Custom Dreadnought Guitar #64 184


(click any of the thumbnails for a higher-resolution photo)

This dreadnought guitar, like my most recent guitars, features a Torrefied red spruce top, Waverly tuning machines, a nicely rolled edge for playing comfort, and all other bells and whistles that accompany a top-end guitar. What really makes this one special is an absolutely killer set of sycamore back and sides that I've been saving, dying to put into good use. The end result is visually stunning, feather light, and an instrument with all the tone and projection a bluegrass picker could hope for.

Construction Photos

As always, construction begins with the joining of the plates with hot hide glue. The walnut backstrip and center rosette accent are recessed into the plates and glued into place. The back plate is sanded to finished thickness, cut to shape, and the spruce center support web is glued in. The rosette is installed.

The top plate is sanded to finished thickness, then cut to profile. The sound hole is cut, and the bracing pattern is laid out. The bridge plate is glued in. The balance of the top and back bracing are roughly shaped and glued into place. The sides are bent over a heated pipe, and the neck and tail blocks are fabricated and glued in. A recess is routed for the end graft. Though I'm not photo-documenting every minute step in the process, you can refer to the pages for other recent builds for the details.

The curly walnut end graft and purfling lines are glued into the recess. Mahogany lining is kerfed on the bandsaw and glued to the ribs with hot hide glue. This guitar will have a beveled armrest; a wider, solid section of lining is laminated from mahogany strips. The solid lining is glued in place. The top and back are tap tuned. The ribs are notched to receive the bracing, and first the top is glued to the ribs, then the back.

The guitar's body is removed from the form, and the top and back are trimmed flush with the sides. Recesses are routed for binding and purfling, with an additional tapered recess in the area of the beveled edge. The purfling is first glued into that recess, followed by the remainder of the edge trim. When the glue has cured, the binding is scraped level with the surrounding wood. The bevel is formed on the upper edge of the top.

A strip of walnut veneer is roughly shaped and glued to the beveled edge. When it's dry, the edge is shaped. A vintage-style bridle joint between the neck and headstock is cut primarily with hand tools. The headstock and volute are shaped, then the joint is glued together. The fit is sufficiently tight that no clamping is necessary. A specialized jig is used to cut the dovetail joints in neck and neck block.

The resulting joint is a perfect fit -- in perfect alignment -- with virtually no hand work. A Macassar ebony fretboard blank is radiused, slotted, and cut to profile. Matching slots are cut in the back of the fretboard and in the neck to receive carbon fiber reinforcing bars. Frets, position markers, and side dots are installed. The headstock veneer is glued to the headstock. The mother-of-pearl logo is cut and recessed into the overlay.

Carbon fiber fretboard reinforcing bars are installed in the back of the fretboard, and matching slots are extended into the guitar's body to receive them. The fretboard is glued to the neck. The neck is shaped and sanded. The guitar's body is sanded, and the bridge is accurately located and the areas to remain unfinished are masked off.

The fretboard is masked, and the instrument receives a coat of vinyl sealer. After light sanding, the pores are filled. Another coat of vinyl sealer is applied, followed by two series of three coats each of nitrocellulose lacquer. Then the instrument is sanded level and two additional thin coats of lacquer are applied. After a two-week curing period, the finish is wet-sanded with increasingly finer grits of MicroMesh paper. The neck is glued in place.

The bridge is attached, and after a bit of setup work, this one is ready to make some music.

Thanks for watching this project

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