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19_blackie_73

Project Appletree - electric guitar build log

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hi one and all :)

 

I think I start things of today. I thought it would be interesting for some people to follow a build log from a mad man with rudimentary luthier skills trying to build an electric guitar from scratch with some wood in the shed.

 

Some background: I'm playing guitar since I'm 7 years old, so right now almost 15 years. Started of with classical guitar, soon went to a steel string, then entered the bigband of my local high school and been there for my whole school career, in this case from grade 5 to 12. Somewhere inbetween some mates and I started a band project and that's where I play most of the time, mostly funk in the style of Stevie Wonder, Phat Phunktion and Tower of Power.

 

Recently I went to the shed of my grandpa, looking for something totally different and I stumbled across a piece of apple tree wood from an old tree he cut a few years back, right thickness for a e-guitar body and approx. 1m long. This piece is the dark part of the apple tree wood, and he had another piece of pale apple wood, approx. 1.2m long. The dark piece is around 10-15cm wide depending on the position, the pale piece ~9.5cm. So if I'd cut that dark piece up and plant it on both sides of the pale piece, this should give a nice body.

 

Spoiler

Wood.thumb.jpg.2de627251a1a0039476dfdb2f738fc87.jpg

kinda like that:)

 

Initially my thought was to only make the body, but then realised, the pale piece is more than long enough even make a neck out of it, so at the moment I am leaning towards a neck through guitar instead of a bolt on neck affair. Could get interesting, only played on bolt on neck guitars so far. Problem is, with a neck through I have to make my own fretboard and I don't have any experience with that at all. So could get very interesting very fast. Escape plan: try making my own fretboard and trying to carve the right neck profile and if I fail, curse and retire the neck trough idea, buy a neck from a Stratocaster and route a neck pocket.


The only things I'm sure about a this stage of the project is:

  • It will be natural finish
  • everything will be apple, even the fretboard itself (though need to check that if that works)
  • the dark goes on the outside, the pale on the inside
  • trying a neck through design
  • hard tail bridge
  • no pickguard, the pickups will be in pockets of the plain wood

 

Things I need to find out:

  • design? I am absolutely bad with that, guess I need some more inspiration as the body is kinda narrow.
  • fretboard? call my local guitar specialist, talk with him about the whole fretboard thingy, maybe he can help
  • Pickup configuration
  • measurements that are vital for a functional instrument
  • find out how to make all the holes for the cables when theres no pick guard.

 

Pickup configuration is probably at the moment the thoughest thing to decide. Thing is, I'm a strat guy, been playing them my whole guitar life and the sound fits. THOUGH I already have a strat that does the job good. Other option would be a pickup config like a e.g. Les Paul with two humbuckers, but I probably won't need that fatness of them for what I'm playing. Then there would be a Telecaster configuration, but I'm not sure about the sound and if I like it or not. If somebody has good ideas for that dilemma, enlighten me :)

 

So that's the current state, I will be updating you with progress as soon as it happens. This is my first build log ever, so if there's something to improve, tell me, I'm trying to make it better :) If there's something unclear to non-guitar people, I'll try to expain it better, it's always hard to describe things in such way that everbody can come along on the journey but I'll do my best!


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Posted · Original PosterOP
2 minutes ago, Dissitesuxba11s said:

Have you thought of going fretless just for ease of construction? Not sure if it will change the overall sound going that route.

Yeah would be easier, but for that what I play it would be probably pretty impractical I guess. Good shout though, didn't had that option on my horizon :)


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Posted · Original PosterOP

------- UPDATE TIME ----------

 

SO I had a call with my local guitar wizard, he gave me a good tip where I could buy already slotted fretboards, so installing the fret wire itself wouldn't be that hard. so no need to go fretless :)@Dissitesuxba11s Only thing I have to find out if they would slot a apple one for me, so I need to call them and ask them somewhere in the next days.

 

But I discovered have another problem which makes the first part kinda obsolete: I didn't look carefully enough at the wood at the beginning and now discovered that where the headstock would be is a giant branch, so it will not work to get something stable on there and won't look good. Sadly I couldn't find another piece of Apple Wood long and thick enough to make a neck through design, so I'm back with two options: glue-in, selfmade neck or just buy a Stratocaster style neck. Fear with that is that Maple would look of because two slightly different shades of light coloured wood and I'm not convinced either that a dark ebony fretboard or something like that would look good. So back to the drawing board and thinking stage.

 

So that's all, stay tuned :)


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Posted · Original PosterOP

------- QUICK UPDATE TIME ---------

 

I just called the shop who makes the fretboard, apple fretboard is save :) So I might make my own neck too, just as a glue in probably and sand the transition smooth :)

 


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Posted · Original PosterOP

------- ANOTHER UPDATE TIME ----------

 

I spontaneously decided to start working on the project, not just planning :)

Things I set in stone after the call:

I will make a bolt on neck, so when I mess up I can go back to some Fender neck.

