Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

6-string headless Strat-style guitar (Serial 14G066)
Bolt On Neck

Call
951-240-1666. or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: Zebrawood Neck: 5pc Maple and Walnut
  Body: Mahogany back bouts.
Fingerboard: Kingwood - 24 fret
Pickups: Humbuckers
Hardware: ABM - Black - headless
Finish: Satin / Matte Natural
Other: 25.5" scale

Another headless Strat - we'll make it an awesome one! We will be making a zebrawood top for this one which will look really nice. It was originally conceived as a Tele style but upon further discussion with the customer we changed to Strat style. I have some ideas on how to achieve a unique wood combination for the top plate.


Highslide JS
I think it's now complete - I'm always looking for final adjustments!.
(7/15/16) The guitar is now set up and playing and I have taken a few photos for reference. I am now getting it prepped and packed for my customer and hopefully I will be able to get that on its way pretty soon. I did some minor adjustments here and there but I had a friend from a guitar repair shop set it up nicely for me while I was out of town. Now it's just a case of packing and getting the box weighed and measured!

Highslide JS
Wiring and setup done, just the final details now.
(7/8/16) The guitar has been through a complete wiring phase to get all the controls doing what we went them to. We have push/pull coil splitting on the pickups and some flexible control of the sound of the instrument. All I have left to do is some final adjustment and also solder the output wires to an output jack assembly instead of the stock one which I don't feel is as string. Feels good. Shipping soon after I get some glamor pics!

Highslide JS
Internal wiring pretty much complete.
(5/24/16) This is the control cavity after the wiring has been done according to our wiring diagram. The only difference was the need to use a smaller profile selector switch which we wired to the central terminals so that everything would emulate the circuitry of a standard 3-position unit. I know for a fact this unit is better built than the standard selector switch hardware so I'm very happy with it. We will soon be making notes with this guitar!

Highslide JS
Cutting some relief for the height of the selector switch.
(5/3/16) I discovered that the 3-position selector switch I was ready to install is quite a bit too tall to fit into the cavity. I though it would fit under the cover plate but no luck. I ran all over town and eventually found a more compact switch that did fit. Cost me time and frustration! Anyway emergency is over, back to work!
Highslide JS
New selector switch successfully fitted.

Highslide JS
Bridge is now bolted on and I'm going to be installing the electronics.
(4/22/16) Left: Bridge is permanently fixed now to the body and I'm ready to pop on a set of strings so that I dcan finish up the nut slots and get the bridge saddles set up! (4/26/16) Right: Got two of the strings on so that I can work on the alignment and height adjustment of the bridge. Had to work on string retainer but OK now.
Highslide JS
I've got two strings on the outboard saddles so that I can test out the bridge height and the string retainer function.

Highslide JS
Got the pickups installed - now on to the bridge assembly.
(4/15/16) Left: The pickups are now in - I had to modify the height adjustment screws and springs but after that everything went fine and they look great! (4/18/16) Right: I'm working on the bridge to get things set up for string spacing and height adjustment. Just want to make sure everything works happily together.
Highslide JS
Got the pickups installed - now on to the bridge assembly.

Highslide JS
In the process of assembly and will be adding electronics after the hardware is installed.
(4/14/16) It's assembly time and I would have been on this task a few days earlier but I am finishing about 8 instruments all at the same time and getting very little sleep! I'm installing and adjustingh the pickups right now and locating the bridge components relative to the scale length. I will also have to establish a grounding wire from the bridge top the control cavity but that shoul dnot be hard to do. Nice to see this one with hardware!

Highslide JS
Magnets installed to hold cavity cover in place.
(4/7/16) Left: I installed the magnets in the control cavity which will hole the lid in place. Wanted to get this done before I got into the electronics. (4/9/16) Right: Neck is back on and I'm going to start by installing the two pickups and getting the knobs and the seletor switch to fit comfortably. Also will be measuring for bridge placement.
Highslide JS
Neck and body back together for hardware assembly.

Highslide JS
Done with the external finishing - now on to assembly work!.

(3/22/16) Left: Neck is finished. It has a nut and the string retainer is attached. It also had a few coats of finish on the fingerboard to give the wood a nice color and finish. (3/27/16) Right: Time to give this guitar its identity in the form of its official serial #. I used a slightly darker maple so that it contrasted with the center laminate.

Highslide JS
Just added the serial number on the back.

Highslide JS
Done with the external finishing - now on to assembly work!.
(3/16/16) I shielded the control cavity and now I need to establish a grounding connection between the bridge and the control cavity. I'm also getting ready to shield the pickup cavities. I'd like to get the electronic components connected and installed as soon as possible and start adding the hardware to the body and neck.
Highslide JS
Done with the external finishing - now on to assembly work!.

