What’s on the workbench?

At the moment I’m working on my version of a LP special/junior - flat topped mahogany body and neck with 2 P90s, and slated for a trans red finish. The relative simplicity of the design has been a nice change - it’s come together pretty quickly.

I’ve taken the opportunity to try a few new ideas. I’ve put together a new jig for routing neck pockets, which worked a treat once I got the hang of it, and has yielded a wonderfully tight fitting neck - I could hold the guitar out at arms length by the neck without the body working loose. I’ll have to shoot some pics next time I fit a neck.

Anyway - here she is:


That nice tight fitting tenon, and the contoured heel joint. Inspired by the late Sid Poole’s neck joint, it allows better access to the high frets, whilst retaining the traditional appearance from the front of the instrument. It’s very comfy!


Finally, the volute. I really liked the way the veneer on John’s guitar flowed out into the volute, and I’m working on simplifying the process to make it easier, faster, and more consistant. I really like the result, and it’s practical too - the back veneer adds strength, and allows me to use a scarfed headstock (which is stiffer and stronger than a 1 piece) without any aesthetic downside. Once the head is completed it’s impossible to tell it apart from a 1 piece headstock.


Oh - and “hello” to everyone following the link from Project Guitar - I got 533 hits yesterday, more than twice my normal amount - cool!

24 Responses to “What’s on the workbench?”

  1. Ben aka Supernova9 Says:

    Ant (or Setch I guess!)

    As usual the craftsmanship appears top notch, I’m just curious about the wiring runs - how are you getting from pickups to control cavity etc? I can see slots routed in the base of the pickup cavities - how is it all going to come together?

    Keep up the great work, it’s an inspiration.

  2. Ant Says:

    Cheers Ben,

    After routing the neck pocket and pickup cavities, but before gluing the neck in, I drilled a diagonal channel from the treble corner of the neck pocket towards the control cavity. This passes through the channel routed on the treble side of the bridge pickup. I missed the control cavity by 1/2 an inch or so, but was able to join up with the wiring channel by drilling a hole through the jack socket, into the side of the control cavity.

    I’m still scratching my head a little over the string ground…!

    The slots across the pickup routes aren’t actually for wiring - they’re to accomodate the P90 polepieces, which stick out the bottom of the pickup.

  3. Tim Says:

    Very good. I like the stripped-down approach. I’d go for a solid colour like a pale tv yellow, but hey, it’s your guitar.

    Make some of these next, sell them cheap. The world (me) is crying-out for a melody maker SG reissue/remake with nifty little single coils:

  4. Ant Says:

    Ironically, for a colour developed for Gibson’s budget instruments, TV yellow is pretty fussy to pull off. Shame, because I like the way it looks. I guess I’ll have to work out a recipe for it eventually, but for now, it’s trans red, which I know owrks well with the Rustin’s Plastic Coating.

  5. JMo Says:

    would you be willing to divulge how you create your headstock emblems? I have done a simple abalone inlayed letter, but would like to have the (assumed) flexibility of making an emblem to go with it.
    Love the DC…

  6. Ant Says:

    More than happy! Not sure how long I’ll be doing it this way, I might get some printed proffessionally soon, but for the tiem being….

    The logo is printed onto waterslide decalpaper, then ‘coloured in’ with a gold gel pen. This is *really* fussy to do without leaving obvious lines in the gold area, but with careful application can look pretty nice. Once the gold ink is dry, I dust the transfer with 2 or 3 very dry coats of clear lacquer to seal it.

    To apply, I soak it in water, and slide it on just like on a model aeroplane. I apply it between coats of clear - I’ve tried applying it to bare wood or over an epoxy grainfill, and it didn’t ‘dissappear’ into the finish - looked like crap!

    BTW - everyone click on Jmo’s name and check out his archtop guitar - beautiful, beautiful work!

  7. Jamie Says:

    I’m so jealous of your cluster map. YOU WELL VISITED BASTARD.


  8. Ernie Says:

    I am looking for a double cutaway, what a beautiful piece.
    How do I contact you to place an order?

