Slope-shouldered Dreadnought Guitar #42 125

Completed November, 2013

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

The sunburst in the red spruce top is set off by abalone purfling and rosette and ivoroid celluloid bindings. The East Indian rosewood back and sides are beautifully figured, with a small sap streak replacing the traditional back strip. The modified-vee neck is 1-3/4" wide at the nut, and is fast and lean. The slotted peghead has a custom abalone-and-MOP inlay and features superb Waverly three-on-a-plate tuning machines. Ebony peghead overlay, fretboard, and bridge. 25.34" scale length. Gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Hardshell case.

This instrument has all the volume and guts expected of the finest of dreds, but with complex sound rich in resonance and overtones. It's a hoss, and a pretty one.

Construction Photos

Construction of this guitar begins with the joining of the red spruce top and the fashioning and joining of the mahogany head block. Red spruce braces are cut into square stock, then profiled on the belt and spindle sander. Mahogany lining is beveled on the drum sander, then kerfed on the bandsaw.

The top is thicknessed, and a channel for the abalone rosette is cut with a mini router. A dedicated fixture cuts both the inside and outside radii of the Abalam rosette at a single pass. The rosette pieces are glued into the recess, and the purfling grooves are cut with a fly cutter; the purfling rings are glued in place.

The sound hole is cut, the top is cut to shape, and the bracing is laid out on the inside of the top. The maple bridge plate is glued in place with hot hide glue. The x-bracing is recessed to received the bridge plate, and the top braces are glued in place.

The back plate is joined. The sides are thicknessed and profiled, then slightly dampened and wrapped in paper. They are then bent on a form with the assistance of stainless steel slats and a heat blanket.

The sides are removed from the bending machine and placed in an external form. The head and tail blocks and side reinforcing strips are glued in place. The back is thicknessed and profiled, and the center reinforcing web is glued in. The bracing is shaped and glued to the back. The top bracing is shaped while I tap the top, listening for a multitude of musical notes with no dead spots. Kerfed lining is glued to the ribs, and shaped to the radii of the top and back. The lining is notched to receive the bracing.

Hot hide glue is applied to the gluing surfaces and allowed to dry. Then the parts are clamped together, and the glue is reactivated with a jet of steam. The body is removed from the form, the back is clamped in place, and the steam-jet process is repeated. A recess is routed for the ivoroid end graft,

and it's fitted and glued in place. A random orbit sander is used to thin the perimeter of the top. The binding and purfling slots are routed. The bindings are glued in with a teflon strip temporarily in place of the abalone purfling.

The teflon strip is then removed, and abalone is glued in its place. The neck is roughly shaped, and a specialized fixture guides the router as the matching halves of the dovetail are cut in the neck and body.

The neck heel is shaped on the spindle sander. The neck is roughly profiled. The ebony fretboard is sanded to a 16" radius. A table saw fixture is utilized to cut matching slots in the fretboard and neck for the carbon fiber reinforcing bars. A dedicated table saw is used to cut the fret slots. The fretboard is cut to shape, and celluloid binding is applied.

The ebony peghead overlay is glued on with hot hide glue. The slotted headstock is shaped and holes are drilled for the tuning machines. Pearl and abalone inlay is cut with a jewelers saw and inlet into the headstock and fretboard.

Frets are glued into the slots with hot hide glue, and carbon fiber reinforcing bars are glued into the recesses on the back fo the fretboard. Channels are extended into the guitar's body to receive the reinforcing rods. The truss rod is installed, and the peghead is further refined.

The fretboard is glued to the neck with hot hide glue. The neck is brought to final shape. The bridge is precisely located with a jig designed for that purpose. Wood pores are filled, the neck is stained to match the rosewood back and sides, and a sunburst is sprayed onto the top. The color is scraped from the binding, purfling, and rosette.

The finishing process begins. After the application of a vinyl sealer, coats of lacquer are applied with sanding between series of coats. Then the instrument is allowed to cure for approximately two weeks before final sanding and buffing. The bridge and neck are glued on, and the instrument is set up.

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