Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Guitar In The Works

I can't believe it either. I might actually have the time to squeeze in a new custom.

I went to the storage area where all my necks are, and found that I had a beautiful flame maple neck with a gorgeous ziricote fretboard sitting there, finished in gloss nitro, with levelled frets. Totally forgotten. It's one of my modern profile necks. I vaguely remember setting it aside because the headstock decal buckled a bit once the finish was applied, and I was going to have to fix it. I just need repair the decal, finish over it, wetsand & buff the headstock, and rough the finish on the back of the neck. Now to go through my stash of tele bodies...

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Holbrook

Here's one I just finished... well, almost just finished. There's a concentric knob sitting on my kitchen table for volume/tone control, but after crossing the finish line a few weeks late, the owner wanted to get his hands on it. The finish is Tobacco burst over 5A-grade flame maple, and the neck 5A-Grade birdseye maple. Pickups are Lollar vintage tele and Lollar Imperial, with an acoustic piezo bridge pickup that can be blended or switched solo or mute. The electronics allow the Lollars to output the guitar passively, even while blending an active boost to the bridge pickup. I'm pretty happy with this one, and the configuration suits my playing style so well that I think I'm going to make one for myself. More Holbrook pics are below.
My next project will be a black TH model with classic Tele hardware, but with vintage Les Paul-type guts. It will be: hollow mahogany with a maple top, mahogany neck with ebony fretboard, 2 Lollar Imperial humbuckers, all with a classic Tele look.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Works in progress

I was asked today how many guitars I have in progress. I had to think for a minute, and the number I came up with surprised me. The pics above are in addition to the 4 or 5 pictured a few entries down. Click the pictures to enbiggen 'em. I actually have 2 more tele style hollow backs, as well as another mahogany C body - none of which have been pictured on this site yet. I just didn't feel like dragging them out...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Here's another mystery to alot of guitar players: adjusting the bridge for proper intonation on an electric guitar. It's really not particularly difficult or mysterious, really, and only requires a decent tuner and a screwdriver.

Read more at my Luthier's Workshop site HERE.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Truss rods demystified

When I used to repair guitars for a living, I noticed that soooooo many people feared the mysterious device known as the truss rod. "Don't turn it more than a quarter turn per day, or you'll break the neck!". I heard variations of that, many, many times. That's definitely not the case. There's alot of mojo that goes into a guitar neck in general, as far as alot of guitar players (and guitar salesmen) are concerned. This probably comes from the fact that, even in high production environments, there's alot of hand work involved in the neck-making process, which leads to each neck having it's own personality. The truth is though, there's no secret juju we luthiers use when making necks. We're using techniques you'd use when making a nice piece of furniture. Of course, we need to make sure that the nut and all the frets are in exactly the right place and on a level plane, we need to make sure a hand can traverse it comfortably, and we need to make sure it can stay straight when string tension is added. That's it, really. That last part is where the truss rod comes in.

Read the rest at my new Luthier's Workshop site.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nice Surprise

Every once in a while, a finish gives you a bit of a surprise. Someimes, you'll dye a maple top, only to find a "5A" top hidden in the "AAA" piece you thought you had. In this case, some good old nitrocelluose laquer revealed that this already gorgeous piece of birdseye maple was a showpiece. Click on the pics below to enlarge. The neck is straight off the paintstick, so it hasen't been wetsanded and buffed yet.

This neck is for a guitar I'm making for Steve Holbrook. Steve's specs for this guitar are so nicely chosen that I might just have to add a "Holbrook" model to my line.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Current Builds

I have a batch of five guitars in the works, the bodies of four of which are shown here. I bandsawed the rough profile, then routed the final shape yesterday. Next step is to rout the pickup and control cavities, as well as the trmolo cavity on one of them. All are C models. They are:

  1. Mahogany with a thick quilted maple top, which will be a carved top
  2. Alder with a quilted maple top
  3. Koa
  4. Mahogany
  5. Chambered hollow mahogany with quilted maple top (not shown, as it's getting it's top glued on)

If I have time, I'll slot & radius fretboards for them tonight. One ebony, one pau ferro, one birdseye maple, and two indian rosewood. Journaling this stuff for the first time leads me to think I should start writing a book. There are a few out there which are good, but none are aimed at making high-end, boutique-quality guitars in a home or small shop.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

