Custom 00-Slope shouldered Guitar #47 142

Completed January, 2015

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


This extremely plain 00-Slope shouldered guitar features a red spruce top, mahogany back and sides, Waverly tuners, tortoise pickguard and bindings, and an abalone rosette. This guitar looks old and sounds old, and after a year and a half as my shop guitar has accumulated a couple of very minor dings and a small area on the lower side marked by a customer's pocket change. I built this guitar to my own personal specs, with a slightly wider neck (1-3/4")and low action to accommodate my arthritic fingers and with a stark plainness that I find refreshing after so many years of elaborate inlay and eye-catching features. This guitar is as light as a feather, and is loud and vibrant, even when played gently. It's one I'm always eager for a potential customer to pick up.

Here's a sound clip by very talented multi-instrumentalist Ron Webb:

It's time for a periodic freshening of my demo stock. I'll let this one go for just $1,995. It comes with a hardshell case. I'll accept PayPal, and offer a 48-hour approval period. You won't be disappointed in this one, and I can't imagine you'd send it back.

Construction Photos

The top and back plates are joined with hot hide glue. The back and the sides are sanded to final thickness. The shape is marked onto the back, and it's cut slightly oversize. The back center reinforcing web is glued in with hot hide glue.

The rosette pattern is laid out on the top, and the recess for the Abalam portion is cut. A dedicated cutter cuts both the inside and outside radii of the Abalam in one pass. The pieces are glued into the recess. A fly cutter is used to cut grooves for the rosette purfling; the purfling is glued into the grooves, and the top is sanded level.

The soundhole is cut out, and the top is sanded to final thickness and cut to shape. The bracing pattern is laid out on the inside. The mahogany head block assembly is fabricated and glued together. The maple bridge plate is glued in. A specialized jig utilizes the spindle sander to shape the bracing to the top and back radii.

An adjustable external form is set for the shape of the guitar. The sides are sanded to final thickness and cut to shape. A sandwich of stainless steel slats, the dampened side wrapped in Kraft paper, and a heating blanket are loaded into a bending form. Heat is applied, and the side is bent and then allowed to cool. The sides are placed in the form, and the head and tail blocks are glued in place.

Kerfed lining is cut on the bandsaw and glued into the top and bottom perimeters of the sides. The x-bracing is notched at the intersection of the pieces, and a recess is cut on the bottom to receive the bridge plate..

The top bracing is partially shaped and glued to the top with hot hide glue. The back bracing is partially shaped. Notches are cut in the back reinforcing strip. The back braces are glued in. The final shaping is done on the back bracing. The linings and ribs are sanded to a curvature that matches that of top and back. The top is tap tuned by shaving the braces to produce a plethora of musical notes with no dead spots.

The top and back are fitted to the ribs, and notches are cut to receive the bracing. Hot hide glue is applied to mating surfaces and allowed to dry. The parts are clamped together, and the glue is reactivated with a jet of steam. The instrument is removed from the form and the overhanging edges of the top and back are trimmed flush with the sides. The tortoise celluloid end graft is shaped, and a recess is cut to receive it.

The binding recess is cut, and the celluloid bindings are glued into place. The neck blank is roughly cut to shape.

The truss rod slot is cut. The body and neck blank are inserted in a jig that facilitates the cutting of the dovetail at the proper angle and alignment. Final fitting is done with sandpaper and chisels.

The ebony fretboard is thicknessed and sanded to a 16' radius. A table saw jig cuts matching slots to receive the carbon fiber fretboard reinforcing bars. Fret slots are cut on a radial arm saw. The neck is cut to shape. The "Skipper" logo is cut from gold mother of pearl. Mother of pearl position markers are recessed into the fretboard.

Frets are seated with a handheld press, using a bit of hot hide glue in the slot. The carbon fiber stiffening members are glued into the back of the fretboard. The ebony headstock overlay is glued to the neck. The peghead is cut to shape, and the "Skipper" logo is inlaid into the ebony.

The peghead is thicknessed using a drill press planer. The channels to receive the carbon fiber fretboard stiffeners are extended into the body of the guitar. The truss rod is set in silicone caulking to prevent future rattles. The fretboard is glued to the neck. The neck is shaped with rasps, gouges, and chisels.

The volute is carefully shaped with a sharp chisel. The holes for the tuning machines are drilled, and a special reamer is used to counterbore for the bushings. At this point, the instrument is ready for final sanding and finishing. The bridge is located and marked.

The bindings are scraped level, and the instrument is thoroughly sanded. A dilute solution of dichromate is used to darken and intensify the mahogany color. The pores are filled, and the instrument is again sanded level. The bridge and neck areas are masked off, and the top is given a light coat of shellac. The top is given a light aging stain, and the bindings and rosette lines are scraped clean.

Another light coat of vinyl sealer fixes the colors and prepares the instrument for the lacquer finish coats. These coats are applied over a period of several days, leaving adequate curing time between series of coats. When the lacquer is built to a sufficient thickness, it's sanded level and a final series of coats are applied. Then it's allowed to cure for ten days to two weeks before rubbing out and setting up. The top is wet-sanded with increasingly finer grits of MicroMesh paper, then buffed on a flannel wheel. The bridge is glued on with hot hide glue.

The neck is glued to the body. The label is glued to the back. Waverly tuning machines are installed. A bone nut is shaped and slotted. A pickguard is fabricated and installed. The instrument is strung up and ready to go.

Thanks for watching this project

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