The fretboard and the neck will be made out of apple wood too, I'm leaning towards a darker neck underside and a lighter fretboard itself. I found enough dark wood without cracks for a neck, so this should work out.

The style of the headstock is yet undecided, I wouldn't mind going away from a traditional Fender headstock.

Additionally, I found a nice finish, sorta like wax which gives the wood a nice, little bit darker colour. Picture will be further down in the post. (made a test)

 

So starting to build:

First off, cutting the pieces to length:

 

1049224395_02_cuttolength.thumb.jpg.1c24aa2b328072008f26aba4fad0e5a5.jpg

 

The surface of the pieces was pretty rough, so I sanded it with some 80 grit and a belt sander to reveal the real grain and colour. Additionally I started to straighten the edges as a preparation towards glueing the pieces together. This is probably the trickiest part because the wood pieces don't have any straight edges, so it needs many steps on the table saw and much patience to create a sort of straight edge as a starting point for planing the joins.

569234181_03_sandingthesurface.thumb.jpg.1044404830d2f474d65e4b9701d7f507.jpg

 

After that I started planing the first piece of wood to get it rougly straigt and tested the finish on one corner of the first join:

1298308916_04_straightenedandsurface.thumb.jpg.b2ef8223a99e5be45f1dbc390e5b3ab2.jpg

you can see the finish on the left side, and part of my initial rough sketch on the wood, though the lighting makes it hard to see.

 

Next step is to find someone who can level me the pieces to the thickness I desire. I also want to make a template so routing and/or sawing the outline on the bandsaw will be much easier. So thats all for today, the next steps might take a while but stay tuned :)


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Posted · Original PosterOP

------ small update ------

I played around with a little bit of 3D, used the file of my profile pic and remodeled the guitar body. Now I'm pretty undecided if I should make a ebony or an apple fretboard

 

727650220_RenderDunklesGriffbrett.thumb.png.2ef944b66bf61fc940a14390f469b574.png368849970_RenderHellesGriffbrett.thumb.png.103d3e93d3c8038292688964f5b3acaf.png

 

Ebony fretboard is the top one, apple the bottom one. part of me wants the contrasty fretboard on the left, part of me wants an all apple guitar :D If anyone has an idea, what would be wiser, let me know :)

 

please note, pickup config is not final yet, just the placeholder from my profile pic. The headstock profile and layout is at the moment a standard strat profile, but I am tempted to make an angled headstock like on a prs or les paul.

the texture on the wood is just a pic I have taken from the wood I have, but there sawing marks all over it when it was originally cut to the size it is now. The best represantion is probably around the control knobs.


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I really dig both renders. The ebony fretboard contrasts with the apple wood body really well. While the all apple wood finish gives it a unibody feel.

 

What do you think of the idea of taking the apple wood design and giving it darker hardware (pickups, frets) so that it contrasts with the natural finish?

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Posted · Original PosterOP
10 hours ago, Dissitesuxba11s said:

I really dig both renders. The ebony fretboard contrasts with the apple wood body really well. While the all apple wood finish gives it a unibody feel.

 

What do you think of the idea of taking the apple wood design and giving it darker hardware (pickups, frets) so that it contrasts with the natural finish?

just took the render and updated it to black hardware:

805967558_RenderHellesGriffbrett_schwareHW.thumb.png.b3a1d633f3d10cff9567013d67e58857.png

Good shout, but I'm honestly not to shure. I need to test out the finish I'm going to use on some spare wood, because AFAIK it will darken depending on the grain quite a bit (at least the darker parts of this body will get even darker, the light parts might stay sorta this way). If it darkens quite a bit, I don't think the black hardware would work good, if it doesn't I will very much consider it heavily.


So next update will be the tests with the finish, and I might pull the trigger on a router. I'm on getting a spot at a local woodworking workshop to get the pieces planed to the right thickness, then I'll start making the body. Also final design choices will be made and I need to decide on the thickness. Also when the router arrives, I will start making the templates and getting the hardware (at least the bridge for the first part, rest will be decided later and somewhat depends on the pickup choice)

 


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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, Dissitesuxba11s said:

I saw this on Imgur and immediately thought of your project: https://imgur.com/gallery/w2oPR1G

 

Preview:

  Hide contents

EOXoKJg.jpg

 

It's amazing to see what people come up with 😮  I'm watching at the moment a lot of videos from Crimson Guitars, it's amazing what they do. I'm kinda sad I lack that creativity side a bit, mine looks fairly standard(ish), just a mashup of some classic guitar forms 🤔

I definitely have to go back to the drawing board a bit and find a way to make mine more unique and my own instrument :)
Thanks for the hint :)

 


Intel Xeon 1231v3 | 16GB Crucial Ballistix Sport Dual Channel | Gigabyte H97 D3H | Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 | 525 GB Crucial MX 300 | 1 TB Seagate HDD
be quiet! 500W Straight Power E10 CM | be quiet! Silent Base 800 with stock fans | be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced C1 | Dell P2314H

Reviews: be quiet! Silent Base 800 | MSI GTX 950 OC

 

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