Highslide JS
Done with the external finishing - now on to assembly work!.
(3/2/16) Final coat of external finish is ON! I am very happy about that because it was quite a bit of time consuming work. AnywayI can now apply the shielding in the cavity so that I can get the electronics installed. By the way - the neck got the same treatment so all the wood is now looking beautiful and ready of the addition of hardware and electronics. This will be a very nice comfortable, lightweight guitar that should get some attention!

Highslide JS
Last few finishing steps in progress - starting to assemble now.

(2/20/16) It sure is a pretty guitar - and very lightweight too! I'm busy right now prepping the fingerboard and getting a nice finish on the nback of the neck. I also just succeeded in fitting the string retainer on the end of the neck and carving the wood in that area to fit it nicely. One last coat on the oustide of everything then a uib down with 400 grit paper, and at that point I'll probably add the electrical shielding so I can start on assembly.


Highslide JS
Starting the coating on teh front of the guitar.
(2/16/16) Getting some of the grain filler on teh front of the instrument now. I have given the entire body a couple of coats and I now need to sand down to yield a very smooth finish. At that point I will know whether any further grain filling is required (probably not) and all being well I can throw a few coats of hard coat on it and it will look beautiful. I'm also working on getting the strring retainer fitted, I will post pics on that too!

Highslide JS
Getting the final coats onto the body and right after that, the neck.
(2/12/16) Back to grain filling vut this time it's the final run and I am doing front back and sides of the body. The neck is close behind for the same teratment. Two or three coats of this solution should work fine and that followed by a couple of coats of the final finish. Next coat will be on the front of the guitar and we will get a climpse of the final wood colors - should look really nice. Also ready to shield the control cavity.

Highslide JS
String retainer for the end of the neck.
(2/8/16) This is my string retainer for the end of the neck. It is a fully functional AMB unit from Germany but as with most such headless hardware there is no accommodation for access to a truss rod nut. I typically have to drill that out so I am doing some careful calculations so that I can place the drilled hole in just the right place to alighn with the truss rod nut when the unit is attached to the end of the neck. Should work out fine!

Highslide JS
One of the special push/pull potentiometers i will be using.
(2/2/16) I have all the hardware for the internal components of the control cavity. This photo shows one of the push-pull knobs that will give the guitar some additional sound options. I will be shielding the cavity very soon and that will clear the path for final assembly as soon as the exterior coatings are completed. I am very interested to hear how the gouitar sounds with all these options for sound control.

Highslide JS
Getting started on the grain filling and final sanding.
(1/27/16) While I have other work going on I decided I could safely start applying grain filler to the back of the instrument to save a little time. I'll probably apply the same to the sides and the front as it enables me to get the final sanding process under way. Once I have a good surface foundation I'll get the final finish applied and also get the cavity shielding done in anticipation of doing the electronic work.

Highslide JS
Just finished cutting control panel holes and slots on the CNC.
(1/21/16) I now have the three holes for the potentiometers established complete with counterbores and also just finished cutting the slot and holes that will accommodate the pickup selector switch. I am waiting on the arrival of my push/pull pots so that I can make sure they fit ncely into the vertical height of the existing control cavity. I'm now back to final sanding so that I can apply the grain filler on the neck and body.

Highslide JS
Laying out controls on the top of the body.
(1/14/16) I'm at the point where I am doing the layout planning on the top plate. Based on the wiring diagram below I will have one selector switch for pickups and three knobs, two of which will be push/pull configuration. I wanted to see which layout worked best both functionally (so that electronics insede don't get crammed together) and aethetically so that the layout looked like it matched with the geometry of the instrument.

Highslide JS
Wiring diagram for the pickup and switching system.
(1/8/16) This just in from my customer: Looks like I will be using two push-pull knobs to do some coill splitting etc on this guitar. I have looked it over and can certainly get the right hardware so that we can make this happen. It will make it a very flexible instrument from a tone point of view. Should be a very good formula. Will update very soon. Have more photos to post but wanted to get this one up and confirmed!

Highslide JS
Cutting the recess for the jack socket.
(12/26/15) I think this is the last operation on the CNC - I am cutting a hole and recess for the Netrik locking jack socket. This will allow me to get the rest of the sanding done and make sure neck fits body corectly at the right angle. Objective is to get thinks rolling on the grain filler and the final finish. Once I get everything nicely coated and finished I will add hardware and electronics. We should have a really beautiful instrument.

Highslide JS
Top of body showing pickup recesses.
(12/21/15) This is the body of the guitar after the pickup recesses were machined. I'm working on sanding, final neck profiling and string retainer and its related fitting all at the same time. I also have a jack socket to establish in the lower side of the body but I will do that as soon as my machine is open. The body feels light and comfortable so I expect the completed and assembled instrument will also feel that way too. Can't wait!

