Thursday, April 28, 2011

How To Make A Custom Pickguard

For the Highline Prodigy, I decided to add a custom, black pickguard. The following photos show how I did it.
First I covered the body with artist masking film.
Then, I drew the outline of my pickguard shape.
I had to be very attentive to the position of the bridge

Next, I transfered the masking film to my pickguard blank.

I used a jig saw to cut the shape. To play it safe, I guided
the blade along the outside of the lines I drew.

I used a fine tooth blade to make the edge as smooth
as possible.

The pickup holes were made by drilling a 3/4"
diameter hole in each corner with a forstner bit.

I'll leave the masking film in place to protect the pickguard
from scratches during the rest of the building process.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Progress On The Highline Prodigy Guitar

Today, I finished sanding the Prodigy's body and neck from 80 grit down to 220 grit. Next, I applied a thin coat of pure tung oil, which highlighted a few nicks and scratches that needed further sanding. After the touch-up sanding was complete, I slathered on a liberal coat of the tung oil and let it soak in for about an hour. Then, I went back and sanded the entire surface of both the body and neck with a couple of 1/4 sheets of 220 grit. This process generated a good amount of oil-soaked dust, which I rubbed into the grain with a cloth and more tung oil.

Since pure tung oil dries hard, it acts like a binder for the sanding dust.  And by rubbing it into the wood, it works perfectly as a grain filler. I'll let the oil/dust layer dry for 24 hours before repeating the process to insure a nice, smooth surface. Then, I'll start applying pure tung oil by itself with a cloth rag until I achieve the light sheen I'm after. Check out the progress so far:

The body after filling the grain with tung oil/sanding dust. 
The neck heel was sanded to match the body's contour.

I use threaded inserts to bolt the neck in with machine screws rather than bolt it on with wood screws.

I'm going to use a nice slab of Cocobolo for the fretboard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two New Guitars In The Works

Originally, I was going to call it the Highline Neolux, but I've changed the pickup configuration and therefore the name. Now she'll be called the Highline Improv. The new name fits as this guitar has been something of an improvisation from the start. The neodymium humbucker I designed worked great, but not in the way I had intended. The plan had been to install the pickup inside the body and under the beautiful flamed Maple top. Unfortunately, the poles were just too far from the strings to generate a strong signal. As a result, I've gone back to a top mounted humbucker, but with a twist; I made a cool looking Rosewood cover for it. See my earlier post for some photos of what it looks like. Right now, I'm waiting for the 16 coats of tung oil to cure. Then, I'll polish and install all of the hardware. Stay tuned!

My other build is another new design, which I've named the Highline Prodigy. This guitar is made entirely of Black Limba and will be fitted with a black pickguard and a pair of my hand wound humbuckers. At the moment, I'm busy sanding the neck and body while I wait for a pair of carbon fiber strips to arrive so I can reinforce the neck. The fretboard will be a beautiful slab of Cocobolo with Maple marker dots. This one is going to be AWESOME! Again, stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Cool Way To Cover A Humbucker Pickup

I used some scrap Rosewood to make this cool looking cover for one of my humbucker electric guitar pickups. I plan to install it on my soon-to-be-renamed Highline Neolux guitar build. 
Stay tuned!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Highline Neolux Is No More

After hours of testing and tweaking, I have laid the Highline Neolux guitar to rest. It worked reasonably well, but it just wasn't good enough for my standards. The problem seemed to be related to pickup placement. Originally, I had planned to mount the pickup inside the body under a flamed Maple top. To do this, I used neodymium magnets in the pickup so I could place it further from the strings. As it turned out, the strength of the magnet didn't matter. The further the pickup was from the strings, the weaker the signal. I guess I'll go back the the traditional way of mounting the pickups. However, I do have some unique ideas for a top mounted pickup I might try. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not Just One, But FIVE eGuitars!

Paul Gray from the UK has been busy building guitars from eGuitar Plans. From left to right are a Vampyro SE, a Caractacus, two Highline Specials and a Legato. The cool thing about Paul's effort is that he not only follows the plans, but he customizes them to suit his needs and tastes. Make them all your own is what it's all about. Great job Paul!