I haven’t made a lot of posts on the new guitar build lately, but Snakebite is coming along nicely. The body is fully shaped and at the paint shop for a base coat. After it gets back, it will need to go to the graphic artist for it’s images, and then BACK to the paint shop for a hard, protective high gloss clear coat.
Seriously, the paint on this one is going to financially crucify me.
The neck is (hopefully) completely done aside from finish work. The frets are leveled and crowned. There are a few, small places where I am going to smooth the ends of the fret wire. There is a slight discoloration on the fret board binding on the top edge (of course) but, other than that, it’s something I am not unhappy about.
The Fender Vintage pickups are half installed. The socket for the bridge pickup is (get this) eight one thousandths of an inch too large. My options are to (very) slightly increase the side of the socket, (very) slightly sand the pickup cover, or both.
I am still playing with the idea of swapping the standard tele 250 kohm potentiometers with .5ohm pots, which would add a really piercing upper register, but could actually be unmanageable. Sort of like putting a 750 horsepower engine in a Yugo. It’s a fun thought, but it might be just wrong.
I need to get into the wiring. I have this one wired Fender standard. If I don’t change out the pots (and I sort of feel like I wont be doing so) then the only change I will be making is to remove the stock 0.047uf cap with an orange drop 0.047uf cap. I’m not doing that because I distrust my electronics supplier, but because the Orange Drops are considered by many to be superior, and I happened to have one lying around.
This is the third instrument I have built with quick swap terminals on the electronics. The idea is that if the buyer wants to swap out their pickups, bridge, or control plate, they simply need to unsnap the terminal and snap the new part in (provided it is equipped with the same terminal.) Nobody seems to have noticed yet.
The fretboard is done. It is testing straight and true with no high spots on the fretboard. The headstock must be cut to shape and sanded, and the headstock marking has to be designed and applied. Then the back of the neck has to be sanded a little bit smoother than glass, and a sturdy, protective finish has to be applied to the headstock. Electric guitars are working tools used in dive bars and back alleys. The finish has to be really protective.
Then, the next step is preparing the body.
Jan 31 – supplemental
The new neck is masked out, and re-measured. In a couple of spots, the high points don’t exactly correspond with the high points from the first set of measurements. That means that it needs to be remeasured at least one time more. If I were more experienced, this would be a “measure twice, cut once” situation, but in my case, it’s a “measure many times, and figure out why all the measurements don’t match” situation.
After I am absolutely sure about what I need to be doing, I will level the frets. The fine (as in “thin”) fretwire presents a special challenge, as a standard crowning file is just too big for it. The same is true for standard finger board guards.
I will have to make a decision soon. At least some custom builders prefer to make a slight slope from the 12th fret onward. This gives guys who like to play above the 12th a little bit less control and speed (the action is actually higher above the 12th) but it absolutely minimizes any chance of buzz. Since Snakebite is a tele, it is less likely that the player will be doing a lot above the 12th. Teles are more for Rockabilly, Southern Rock, Texas Outlaw or Delta Blues than, say, for instance, LA style speed metal. Think more Clapton and less Yngwie. If I slope the frets above the 12th, the performance below the 12th is going to be better, especially 20 years from now, if the guitar starts to develop a “ski jump” bend (more common in light necks) but the thin, low frets I had installed on this neck can’t take a lot of work.
Truing a neck, and leveling and recrowning frets is really, really tedious, time consuming work. If I was lucky enough to be in an apprenticeship, I would be doing a lot of this. This is where audiobooks really pay their way. Sitting at a workbench and truing frets for six hours is mind numbingly boring, but if somebody tells you a story while you do it, it can be done.
January 31, 2018.
At the urging of some of the smartest people I know, I have set up this page to keep people appraised of what I am doing with music, musical instruments, and other art stuff. I haven’t learned to use the interface yet. We’ll see how that works out.
This is a new neck that was designed for my new build. It’s designed to be a “hot rod.” The fretwire is as low profile as I was able to find. The neck is a full 3 sixty fourths of an inch narrower than standard. It has a vintage style standard thin profile back.
My last custom build had the same neck, but I put a standard nut on it. As a result, I had incorrect string placement,and the strings fell off the finger board on pulled string bends. I was terrified that I was a month into an unplayable build. Once the nut was replaced, the instrument played fine.
This time, I designed the nut at the same time I designed the neck. Hopefully, I will avoid those problems.
The very fine fretwire is also an issue, because standard fret files are simply too big to crown the frets after leveling. I dislike the idea of blaming my tools for my inability of doing the work, but I might actually have to buy a new fret crowning file.