Highslide JS
Last stages of sanding - getting ready for finishing.
(12/14/15) Down for the final sanding which is pretty exciting because I can't wait to get the grain filler and finish on this guitar to see the full impact of all the wood grains. Both the body and the neck are having the finer details of fine sanding done which always takes time and sore fingers. As soon as I am happy with the overall surface quality we get started. I'll be putting on a few coats of filler to create a nice surface for the final finish.

Highslide JS
Neck profile established and ready for some serious sanding.
(12/5/15) This is the back of the neck which has been shaped to a very comfortable profile and will now be sanded nice and smooth. I also have a string retainer assembly I am working on whach will bolt to the end of the neck. It's all coming together. Goal right now is get all surfaces on the entire guitar sanded smooth so that I can start applying grain filler and final finish. That is when we are really going to see all these wood grain colors pop!

Highslide JS
Checking pickup dimensions in preparation for machining cavities.
(11/21/15) In order to get ready for the machining of the pickup cavities I am checking specs on the physical dimensions of the pickups so that we can yield a nice fit between the various parts. This is close to the last machining operation I will need to do and I will then be concentrating on surface finish and getting some of the hardware fitted. I'm looking forward to posting shots of the more completed instrument as I think it will look really nice!

Highslide JS
Dressing the frets prior to finishing.
(11/14/15) I'm now dressing the ends of the frets which is preferable to do before any of the finishing goes on. Once the dressing in complete I will sand everything with fine grit paper and finish with steel wool. When I achieve the right surface finish on the wood I will start applying the sealer and the final finish and that Kingwood will really pop out and look beautiful. Policy is pretty much the same for the body also.

Highslide JS
Sanding body and neck.
(11/6/15) Right now the name of the game is sanding and I'm working on both the body and the neck to get them to a smaooth enough condition where I can start putting some grain sealer on the surfaces. The hardest parts to sand are the inner curves and any areas where the end of the grain is exposed! I'm anxious to see this guitar with its finish applied so I am trying to get all these little finishing detail jobs done as soon as possible!

Highslide JS
Pickup cavities have been machined.
(10/28/15) This is the body after the pickup machining was completed. This placement should be ideal for the best output from both pickups. I need to now calculate how many knobs and switches we're going to employ so that I can establish the holes on the top through to the control cavity. I'm also busy finish sanding the neck and also the body so that we can start doing the grain filling preparation on the actual wood.

Highslide JS
Setting up to cut the pickup recesses in the body.
(10/25/15) Setting up to cut the two pickup cavities in the body. This is technically the last machining operation on the guitar. When I cut the recesses they will expose the wiring channels that I cut into the body before the top went on. I will have to drill and possibly counterbore holes for the controls but that will happen when I have settled on the final wiring layout and at that point I will know how many knobs and switches are involved.

Highslide JS
Body is being sanded.
(10/17/15) I'm in the middle of a big sanding project on this guitar to make the neck and body feel just right. So far everything is going well and I really do like the way it feels. Next step is to cut the recesses for the pickups and also machine the recess and seat for the jack socket assembly. Once I get all the holes established and don't have to machine anything else i will be able to start the finishing process on the wood surfaces.

Highslide JS
Cutting neck retainer counterbores.
(10/9/15) In order to get the shaping of the neck and other areas finished I need to attach the neck to the body. I set the guitar body up on my CNC and I'm in the process of cutting four counterbored holes that will hold the retaining washers flush with the surface of the body. Once those are in I will attach neck and body together so that I can start carving and shaping the remainder of the neck. Starting to feel like a real guitar!

Highslide JS
Gluing fingerboard onto the neck.
(10/8/15) This is a photo of the guitar with the assembled neck and fingerboard attached. I also got started on rounding off the edges around the body of the instrument. The neck pocket area was shortened a little and I'm now ready to set up to establish the retainer holes that will house the rings that will hold the neck onto the body. I'm also in the process of manufacturing a custom string retainer and nut.

Highslide JS
Gluing fingerboard onto the neck.
(10/7/15) For a bolt-on neck the best and most reliable way I have found is to clamp the fingerboard onto the neck using a simple fixture employing rubber bands. This provides a very consistent clamping force and assures me that the edges of the fingerboard will yield nice clean joints. Takes a little while to add all the rubber bands but once that is done I can leave it overnight and feel pretty conficent about the quality of the end result!

Highslide JS
Fingerboard ready to go onto the neck.
(10/6/15) I have added dots to the fingerboard surface and all the frets have been installed. I used heavier frets by my customer's request and the fingerboard looks really nice. It will look even more impressive when the wood on the fingerboard is treated with the right oils and finished. Everything is now ready for the installation of the truss rod and gluing the fingerboard in place onm the neck.

