00-Slope Shouldered Guitar #45 131

Scheduled completion April, 2014

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


This slope-shouldered 00 12-fret guitar features a red spruce top, mahogany back and sides, flamed maple bindings, and a slotted headstock with Waverly three-on-a-plate tuners. This is a lively little guitar, light as a feather, with a clean, crisp, dry voice that lies about its size.

Construction Photos

Construction begins with the joining of the plates with hot hide glue. The head block assembly is fabricated and put aside to dry. Flamed maple binding strips are cut, and the sides are thicknessed and cut to profile. The binding is taped to the sides, and they're bent together in a heated press. The bent sides are placed in an external form.


Kerfed lining is cut on the bandsaw, and the side reinforcing strips and head and tail blocks are glued in place. The kerfed lining is glued to the sides. The mahogany back is thicknessed and cut to profile, and the center reinforcing web is glued in place.


An ebony blank is glued up to create the center portion of the rosette, and it's thicknessed and the ring is cut out from the blank. Ebony is recessed and glued into the top.


A dedicated two-head cutter cuts the abalone for the twin rosette rings, and they are also recessed and glued into the spruce top. When the glue is dry, a fly cutter on a drill press is used to cut the purfling rings; the rings are then glued in place with hot hide glue.


The rosette is scraped level with the top. The top is sanded to final thickness. The soundhole is cut out, and the bracing pattern is laid out on the back. The maple bridge plate is glued in. Braces are blanked out of red spruce and shaped to the arch of the back and top on a spindle sander.


The back braces are reduced on the ends to their final thickness, and they're shaped to a parabolic profile on a belt sander. Sections of the back reinforcing strip are notched out to receive the braces, and they're glued in place with hot hide glue. The top's x-bracing is notched together and recessed to receive the bridge plate. The top braces are partially shaped and glued into place in a Go-bar deck. The top is then tuned by shaving the braces, listening for a multitude of musical notes with no dead spots, as well as resonance over the entire area.


The back braces are also shaved in a similar manner. The sides are radiused to match the curvature of the top and back, and the kerfed lining is notched to receive the braces.


Hot hide glue is applied to the gluing surfaces and allowed to dry. Then the components are clamped together and the hide glue is reactivated with a burst of steam. The back is then glued on in a similar fashion, and the completed box is removed from the external frame.


The overhanging top and back are trimmed flush with the sides. The maple end graft is recessed into the end. The edges of the top are thinned with an orbital disk sander to increase its response and resonance. The binding channel is cut, with an extra ledge on the top for the abalone purfling.


A Teflon strip is temporarily inserted in place of the abalone. The maple bindings are glued on with hot hide glue, and taped and compressed until dry. Strips of Abalam are cut with a diamond blade for the purfling. The Teflon strip is removed, and Abalone is glued in its place. The bindings and purflings are scraped level. The body and neck are mounted in a specialized jig,


and a router is utilized to cut a matching dovetail joint. A sliding table saw jig cuts matching grooves in the fretboard


and neck to receive the carbon fiber reinforcing bars. Fret slots are cut, and the fretboard is cut to shape and trued on the belt sander. The neck is perfectly fitted to the body by "flossing" the joint with sandpaper. Maple bindings are glued to the fretboard.


The fretboard is radiused on the thickness sander. A maple/ebony sandwich is glued up, and two-color plugs are cut from it. Matching divots are cut in the side of the fretboard, and the plugs are glued in so as to contrast with the surrounding materials. They're sanded and planed level, and make interesting position markers.


The ebony headplate and maple heel cap are glued on. A nipper is used to undercut the ends of the frets, and they're seated in a dab of hot hide glue. The carbon fiber reinforcing bars are glued to the back of the fretboard.


The neck is roughly shaped with planes and rasps. Holes are drilled in the side of the peghead for the tuning machines. The slots are cut and the head is shaped, and the tuners are taken on a test run. The components of the headstock inlay are copied onto tracing paper.


The paper is glued to the abalone, and the shapes are cut out with a jeweler's saw. The paper is removed by soaking in water. The outlines are marked onto the ebony peghead overlay.


The recesses are cut, and after a trial fit, the shapes are glued in place. The headstock slots are elongated and squared. The truss rod is installed. The reinforcing slots are extended into the body, and the fretboard is glued to the neck.


The location of the neck is scribed onto the top, and a recess is cut for the purfling to follow the neck to the rosette. The black/white/black lines are glued in with a strip of Teflon, then the teflon is removed and replaced with abalone.


At this point, the instrument is ready for final sanding and finishing. After sanding, the bridge is located and masked off. Though I'd normally seal and later scrape the bindings after staining, I've chosen to mask the bindings and purfling on this job; this will keep the color of the maple clean and crisp against the mahogany. The instrument is stained, then the masking is removed and it's given a coat of vinyl sealer.


The instrument is sanded, and the pores in the mahogany are sealed with a dark filler. After drying for 24 hours, it's sanded and given another coat of sealer. Successive coats of lacquer are applied, with adequate drying time between coats. When the lacquer coats reach a sufficient thickness, the instrument is sanded perfectly level. A final coating is applied, and it's allowed to cure for 10-14 days. When the lacquer is fully cured, the top is wet sanded with Micro-mesh paper,


then buffed on a Domet flannel wheel. The neck and bridge are glued on, and with a bit of setup, this one is ready to rock.



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