  9. JMo Says:

    i have another finishing question: I’ve sprayed 5 initial coats of lacquer, sanded flat, shot an additional coat and then let cure for a week. Then I wetsanded with micromesh all the way to 12000 grit. The finish looked almost perfect except it seemed to need a bit of polish to make it snap so I tried using McGuires #7 mirror polish, applied with a microfiber cloth. The overall shine increased as expected, but now I see a faint scratch pattern. Should I go back to cotton for the final buff or does it need to cure a bit more before trying for the super high gloss polish?

  10. Hydrogeoman Says:

    I veneered the front and back (peghead) of an LP Jr copy I am currently working on also; however, my veneers are much thinner than yours (approximately 1/32″ ebony). May I ask how you bend your veneer on the volute without snapping the veneer? Thanks

  11. Ant Says:

    I pre-bend the veneer using heat and moisture. A bending iron would be the best way to do it, but since I haven’t made one yet, I use a hot-airgun. I mist the veneer with water, then wrap the portion to be bent in aluminium foil and play the hot air over it intil steam starts to hiss out from the edges of the foil. Then, I bend it around the aluminium sanding drum which I use to shape the volute, so the curves match up pretty closely (springback means the match isn’t exact).

    Once I judge that the curve is nearly there, I unwrap the veneer, blot it dry, and glue it to the headstock, using a curved clamping caul and a lot off clamps. I’ll be glueing one up today, so I’ll post some pictures here, and probably on PG too.

  12. Nicholas Martin Says:

    Have you considered other neck joints? There’s an odd permanent shimmed joint used by Japanese builders that might work really well for very, very tight neck joints (probably won’t need glue either). Basically you cut some sort of mortise in something, and then in the tennon, you make a slot. In the slot you place a shim that sits just proud of the end of the tenon going into the hole. When you bang the tenon into the mortise, the shim is forced in, explanding into the space. If the mortise has angled sided ala a dovetail, you will not be able to get it out again. I’ve done it once and it is quite strong.

    The advantage of such a joint would be its non reliance on glue - of course if you are going to this length you might just do a neck thru ala es 335.

  13. Ant Says:

    Sounds like an interesting technique, but I think it will work best with a slightly steeper taper than than I use on my neck tenons. I’ve given thought to several ways of doing neck joints, including an invisible bolt on joint, which would look and feel exactly like a set neck, but thus far I favor the K.I.S.S approach. If I try it it’ll surely end up on here for folks top look at and comment on, but it’s probably not on the cards particularly soon.

    Oh, just FYI, the 335 uses a conventional tenon and a set neck, not a neckthru. There is a solid centre block running the length of the body, but this is separate from the neck, and is treated no differently than the headblock on a fully hollow flattop or archtop guitar.

  14. Tim Says:

    Is this finished yet? Can I have look pleeeese :-)

  15. Kent Trammell Says:

    Hey Ant,

    I’m a 17 year old amature luthier trying to sell some of my handmade guitars. To tell you the truth, this website got me into this hobby. I completed my first LP style guitar my junior year in high school (05-06) that works fine but just didn’t satisfy me as far as craftsmanship (I had to work on it for an hour each day before school because I didn’t have the equipment. so…I was rushed). This summer I made a bargain that left me with all the power tools I needed for this craft. So currently I’m experimenting on making two guitars at once, both with LP body styles. My real question for you is this: How do you sell your LP style guitars without copyright restriction? My guitars have LP body styles but my own headstock shape and name inlayed. Is the LP body shape even copyrighted by Gibson? I figured you of all people would be the one to ask.


  16. Ant Says:

    Hi Kent.

    Where do I recognise your name from - it’s really familiar? It’s good to know the site is an inspiration to people, because I’ve benefitted a lot from sites like the MIMF, and John Fisher’s webpage, Kathy Matsushita’s… well, it’d be a long list if I went on!

    Gibson can’t copyright a LP style guitar, since the body shape is a practical feature, not a brand identifier like their headstock. There are hordes of builders using the strat, tele, Les Paul and the like as starting points for their guitars, and the market accepts it, not least because those are the kind of guitars a lot of people want. You stick an open book headstock on there and you might feel some heat, but otherwise you’ll be fine.

  17. Kent Trammell Says:

    thanks a lot Ant

    by the way, you do amazing work!

  18. Dylan Says:

    Hey Setch,

    I was wondering, the back veneer on the headstock… did you steam it to take the curve of the volute? Or some other method?


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