Highslide JS
Body is set up on CNC to have the neck pocket cut out.
(10/3/15) I have the body of the guitar set up on the CNC in order to machine out the neck pocket. In order to achieve the right string height at the bridge I have the body raised slightly at the front end. I made sure I double checked that angle in my vector program so it should end up being pretty close. The neck pocket location is critical because it sets the position of the bridge based on the scale length. Measure twice - cut once!

Highslide JS
Compound radius has been established.
(9/29/15) This is the fingerboard after I machined the compound radius. It is now the correct thisckness and I have also sanded off the nmachining marks with a flat sanding tool so that we are now ready to get the fret slots cut in. When cut the material has a slightly purple look but it matures fairly quickly to a slightly more golden brown color. It should look really nice combined with the Zebrawood on the top plate.

Highslide JS
Machining the Kingwood fingerboard.
(9/27/15) I am currently working on cutting the external preimeter of the fingerboard to the correct length and width at the nut and widest end. These sizes were established on my vector drawing based on the hardware we are using so i already know the exact sizes. This Kingwood requires several small cuts for me to work in to the finished size because it's fairly hard material. Everything going well so far.

Highslide JS
Kingwood fingerboard has been rough sawn.
(9/24/15) We just recently decided to use Kingwood for the fingerboard so I am putting a photo up to show what the material looks like. Kingwood is very hard stuff and it took me a long time to saw this fingerboard blank off the original block of Kingwood I had in my shop. I am going to drum sand it and then attach to flay surface so that I can get the machining operations done on the CNC as soon as I have space on there!

Highslide JS
Back of the neck is machined and I'm just about to start shaping.
(9/12/15) This is the back of the neck right now. The heel area has been machined to the finished thickness and the rest of the neck area has only be slightly roughed out. My next move on this will be to do some rough carving to establish some of the basic geometry. Once that's done there will be some detail carving at the headstock area and then I'll need to compare the heel with the neck pocket and match those dimensions up.

Highslide JS
Carbon Fiber rods securely attached.
(9/4/15) The gluing of the carbon fiber went very well and I have sanded down the excess glue to re-setablish out flat datum surface for the fingerboard. As soon as my CNC is free I have to do a couple of quick machining operations to the heel area of the neck which will then allow me to get the body up on the CNC amd machine a matching neck pocket so that the neck and body can be connected together.

Highslide JS
Gluing the carbon fiber rods into the neck.
(8/29/15) This photo doesn't really show anything so I need to explain. The beck of the guitar has two slost machined into it and I hae two carbon fiber re-enforcing rods which need to be securely glued into the assembly before I can do more work on the neck. In the photo, I am clamping the nack and carbon fiber rodsin such a way that the top surface will remain flat. I will have to repeat this operation to add a little more glue but it will be SOLID!

Highslide JS
Top plate is on and trimmed around the edges.
(8/24/15) This is the top plate nicely secured onto the body. Once I removed the assembly from the vacuum press I spent some time trimming the top plate and the body profile so that everything was nice and flush. This assembly is now waiting for a space on my CNC so that I can cut the neck pocket and the two recesses for the pickups. So far so good, the body is pleasantly light so the guitar as a whole will be surprisingly light!

Highslide JS
Gluing the top plate on in the vacuum press.
(8/22/15) The moment has come where I can glue the top plate onto the body and finally have a complete body to work with. Right now it's in the vacuum press and will stay there for about 6 hours while I make sure the glue fully cures. The vacuum press applies a LOT of pressure and I was a little worried that the chambered areas would not be strong enough to with stand the pressure but everything went fine and all is well!

Highslide JS
Applying sealer to the inner chambered part of the body.
(8/17/15) In preparation for gluing the top onto the body I have to remember to do all the jobs that cannot be done once the top goes on. It's always good to seal bare wood inside a chambered instrument and in this photo I have just applied a nice coat of sealer to everything except the areas that need to bond with the top plate. I can't think of anything else I need to do before top plate gets glued on so that's next!

Highslide JS
Gluing the insert into the back of the body.
(8/14/15) In this photo I am gluing the ring shaped component into the back of the body so that it will provide a flat surface on which the cavity cover will rest. Sometimes when you are looking for a quick way to clamp something you have to grab what you have near at hand. In this case I'm using a big metal weight to apply the right amount of pressure to the joint inside. I will give it a few hours to set before I disturb it!

Highslide JS
The insert that will be glued onto the back face of the control cavity.
(8/9/15) The object in the photo is a backing plate that I will be attaching to the inside of the guitar below the opening for the control cavity. This will provide a shoulder area for the cover to sit on and also lugs where I can mount the neo magnets that will hold the cover in place. I cut this material on the laser and it woulked out really well. I'll get this glued in as soon as I can and then give the entire inside surface a coat of sealer.

