument is that the glass top will be inset flush with the top of the body and the body will be painted to reflect the color scheme of the top. It's somewhat of an R&D project but there is no reason this will not work. The glass is not heavy but it is very strong. It will be well supported in the instrument body. Stay tuned!

Last update October 9, 2012