THS Model

This is my personal favorite. Great tone, lightweight, solid set-neck construction, and clean, classic looks with a little extra cool-factor thrown in.
  • Chambered Mahogany body
  • Mahogany set-neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Lollar P90 pickups
  • Available in Cherry, Black, TV Yellow, TV Orange, and Powder Blue

Saturday, February 25, 2006

CHF Model

Here's another model that began life as a custom order, and proved to be such a winning combination of style and sound that I reproduced it in variations many times. This one pictured was made for the owner of Axis Instruments, and features the following:

  • Hollow-Chambered Mahogany body with AAA Flame Maple top, "C" Shape
  • Set-neck construction with tilt-back headstock, Mahogany
  • "Vintage V" neck profile
  • Indian Rosewood Fingerboard, Abalone Inlay
  • Wilkinson Classic Tremolo
  • Honey burst finish
  • Lindy Fralin Vintage Hot Strat Single Coil Pickups
  • Seymour Duncan Mini Humbucker Pickup


Same as above, but:

  • Solid Mahogany body
  • 2 pickup configuration featuring Lollar P90 Pickups
  • Wraparound Tone Pros bridge/tailpiece


  • Various tonewoods
  • 2 pickup configuration featuring Lollar Imperial Humbucking Pickups
  • Acoustic bridge pickup w/custom blending electronics

The Shop

Pictures are some items from the past and present, in various states of completion.


  • Hollow-Chambered Koa or Mahogany body
  • Set-neck construction, Mahogany
  • Acoustic bridge and bone saddle
  • Clear gloss finish
  • Seymour Duncan Hum Canceling Single Coil Tele Neck Pickup
  • EMG acoustic saddle transducer pickup
  • Custom electronics which blend acoustic and electric pickup sounds, for an extremely rich tone
  • Volume and blend controls
  • Uses acoustic (bronze-wound) or electric (nickel-wound) strings
  • F-hole optional

Similar Models:

Hybrid Bolt-on
Same as above, but:
  • Hollow-Chambered Mahogany body
  • Mahogany or Maple Bolt-on neck

TH Custom

This was one of my favorites. I am generally not a huge fan of gold hardware because of how the plating degrades so easily, but the MK Blonde & tortise shell just screamed out for it for some reason. This one is hollow swamp ash with a AAAAA birdseye maple neck, and a really colorful Indian Rosewood fretboard. The neck uses my modern profile, so it's a bit thinner and rounder than my vintage profile. While I normally use Lollar pickups nowadays, this one called for something with a bit more output, while retaining a vintage tone - so I used Lindy Fralin's Steel Poled
Tele pickups. These things sound a good bit like a Gibson P-90, and are about 15% hotter than stock Tele pickups. I also used a 4-way switch which allowed standard Tele switching in the first 3 positions,
and used both pickups in series in the fourth position, for a HUGE humbucking tone.
Sadly, this one was borrowed for a recording session, and never returned. I have been searching for it for quite a while now, as quite alot of time and money went into it's creation.

THL Performer

This one was made for a friend who had to cancel his order due to some pretty tragic unforseen circumstances, and it's just hung around the shop ever since. The lousy picture to the right doesn't do it justice - it's alot prettier than it appears here. This one has turned out to be extremely versatile as a recording/performing guitar. It's hollow mahogany with a AAAAA flame maple top and an eastern flame maple neck with a gorgeous bois de rose fretboard with clay dot inlays. The neck is my "modern" profile. The original order called for a mahogany neck with a ebony fretboard, but when the order fell through I used that one for another guitar, and found that the maple neck brightened it up so that it really cuts through the mix. The pickups are Tom Anderson humbuckers, and these can be blended with the installed acoustic bridge pickup, using custom electronics. The Anderson pickups have a really distinct sound. When in humbucking mode, they are fat and bold, but don't sound much like the classic PAF that most humbuckers are going after. When in single-coil mode (often referred to as "coil-tapped"), they sound very Strat-like - something rarely achieved when splitting a traditional humbucker. This combination came together so nicely that it got it's own model distinction - "Performer".