Highslide JS
The control cavity cover has been removed from the body.
(8/2/15) Well this is a first for Watson Guitars - I cut the control cavity cover out of a guitar using my laser rather than my CNC. Although it was inspired by the load of work I have on the CNC, the laser is actually a better option in that it removes the cover material with less material loss resulting in a better cover-to-body fit. Now I have to install some support material underneath this area and then the top will go on.

Highslide JS
Cerbon Fiber slots have now been machined into the neck.
(7/22/15) I have now machined two slots in the upper surface of the neck into which I will be placing the carbon fiber rods. These rods will be glued in using aerospace grade epoxy and they will contribute to the stability, rigidity and resitance to humidity changes on the neck. Onc ethesetwo CF rods are embedded in the neck I can look at the fingerboard requirements and get something machined that will further compliment this instrument!

Highslide JS
Machining the slots that will accommodate the truss rod.
(7/17/15) The neck is back up on the CNC and this time I am cutting the slot geometry for the truss rod and once that is done I will be cutting two slots on either side of the truss rod which will provide spavce for carbon fiber re-inforcing rods running the length of the neck. Once these rods are installed I will be able to get the fonmgerboard attached to the neck. Everything is moving along quite well so I will have more photos very soon!

Highslide JS
F-holes in top plate and the plate is trimmed closer to body dimensions.
(7/11/15) F-holes are now cut and cleaned up. I also cut and sanded the body profile very close to that of the body so that it will halp with alignment when I attach the top. Once the top is part of the body i will do the final profile cleanup. Next step is to cut a control cavity hole and drop in a recess that will retain the control cavity cover. In the meantime I'll be sanding the inside of the body and prepping for assembly.

Highslide JS
Cutting the f-holes in the top plate.
(7/6/15) The top plate is now on the CNC and I am working on establishing the two f-holes. I'd much rather do these while the top plate is separate from the body so that I don't have to try to remove machining chips from the inside of the guitar! I was very careful about the positioning of the f-holes. They must land in a place where they look good on the instrument, align properly with the chambering and also leave room for controls!

Highslide JS
Working on body contour refinements.
(6/29/15) I have a few minor adjustments to the body profile based on the actual location of the actual hardware components. It's always worth checking where bridge, neck and pickups are located to make sure everything will fit in place they way you want it. I'm refining body contour and taking a little more out at the tuner end. Next I will mark out f-hole positions and machine them into the top plate.

Highslide JS
Some custom carving on this guitar - another first!!.
(6/23/15) This is an interesting photo because when the top goes on it will never again be appreciated. I have never done this before on a chambered instrument but in this case I carved the inside of the body to match the belly cut of the outside of the body. The material thickness remains more of less the same but I get two advantages. One is that the guitar will be lighter, the other is that there's more "cavity" beneathe the F-hole area.

Highslide JS
Neck is up on CNC machine for some of the initial sizing operations.
(6/14/15) While the top and body work are being dealt with, I am getting the neck ready. I took the neck blank and trimmed closer to size. Then set it up in the CNC machine where I created a nice flat top surface. I then machined around the perimeter to establish the tapered outer perimeter of the necl. This sets the neck widths both for the nut and the heel of the neck. I now have to cut slots for carbon fiber and truss rod.

Highslide JS
Using the vacuum press to glue maple veneer onto the bottom surface of the top plate.
(6/9/15) Before I machine f-holes into the top plate I wanted to getthe Maple veneer attached tp the back of the top. This is purely a decorative feature but it does add a really nice accent line between the two components on the finished instrument. I'm doing this on the vacuum press because it's a relatively large surface that is otherwise difficult to clamp across the entire surface. I will then clean up the extra veneer around the sides.

Highslide JS
planing for bridge placement and wiring holes inside the body.
(6/2/15) I have cut the top plate to fit the body profile and at this point I need to establish a couple of wiring channels inside the instrument for pickup and grounding wires. In order to place them correctly I have to establish where mu bridge components are going to be located relative to the body and scale length. I'll get these channels cut and then move on to probably establishing f-hiles in the top plate, then attaching top.

Highslide JS
Establishing the belly cut before the top goes on.
(5/21/15) Before I commit to gluing the top plate onto the body I decided that while I still had access to the inside of the instrument, now would be the best time to cut the belly cut on the back. Having the inside geometry accessible means I can gauge and measure the material thickness as I remove the material. If the top was already on this would be significantly more difficult to judge. The belly cut just needs to be cleaned up and sanded.

Highslide JS
Getting things ready for assembling top onto body.
(5/14/15) I have been working on the top to get both sides nice aand clean. I now want to trim the perimeter to the same profile as the body so that I can get it ready for assembly onto the body. I may put a veneer for accent on the underside because that will look really nice on the finished product. I also need to plan out neck, bridge and pickup placement which in turn will allow me to locate f-holes and control knob layout.

