Not Bad! The Clareguitar 8String “ZEN”


Still not intoned and I think I can get the action a little better with some work on the nut slots. She sounds awesome. Had a little electrical issue today. Strung the beast up and plugged in, only to hear an horrendous buzz. Found the problem, ( my poor soldering had come adrift on the ground wire to the pot) . I fixed that, put everything back together……only to get an even worse hum! Wha da f….?    It turned out that the really small cavity has come back to bite me. I knocked the same ground wire off again, when putting the pot back in.

Hence, no intonation job done today, Also, no pictures of back of guitar yet…..still haven’t made a cover for the electronics cavity…always with the other thing…and another. IMG_20180416_135702.jpgIt’s been a steep learning curve, but setting a really high standard helps us find our level. This is not as perfect as I would have liked, but there is always the next project, to which I will carry the many things about wood, woodworking, project planning and wood properties, I didn’t know before.

The plan now, is to go right back to the beginning of the process, and start selecting and straightening pieces of wood. Now I know the path through the forest, it is more exciting than daunting this time around. I will record myself playing on this instrument in a few weeks and do a video for you tube, showing off the great sound, and going over the mistakes that I made, some, unfortunately irreversable.

For now, below I have put a picture montage of the whole process from slab-sawn timber, to finished product. Ah, I can hear my planes calling….


First the vision

Then we pick and flatten the wood


Then with a template we cut the body blanks. Top is Ash, back is Elder


Then we laminate them together asking ourselves…Why didn’t I buy more clamps!! After that it’s rasp, file and sanding time…for hours and hours….so much sanding!!


Now we have to make a neck. I chose 1st choice Curly Maple, with Wenge strips. The mistake here was not cutting a rough neck profile into each piece of wood. I ended up with a very solid laminated block that was a lovely square surface to work on……then realised I had no way of rip sawing through it. It was 8cm thick. I have no band saw or circular saw with enough power.


And then the truss rod slot…


The fret board glue up…..

Now we have a shaped and sized neck blank, we can cut the neck pocket, and the pickup slot and do some initial fit ups, to make sure it’s all snug. Used my snub nose plane for first time…brilliant. No routers here!


Then came the scary part…Cutting the holes and channels in the body for all the wiring….had to bring thickness of front down to less than 5mm to get the volume pot to sit snug. I really thought I was going to come through the front of the guitar with the chisel.


Once I had lined the cavities with the copper tape, I put the frets on the neck, then had to take three off because I hadn’t cut the slots deep enough and they popped out. That nearly did irreversable damage to the fret board but I learnt a great deal about repairing wood surfaces that day!

Then you can see above I contoured the neck. Oiled the neck. Sanded again, up to 600grit then oiled again. Stuck in the machine tuners. Cut the holes for these by hand with gimlets and a bit and brace. Did the same for string holes through the body. Much slower and more accurate than a fast spinning/tearing/ripping electric drill.


So apart from hiring a really big, scary circular saw for one day, to cut the neck blank down, everything else was done with hand tools. Ta da!



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