Highslide JS
Guitar body is set up on CNC for chambering.
(5/8/15) I have machined out the inside of the body leaving a little less than 1/4" material at the back side. You can tell the difference in weight as soon as I took it off that machine table! I may machine a little more on the top half depending on the actual size of the belly cut and if and where we put f-holes. I may relieve a little between the pickups and the heel once I have plotted the locations of the pickups and bridge components.

Highslide JS
Guitar body is set up on CNC for chambering.
(5/4/15) I now have the body of the guitar set up on the CNC table and ready to have the chambered portions of the body machined out. I will do this in two operations - one with a 1/2 in emd mill to remove the bulk of the material and then a second operation to run round the edges of the cavity with a ball nose end mill. We will end up with a lightweight body and I'll be able to glue the top n soon after that. Making progress!

Highslide JS
programming the chambers I need to machine out.
(4/29/15) The vector drawing for the areas I will be milling out have been transferred to the program I use to convert to g-code. The image shows the initial cutter path to remove the bulk of the material. Once that is done I will use a smaller tool with a ball end to finish out the edges as I'd prefer not to have a 90 degree sharp corner between the interior surfaces. I have left space for pickup cavities, neck pocket and the bridge location.

Highslide JS
Working in a vector program to plot out the areas that will be chambered.
(4/24/15) I plotted the area for the belly cut - and also the positions of the bridge and both pickups. The remainder of the instrument can be chambered. I then plotted the areas that will be machined out from the body opf the guitar. I will double check these for relative scale, and once verified can use that paths to generate a program for the CNC machine. I can then cut all the chambered areas with confidence.

Highslide JS
Body has been sanded closer to finish size so that I can start chambering.
(4/24/15) In order to properly prepare for cutting chambering pockets on a custom instrument it is necessary tobring the body profile close to the finished shape. I then use a vector program to define the specific areas I am going to hollow out on the CNC. The only thing I have to be careful of it the area where the belly cut will exist - I obviously can't cut to full depth in that area. I will also need to plan for a control cavity cover at the back.

Highslide JS
Gluing top together.
(4/10/15) Left: I'm now gluing the 2nd Zebrawood panel into the top assembly, taking care to keep the surfaces co-planar. Right: The glue up was successful and I decided that before I do any further work I will trim it to match the current (slightly oversize) body profile. This gives us a better look at the beautiful top grain.
Highslide JS
Top is assembled and rough cut. We'll have to now look at f-hole geometry and placement.

Highslide JS
Gluing decorative veneer onto the joint faces of the zebrawood panels.
(4/6/15) Left: NowI am gluing maple veneer onto the joint edges of the zebrawood panels. I need to do the same to the outer edges of the core section, then it can all go together. Right: I am now gluing two of the tree top components together. As soon as this is set I'll glue the second Zebra half on and we'll have a top!
Highslide JS
Gluing the first two top components together.

Highslide JS
Finished center-piece for the top of the guitar.
3/29/15 Left: This is the way I am going to lay out the zebrawood. Should look really nice when we are all done. I will rough cut the body shape as soon as it's all glued together Right: Cutting straight and square joint faces on the zebra material so that we can yield perfect joints. Next step is gluing it all together.
Highslide JS
Cutting accurate joint faces on the CNC.

Highslide JS
4 out of 5 laminates glued together.
3/21/15 Left: Last two sections of the tapered laminates being glued together. I'll be able to get this incorporated with the Zebra top very soon. Right: All the tapered pieces have now been glued together into one piece. I will drum sand this and then set it up on the CNC so that I can finish the two outer edges to their exact sizes.
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Finished center-piece for the top of the guitar.

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# of the top laminates - the will look very nice when it's all together!.
3/16/15 This photo doesn't look like much but it will be a significant part of the appearance of the guitar. The curly maple and walnut are being glued together and I will also add two more very accurately cut pieces of curly maple to complete the center section. The two Zebrawood halves are already prepped and waiting for assembly. I'll sand everything down to the ideal thickness and cut f-holes, then the top can go on.

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Gluing more veneers onto top plate components.
3/12/15 Lots more gluing happening - I am right in the middle of machining tapered components and getting their respective veneers glued on as quickly as possible. For this type of job I am very thankful I have planty of small spring clamps which are perfect for small glue-ups like this. They are also very quick to set up wich helps a lot. Next step will be to start gluing some of these pieces together into one complete unit.

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Machining walnut for part of the top.
3/8/15 I am cutting very specific and accurate tapers on two matching pieces of Walnut. These will be an exact match for the body core pieces and they will soon become part of a beautiful assembly of woods that will become thr top plate of the guitar. These pieces will get light colored (maple) veneer added both sides. I will post a photo if these pieces as they come together - it will make more sense when illustrated!

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Gluing veneer onto some of the top plate components.
3/2/15 I have cut some tapered pieces which i now have to veneer. In the photo I am gluing some dark veneer onto the joint face of the curly maple piece. This will eventually be glued to a walnut piece that has a maple veneer attached. The combination will be a double contrasing pinstripe. I am trying to get these component pieces assembles as quickly as possible so that I can create the top plate. I'm also working on a chambering program!

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Some curly maple I am using for the top plate center.
2/23/15 I'm cutting some nice figured wood for part of the top plate. This will end up being a really nice looking feature which will become more apparent over the next few pictures. Right now I am cutting maple and walnut as a core section of the top plate since the plan for this instrument is to make it chambered. It will be somewhat of a first in many different ways but it's always nice to come up with something new and unusual!

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Going to use some Zebrawood for the top plate.
2/18/15 I'm getting ready to sand some Zebrawood for the top of the guitar. If it's possible I may do a custom job on the top where the core section is exposed. Should look quite impressive. I'll probably put some decorative veneer pinstriping between the top plate and the body as that always looks good - especially if we have a little radius around the edges. More on these dtails as we move forward. Should be a nice light guitar!

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Body gluing is complete.
2/11/15 This is the body after the gluing process. The actual profile is still rough because I left some material all the way round so I have some room to clean up the shape and make sure body and top plate match well together. I will use my template to mark out the body perimeter and remove most of the excess material. I'm now in the process of getting the top plate glued up so that we can have a complete body.

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2nd half of the body being glued on.
2/7/15 Now I am gluing the second body half onto the core of the body. I wanted to get these parts all attached together so that I could move forward with the body and get it closer to a completed component. I will do some refined shaping after this setup is completed, and machine and sand to get rid of excess material. At the same time work is being started on the assembly of the top plate and parts of the neck.

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Gluing the lower body bout onto the core.
2/4/15 This is the first of the two body halves being glued onto the core of the body. I made sure I marked the pieces based on their respective locations before I glued and clamped everything together. I will leave this setup long enough for the glue to set completely and at that point I can go ahead and get the other half glued on. That will give me a complete body that I can get to work on. Pictures of neck coming!

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Body joint faces have been veneered.
1/25/15 Here are out two body halves with their maple veneer attached. I already have the darker veneer attached to the core section so after a little surface cleanup we will be ready to glue these three components together and have ourselves a complete body blank. Once it's all together I'll clean up the edges closer to finished size. I'm also starting work now on the preparation for the zebrawood top. I will post photos of that activity soon!

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Adding maple veneer to the joint faces.
1/21/15 I am now gluing a maple veneer onto the joint face of each of the body halves. This will combine with the darker veneer I put on the body core and create a contrasting double pinstripe along the joint area. Always looks much better than a simple wood-to-wood joint. As soon as this veneer is securely glued on I will trim off the excess and set up to glue the two body halves onto the core of the body.

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Creating accurate joint surfaces on the CNC.
1/19/15 I have a planer in my shop but even that machine does not impart an accurate enough joint face for gluing body halves onto a body core. The best mathod I have is to set the parts up on my CNC and generate the joint surface with a carbide cutter. That way I know the surface is square and flat and will yield a very good joint. I ran both body halves on this setup today and they are now ready for some decorative veneer.

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Upper and lower body bouts have been rough cut.
1/13/15 I have marked out the body perimeter slightly oversize and rough cut the shapes from each of the pieces. I will wait till the whole thing is glued together before I trim closer to size. Next step is some sanding to clean up - then joint face preparation and one more decorative veneer on the body sides this time. Then I can glue these two onto the instrument and we'll have something looking more like a guitar!!!

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Ready to saw out the body parts for this guitar.
1/7/15 Body halves have been cleaned up and drum sanded and now I need to mark them out roughly from the body template so that I can saw out the basic shapes. At my customer's request I am leaning in more of a Strat thank a Tele direction as we had originally planned. This template is very close to that with the exception of the body geometry at the back which accommodates the headless tuning hardware.

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Cleaning up some mahogany for the body halves.
12/27/14 I'm preparing some nice old mahogany for the body wings of this guitar. I need to drum sand this stuff down to size and then mark out the profiles with a body template. Once that is done I can machine the joint faces, add some maple veneer and get the two halves stuck onto the body core. The combination should look really nice. Looking forward to seeing the body as one piece - especially since this will be a pretty unique guitar.

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Neck and body core are all glued together.
12/18/14 The neck and body core are complete and ready for further operations. For the body core I will machine top and bottom and prep for body half assembly. For the neck I will add matching maple to the headstock area so that I have enough raw material to create the headstock shape. Once that is done it will probably be up on the CNC soon having its critical surfaces and dimensions established. So far so good.

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Working on the last couple of pieces of the neck assembly.
12/15/14 This setup is the second last gluing task to complete the neck and body core. I have one more outer laminate for the neck to glue and clamp and then we will be done and concentrating on the body shape for the Strat-style instrument we have in mind. Once these have been glued I will locate off the outer edges and machine one of the larger surfaces to guarantee squareness. That will allow me to get the body wings attached.

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Gluing last pieces onto body core.
12/6/14 Left: I am now clamping the walnut laminates and the last couple of veneered tapers onto both the neck and the body core assemblies. This may seem laborious but it will end up being one of the really nice aesthetic features on the instrument and in my opinion, well worth the trouble! I am also preparing body wood right now
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Walnut tapers going onto the neck assembly.

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Neck components being glued together.
11/24/14 Left: The walnut and maple tapered laminates for the neck are being glued together. I do one laminate at a time to guarantee positional accuracy. Right: These are the body and neck assemblies each with the center three laminates already glued together. I have more contrasting veneer to add to the outer pieces.
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Almost done with neck and body cores.

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Now ready to start gluing the laminates together.
11/17/14 Here we have the center three parts of the neck and the body core ready for assembly. All the light woods (maple) have darker veneers attached and the darker woods (walnut) have lighter veneers attached. When all these parts go together these veneers combine to add a very impressive visual effect. Next I will start gluing the laminates together and soon we will have a complete neck and body core with matching tapers!

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More gluing - adding veneers to all the components.
11/13/14 This photo shows some of the gluing activity in the back of my shop to prepare the laminates for assembly. These pieces are getting their respective dark or light veneers added to their sides so that when I glue up the final assembly we have the added effect of the contrasting decorative veneers to make the joints in the instrument become part of the artistic presentation of the whole guitar. More on that later.

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Gluing maple veneer onto walnut laminates.
11/10/14 I am now busy gluing maple veneer onto the walnut stringers in the neck and body. Once these have set I can start gluing the laminates together and we will start seeing a guitar come together. Between the neck and the body there are 10 pieces that need this attention but the end result will definitelty be worth the effort. I am picking out some nice mahogany that I will use for the back wings of the body.

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Some of the body laminates in progress.
11/5/14 These are some more of the center laminates for the body section. At the top you can see the maple center piece which now has been veneered both sides with a contrasting wood. Below are the two walnut body laminates which will receive maple veneers. I also have corresponding neck pieces which are being veneered in the same way. I want to get these parts glued together as soon as possible.

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Walnut neck laminates ready to be machined.
10/29/14 Time to get the walnut components of the neck machined to their respective tapers. I will do these two pieces separately from the two body pieces just because clamping would be an issue since the neck and body pieces overlap. Once the neck pieces are to finished size I will use measurements off that to establish the correct thickness for the body pieces. It will all look great when the parts go together!

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Cutting the tapered laminates for the neck and body.
10/22/14 I am machining one of the five sets of laminates that will go together to make the core section of the body and the neck itself. The tapers of each pair of wood pieces has to match exactly so I arrange them on the CNC to achieve the desired results. I will machine all of the components in this way and start gluing them together soon. I will probably use a little decorative veneer in the process so that the end result looks really nice.

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The top of the guitar is now going to be Zebrawood.
10/19/14 We decided that we should get hold of some Zebrawood rather than the Walnut we started with. This is a very attractive wood that will make any guitar look good. The Zebrawood will be the bookmatched top plate of the instrument. We may get creative and add Zebra fret markers on the fingerboard to bring it all together - we will see. I am working on the neck and body core of the instrument so will post pics of that very soon.

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Two sets of laminate blanks which we will be using as the instrument core.
9/27/14 The machining is getting started. Here I am setting up the center core laminate for both the body and the neck so that I can cut the right taper along the length of both pieces. The taper is related along the length of both components so I overlap the neck and body pieces in the approximate distance that the neck will sit into the body. That way all the tapered detail remains continuous on the finished instrument.

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Machining the center tapered laminates.
9/19/14 These are the components that will make up the neck and the center of the instrument body. It will be a 5-piece tapered construction using male and walnut which should yield a good sounding instrument. Upon further discussion with out customer we changed the body style from a Tele to a Strat and may be using zebrawood for a top. Fortunately the blanks for the body which i had already cut are long enough to suit the new body.

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Curly walnut for the top of this beauty!
8/16/14 This is the material we planning to use for the top of this beautiful guitar. I have been holding on to these pieces of Walnut for years hoping that the right project would come along. It will be a lot of fun to bring this guitar to life. In the meantime I am looking at wood options for the core section of the body and the neck. Most likely I will use curly maple and another wood that will compliment in look sand sound.

Last update August 26, 2014